English Premiership

Arsenal's title hopes 'fading'

2014-03-26 07:47
Arsene Wenger (AFP)

London - Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal have probably blown their chance of winning the Premier League title after a frustrating 2-2 draw against Swansea City.

Wenger's side are six points behind leaders Chelsea with only seven games left following the latest setback to their spluttering challenge at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

The Gunners had looked set to recover from Saturday's humiliating 6-0 loss at Chelsea as two goals in 60 seconds midway through the second half from Lukas Podolski and then Olivier Giroud erased Wilfried Bony's opener.

But Arsenal still managed to self-destruct in familiar fashion as Mathieu Flamini's own-goal in the 90th minute earned a point for Swansea, who could even have stolen all three if referee Lee Probert hadn't blown for full-time with Jonathan de Guzman set to shoot.

Just weeks after they sat proudly on top of the table, Arsenal are in danger of not even finishing in the top four and Wenger conceded they are now unlikely to win the title.

"I think at the moment that is not the biggest worry we have," Wenger said when asked about Arsenal's title prospects.

"We have to be realistic a little bit and look behind us as well as in front of us.

"The result on Saturday has affected us a lot because it was a big disappointment. This result hurts us a lot as well.

"It is very disappointing but we have to take it on the chin. After getting to 2-1 we were too conservative.

"Our confidence level had been affected and we just wanted to close out the game rather than score again."

To make matters worse for Wenger, Arsenal's next opponents on Saturday are rampant Manchester City, who head to north London boosted by their 3-0 win at Manchester United on Tuesday.

Wenger feels City are probable champions and made little attempt to talk up Arsenal's hopes when asked who he thought would win the title.

"It will be open until the end but Manchester City had a good result tonight and look a bit unstoppable," Wenger added.

"They have two games in hand so they and Chelsea are favourites for the title.

"It is another big game for us on Saturday. We will focus on that and accept where we finish.

"We have to get some players back from injury but none of them are close at the moment.

"(Laurent) Koscielny is out for a while, (Aaron) Ramsey might be back in a couple of weeks. With (Jack) Wilshere we have had to slow down a little bit."

Swansea's players surrounded Probert to protest when he denied De Guzman the chance to score the winner and it could prove a costly decision for the south Wales club, who are only five points above the relegation zone.

"It's a very poor decision. We were clean through on goal," boss Garry Monk said.

"They told us it was going to be four minutes at the end of the game but we scored in that period so when they restart the clock it should have been a minimum of five minutes.

"I spoke to the referee and told him it was a poor decision. But I didn't get anything back from him.

"I can't predict if he is going to score but he is definitely going to get a shot on goal.

"In all the games I've played I've never had it that the referee blows the whistle when you are through on goal."

Wenger disagreed with Monk's view of the incident and said: "For me it would not have been a goal, Thomas Vermaelen would have got the ball. The ball went wide and Vermaelen was coming back."

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Fixtures
16 August 2014
Manchester United v Swansea City, Old Trafford 13:45
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur, Boleyn Ground 16:00
Stoke City v Aston Villa, Britannia Stadium 16:00
Leicester City v Everton, King Power Stadium 16:00
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City, Loftus Road Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland, The Hawthorns 16:00
Arsenal v Crystal Palace, Emirates Stadium 18:30
17 August 2014
Liverpool v Southampton, Anfield 14:30
Newcastle United v Manchester City, St. James' Park 17:00
18 August 2014
Burnley v Chelsea, Turf Moor 21:00
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