BOLTON, United Kingdom, April 25, 2011 (AFP) - Arsene Wenger shouldered the blame after admitting that Arsenal's title chances had all but vanished following defeat to Bolton.
Wenger said his team's hopes of avoiding a sixth successive season without a trophy were "minimal" after a 2-1 defeat at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday.
|AFP - Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger (R) leaves the stadium after the match between Bolton Wanderers and Arsenal|
The result left Arsenal nine points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United with four games remaining.
Although Wenger's side, who entertain United at the Emirates Stadium next Sunday, can mathematically finish top, it will require an exceptional set of circumstances for them to overhaul Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Wenger did not mince his words after Tamir Cohen's last minute goal earned Bolton a dramatic victory to all but end Arsenal's season.
The Frenchman said his third placed team lacked maturity and experience, but admitted he was to blame for another unsatisfactory season.
"Our chances are minimal now but we have to continue to fight," Wenger said.
"It is all very frustrating to get just two points from the last nine available, but that has been the story of our season.
"I feel the players have had an outstanding attitude for the whole season but they are not to blame.
"If anybody is to blame it is me. I pick the team, I choose the players and for me they have had an outstanding attitude all season."
Not since 2005 when they won the FA Cup have Arsenal secured silverware.
"Yes, it's very unsatisfactory," added Wenger. "On paper it was one of the easiest run-ins we have had for a long, long time. But we didn't take our chances many times and that is frustrating.
"We feel the potential is there but we are in a job where you have to take your chances and be realistic.
"We still lack something like maturity and experience in important situations. When you don't win you are questioned about your principals, but if something is wrong in our team it is not that.
"I'm convinced we are a good footballing side. We have not been stable enough defensively.
"We have conceded six goals this week and you can't afford to concede six goals in three games in April and win the championship. Defensively we have been too frail."
Bolton's Cohen, an 85th minute substitute, celebrated his winner by taking off his club shirt to reveal a T-shirt with a picture of his late father Avi on it, and he struggled to contain his emotions afterwards.
"I am so happy to score this goal as it was a very emotional moment for me after this season. It has been a very difficult but I do the best for my team," Cohen said.
Daniel Sturridge had opened the scoring for the hosts with his seventh goal in nine league appearances since arriving on loan from Chelsea.
Robin van Persie equalised for Arsenal after Kevin Davies had missed a penalty for the hosts before Cohen had the last say.
Sturridge said he was happy the fans had something to celebrate after Bolton's 5-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Stoke seven days earlier at Wembley.
"We are just delighted to have come out and worked so hard for these fantastic fans," said Sturridge.
"After last week's result we wanted to show them we had the passion. We were very unhappy with the performance last week and we wanted to show that it was just one bad day."