Arsene Wenger hailed Arsenal’s spirit in earning a 3-3 draw at West Ham but felt hat-trick hero Andy Carroll should have been sent off early on.
Arsenal led 2-0 at Upton Park courtesy of goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but Carroll scored twice within the space of 80 seconds just before half-time before scoring again seven minutes into the second half to put West Ham ahead.
Laurent Koscielny scored to earn Arsenal a point, but the Gunners remain 10 points behind Leicester City at the top of the Premier League ahead of the Foxes’ trip to Sunderland on Sunday.
Wenger, however, was in no mood to criticise.
“We’ve shown resilience and spirit to come back to 3-3,” the Frenchman said. “In the last 20 mins it could have gone both ways.
“I’m not here after the game to blame the players. We are disappointed to concede three goals. Particularly after 2-1. Overall it’s a shame.
“Do we still have an opportunity to win the title? I don’t know. We made it more difficult today. We have to stay focused on finishing the best we can.
“We are third on 59 points and that’s not where we want to be.
“You never know what will happen, and we have clubs chasing us as well, so we have to be serious and focus on finishing as high as possible.”
Wenger said he was “disappointed” with his side’s inability to deal with Carroll but felt the Hammers striker was fortunate to remain on the pitch after an early foul on Koscielny.
“Yes of course, he was lucky to finish the game,” Wenger said. “But that doesn’t mean we have to concede goals from headers, we have to look at ourselves.
“Why did we struggle with Carroll? Because he’s good in the air.
“We had a good game but a bad result, and we paid for a weakness we have had all season – headers in our box.”