Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger Frustrated as Arsenal Blow Their Big Chance to Close the Euro Gap on Tottenham

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger Frustrated as Arsenal Blow Their Big Chance to Close the Euro Gap on Tottenham

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE STAMMERS

THE sight of a bloody and forlorn Sol Campbell summed up a frustrating and potentially costly night for Arsenal.

Centre back Campbell now has an anxious wait to see how long he will be out of action following his broken nose and Arsene Wenger will discover at the end of the season whether the "five clear-cut chances" his side squandered will come back to haunt the club when the chase for a Champions League place is over.

Arsenal can rightly feel they had two valuable Premiership points lifted from their pockets by a Portsmouth team scrapping against relegation who would never have anticipated that a highlydangerous Arsenal team would blow chance after chance.

The one that was converted was done so, predictably, by Thierry Henry for his 22nd league goal of the season who has fond memories of Portsmouth's ground having been generously applauded off the field after destroying Pompey almost single-handedly in an FA Cup tie a few years ago.

Emmanuel Adebayor in contrast, would be happy if he never saw Fratton Park again. To say the two openings he missed were clear-cut is an understatement.

It was harder to put Henry's low cross wide just before halftime and with Arsenal still ahead in the second half he headed wide of a gaping net. Add to that Johan Djourou's failure to capitalise on a free header and a penalty shout for a foul on Fredrik Ljungberg while the annoyance on the face of manager Wenger was evident and understandable.

Wenger admitted: "Yes I am frustrated, because we made the maximum effort and for the minimum result. It is disappointing to come back with just one point. We should have won by five and yet we finished 1-1."

The dropped points mean fifth-placed Arsenal are now four points behind rivals Tottenham having both played 33 games. The two meet at Highbury on 22 April.

Wenger, though, had sympathy for Adebayor, adding: "You regret those chances he missed but he did not miss them on purpose. I feel sorry for him. But we also had a good chance with Johan and there was a penalty on Ljungberg in the first half. These were five clear-cut chances - not half chances. I am disappointed not to have won. …

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