Arsene Wenger: 'First-half slips are psychological'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline during the FA Cup third round replay against Swansea on January 16, 2013
© PA Photos
Arsene Wenger feels that Arsenal's first-half performances have held them back this season.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes that his team's first-half performances have been hindering their progress this season.

The Gunners would be second in the Premier League, two points behind Manchester City, if just second-half scores were taken into account.

Wenger, whose side clawed their way back from two goals down against Liverpool on Wednesday, said that Arsenal's failure to perform in the first half could be a psychological issue.

"Maybe the psychological factor, the fear not to do well, lies in our first halves," Wenger told reporters. "But when we are in a position where we really have to go for it we show extreme quality.

"I think we did that again against Liverpool on Wednesday. We can be very proud of our performance in that game because the players had huge mental strength and great quality in our game."

The French coach was full of praise for today's opponents Stoke City, who he believes have added more technically gifted players to their squad.

"Stoke are a team that are usually well-organised and difficult to beat," he added. "You expect always a fierce resistance from Stoke and most of the time you are never disappointed.

"They have gone for more technical quality these days, they have brought Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi who are technically good players in midfield.

"That means they have more variety in their game and they have shown that many times this season. And, of course, you know they can compete with anybody."

Arsenal and Stoke drew 0-0 at the Britannia Stadium in August.

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leicester CityLeicester25158247272053
2Tottenham HotspurSpurs25139345192648
3Arsenal25146539221748
4Manchester CityMan City25145647262147
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd2611873324941
6Southampton26117834241040
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham26101064031940
8Watford26106102928136
9Stoke CityStoke26106102732-536
10Everton26811746351135
11Liverpool259883236-435
12Chelsea268993836233
13Crystal Palace2695122732-532
14West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom2688102432-832
15Bournemouth2677123044-1428
16Swansea CitySwansea2669112434-1027
17Norwich CityNorwich2666143050-2024
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2666142749-2224
19Sunderland2665153250-1823
20Aston Villa2537152040-2016