Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says end of transfer speculation helped players
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 17/09/17 6:36pm
Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal will be stronger in away games now that the transfer window is closed.
Sunday's 0-0 draw at Chelsea was a marked improvement on their previous away performance at Liverpool last month when they lost 4-0 amid speculation over the futures of both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has since been sold, but Sanchez was a substitute at Stamford Bridge as he seeks to return to full match fitness.
And Wenger said his players were less distracted against Chelsea - and might even have won the game if they had not been inhibited by their memories of Anfield.
"The difference is that we are not in the transfer period," he told Sky Sports.
"And on the day we were not before an important international game with players going away.
"As well, we realised what we delivered was not good enough overall, but I must say we are all human beings and when you play 50 or 55 games it can happen that there's a bad performance, unfortunately.
"I believe we were focused [against Chelsea]. If we are not focused today we do not get away with a point. We were focused, determined, showed character and when we had the ball we tried to play every time.
"I think we were close to winning this game. It is a good basis to start from and go from strength to strength.
"You could still feel sometimes, because of what happened [against Liverpool], there was a little inhibition. With a bit more freedom, I believe we would have won the game."
Mesut Ozil was not in the matchday squad due to a knee injury and Wenger refused to say that his absence, combined with Sanchez's bench role, helped his team's defensive shape.
And he even admitted his players, who beat Cologne in the Europa League on Thursday night, had spent more hours working on tactics for the Liverpool defeat than they did for the draw at Chelsea.
"I must say we worked more on it before the Liverpool game because we had more time to prepare," he added.
"This week we played midweek games and overall, sometimes it is like that.
"I told you we have a capacity to be strong away from home and we have shown that today."