Premier League: Wenger concern at limp end to campaign ahead of FA Cup final

Frank Dalleres
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Arsenal mustered 28 attempts at goal but failed to beat Sunderland keeper Pantilimon

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger admits he is worried at his team’s toothless and sluggish finish to the season after Sunderland kept them at bay to clinch Premier League survival last night.

Wenger conceded his team never looked like scoring despite mustering 28 attempts on goal, which were either volleyed over, thwarted by goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon or scrambled clear by Sebastian Coates.

The Gunners have won just one of their last five games and failed to score in three at home – form that concerns Wenger before the FA Cup final on 30 May, even if third place is practically assured before West Brom visit on Sunday.

“We didn’t look like scoring, honestly, even if we had 28 shots. There was something missing,” he said. “We played our 56th game of the season tonight and some players have given a lot. We still have time to recover for Sunday and prepare well for the FA Cup final. But it’s important now that we win on Sunday.”

Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat, handed the improbable task of averting relegation with nine games left, wept at full-time but reiterated that he would not decide whether to stay at the club until after the season’s final fixture at Chelsea.

It said much about Arsenal’s fussy build-up and tired finishing that their three notable first-half efforts were all spectacular volleys – from Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud ­– and lacked the exacting precision required.

Substitute Theo Walcott’s right-wing raids caused Sunderland greater discomfort after the break, but Pantilimon saved from the winger and Frenchman Giroud, and when Walcott did beat him Coates made one of several goalmouth clearances.