Arsene Wenger conceded Arsenal’s defence was too weak in the air during their 3-3 draw at West Ham.
Andy Carroll struck a hat-trick, including two headers, which put West Ham 3-2 up after falling 2-0 behind, before Laurent Koscielny stole a point for Arsenal – a result which put a huge dent in their title ambitions.
The draw, plus Leicester City’s 2-0 win over Sunderland, left Wenger’s side 13 points off the league leaders with six games left in their season.
Wenger conceded after the game that his defence had let Carroll bully them into submission.
“If you look at our defensive record we are third best in the league,” he said.
“We can’t make too much of it. But if we had a weakness today it is in the air. We lacked a bit of a tricky attitude.
“We know that Carroll can beat anyone in the air but we jumped and made it a bit not uncomfortable for him.
“In the game we did not have many problems. But the problems weren’t especially central defence, more on the flanks where we suffered.
“When we went 2-0 up we lost a bit of our defensive focus. With a player like Carroll, he can score goals from nothing – any set piece, any free-kick. Carroll was fresh and wanted to fight.”
Wenger was less convinced by questions about his side’s lack of leadership.
“I think every time you concede goals people come up with the same thing: you lack leaders, you lack this and you lack that,” he said.
“I don’t deny we lacked something at 2-0. Is it leadership? I’m not completely convinced; it’s just heading the ball.”