LONDON • Arsene Wenger admitted it would be almost impossible for Arsenal to finish in the top four after his side lost 1-2 at Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League yesterday.
It was a fourth successive defeat in all competitions for the London club for the first time since October 2002, intensifying the pressure on the Gunners manager.
"It is very difficult, nearly impossible now, we are too far behind," the Frenchman said after Arsenal remained on 45 points, trailing north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in fourth by 13 points.
"We need two teams to collapse not one. But, at the moment, we have different worries in how to come back to winning a game."
After a bright start from the visitors, Lewis Dunk volleyed in to give the home side the lead - ensuring Arsenal's run without a Premier League clean sheet stretched to 11 games - their longest since February 2002.
Glenn Murray made it 2-0 after 26 minutes, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled a goal back for Arsenal two minutes before half-time.
Arsenal improved in the second half, but were lucky to finish the game with 11 men. Sead Kolasinac escaped a second yellow card for a hard foul on Ezequiel Schelotto that reportedly saw the defender lose consciousness for awhile.
Brighton held on to secure a third Premier League home victory in a row to go 10th in the table on 34 points.
"It is a special win, against one of the so-called big six teams, we've beaten them and it's massive for us," Murray said after Brighton beat Arsenal for the first time since 1982.
"It was cagey after they got one goal back, they had the better of the second half, but we hung in there."
The Gunners were also 30 points behind Manchester City before the runaway leaders took on Chelsea later yesterday.
Arsenal were mathematically out of the Premier League title race after 29 games - the earliest they have been ruled out of the title race in a 38-game season under Wenger.
To be in the Champions League next season, Arsenal will likely need to win the Europa League.
They face AC Milan in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday.
With an eye on that fixture, Wenger had left the likes of Hector Bellerin and Danny Welbeck on the bench.
But even their introduction could not stop Arsenal from losing each of their opening four top-flight away fixtures of a calendar year for the first time since 1925.