Belfast Telegraph

Wenger all but concedes title race as Arsenal blow it again

Swansea City 2 - Arsenal 1

By Kevin Garside

A devastated Arsene Wenger laid bare his disappointment and all but handed the title to Chelsea after Arsenal blew another wining position for the second time in a week.

Second-half goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and substitute Bafetimbi Gomis took Swansea to fifth in the table after Alexis Sanchez struck first for Arsenal with half an hour to go.

Wenger accused his team of committing suicide after the 3-3 draw with Anderlecht. After this defeat he waved the white flag in the fight for the Premier League title, claiming Chelsea could notch 100 points.

"It has been a disappointing week considering the performances we produced. We lost two points against Anderlecht and three against Swansea. When you are 1-0 up and you are a big team you have to win the game. No-one will touch Chelsea if they keep it up, they could be on course to break 100 points.

"Nobody looks capable of challenging at the moment. I don't know how this will affect us. As long as we don't lose belief we will be OK. I don't know how damaging it will be but the table is very disappointing."

Despite Arsenal being torn apart down their right side with Calum Chambers enduring a torrid afternoon against man of the match Jefferson Montero, Wenger chose not to change the shape of his team, though he did introduce Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere in the last 15 minutes.

"We were quite in control and allowed them back into the game. It is unfortunate to lose a game like that. I think it was a decent performance for 75 minutes, but you have to last 90. We had to go forward but lost challenges in midfield."

While most would see a pattern developing Wenger insisted Tuesday's three-goal surrender was not a factor. He said: "I don't think Tuesday played a part. You have to give Swansea credit. They are a good team, they did not give up and he (Sigurdsson) took his free-kick well.

"We have played a lot. We gave a lot. Overall we controlled them defensively but in the last 15 minutes they came back and we allowed them to be dangerous. It is always difficult at 1-0. We have to take it on the chin. We have to respond with the right attitude."

Swansea manager Gary Monk has no such issues. Only goal difference keeps them out of the top four as the Premier League pauses for the international break.

"We prepared for the best Arsenal. We saw what happened in the week but we know they can hurt you at any moment. I know they suffered in the week but they can strike quickly. We contained them well," Monk said.

"I'm happy to go into the international break with a big win behind us. We have belief in ourselves. We won't always get it right but I have to be happy with the points tally we have.

"We might have had even more. It shows we must be doing something right. I'm sure Arsenal will be pushing for the top four come the end of the season. We saw the best Arsenal in spells, but they are not my concern."

French striker Gomis has been a bit-part player since joining from Lyon on a free transfer last summer with Wilfried Bony filling the central striker role.

But he wrote his name into Swansea folklore by climbing above Nacho Monreal in the 78th minute to head home Montero's cross.

"No player's happy when they don't play but Bafe's been brilliant," Monk said.

"He's a great guy to have around, he's very much a team man, he puts the team before himself.

"He's been very patient because obviously Bony's done incredibly well for us.

"But he's done very well in training and got his rewards with the goal.

"We had some unfortunate injuries in the week to key players but I've talked about the belief in the squad before.

"The players have got that inner belief and mentality and that carried them through.

"You know Arsenal can hurt you at any moment with the attacking players they've got, but we limited them and I thought we did very well."

Though Monk was keen to praise the team effort he could not ignore the performance down the left wing of the outstanding Montero.

"He had everything. He was the most consistent for 90 minutes but it is about the team. They were brilliant."

Belfast Telegraph


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