Arsene Wenger says Arsenal have Petr Cech to thank for saving them from defeat against Middlesbrough after a 0-0 draw at the Emirates.
Boro are without a win since beating basement boys Sunderland in August but asked plenty of questions of Arsenal, who were indebted to three fine saves from Cech.
Wenger turned 67 on Saturday but was left to bemoan a performance lacking the attacking verve of Wednesday’s 6-0 Champions League romp against Ludogorets.
“We tried. You don’t win on command though,” Wenger said, as quoted by BBC Sport. “We lacked our creative potential around the box. That is part of it.
“At least you can have a drink on your birthday. When you win you deserve it, when you don’t you need it.”
Arsenal’s point took them ahead of Manchester City, with the leaders before the start of the weekend action facing Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Wenger felt Arsenal lacked sharpness and paid tribute to Cech for preventing an unlikely Middlesbrough victory.
“It is a game where you had a lot of possession but there were tired legs and you are prone to counter-attacks,” he explained.
“You make it difficult for yourself. You have 75 per cent possession but you could have lost the game; that is modern football.
“When you are not sharp, you lack creativity in the final third. I must say, we gave everything but we did not have the legs.
“The energy levels were a bit down but we were intelligent enough not to lose it. We were exposed at times. When you cannot win, you must not lose.
“They had chances but our goalkeeper saved us. Petr Cech had a good performance in decisive phases.”
Oliver Giroud could return from his toe injury to feature against Reading in the EFL Cup on Tuesday and Wenger conceded the France striker’s aerial ability might have been useful against a stubborn Boro defence.
“We didn’t make enough from our set pieces so the first thing that comes in mind is a guy with physical presence would have helped,” he added at his post-match news conference.
“We have just come out of six [seven] straight wins so I wouldn’t want to jump on this kind of excuse. We are used to scoring as we are an offensive team but in the end we didn’t score.
“It’s part of the Premier League. We have to find a way to be efficient when the games are like that.”