Arsene Wenger: 'Sunderland made it difficult for us'

Jan Kirchhoff gets up high
Jan Kirchhoff gets up high
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Arsene Wenger was left deeply frustrated after watching determined Sunderland make life 'difficult' for his Arsenal side.

Sunderland are battling for survival and the point saw them climb out of the drop zone, with Wenger praising the 'fight' shown by Sam Allardyce's side.

The Gunners were on the ropes for periods of the second half after Allardyce instructed his Sunderland side to get in the faces of the Arsenal midfield on their way to a valuable point.

The visitors had their chances too over the course of the 90 minutes and Wenger admitted afterwards he was a frustrated figure on the touchline as his side couldn't break down a stubborn and resilient Sunderland defence.

The point was far more valuable to Sunderland than it was to fourth-placed Arsenal, with their title-challenge well and truly over.

Wenger said: "Yes, it was frustrating.

"We had a good cohesion and good movement of the ball in the first half, second half we dropped physically and the game became a bit more tight.

"Both teams had chances. In the first half, we should have taken the lead and gone in at half-time leading.

"Sunderland made it difficult for us but I felt that a team like Sunderland is ready to fight for their lives.

"And they will never give up in the 90 minutes, they started with a bit of anxiety and we needed to take advantage of that,

"You know that the fact you play Thursday and Sunday we could suffer a bit physically in the second half.

"Then the game was a lot more difficult for us."

There were strong penalty shouts on both sides, with Per Mertesacker handling Jermain Defoe's first-half shot while up the other end DeAndre Yedlin handled Alex Iwobi's attempt on goal.

Wenger didn't believe either was a penalty though.

"I wouldn't have given either, the players were very close to the guys taking the shot. There was no intention," added Wenger.

"I think the referee did well on that."

Arsenal are fourth, level on points with Manchester City, but it will be another season without title success at the Emirates.

Wenger added: "We care about the top four and worry about it too.

"It is a fight and we play against teams, there are two leagues almost.

"The teams who are taking it a little bit easier, some games you would like to play them now. The teams that are safe and not going for Europe.

"Then the teams going for something at the top or the bottom - they are different games.

"It is frustrating [to lose out on the title] because we play to win the title. Like it is for many other teams."