Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal's Champions League bid is in jeopardy following two big losses

Gunners facing uphill struggle to finish among top four

Arsene Wenger admitted his “concern” over Arsenal’s precarious league position, jeopardising their chances of Champions League qualification, as they slipped to seven points off fourth place after losing 2-1 at Chelsea.

Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League for 15 consecutive years but that famous record is increasingly under threat after another league defeat left them trailing Chelsea in third and Tottenham Hotspur in fourth.

“It's very damaging for our position in the league, and difficult to swallow,” Wenger said.

“We have lost two big games in the last week,” Wenger said, referring to last Sunday’s 2-0 home loss to Manchester City. “And that is very damaging for us. We cannot afford to drop points any more if we want to be in the top four. That is a concern.”

Wenger ascribed the loss to another slow start and the pressures of fixture congestion, which have left his squad tired and jaded.

“It was similar to last week,” Wenger said. “The team has fantastic quality and spirit, but we come into the game when we're 2-0 down. At the moment, that's worrying. In the big games, once you start 2-0 down, it's very difficult.”

“We had a physical problem to get going today. It was better in the second half, but when you play every three days it's difficult to know what's psychological and what's physical. There's a psychological part of it, for sure, because we didn't really go for it at the start again.”

Wenger disputed two of Martin Atkinson’s decisions, allowing play to continue in the build-up to Juan Mata’s opener and the awarding of a penalty after Wojciech Szczesny tripped Ramires: “We were unlucky because there was a free-kick in the first goal, and it wasn't a penalty.”

Rafael Benitez was delighted with his third home win as interim manager, which leaves Chelsea comfortably in third place and just six points behind Manchester City in second.

“Today we had a lot of chances in the first half, were on top of them, controlling the game,” he said. “Even in the second half we had situations on the counter-attack where we could have scored another. Really pleased. The players put in a great effort and a great game.”

Benitez confirmed the news that veteran left-back Ashley Cole would sign a new one-year contract at the club. “The contract was running out next summer,” Benitez said. “Now the club has an agreement with the player, really pleased, the paperwork has to be done but the agreement is done.”

John Terry was an unused substitute again yesterday and Benitez explained that his captain was working back towards full fitness after a bad knee injury. “He has been out 16 weeks,” Benitez said. “He's doing a specific plan, doing well. He's coming back. It's good to have different options, but still it's too early. He has to play for match fitness, but not these kind of games where he has to play high.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy