Wenger still refusing to concede title race

December 11, 2006

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can still win the title despite watching them slip 18 points adrift of Barclays Premiership leaders Manchester United.

The Gunners, who drew 1-1 at champions Chelsea yesterday, have a game in hand on Sir Alex Ferguson's side and Wenger believes his team have a chance of claiming the crown.

He said: 'If you ask me whether I would prefer Manchester United to win the title, or Chelsea to win it, my answer is simple - I would prefer Arsenal to win it.

'It looks a bit difficult and United will need to drop points, but we have a young side and it takes time to achieve consistency.'

Until six minutes from the end it looked as though Wenger's team would be the first team to win at Stamford Bridge in the league since Jose Mourinho took over as Chelsea manager in the summer of 2004.

Mathieu Flamini's 78th-minute strike seemed to have put Arsenal on course for three points but Michael Essien produced a stunning equaliser from 35 yards to rescue a point for his side.

It was no more than Chelsea deserved, as Frank Lampard hit the post twice, Essien hit the underside of the crossbar and saw a shot cleared off the line, while Didier Drogba missed a succession of chances and substitute Arjen Robben also squandered two good opportunities.

Ashley Cole was booed throughout by the Arsenal fans in his first match against his former club since his acrimonious move to Chelsea in the summer.

Chelsea even struck the frame of the goal - through Essien and Lampard - twice in stoppage time, but this result means they are now eight points behind United, albeit with a game in hand.

That match is against Newcastle on Wednesday and Mourinho knows his team still have every chance of collecting a third successive Premiership title.

Mourinho said: 'We are disappointed because we had so many chances, but if we beat Newcastle on Wednesday we will be only five points behind United - so (the title race) is more than open.'