Arsene Wenger admits to Arsenal frailty in Stoke defeat
Arsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal were outfought at Stoke after a 3-1 defeat finally ended the Gunners' fading title hopes.
Stoke took the lead when Kenwyne Jones exploited some slack Arsenal marking at a set-piece, a goal from which Wenger believes his side never recovered.
"From the start, we were not strong enough in the fight," he said.
"We were caught on the first free-kick and did not even jump to stop them from scoring. We cannot be happy with that."
Jones' goal on 28 minutes set the pattern for much of the match and Wenger conceded afterwards that Stoke were worthy winners on the day with his side lacking the ammunition to trouble the FA Cup finalists.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
“Something has gone, you could see that. From the first minute in the fight we were not strong enough”
"You have to give Stoke credit for fighting well," added Wenger. "They were dominant and defended well. It was important that we did not go 1-0 down and that's where we made the biggest mistake."
However with second place still to play for after Chelsea lost 2-1 at Manchester United Wenger reiterated that he would not stand for his players not putting in a committed performance in their final two league matches.
Asked whether some players might already have their minds on the close season, the Frenchman said: "I believe to play football is a privilege and to play for Arsenal is an even bigger privilege so that is not acceptable.
"Something has gone, you could see that. From the first minute in the fight we were not strong enough.
"It was a disappointing performance. The competitive level for Stoke was higher than ours and overall I think we lost the game because Stoke defended much better than we did, with much more purpose.
"If you don't turn up it is the same competitive spirit in every game and you can lose everywhere, especially at Stoke.
"It could have been a lot more, but we have still qualified for the Champions League so to say that we have achieved nothing this season is to go overboard.
"The Premier League is the toughest league in the world and we were very close."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis praised his side's commitment and believes such an impressive result symbolises the club's rise to prominence in recent years.
"We've played Arsenal at our place quite a few times now and they've only beaten us once here," said Pulis.
"We have a method and a way of making it difficult for them, and that's what we've done again. We've played really well today and deserved the victory.
"We're just hoping that Jones and Robert Huth are fit for the big day [FA Cup final] on Saturday.
"It's been a great ride for us this season. To think we are going into our fourth season in the Premier League after being written off after our first game against Bolton [a 3-1 defeat in August 2008] - we've come a long way."