Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his team “have to fight” to get in the top four, after dropping points they “couldn’t afford to drop” in a 2-1 loss to north London rivals Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Wenger’s side are languishing seven points behind third placed Spurs and five adrift of fourth placed Chelsea as they paid the price for a mad two minutes at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Wenger says defeat is “difficult to swallow” after two goals in three first-half minutes from Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon were enough to give Spurs the win, with Per Mertesacker’s headed reply unable to spark a comeback.
The Gunners are now seven points behind Tottenham, who rise to third, and five points behind Chelsea, who occupy fourth spot.
This has been by far the worst season of Wenger’s 17-year reign in north London, with embarrassing cup defeats to Bradford and Blackburn and a series of lacklustre league displays provoking anger from fans infuriated by the club’s eight-year run without a trophy.
It is especially vexing for Wenger that his players seem to save their most nervous displays for the biggest occasions.
“When you go into a big game like that and are 2-0 down you make it difficult for yourself,” Wenger said.
“It happened to us many times this season and always in big games. I cannot fault the attitude the team produced but you can’t give yourself a mountain to climb every time.
“It’s very frustrating because we lost it when we were on top. We were not efficient in the zones where it matters most at the front and at the back.”