Soccer-Arsenal need redemption at Bolton to keep title hopes alive

Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:56am BST

(Fixes typo in headline)

By Mike Collett

LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - Arsenal must pick themselves up from Wednesday's disappointing 3-3 draw with arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur and focus on this weekend's game against Bolton if they are to keep their Premier League title hopes alive.

Arsenal let a two-goal lead evaporate against Spurs at White Hart Lane and, in many observers' eyes, killed off their hopes of overtaking Manchester United for the Premier League crown.

With champions Chelsea winning 3-1 at home against Birmingham City, Arsenal slipped from second to third behind Carlo Ancelotti's side on goal difference and seem set for a sixth season without a trophy.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp was among those who thought Arsenal's failure to win had severely damaged their chances of lifting the title for the first time since 2004.

"They have gone 16 games unbeaten in the League and you don't do that without any bottle," Redknapp said afterwards.

"But it is going to be hard for them to catch Manchester United now, although you never know. Chelsea might win every game and its not the first time we have seen big leads turn around, but it was a bad result for Arsenal tonight and a very good result for Manchester United."

Despite the two points dropped, Wenger was in bullish mood.

"It is not over, we will fight until the end," he told reporters. "Chelsea are back in the race and it is down to us to keep our faith and keep battling and we will not always draw when we score three goals."

Arsenal have now dropped 13 points from winning positions this season, and with five matches to play, trail Manchester United by six points.

United lead the standings with 70 points, six clear of both Chelsea and Arsenal and need only 10 points from their last five matches to secure a record 19th title.

Arsenal's next match is on Sunday at Bolton, who will be keen to make up for their 5-0 drubbing by Stoke City in the FA Cup semi-final last Sunday.

ALL TO PLAY FOR

Manchester United, who drew 0-0 with Newcastle on Tuesday, are the first side in action on Saturday when they face Everton in a lunchtime kickoff at Old Trafford where they have won 15 of their 16 League games and drawn the other.

Chelsea have emerged as United's closest challengers, showing many of the qualities that made them champions by demolishing Birmingham on Wednesday.

They face their old manager Avram Grant and his relegation-threatened West Ham side at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Like Wenger, Ancelotti believes the title is still there to be won.

"Obviously I would like to be in United's position, six points ahead," he said.

"That's a lot at this stage of the season, but in football anything can happen right up until the final whistle. You can win the title in the last minute and you can lose the title in the last minute."

While Wednesday's match at White Hart Lane dented Arsenal's title hopes, it also did little for Spurs' chances of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League.

Like last season they are in a two-way battle with Manchester City for fourth spot, and trail them by two points with both teams having six games to play.

Spurs are at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday while Manchester City, buoyed by beating Manchester United and reaching their first FA Cup final for 30 years last weekend, visit out-of-form Blackburn Rovers on Monday. (Editing by Peter Rutherford; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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