Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta criticised his team after their Premier League title challenge suffered a knockout blow in a 3-0 home defeat by Brighton on Sunday.
Second-half goals from Julio Enciso, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan stunned the Gunners and left them with only the slimmest of mathematical chances of catching Manchester City.
City earlier tightened their grip on top spot – and a fifth title in six years – with a 3-0 win at Everton which put them four points clear with three games left to Arsenal’s two.
“I was stood here and very proud of what we did last week [at Newcastle] but today we have to apologise because the performance in the second half was not acceptable,” said Arteta.
“Mathematically it is still possible and this is football but today it is impossible to be thinking about it.
“We have to face the result, the performance in the second half and understand why, and obviously have a very different reaction the next game.
“When the team shows the face in the second half it shows that we have things to adjust. It goes down to duels and they were better at that. “Brighton were really good and we became really poor [after going behind].”
City can clinch the title before playing Chelsea next weekend if Arsenal fail to win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday and captain Martin Odegaard conceded that the race looked a lost cause.
“Yes, it feels like that,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very difficult now, to be honest, so it’s a very tough one to take. It’s not a good feeling at the moment.”
Arsenal would need to win their games against Forest and Wolves and hope that City took just one point from their remaining fixtures to pull off a miraculous comeback.
But that would require an improbable collapse from Pep Guardiola’s champions, who have taken 40 points from a possible 42 since losing to Tottenham in February.
Both teams threatened in a nip and tuck first half at Emirates Stadium but Brighton took charge with a superb display after the break to climb into the Europa League qualifying places.
Enciso nodded the visitors in front after Arsenal failed to clear and as the hosts chased the game they punished them with late breakaway goals from Undav and Estupinan.
At Goodison Park, City made light work of a potentially tricky fixture against relegation-battling Everton thanks to a star turn from Ilkay Gundogan.
Gundogan cleverly flicked the opening goal before crossing for Erling Haaland to head his 52nd of the season and then completed the scoring with a delicate free-kick.
Elsewhere, Brentford climbed to ninth with a 2-0 win at home to West Ham United earned by first-half goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa.