Arsene Wenger insisted it would be “inconvenient” to discuss his future as Arsenal manager despite conceding their 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace had made it “very difficult” for them to reach the Premier League’s top four.
In their latest poor performance Arsenal were convincingly outplayed by relegation-threatened Palace, leaving them in sixth place and seven points behind in the race to reach next season’s Champions League.
Wenger, 67, has qualified for Europe’s elite competition in each of his last 19 seasons at the club, but as his contract as manager enters its final few months and uncertainty surrounding his future persists, his team have rarely convinced.
Their lethargy contributed much to Palace’s goals, which came in the first half from Andros Townsend and in the second from Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic, the latter from the penalty spot after goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez brought down Townsend.
Sections of Arsenal’s supporters at Selhurst Park were critical of their team as they again chanted for Wenger to leave, but the manager again refused to clarify whether he would be staying beyond the end of the season.
“Honestly, I’m disappointed so much,” Wenger responded to the latest question about his plans. “To see that we lost the game in the way we did, that’s very disappointing. At the moment especially, it would be inconvenient for me to speak about me.
“It was more painful for us to lose this game in the way we lost it.
“(It is) very difficult (to finish in the top four), certainly.
“I want the fans to support the team. They are extremely disappointed and I can understand that, like we all are. It is understandable that they are disappointed.
“We played with a desire to win the game with an offensive team. We knew what would face us. Their goalkeeper (Wayne Hennessey) took the free-kicks from half-way, so it was up to us to combat that and win. But they were sharper than us.
“The fact that we’ve lost a few away games: it’s really strange. We were unbeaten for a long time away from home, and now we cannot win away from home. It had an impact on us after the second goal.”
Sam Allardyce’s Palace moved six points clear of the bottom three and have seven remaining to cement their Premier League status.
A run of five victories from their past six fixtures includes a recent defeat of league leaders Chelsea, and after describing the past week as his finest at Palace, Allardyce said they had moved “one or two results” from safety.
“It’s the best week,” said the 62-tear-old. “Certainly Chelsea away, a little blip (3-1 defeat) at Southampton, then Arsenal at home. The two victories were such great victories, in such a short space of time, but it was well deserved.
“One or two more results and we should be safe, but it’s a massive night for everybody, and a huge week for us all.
“We were full of energy. Full of fight. Full of belief. And full of talent.
“If we can perform like that in any of the last seven games, we can beat any team. Our performances have to be to that level, so we get safe and can start preparing for next season.”