Arsenal’s title challenge virtually over

Conceding twice from set-pieces all but ends Arsenal’s EPL run with loss at Bolton.

Another season without silverware for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, no doubt prompting more speculation about his future at the London club [AFP]

Arsenal’s English Premier League title hopes all but ended at a sunny Reebok Stadium as a late winner by substitute Tamir Cohen sealed a 2-1 victory for Bolton on Sunday.

On the brink of a sixth successive season without silverware, the London side have now won just one of the last seven league games.

They languish nine points behind leaders Manchester United with only four games left to play and are virtually out of contention for any honours this season.

Cohen glanced in a header from an 89th-minute corner to snare the winner, after Netherlands striker Robin van Persie had brought the Gunners back into the match in the 47th minute, cancelling out Daniel Sturridge’s early goal.

Crucial points

Arsene Wenger’s team started strongly.

A sweeping sixth minute involving Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott provided Cesc Fabregas with an early opportunity.

But the Arsenal captain fired high and wide of the target and the chance was wasted. It was the story of their half.

Jussi Jaaskelainen produced a fine stop to deny Fabregas from 20 yards in the 15th minute, while Matt Taylor was fortunate not to concede a penalty after his late challenge on Walcott.

But Arsenal were lucky to escape when Sturridge split the visitors defence with a 25th minute pass which sent Lee Chung-Yong clean through, but the South Korean wasted his opportunity.

Samir Nasri squandered a chance when he missed the target from 20 yards after the Bolton defence had opened up.

Results & fixtures

Saturday 23 April

 Man Utd 1-0 Everton
 Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke
 Blackpool 1-1 Newcastle
 Liverpool 5-0 Birmingham
 Sunderland 4-2 Wigan
 Tottenham 2-2 West Brom
 Wolves 1-1 Fulham
 Chelsea 3-0 West Ham

Sunday April 24

 Bolton 2-1 Arsenal

Monday April 25

 Blackburn v Man City

Tuesday April 26

 Stoke v Wolverhampton

Wednesday April 27

 Fulham v Bolton

But the hosts took the lead seven minutes before the end of an entertaining first half.

Moments after Szczesny had spread himself to deny Lee, Sturridge pounced from the resulting corner, the 21-year-old the first to the rebound after Gary Cahill’s header had been cleared off the line by Nasri.

Fading hopes

With their title hopes rapidly fading, Arsenal responded through Fabregas who hit the woodwork from 25 yards.

Yet it looked all over for Wenger’s side when Sturridge went down inside the area following Johan Djourou’s 47th minute challenge.

Referee Mike Jones immediately pointed to the penalty spot, a harsh decision as Djourou made the slightest of contact.

However Davies’s poorly struck penalty was kept out by Szczesny.

Seconds later Arsenal were back on level terms after Fabregas’s surge forward resulted in Van Persie finding the net from the edge of the area.

Arsenal bombarded the home defence in search of the winner but were sunk when Cohen pounced with a close range header.

Manchester United, who beat Everton 1-0 on Saturday and visit Arsenal next Sunday, lead the way with 73 points.

Chelsea, 3-0 winners over West Ham United, are second on 67, with Arsenal on 64. Manchester City, who visit Blackburn Rovers on Monday, are fourth on 56 with Tottenham Hotspur on 55.

Source: News Agencies


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