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Arsene Wenger: Arsenal should have won North London derby in first half

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is refusing to give up on his side's top four hopes after Saturday's North London derby loss to Tottenham Hotspur.

Harry Kane's towering second-half header gave Spurs a 1-0 victory and they missed several chances after that, but Wenger felt his side should have won the match in the first half.

The Gunners manager was left lamenting his side's inefficiency on the counter-attack and a late missed chance for striker Alexandre Lacazette.

'The game should have been finished at half-time for me. We missed opportunities on the counterattacks that are not missable at our level with the final ball,' he said.

'In the second half we should have lost the game in the early part of the second half by more than one goal.

'We were destabilised by the goal they scored and they had two or three good opportunities where they could have scored.

'And in the final part of the game we should have come back to 1-1. We had opportunities, dangerous situations that we didn't transform into opportunities, that's where my regret was.

'In this kind of games you want to take your chances, you will not have 10 chances. If you don't take them you will suffer at the end of the day.

'To be at the level mentally is to be capable to use the opportunities, that's what the top level is about.'

The loss leaves Arsenal stranded in sixth place in the Premier League, seven points behind Spurs and five behind fifth-place Chelsea, who play on Monday.

Wenger admitted that his team's chances of finishing in the top four now look bleak, but refused to give up completely.

'It's a game we couldn't afford to lose, of course, and that makes it much more difficult now, but we have to fight as long as we have a mathematical chance,' he said.

'There was more at stake than just the derby, that's why it's so disappointing to lose the game the way we lost it.'

Arsenal could qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, in which they face Swedish side Ostersund on Thursday.

However, Wenger said it was 'too early' to start focusing on Europe at the expense of the Premier League.

'Football is not about switching off for three games and switching on for one game,' he said. 'I think we have to fight to have the chance to come back.

'Overall for me it's a very disappointing result, because the priority has to be to be in the Champions League through the Premier League.

'I'm not a great fan of the Europa League being a qualifier, I think it's not right. If it's an opportunity we have to try and take it as well, but the priority is still to be in the Premier League.'

Wenger also rejected a claim by his former player Martin Keown, now a TV pundit, who claimed Arsenal's defenders had lacked hunger for Kane's goal.

'I don't think they lack hunger to defend,' the manager said. 'They were caught by a super striker who is one of the best in the world.

'He scores against everybody. So all the defenders who play against him lack hunger then.'

Source: www.espnfc.com

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