Arsene Wenger: Result 'hurts us a lot'
Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal must now "look behind'' them after their faltering Premier League title bid took another massive blow as a bizarre own goal from Mathieu Flamini in the last minute gifted Swansea a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger had called for a response to the "accident'' of his side's 6-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge, which ruined his 1,000th match in charge. Having trailed to an 11th-minute header from Wilfried Bony, it was not until after the introduction of substitute Lukas Podolski just before the hour that Arsenal finally sparked into life. Two goals in the space of 60 seconds from substitute Podolski and Olivier Giroud looked to have won the match for the Gunners.
However, Garry Monk's side -- fighting against being dragged into the relegation battle -- had defended resolutely and were themselves dangerous on the counter attack, eventually forcing a late equaliser when the ball broke to Leon Britton at the edge of the Arsenal penalty area. As the midfielder pressed forwards, riding a couple of challenges, he stabbed a shot goalwards, which was partially blocked by Per Mertesacker, ricocheted off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and back onto Flamini before rolling into the net.
Wenger was left less than impressed, and will be in no doubt of the challenges that now lie ahead in a campaign which has promised so much -- and continues with the visit of Manchester City on Saturday. Arsenal, though, also now face a fight to hold off Everton's charge for fourth spot, the Toffees having closed to within six points and a match in hand on the Gunners, whom they host next weekend.
"We want to go back to focus on the next game and this result hurts us a lot,'' Wenger said. "The result is very disappointing, but the spirit we put in and the effort we put in was great and we have to take it on the chin.
"Sometimes when you lose big like we did at Chelsea, the next game most of the time you get a draw. The way it happened of course is more frustrating because we were 2-1 up with two minutes to go. I think at the moment it [the title] is not the biggest worry we have. We have to be realistic a little bit and try to come back a bit in the next game.''
Wenger added: "We have to look behind us and of course try to look in front of us. Everton won, so we have to focus and prepare well for the next game. It will be open until the end, but you can still have surprises as well. We have not too much room to come back into it, but we have to get some players back. It is difficult to fight with half the team out.''
Wenger confirmed defender Laurent Koscielny would be out "for a while'' with a calf problem, while midfield trio Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil are not yet ready to a return.