Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea has left little margin for error in their pursuit of a Champions League.
The Gunners are six points adrift of the Premier League top four and facing the very real possibility of failing to qualify for Europe. Successive losses to Manchester City and Chelsea have seen Arsenal lose ground, and Wenger admits their situation is hard to accept. "The table is the table. We have lost two big games in the last week and that's very damaging for us," said the Gunners boss.
"It's very damaging for our position in the league and difficult to swallow. "We cannot afford to drop points any more if we want to be in the top four.
That's a concern." Arsenal were lucky to be trailing only 2-0 at half-time after being picked apart by the movement of Chelsea playmakers Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard. Mata fired the opener in the sixth minute after collecting Cesar Azpilicueta's pinpoint lofted pass and Frank Lampard doubled the lead from the spot after Ramires fell before a challenge by Wojciech Szczesny.
But the suicidal defending that hamstrung Arsenal in the first half was replaced by determination to overturn the deficit, and they were rewarded in the 58th minute when Theo Walcott tucked home Santi Cazorla's pass. Stamford Bridge was gripped by anxiety as Chelsea threatened to endure a repeat of their midweek 2-2 draw with Southampton, but this time they held firm. "We had a similar start to Man City last week, didn't defend too well and gave them too much incentive," Wenger said.
"We didn't play well in the first half, but we were much more dangerous in the second half, with a different attitude.
"Unfortunately we didn't make enough of our corners, free-kicks and the chances we created. That's why we lost the game.
"It's very damaging for our position in the league and difficult to swallow. "The team has fantastic quality and spirit, but we come into the game when we're 2-0 down. At the moment, that's worrying.
"In the big games, once you start 2-0 down it's very difficult."