Bournemouth 3-3 Arsenal: Arsene Wenger says Gunners refused to lose
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his side "refused to lose the game" as they came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Bournemouth.
It was the first time the Gunners had recovered from a three-goal deficit to draw a Premier League match.
"It was a physical and mental test - they started much faster but we showed we are mentally strong," Wenger said.
"At 3-0 down after 70 minutes you'd take a point, but in the end we were frustrated not to win the game."
Charlie Daniels, a Callum Wilson penalty and Ryan Fraser put Bournemouth on top by the hour mark but Alexis Sanchez and substitute Lucas Perez hit back before Olivier Giroud levelled in stoppage time.
"We wanted to win the game and we wanted three points, but on the other hand some big teams have dropped points here," Wenger added. "We had to cope with the pace of Bournemouth, who scored four against Liverpool here.
"But when you're 3-0 down you have to acknowledge the quality of the response of your team."
Wenger bemoans lack of rest
Having spoken before the game about the "uneven" festive fixture programme, Wenger's side were in action two days after playing Crystal Palace on Sunday, against a Bournemouth team with an extra day's rest after their win at Swansea on Saturday.
Both sides played their three Christmas games in the space of 198.75 hours - 81.75 hours more than Southampton, who had the toughest schedule.
"Bournemouth deserve a lot of credit as they are a good team who played with pace, but the disadvantage is too big to play against a team with three and a half days' recovery," the Frenchman said. "It's too uneven to only have two days' rest. That's too big a handicap.
"We had three or four players we had to play tonight that we had to wait until the warm-up to see if they could play.
"Hector Bellerin had a knock so he was uncertain to play, and that's the problem with only 48 hours [between games] - you have to play some players again. Laurent Koscielny too, and we had Gabriel that we didn't start in the end.
"And then I didn't start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain because I didn't take a gamble with him, because I didn't know who we'd have to take off.
"This complicates the job a lot, but we have to shut up and cope with it."
Asked whether his side would have won with an extra day's rest, Wenger replied: "I'm ready to play tomorrow, as long as we play an opponent who has played today. We want to play a team with the same rest that we have had."
Wenger's opposite number Eddie Howe also conceded that the schedule had aided his team.
"I'm not going to deny it had an impact," the Bournemouth boss said. "That's what you have a squad for and make changes, like we did."
|The top six's busy Christmas: Did Chelsea have an advantage?|
|Team||Hours between matches||Total distance travelled (miles)||Points collected|
|Hours taken from the start of a team's first game to the end of their third game. *Chelsea play Tottenham on 4 January|
'Arsenal cannot grind it out'
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Steve Claridge felt Arsenal's performance raised serious concerns about their ability to challenge for the title.
"There are one or two players that are not good enough to take that club where they need to go - particularly ones Wenger has brought in recently, who have made absolutely no difference.
"They're not a better side than they were last year. Mustafi, not good enough tonight. Xhaka, not good enough tonight - that's £70m already there.
"Clearly there are one or two deficiencies that need to be addressed. When they don't dominate, they lose or they concede. They can't dog games out, they cannot grind it out.
"They haven't got people that go 'hold on a minute, this isn't our time in the match, let's stay nice and tight and we are not going to lose, we'll not concede and when we do have our moment that's when we'll win the game'."
Howe proud despite dropped points
Howe was left frustrated after captain Simon Francis was shown a straight red card for fouling Aaron Ramsey eight minutes from time.
"It was a foul but I don't think it was a sending-off, I don't think he's lifted his studs in a dangerous way," Howe said.
"Whether it was the defining factor, I'm not sure. But I don't want to be negative - I was proud of the players and their effort. They gave absolutely everything, and they should be congratulating each other. We have to acknowledge we've got a point against a very good team.
"It was a real committed performance from us. We wanted to disrupt their rhythm and we did that perfectly. The key moment was their first goal, which changed the momentum of the game, and you have to praise Arsenal for the way they came back into it."
Howe also felt Bournemouth were hampered by losing Joshua King and goalscorer Ryan Fraser to injury within the space of five minutes at 3-0. Striker Benik Afobe was unavailable after failing to receive international clearance, having pulled out of the DR Congo squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
"Ryan and Josh were being a real nuisance, and I thought we lost that threat when they went off," Howe added.
"I'm not going to deny having our best players to bring off the bench might have made a difference. There's been dialogue between Benik and his association, they've been very good about it, but we're waiting for final confirmation from them."