Wenger concedes EPL title hopes all but gone

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud celebrating putting away his spot-kick during Thursday's 6-0 Europa League hammering of Bate Borisov. They are 15 points behind EPL leaders Manchester City.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud celebrating putting away his spot-kick during Thursday's 6-0 Europa League hammering of Bate Borisov. They are 15 points behind EPL leaders Manchester City.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that winning a first English Premier League title since 2004 is unrealistic this season.

He watched the Gunners romp to a 6-0 thrashing of Bate Borisov in their final Europa League Group H game on Thursday.

Already through to the Europa League's last 32, Europe's second-tier club competition could offer the Gunners a shot at silverware.

But Wenger has written off any chance of his men delivering the league crown.

"At the moment, we have different worries than the title," he said yesterday ahead of tomorrow's league clash against Southampton.

"We are too far from the title at the moment to speak about the title. It's not realistic. Let's try to win our next game and over a longer distance, see if we can come back."

Following last weekend's 1-3 home loss to Manchester United, fifth-placed Arsenal have 28 points from 15 games - 15 points behind leaders Manchester City.

A second-string side which included the likes of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, and Mohamed Elneny got Arsenal back to winning ways at the Emirates Stadium against Belarusian opponents, with Wenger making 11 changes.

The Frenchman is likely to revert to a strong line-up as only defender Shkodran Mustafi is out with injury. And he is expecting another high-scoring affair at St Mary's Stadium after the last five games between both sides produced 15 goals.

"There should be goals because they are an offensive team as well, with offensive potential," he said.

"They have Charlie Austin back now, and of course they have players like (Dusan) Tadic, (Nathan) Redmond, (Sofiane) Boufal who are all very strong offensively.

"They have a good technical level as a team and both sides can create chances so there could be goals there."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2017, with the headline 'Wenger concedes EPL title hopes all but gone'. Print Edition | Subscribe