Wenger to find root of lacklustre display
Arsene Wenger insists he will leave no stone unturned to make sure Arsenal have rediscovered the required "mental energy" by the time they turn up at Blackpool looking to salvage their Premier League title bid.
The Gunners boss was at a loss to explain his team's flat performance in the goalless draw with ten-man Blackburn at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, which has left the destiny of the championship now out of their hands.
Manchester United, now seven points clear albeit having played a match more, showed few signs of a hangover from the international break as they battled back from 2-0 down to win at West Ham with a hat-trick from Wayne Rooney.
Wenger accepts it will take a different level of performance from here on in if his young side are going to sustain their challenge to United ahead of the showdown at Emirates Stadium on 1 May.
"You could see that mentally the focus, the mental energy level was not good enough," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online. "You have to force the pace a bit more and show more determination to score a goal, and we couldn't. What we do is to first analyse what happened, why and then prepare for the next game."
Wenger added: "I don't think you have to pick the players up - the players have to think about their performance, and me too. We have to all together think about our performance and come back with something better than that."
There are, of course, plenty of points left to play for, but now Arsenal have to rely on United not returning a maximum haul from their final seven if the deficit is to be overturned come full-time on 22 May.
By a quirk of the fixture list, the Gunners have now played their final Saturday game, and could be further behind United when they tackle fast-fading Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Sunday lunchtime. To add extra spice to the mix, Arsenal's match in hand is at Tottenham on 20 April, while testing trips to Bolton and Stoke sit either side of the visit of United.
Despite the disappointment of the last month which has seen a campaign which promised so much start to unravel in the wake of a shock League Cup final defeat at Wembley to Birmingham, the Gunners squad will continue to focus on the positives.
Striker Robin van Persie stressed the players will continue a united front until the final kick of the season. "We play as a team, which is a good thing. You should play together," the Netherlands forward said. "We scored many goals from playing this way, and I don't think that is really the issue."