Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger conceded that his side have lost vital ground in the title race despite instigating a stunning three-goal fightback in the final 20 minutes to steal a point at Bournemouth.
In-form striker Olivier Giroud netted a stoppage-time leveller, adding to strikes from Alexis Sanchez and Lucas Perez, after Bournemouth had stormed into a 3-0 lead courtesy of goals from Charlie Daniels, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser.
The draw meant Arsenal stayed fourth in the table, eight points adrift of leaders Chelsea, who have the chance to move 11 clear of the Gunners tonight when they face Tottenham. Bournemouth remained ninth.
“We dropped two points but we have to do better in the other games and hope other teams will drop points,” said Wenger.
“It was not the result we wanted before the game but at 3-0 down we’d have signed for 3-3. I believe we refused to lose. There’s a great resilience in the team and we saw that today.”
Wenger became the latest manager to bemoan the fixture list. He added: “The disadvantage is too big to play against a team with three-and-a-half days’ recovery. That’s too big a handicap.”
The Cherries opened the scoring in the 16th minute when full-back Daniels collected a pinged crossfield ball from Junior Stanislas, cut inside exposed Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin and caressed a left-footed finish beyond Petr Cech.
Bournemouth rocked the Gunners by doubling their lead in the 20th minute. Wilson fired his spot-kick down the centre of Cech’s goal after Granit Xhaka was adjudged to have shoved Fraser in the penalty area.
Shortly ahead of the hour mark, Fraser latched onto Daniels’ forward ball, shrugged off Bellerin before closing in on goal and prodding through the legs of Cech from an acute angle.
But Arsenal finally found some gusto and retaliated with 20 minutes remaining when Sanchez scored his 15th goal of the campaign, diving in at the far post to head Giroud’s flick past Artur Boruc.
There was further joy for the Gunners moments later as a slick move involving Sanchez, Xhaka and Giroud ended with Perez lashing a stunning, acrobatic volley into the far corner for his maiden Premier League strike.
Dan Gosling wasted a gilt-edged chance to restore a two-goal lead for the hosts, before referee Michael Oliver brandished a straight red card to Bournemouth skipper Simon Francis for a lunge at Aaron Ramsey.
Arsenal completed their remarkable comeback in injury time as Giroud outmuscled centre-half Steve Cook to meet and glance home a dinked, inswinging cross from Xhaka.