Mar 27, 2014

    Swansea draw leaves Arsenal looking over their shoulders


    ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger all but conceded that their title bid is over and warned that his side had to focus on finishing in the top four after a 2-2 home draw with Swansea City in the Premier League on Tuesday.

    Wenger's men started the week as title contenders but faltered in a 6-0 thrashing at league leaders Chelsea in his 1,000th game in charge on Saturday and a disappointing draw with Swansea after a last-minute Mathieu Flamini own goal.

    Arsenal are now six points ahead of fifth-placed Everton, who won 3-0 at Newcastle United on Tuesday and have a game in hand, with a place in next season's Champions League at stake.

    "Winning the title isn't the biggest worry we have at the moment," Wenger told a news conference. "We have to be realistic. We must look behind us. Everton won and, of course, now we have to focus and play the next game (at home to Manchester City).

    "Manchester City had a good result tonight (a 3-0 win at Manchester United). They look a bit unstoppable. Them and Chelsea are the favourites now for the title. We don't have too much room to come back into it."

    Chelsea have 69 points from 31 games, ahead of City on 66 from 29, with Liverpool in third on 65 from 30. Arsenal are fourth with 63 from 31, while Everton have 57 from 30.

    Wenger had hoped for an instant response to the miserable Chelsea result but Swansea took an unlikely lead after 11 minutes when Neil Taylor crossed from deep and Wilfred Bony out-jumped the defence to plant a header just inside the near post.

    Arsenal dominated possession as the visitors protected their lead but the nerves from the crowd permeated into the players, and the home side failed to turn domination into chances.

    Lucas Podolski's introduction after the break signalled a greater attacking intent by the hosts and in the 73rd minute he converted a Kieran Gibbs pullback before setting up Olivier Giroud to score a minute later with a cross from the left.

    But Wenger's disastrous week was summed up when his defence allowed Leon Britton to surge into the box in the last minute.

    Arsenal central defender Per Mertesacker stretched to stop the Swansea player but his tackle only deflected the ball against diving goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, with the rebound hitting Flamini and trickling over the line.

    "The result is very disappointing," said Wenger. "At 2-1 we were maybe too conservative because our confidence level had been affected by Saturday and we just wanted to win the game without pushing any more forward.

    "A mistake happened and it created the result we didn't want tonight."