“Not much” between Arsenal and Chelsea, insists Wenger

Shukriya Pakistan

LONDON: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reckons there is not much between his side and Chelsea after the Gunners held the Premier League champions-elect to a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

A point away to their London rivals saw Chelsea edge closer to the title, which they could secure by the end of the week should they both win at Leicester City on Wednesday and defeat Crystal Palace in front of the Blues’ faithful at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Arsenal, although level with second-placed Manchester City, are still 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with five league games of the season remaining.

The Gunners’ good recent form hasn’t been able to compensate for a sluggish start, where a run of two victories from their opening eight league matches dented Arsenal’s hopes of a first Premier League title since 2004.

Arsenal great Thierry Henry, now a pundit with British satellite broadcaster Sky, said after Sunday’s match that his old club needed to “buy four players” after the end of the season to improve the “spine” of the team.

But Wenger, whose FA Cup holders face Aston Villa in next month’s final at Wembley Stadium, was adamant Arsenal’s existing squad were not far off closing the gap next term.

“Overall the team were at their top level again and we are a bit frustrated because we always score here (at the Emirates Stadium). Not to score means you go home and think, ‘What happened?’,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“Do we put that down to the quality of Chelsea’s defending? Do we put that down to the fact that we lacked a bit of sharpness in the final third? Maybe both,” the veteran French boss, in charge of Arsenal since September 1996, added.

“You could see that (there is) not a lot (between the teams),” Wenger said. “We missed the first part of the season — after six games we had one win and Chelsea were already five or six points in front, that played a big part in the run-in.”

Blues fans at the Emirates were taunted with chants of “Boring, boring” by Arsenal supporters, who were well used to hearing such cries directed at their side during manager George Graham’s successful spell in charge of the Gunners from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s.

However, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had a typically sharp reply to the jeers, saying after the match: “Boring I think is 10 years without a title.

“That’s very boring. You support the club and you’re waiting, waiting, waiting for so many years without a Premier League title, so that’s very boring.” -AFP