Arsenal fall to seventh spot after nil-all draw against Bolton
Chances of Gunners qualifying for Champions League look slim after another mediocre display
Bolton 0 Arsenal 0. Arsenal's slow descent into mediocrity continued at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday night with a goalless draw against a lively but limited Bolton side. The result leaves the Gunners still in search of their first league win of the year, having lost to Fulham, Swansea and Manchester United in January and now having drawn against the side with the poorest defensive record in the league.
"There's a long way to go, I'm confident we can come back," said Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger after the match. "We feel we have dropped two points because we had chances to win the game, but on the positive side we haven't lost and haven't conceded a goal."
Few of the Arsenal faithful will have found any positives in another toothless display by their team. In a game full of chances at either end, neither side had a killer touch in front of goal, though Arsenal striker Robin van Persie hit the post and crossbar as he searched in vain for a winner.
His second brush with the woodwork was a sublime chip that deserved a goal for its delightful audacity. But the other Arsenal players struggled to match the class of the Dutchman. There was another bold and inventive performance from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but Theo Walcott was his normal profligate self, Aaron Ramsey drifted in and out of the game, and once again Per Mertesacker looked more a Championship player than a Premier League defender.
The result – and Newcastle's 2-0 victory over Blackburn – means that Arsenal are now in seventh spot, five points shy of fourth-placed Chelsea and looking ever more unlikely to qualify for their 15th year of Champions League football next season. Even Wenger was forced to admit that Arsenal will have to find some form from somewhere if they're to avoid the ignominy of the Europa League. "Every game... is a cup final now," said the Frenchman. "We have confidence but we have to produce it game by game."
Arsenal have never finished lower than fourth since Wenger's arrival at the club in 1996 and he says that provided they avoid a bad run of injuries they'll be in the top four come May.
"We go into a period where we play in the FA Cup, we play in the Champions League and combining all these three will be difficult, so it's important that we do not have more injuries," explained Wenger. "We have gone through a difficult period. We lost three games but we could have won them."
Could have but didn't.