Arsene Wenger has warned it may take some time for Arsenal to find the right balance in the absence of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla.
Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey started in midfield in the absence of the injured Coquelin and Cazorla against Sunderland on Saturday, but Wenger said that Mesut Ozil had also been asked to play deeper.
Arsenal were made to work for their 3-1 win at Emirates Stadium after Joel Campbell’s opener was cancelled out by an Olivier Giroud own goal.
Giroud atoned for his mistake by making it 2-1 in the second half, while Ramsey added a third to send a beleaugered and injury-hit Gunners into second, just two points behind Premier League leaders Leicester.
Wenger acknowledged his side were not at their absolute best in the 3-1 win, though he was much happier with their second-half performance at Emirates Stadium.
“We were a bit edgy and nervous in the first half,” Wenger told Sky Sports.
“We played against a Sunderland side that was very well organised, had a great team spirit and was always very dangerous on breaks, and you have to say this team will take points against many teams.
“Overall I’m happy we got three three points, and in the second half we were more fluent, more incisive, more penetrating with our passes. It was much better, but they remained always a threat.
“We have to find a new balance, and that doesn’t come immediately – you could see that in our fluency and continuity of passing. Mesut Ozil came a bit deeper, then we have less players at the front, so we have to find new adjustments.”
With Arsenal now just two points off the pace in the table, Wenger believes the title race is wide open.
“It’s very tight,” he said. “What you see now is that anybody can beat anybody, so consistency will be rewarded.”
Wenger was also boosted by the returns of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott from injury, adding: “Yes, that’s positive,” Wenger said. “We had enough negatives in the last two weeks.”