Arsene Wenger has admitted Arsenal were “nervous” as they battled to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland in the Premier League on Saturday.
Arsenal had won just one of their last five games in all competitions before the clash at the Emirates Stadium, and were made to work for their 3-1 win over Sunderland after Joel Campbell’s opener was cancelled out by an Olivier Giroud own goal.
Giroud atoned for his mistake by making it 2-1 in the second half, while Aaron Ramsey added a third to send a beleaugered and injury-hit Gunners into second, just two points behind Premier League leaders Leicester.
Wenger admits his side were “a bit edgy and nervous” against Sam Allardyce’s side early on, but believes Arsenal grew into the game later on.
“We were a bit edgy and nervous in the first half,” Wenger told Sky Sports.
“We played against a Sunderland side that was very well organised, had a great team spirit and was always very dangerous on breaks, and you have to say this team will take points against many teams.
“Overall I’m happy we got three three points, and in the second half we were more fluent, more incisive, more penetrating with our passes. It was much better, but they remained always a threat.
“We have to find a new balance, and that doesn’t come immediately – you could see that in our fluency and continuity of passing. Mesut Ozil came a bit deeper, then we have less players at the front, so we have to find new adjustments.”
With Arsenal now just two points off the pace in the table, Wenger believes the title race is wide open.
“It’s very tight,” he said. “What you see now is that anybody can beat anybody, so consistency will be rewarded.”
Wenger was also boosted by the returns of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott from injury, adding: “Yes, that’s positive,” Wenger said. “We had enough negatives in the last two weeks.”