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Arsene Wenger: Arsenal are now unlikely to win the Premier League

The Gunners manager believes Rafael van der Vaart, who opened the scoring at White Hart Lane, handled the ball, but concedes his side defended badly against their rivals

Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal cannot now realistically hope to challenge for the Premier League title after they slumped to a 2-1 defeat on Sunday, but insisted that Tottenham goalscorer Rafael van der Vaart should have been sent off.

The Dutchman appeared to control the ball with the top of his arm for Spurs’ opener, and then went unpunished for celebrating with the fans, which the Gunners manager believes merited a second yellow card.

Asked by the assembled media how the loss affected his title hopes, the Frenchman said: "I do not think like that. I think at the moment we have to set ourselves a realistic target and to get in touch with the teams who are fighting for the Champions League positions.

"If you say today we will win the league it is not realistic.

"At the moment we are 12 points behind Manchester United and Manchester City. We have to fight to come back into a much better position, that's reality.

"It is frustrating as well because their first goal was handball," he continued.

"I wonder what the linesmen do in these situations. It is a second yellow card as well because he already had one - for handball, on purpose."

Wenger then went on to admit that his side had defended poorly despite playing well otherwise.

"We lost the game when we were on top, and we conceded two poor goals, I think," the dejected tactician said.

"After the second goal I think we defended badly, and made two or three mistakes in the same situation.

"We did not defend properly and we were punished for it. I have to see it again [the second goal], but yes, Wojcech Sczesny certainly looks disappointed about the second goal.

"There were some encouraging signs, but we need points."

Defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals leaves Arsenal 15th in the Premier League table, with just seven points from seven games. They trail Spurs by five points, and have played one more game to boot.

After the international break, the Gunners’ first opportunity to regain momentum will be two home league games against Sunderland and Stoke City.