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Wenger aiming for top-four finish
Published : 02 Feb 2012 07:16:50
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident his side remain in with a good chance of qualifying for the Champions League despite dropping points in the goalless draw at Bolton.
It was the Gunners' first point in four matches and, although they stayed within five points of fourth-placed Chelsea they slipped to seventh in the table. Arsenal had chances to win, with Robin van Persie hitting the post and the bar in the second half, but could not find a way to break down a Wanderers side who have grown in confidence over the last month.
"There is a long way to go and I am confident we can come back," said Wenger of the race for fourth place, which involves themselves, Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle. "It is a long way to go. We have gone through a difficult period, we've lost three league games but we could have won the three as well.
"We have confidence but we have to produce it game by game - for us every game in the championship is a cup final for us now. Even when we have won championships we have not won for six games. It is part of football that when you lose three games like we did when you don't lose the fourth game it is already not too bad."
Arsenal's best chances to open up the game came in the first 30 minutes when Van Persie had a header cleared off the line, both he and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired over, while Theo Walcott came off second-best in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.
"We feel we have dropped two points because we had chances to win the game but it was a decent game against a different opponent who gives you the ball and marks tight and waits for their chance," added the Arsenal boss.
"We took all the risks and were unlucky because we hit the bar and the post and had some great chances and at the end we took the gamble to play with four strikers and we nearly got caught in the last five minutes. I cannot fault the effort and commitment and desire to win the game and the positive side is we haven't lost or conceded a goal.
"What was missing was for us to take our chances early because that would have changed the game as they would have had to come out. They defended very well and as long as we didn't score they were not in the position where they had to change their tactics."
David Ngog had two chances to put Bolton ahead midway through the first half but it was not until late in the second half that they threatened again. But Wanderers' first clean sheet in 12 league matches secured another point towards survival.
"Coming onto the game we were in good form but we knew we would have to work very hard against a quality side," said manager Owen Coyle. "Adam made a great save from Walcott and David Ngog had a couple of great chances to score in the first half. In the second half the longer the game got the stronger we got and if truth be told we could have won the game late on so there is a lot to be pleased about."