Wenger berates Gunners for spoiling their chances


Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Page 19

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger launched a scathing attack on his team after a haphazard display against West Brom saw the champions throw away the chance to leapfrog Chelsea at the top of the table.

The Gunners looked set to reach the Premiership summit after Robert Pires opened the scoring in the 54th minute, but the Gunners' shaky defense allowed Baggies substitute Robert Earnshaw to grab a late equalizer.

"We have dropped two points against Southampton and now West Brom in our last two games at home and that's not good enough," moaned Wenger.

Wenger admitted his defenders were still shell-shocked after last week's topsy-turvy derby with Spurs which ended in a 5-4 win for the Gunners.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho -- who last week mocked Arsenal's defensive shortcomings -- meanwhile shrugged off his team's inconsistent display against Bolton.

Mourinho was even charitable enough to praise his players despite them squandering a golden opportunity to go four points clear of Arsenal.

Damien Duff broke the deadlock after just 36 seconds and midfielder Cardoso Tiago doubled Chelsea's lead after the interval.

But second half strikes by Kevin Davies and Radhi Jaidi pulled Bolton level with the high-flying Blues.

Manchester United haven't been ruled out however and began their bid to do battle with the London-based clubs with a 2-0 victory over Charlton at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes either side of the interval.

It was a mixed afternoon for Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, as he welcomed back talismanic midfielder Steven Gerrard but saw his team fold 2-0 away to Middlesbrough.

The Spaniard was just glad Gerrard made a successful return to the Premiership after a seven-week lay off.

Duncan Ferguson made sure Everton stayed third with a looping second-half header which earned the Toffees a narrow 1-0 victory over Fulham.

And Newcastle boss Graham Souness can breathe a sigh of relief as his side romped to a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert had given Newcastle the lead in the 79th minute when he backheeled Craig Bellamy's low cross past Eagles goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly.

Bellamy then made sure of victory two minutes before the end, as he jinked through the Palace defense before drilling the ball past Kiraly.

Newly promoted Norwich moved off the foot of the table as they held on for a nervous 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Southampton.

The Saints took the lead in the 24th minute through James Beattie's arrowed shot, but four minutes later burly midfielder Damien Francis fired the Canaries level.

Francis then made sure Norwich earned their first top-flight victory since 1995 with a close range effort seven minutes after the interval.

In the late evening match, Manchester City surged past Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Shaun Wright-Phillips put the racial abuse he suffered on England duty behind him to fire City ahead after just six minutes.