Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his team are out of the EPL title race
London club beaten 1-0 by leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium
Sunday's defeat leaves Arsenal fifth, 12 points behind Roberto Mancini's City
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded the London club’s bid to win a first English Premier League title since 2004 is over following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at table-topping Manchester City.
A second-half goal from Spain midfielder David Silva was enough to send City back above arch-rivals Manchester United at the summit, 12 points ahead of Arsenal in fifth position.
“Unfortunately for us it was a match that we couldn’t afford to lose because it puts us too much behind City,” the Frenchman told the Premier League’s official website.
“If we had won the game we would have come back to six points, but at the moment we’re too far behind. It will be very difficult to close the gap now but we will try.”
Arsenal had won seven of the last eight league games prior to defeat at the Etihad Stadium, climbing back into contention for a top-four finish and a place in the European Champions League.
It followed a disastrous start to the season which saw the 13-time English champions hammered 8-2 by United in addition to suffering defeats to Blackburn, Liverpool and north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in their first seven games.
“This was a match we couldn’t afford to lose and that’s why it’s difficult to take,” Wenger said. “On the other hand we will continue to fight and there are a lot of positives.
“We have made a lot of progress since August and the team can be proud of that. The way we played is encouraging, but at the moment we need encouragement and points, and we only got encouragement.”
Arsenal faced a defensive injury crisis ahead of Sunday’s match as injuries to the Andre Santos, Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson left Wenger without a fit fullback.
“I must say we have four fullbacks out and the first injury we get in the game is a fullback. It’s not only down to resources, you cannot buy 17 fullbacks anyway.
“That’s why I think we’ve been a bit unlucky. But I think it was a match that could’ve gone both ways. It was very intense with both teams going for it and I feel we were a bit unfortunate.”
Arsenal will look to bounce back from Sunday’s loss in Wednesday’s trip to Aston Villa, while Manchester City host Stoke.