Arsene Wenger has claimed Arsenal wasted their opportunities to inflict defeat on Tottenham as he admitted the north London derby was a game the Gunners 'could not afford to lose'.
Wenger's side are now languishing in sixth place, seven points behind Spurs, after Harry Kane's second half header ensured a 1-0 defeat at Wembley, leaving Arsenal's top four dreams in tatters with 11 league games remaining.
Whilst the Gunners fell to defeat after being placed under enormous pressure in the second term, Wenger was adamant that his team should have hit the front long before the home side did.
The Frenchman said, via the Independent: “It’s a game we couldn’t afford to lose, of course, and that makes it much more difficult now.
“The game should have been finished at half-time for me. We missed opportunities on the counter-attacks that are not missable at our level, with the final ball. In the second half we should have lost the game in the early part of the second half by more than one goal.
The defeat doesn't hurt so much as the abject manner of surrender. Losing is as much a part of life as sport and setbacks are something you use to come back stronger in both. But for Arsenal to go down without fight, leadership, organisation or even pride is simply unacceptable— Layth (@laythy29) February 10, 2018
“We were destabilised by the goal they scored and they had two or three good opportunities where they could have scored. And in the final part of the game we should have come back to 1-1.
"So overall it’s a bit mixed feelings, because for long periods in the first half, with a bit more quality in our final pass we win this game. We had opportunities, dangerous situations that we didn’t transform into opportunities, that’s where my regret was, that in the final ball we missed something.
"In this kind of games you want to take your chances, you will not have 10 chances. If you don’t take them you will suffer at the end of the day.”
Despite the Europa League emerging as Arsenal's best chance to return to the Champions League next season, Wenger refused to put all his eggs in one basket as he has yet to give up hope of qualifying through the league.
Wenger said: "We have to fight as long as we have a mathematical chance. There was more at stake than just the derby, I said that before the game, that’s why it’s so disappointing to lose the game the way we lost it.
Arsenal's next league game is in March. Against Man City. Have a feeling top four will be completely out of sight after that.— Mattias Karén (@MattiasKaren) February 10, 2018
"It’s too early [to talk about the Europa League]. Football is not about switching off for three games and switching one for one game.
"Overall for me it’s a very disappointing result, because the priority has to be to be in the Champions League through the Premier League. I’m not a great fan of the Europa League being a qualifier, I think it’s not right.
"But if it’s an opportunity we have to try and take it as well. But the priority is still to be in the Premier League,” he added.