Arsene Wenger accepts his side’s “nightmare” defeat at Chelsea has left Arsenal’s title hopes in a “very bad situation.”
Wenger had gone into his 1,000th match in charge of the Gunners hoping to record a victory at Stamford Bridge that would have put them a point behind the league leaders with a game in hand, but a 6-0 loss leaves them in fourth place, seven points behind the Blues.
“It was a nightmare and I take full responsibility for it,” Wenger said on his club’s official website. “It leaves it [the title race] in a very bad situation, but we want to respond.”
While he acknowledged that the size of the defeat to the Blues was hard to take, he took consolation from the 1-0 victory over arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur last week, which represented a major boost to their top-four hopes.
“We had two difficult away games at Tottenham and Chelsea,” he said. “If we had played two draws, we’d have two points. Having won one, we have three points. But today is a huge disappointment of course. When you don’t turn up in a game of this stature -- nobody takes that easy.”
Wenger refused to say whether he believed Arsenal could still win the title, insisting the only concern at this point is beating Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.
He said: “We have to win the next game. That is what we have to focus on now and give a strong response.”
Meanwhile, former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has said it would be wrong to stand down Andre Marriner following his error in the Gunners’ defeat.
Marriner apologised for his error in the match, which saw Kieran Gibbs mistakenly dismissed after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had handled the ball.
Former World Cup referee Clive Thomas subsequently called for Marriner to be stood down for the rest of the season, but Gallagher told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek programme: “I can't see that would do a referee any good. I can't see it would do Andre any good.
“You've got one of the leading referees in not only England but in Europe, and you're going to stand him down? That doesn't do the Premier League any good because he is a top top-flight referee -- he's made one mistake and his confidence would be shattered if that happened.
“I can't see that would do him any good whatsoever.”
He added: “It's an error that can be corrected off the field for Arsenal later this week. Arsenal will appeal that Kieran Gibbs didn't handle the ball, which the DVD quite clearly shows, and his red card will be rescinded and obviously Oxlade-Chamberlain will say he handled the ball and he will be the one suspended for (Tuesday's match against Swansea).”
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.