Sunday, 24 April 2011

Bolton end Arsenal's Title hopes

Arsenal's title challenge is all but over after they were beaten by a last-minute goal at Bolton.
The Gunners were below-par in the first half and trailed at half-time to Daniel Sturridge's header following a corner.
Early in the second half, Wojciech Szczesny saved a Kevin Davies penalty and a minute later Robin van Persie slotted in an equaliser for Arsenal.
The visitors had enough chances to win the match but were left shell-shocked by Tamir Cohen's late header.
After wins for league-leaders Manchester United and rejuvenated challengers Chelsea on Saturday, the equation was a simple one for Arsenal: win, or essentially wave goodbye to this year's title challenge and their last remaining hopes of silverware.
Three points here would have left the Gunners knowing that victory over United at the Emirates next Sunday would have taken them to within three points of the leaders, but they now trail Sir Alex Ferguson's men by nine points with only 12 to play for.
Having spent much of the season as United's closest challengers for the league, Arsenal now face a battle to secure second, with Chelsea holding a three-point lead and a superior goal-difference over them.
There was a time, not long ago, when Arsenal's performances at the Reebok represented a central tenet of the argument that Arsene Wenger's side were a soft-touch.
Three successive victories in a run of eight straight wins in total over Bolton prior to Sunday had helped diminish accusations of their physical fallibility.
But doubts remain about the Gunners mental strength, which was further fuelled by their sacrificing of a two-goal lead in last Wednesday's 3-3 draw at north London rivals Tottenham, and will now come under the severest scrutiny.
This is not to suggest that a victory in Lancashire would have flattered them. They fashioned enough chances in the second half alone to comfortably win the game. The fact that they did not, when you suspect their rivals would have, is telling.

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