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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger felt his side lacked the freshness and sharpness needed to break down West Ham as they drew 0-0 with the Hammers at the London Stadium.
The Gunners dominated the statistics with 70% possession and 22 shots to West Ham's six, but the home side gave a firm defensive display to earn a point. The Hammers could even have snatched all the points late on when substitute Javier Hernandez hit the crossbar in the final minute of normal time as Arsenal escaped with a point after the late scare.
The win leaves the Gunners seventh in the table - a single point behind Tottenham, Liverpool and Burnley. West Ham are still in the relegation zone in 19th, but level on points with West Brom and Crystal Palace in 17th and 18th and a just a point behind Newcastle in 16th.
"West Ham are in a very defensive phase at the moment. They did that against Chelsea, they did that against Manchester City, they did that to us tonight. And we lacked the freshness and sharpness to open them up and to find a goal. They were focused to defend and didn't try to come out at all," Wenger told BT Sport post-match.
"There are draws where you go home and you're happy, but this is a draw when you go home and you're not happy. We had so much of the ball, we played ten against ten in one third of the pitch, and couldn't score, and in the end didn't concede a goal, so above all it's frustrating."
The result means Arsenal have collected just two points in their last three matches, and have drawn successive away games to perceived lesser opposition - having drawn 1-1 with Southampton at St Mary's last Sunday. But despite those two results, Wenger was adamant his team had improved away from home in the defensive department, and that having had a day less to prepare than West Ham was the overriding factor for failing to get a victory.
"Basically, I believe, if you look at the last two months, we've improved away from home, but usually we've conceded too many goals," said Wenger. "And at the moment we cannot reproach that [defensive display] tonight. We only had three days to recover from Sunday. If it had been reversed and we played on Saturday and West Ham played on Sunday [West Ham beat Chelsea 1-0 at home on Saturday], maybe we could have found a little advantage.
The one clear bright point for Wenger was the performance of Jack Wilshere in midfield. The 25-year-old was making his first start in the league for 557 days and was a standout peformer, with his manager singling him out for praise.
"Overall it was a positive performance. Especially in the first half he had good acceleration," said Wenger. "He was fouled a few times when he had made the difference and contributed well. I think he defended well, which is very important for me as well in this position. For a first game I'd say it's a very positive performance."
Wenger's final words were on Manchester City and the now huge gap of 19 points between Pep Guardiola's league-leading side and his own, saying: "Of course we're concerned, but Man City are so far away that I think the whole league is concerned."
Manchester City take on Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, 16 December, a match which is live on BT Sport 1 on the eir Sport pack [kick off 5.30pm]
Image: Getty Images/Shaun Botterill
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