Arsenal’s Wenger Says Title Hopes ‘Slim’ After Defeat at Bolton

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his team’s chances of ending a seven-year wait for a Premier League title are “slim” after a 2-1 loss at Bolton yesterday.

Arsenal, which remains on 64 points in third spot, trails first-place Manchester United by nine points with only four games remaining. Chelsea is second on 67 points.

“We’ll have to fight as hard as we can but the chances are now very slim,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “We had the chances to win the game.”

Tamir Cohen headed Bolton’s winning goal in the 90th minute at the Reebok Stadium, ending Arsenal’s 16-match unbeaten run in English soccer’s top league. Daniel Sturridge gave the hosts a 39th-minute lead, Robin van Persie tying the game three minutes after halftime.

The Gunners had the first chance yesterday, Theo Walcott denied by goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, with Bolton’s centerbacks then combining to stop Samir Nasri from the follow-up. Jaaskelainen also stopped a 25-yard shot from Cesc Fabregas.

Bolton, beaten 5-0 by Stoke in the F.A. Cup semifinals last weekend, had two opportunities after 25 minutes. Lee Chung-Yong wasted the first as he opted to find Kevin Davies rather than shoot, and Matt Taylor hit a shot straight at Wojciech Szczesny.

Lee was denied by Szczesny on 37 minutes as the goalkeeper came out quickly to block. Bolton’s opener arrived from the resulting corner, Sturridge heading in from close range as Nasri tried to clear off the line. Fabregas hit the bottom of a post just before the break but Bolton went in with a one-goal lead.

Van Persie Scores

Straight after halftime, Bolton was awarded a penalty kick as Johan Djourou felled Sturridge. Szczesny blocked Kevin Davies’s effort and the Gunners capitalized moments later when Van Persie scored.

Arsenal pressed for a second goal with the best opportunities falling for Nasri. He should have scored after 70 minutes but hit the ball straight at the onrushing Jaaskelainen and then was unable to turn in a follow-up after being pushed wide.

Bolton was providing a threat on the break and Szczesny tipped a Johan Elmander effort wide on 89 minutes. Again Bolton prospered at a corner, Cohen rising to score and virtually end Arsenal’s title chances. He then took off his jersey to show a picture of his father Avi -- a former Liverpool player who died in December after a motorcycle accident -- and broke down in tears.

“It’s hard to swallow, our attitude was fantastic,” said Wenger, whose team’s last trophy was the F.A. Cup in 2005. Bolton stays in eighth place with 46 points.

Two days ago, United defeated Everton 1-0, Chelsea won 3-0 against West Ham, fifth-place Tottenham was held to a 2-2 draw by West Bromwich Albion, and Liverpool beat Birmingham 5-0.

The matches between Aston Villa and Stoke, Blackpool and Newcastle, and Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham were all 1-1 ties, while Sunderland beat Wigan 4-2. Manchester City is at Blackburn today.

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