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Arsenal not out of title race, says boss Arsene Wenger

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Everything went for Chelsea - Wenger

Manager Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are still in the Premier League title hunt, despite their crushing 3-0 home defeat by leaders Chelsea on Sunday.

The Gunners, who last took the crown in 2004, are fourth in the table and 11 points behind the Blues but Wenger said: "I do not think it is over.

"We are fighters and we have to show that in the next game.

"We are still in a very strong position. Chelsea can drop points, I am convinced of that."

Victory at Wolves on 7 November had resulted in Arsenal, who face Manchester City in the Carling Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, extending their unbeaten league run to seven games and moving up to second place, three points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti's side.

However, successive defeats by Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium have dented their title ambitions.

Arsenal, who overcame an inconsistent start to the season with four straight top-flight wins between 19 September and 17 October, will look to bounce back at home to Stoke on Saturday and hope Chelsea drop points at Manchester City in the late kick-off.

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"The problem we have to face at the moment is people will not believe in us, so we have to make sure that lack of belief does not diminish our own belief," stated Wenger.

"That is where we have to be mentally stronger than we were because until now we had some credit, which we earned at the start of the season from the specialists, then we a lose a game, so now it will be harder."

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba opened the scoring with a delightful flick.

The advantage was doubled when Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen deflected an Ashley Cole cross into his own net before Drogba curled in a late free-kick.

Arsenal felt they should have pulled a goal back when Andrey Arshavin fired home at the start of the second half, only for referee Andre Marriner to disallow the strike for a foul by Eduardo on Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

"The turning point was the referee's decision [to disallow the goal]," added Wenger, who used the incident to again highlight the need for instant television replays to help match officials.

Ancelotti celebrates 'team performance'

"I believe it was not a serious decision, that was very unfair. How can he see Eduardo kicking Cech when it was a Chelsea player who stops him from controlling the ball?

"It would have been a very important goal in this kind of game and that was a big mistake by the referee.

"What can you say about referees this year? The Chelsea v Manchester United game was clearly decided by the referee [John Terry scored a controversial winner on 8 November]. It is important they don't make mistakes in big games.

"He told me it was dangerous play from our player. He got the turning point of the game wrong. It was not a serious decision."

It was a decision, though, that did get the support from Chelsea manager Ancelotti, who said: "Arsenal are upset because they lost and I think it was a foul on Petr Cech."

Marriner was also in charge of Liverpool's 2-0 win over Manchester United in October when he was accused of struggling with the intimidating Anfield atmosphere by Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Wenger believes Chelsea were lucky to have achieved such an emphatic result.

Drogba 'feeling good' about form

"The score is a very unfair reflection of the game but it is the score and we cannot change it now," he commented.

"I believe that Chelsea had absolutely everything for them. The first shot on goal they scored and the second cross they scored. And after that it was difficult.

"They are physically strong players but that is the impression you get when they are 2-0 up. They just defended in their own half and attacked on the break.

"They lost many balls and made many technical mistakes but we couldn't take advantage."

Chelsea have now won 12 out of 14 Premier League matches and lead second-placed Manchester United by five points.

"It was a very good performance. If you win 3-0 at Arsenal you have to do a good job. The defence did a fantastic job, all the players worked for the team," said Ancelotti before revealing that defender Ashley Cole had suffered a slight muscle tear.

"Strength is a quality of this team, we have to use this. We have a lot of different qualities, mental as well as physical.

"We wanted to use intelligence to defend our half and there we won the game. Arsenal put a lot of players in midfield and sometimes they lost the balance.

"Arsenal kept the ball well in the first half but we always had the possibility to score on the counter-attack. We stopped them in midfield. There we won the game."

Regarding his double goalscorer, the Blues boss added: "Drogba has a good spirit - goals are good but the most important thing is working for the team."



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see also
Emirates throwing incident probed
30 Nov 09 |  Premier League
Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea
29 Nov 09 |  Premier League
Sunday football as it happened
29 Nov 09 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
29 Nov 09 |  Football
Ancelotti targets European glory
29 Nov 09 |  Chelsea
Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd
08 Nov 09 |  Premier League
Ferguson questions key decisions
26 Oct 09 |  Premier League


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