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Wenger admits Arsenal face fight with Everton for fourth place

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Ben Kosky
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
7:19 AM

Arsene Wenger has acknowledged that Arsenal face a battle to hang on to a top four spot after stumbling to a 2-2 draw against Swansea.

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Wenger’s side, who are now six points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, also find themselves under pressure for the fourth place they currently hold after Everton triumphed 3-0 at Newcastle.

The Toffees have made no secret of their ambition to secure a Champions League berth this season and trail Arsenal by six points, with a game in hand – and a meeting between the two sides at Goodison Park to come.

Asked if the Gunners retained any hope of winning the title, Wenger responded: “I think that is not the biggest worry we have at the moment, because we have to be a little bit realistic and just try to come back in the next game.

“We have to try to look in front of us, but behind us as well – Everton wins and it will be open until the end. We can still have surprises.

“Man City had a good result and they still have two games in hand, so they and Chelsea are the favourites for the title. We have not too much room to come back into it.

“We have to do as well as we can and accept our position at the end of the season. At the moment we have to recover from a huge disappointment and prepare for a big game [against City] on Saturday.”

Should Arsenal drop further points when they host the Manchester side this weekend (kick-off 5.30pm), they would suddenly look extremely vulnerable ahead of the trip to Everton on Sunday April 6.

Wenger confirmed that he does not expect any of the Gunners’ current injury problems to ease in time for either of those fixtures, with midfield trio Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil all still sidelined.

Central defender Laurent Koscielny is also out with a calf problem and the Gunners boss admitted: “None of them is close to coming back. Koscielny is out for a while and Ozil is at least two weeks.

“Ramsey’s maybe the closest – he’s had little setbacks. But we have to get some players back. It’s difficult to fight with half of the team out.”

Seeking redemption after their 6-0 mauling at Chelsea three days earlier, Wenger’s side trailed to a Wilfried Bony header for much of Tuesday’s game at Emirates Stadium.

They appeared to be back on course for all three points after substitute Lukas Podolski volleyed the equaliser and then set up Olivier Giroud to score just a minute later.

But Swansea, whose performance merited a share of the spoils, earned it on the stroke of full-time when Leon Britton’s effort was parried by Wojciech Szczesny – only to hit Mathieu Flamini and roll across the line.

“This result hurts us a lot,” added Wenger. “Maybe we were too focused to keep the result and too conservative because our confidence level had been affected by Saturday.

“We just wanted to win the game without pushing any more forward and a mistake happened, unfortunately, and created a result that we didn’t want. We have to take it on the chin.”

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