Wenger laments Gunners injuries
Published 21/04/2014 | 14:57
Arsene Wenger was left to reflect on what could have been after victory over Hull kept Arsenal on course for the Champions League but long since out of the title race.
The Gunners began 2014 top of the Barclays Premier League - and indeed had been seven points clear at the end of November - but have tailed off in the second half of the season and must now hold off fast-finishing Everton for fourth place.
Injuries have played their part, but a goal from fit-again Aaron Ramsey sparked a 3-0 win over the Tigers in a game which also saw Mesut Ozil's first appearance since March 11.
Liverpool now appear champions-elect and while Wenger praised their performances, he insisted things could have been different.
Brendan Rodgers' side have also not had to contend with European football, unlike all their main rivals.
Wenger said: "The table is very close. Liverpool have played very well in the second part of the season and I wouldn't like to take anything away from them, but they had (the advantage) that they could focus completely on the Premiership.
"If you look at the injuries, the players we missed plus the schedule we had, it was much heavier than Liverpool.
"We lost (Theo) Walcott on an accident, we lost Ozil - we haven't really found why - Ramsey, maybe we overplayed him a little bit and should have rested him before he was injured."
Arsenal also still have a chance to prevent their trophy drought stretching to nine years when they face Hull again in May 17's FA Cup final.
But Wenger said: "What is important is that we finish as strongly as we can in the Premier League. After that, the cup final will be completely different."
Ramsey's goal was added to by two from Lukas Podolski, leaving Tigers manager Steve Bruce frustrated that a creditable first-half performance went unrewarded.
He was also left sweating on injuries to two of his most potent attackers after a calf injury forced Shane Long off at half-time, with Sone Aluko already absent from the matchday squad with a hamstring problem.
Long's partnership with fellow January signing Nikica Jelavic has been key in keeping Hull at arm's length from the relegation zone and with safety not quite assured, a lengthy absence would be cause for concern.
"He's got a calf injury," said Bruce of the Republic of Ireland international.
"We'll see how he is but he's got a whack to the back of his calf.
"He'll be touch and go for the weekend (away to Fulham), I would have thought."
Aluko has missed much of the season with Achilles problems and his latest injury, suffered in training, is likely to keep him out of the Fulham clash.
"Sone Aluko unfortunately nicked a hamstring on Thursday," said Bruce. "It's unfortunate because we were just seeing Sone again.
"It's getting a bit too often with Sone, we get him up to speed and unfortunately he breaks down again and that's a disappointment.
"I think he's only played three 90 minutes this season so it's a real concern."