Arsenal out of title race after shock defeat to Bolton

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Arsenal blew their last chance to get back in the Premier League title race as the Gunners were beaten 2-1 at Bolton on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger’s side needed a victory at the Reebok Stadium to have any chance of catching Manchester United, but Daniel Sturridge put Bolton ahead and Tamir Cohen headed a last minute winner after Robin van Persie’s equaliser.

Arsenal’s first defeat in 17 league games leaves them nine points behind leaders United with only four games to play and their hopes of a first trophy since 2005 are over for another year.

Wenger admitted Arsenal’s title challenge was all but over and said: “Our chances are very minimal, that is for sure.

“It is difficult to swallow the way we lost. We gave everything we had left and we had chances to win but didn’t take them. In the end we were caught in the way we feared, from a corner.

“The week we have just had summed up our season – lots of quality in our game on Sunday against Liverpool, Wednesday against Tottenham and today but not enough rewards for our effort.”

Wenger is adamant his current squad is good enough to win silverware in the future however and he added: “You will see, that is without a doubt. If there is someone to blame, it’s me. The players have been outstanding all season.

“If you can prove my principles are wrong, I am ready to change them all but conceding a goal from a corner in the last minute is not enough to convince me.”

Bolton boss Owen Coyle was delighted with the way his side responded to last weekend’s 5-0 defeat against Stoke in the FA Cup semi-final.

“I think everyone knows how bad we felt after the FA Cup semi-final and it was important we showed our character today. We did that and everyone has seen the true Bolton,” Coyle said.

“We dealt Arsenal’s title hopes a big blow but more important for us was our performance.”

Once again Arsenal were punished for their defensive frailties as Sturridge put Bolton ahead in the 38th minute.

Gary Cahill out-jumped Gael Clichy to head goalwards from a corner and the ball may have crossed the line before Samir Nasri cleared, but Sturridge was on hand to head home for his seventh goal since joining on loan from Chelsea.

Bolton should have increased their lead straight after half-time when Sturridge won a penalty with a theatrical fall after minimal contact from Johan Djourou.

But Kevin Davies’s tame spot-kick was saved by Wojciech Szczesny and Arsenal equalised two mintues later as Van Persie fired in from the edge of the penalty area.

In the process Van Persie set a new Premier League record as the Dutch forward has now scored in seven successive away games.

Yet Arsenal wasted a host of chances to take the lead and Bolton took advantage when Cohen got in front of Djourou to power a header past Szczesny in the 90th minute.

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