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Friday 9 December 2016

Worried Wenger looking over his shoulder as Arsenal's faint title hopes are finally put to rest

Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace

Yannick Bolasie. Photo: Reuters
Yannick Bolasie. Photo: Reuters

Manager Arsene Wenger says Arsenal should be looking over their shoulder rather than clinging to the ever-distant dream of the Premier League title after a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

The Gunners' hopes of 20th consecutive top-four finish remain in the balance after Yannick Bolasie's late strike cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's first-half opener at the Emirates Stadium.

It leaves Wenger's men in fourth place, behind Manchester City on goal difference and 13 points adrift of leaders Leicester with five games to play.

Fifth-placed Manchester United are four points behind, with West Ham also lurking, leaving the Gunners' hopes of an 18th successive season in the Champions League under threat.

"Honestly, after the game today I'm not in that kind of mood to dream about the championship," Wenger said.

"I am more in the kind of mood to repair the mental damage and prepare for the next game (on Thursday against West Brom).

More

"It's much more about that and to look behind us, because everybody is playing well and winning games.

"For us it could be a fight until the end to get the place in the top four.

"If we can do more, we will do more, but let's not dream and focus on the next game."

The lack of incision to find a second goal left Wenger with a feeling of deja vu and frustration.

"I'm very, very disappointed," Wenger added. "You have to sometimes win 1-0 and this was one of these days.

"We had 70 per cent time with the ball and we didn't make enough of it.

"We lacked accuracy in our final ball and change of pace, didn't play with enough freedom and flow.

"In the end we got caught with basically a unique shot on goal from Crystal Palace. They played deep, they defended well and they got us on the break.

Story

"That's the story of the game, even if it's very frustrating."

As Arsenal toiled in attack, Palace looked increasingly threatening on the break and former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor shrugged off the jeers to tee-up Bolasie, whose 20-yard shot Petr Cech should have saved.

"We gave a goal away that was avoidable. That's the regret of the day," added Wenger, who felt the previous week's 3-3 draw at West Ham had affected his side's confidence.

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