Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal were not good enough in the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea, but believes that the Marcos Alonso's opening goal should have been disallowed.
Yet, the boss revealed that Hector Bellerin was so disorientated by the challenge with his compatriot, he didn't even know that the Blues had scored a goal.
Arsenal had a bright start to the game at Stamford Bridge, but Alonso put Chelsea ahead in the 13th minute of the game with a header after beating Bellerin in the air. Referee Martin Atkison saw nothing wrong but Wenger believes that it was a clear foul, as Bellerin took a heavy blow in the face during the challenge and had to be replaced by Gabriel.
"Of course it was a foul," Wenger said in the press conference after the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea. "But he allowed the goal and after that, I think it was much more difficult for us. We were 1-0 down and Chelsea are very good at defending and very strong in transition, on the counter-attack. We paid for that. If you look at the goals we conceded, it's all that."
"We were maybe not good enough in possession to make our game more dangerous. We lost many balls in positions you can't afford to lose it when you play teams who are good on the counter-attack. Overall, look at all their shots – our keeper had not a lot to save today, even if I concede that we did not create enough as well in the final third. It was a kind of game that Chelsea love and they mastered that very well."
Wenger didn't think twice to replace Bellerin by Gabriel as the boss revealed that the Spanish right-back didn't even know that Alonso had put Chelsea following the collusion.
"Yes. Was he completely knocked out? He didn't know the result of the game. At the time he didn't see the goal," Wenger said but failing to confirm whether the Arsenal right-back will be ready for the coming game with Hull City.
"Yeah, the decision was very quick but you have to respect that. It's the head and I think one of the [conclusions] from the game today is that referees are much more severe with tackles on the ground and let much more go with elbows in the face. It's not only today but in many, many games I see that. It's more dangerous to hit the head than the legs."
The defeat leaves Arsenal 12 points away from Chelsea in the table with 14 games to go. Wenger thus admitted that the Premier League title is not only for Antonio Conte's side to lose.
"They look at the moment in full confidence, powerful, strong, they don't concede goals. It's for them to lose it," the Arsenal boss admitted. "They are in the best position, they don't play in Europe, they can wait every week for the next game and prepare properly. They are in a very, very strong position."