Monday 19 December 2011
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits it will be very difficult for his team to win the Barclays Premier League this season after defeat at Manchester City on Sunday.
The Gunners' 1-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium left them 12 points behind leaders City with 16 matches gone, with a superb encounter settled by David Silva's second-half strike.
Wenger has seen his team recover from an awful start to the season to lie fifth going into the busy festive period, but he believes they will now struggle to make up ground on Roberto Mancini's team.
"It was a match that we couldn't afford to lose because it puts us too much behind"
- Arsene Wenger
"Unfortunately for us it was a match that we couldn't afford to lose because it puts us too much behind City," said the Frenchman.
"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.
"This was a match would couldn't afford to lose and that's why it's difficult to take. 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 have had to make do without several key players this season, with midfielders Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby missing for most of the campaign, while defender Johan Djourou limped off at City.
The Gunners were already without four full-backs - Andre Santos, Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson - for the trip to City, and Wenger says there is nothing you can do about such bad luck.
"I must say we have four full-backs out and the first injury we get in the game is a full-back," he added. "It's not only down to resources, you cannot buy 17 full-backs 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.
"We lacked a bit of accuracy with our final ball in the final third because we had a few opportunities where we didn't pass the ball well. Overall we had a very positive performance, great spirit and quality, but we lacked a little bit of what is vital in the big games."
Arsenal visit Aston Villa on Wednesday in the Barclays Premier League, followed by the Boxing Day visit of Wolves to the Emirates Stadium.