Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that the developments during Bolton’s must-win match at Stoke City influenced the attitude of Queens Park Rangers and thus, allowed Manchester City to score two dramatic stoppage time goals en route to their famous Premier League triumph yesterday.
QPR were leading the Citizens 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium when they heard that Bolton were up by the same score at Britannia despite an early Jonathan Walters goal that should have been waived off due to a clear foul on Trotters stopper Adam Bogdan.
Eleven minutes from the end of regulation at Stoke, Walters scored from the penalty spot to restore the tie and perhaps draw louder cheers from Rangers fans at Eastlands than the Potters fans in attendance.
Ten-men QPR, who had been extremely resilient on defense up until that point, let a desperate Citizens attack camp in their box area and create several huge opportunities.
Substitutes Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko came extremely close to beating Paddy Kenny in the QPR goal before the latter hammered a home a powerful header in the first minute of stoppage time.
With Manchester United’s 1-0 win finalized at Sunderland by that time, City needed to match that result with a win of their own, which was sealed when Sergio Aguero slotted home clinically with only two minutes left on the clock.
Shocking scenes emerged from Wearside showing United players and Sir Alex Ferguson in utter disbelief. Ferguson later acknowledged that City deserved their moment of glory and although Wenger echoed that sentiment, he did not absolve Mark Hughes’ men of all blame either.
“It is unbelievable. Maybe QPR knew they were safe, I don’t know. Maybe they relaxed a little bit and thought they were over the line. But it is Manchester City and they can score goals. That can happen,” Wenger told the Gunners’ official website.
Wenger’s Gunners also needed to match bitter cross-town rivals Tottenham Hotspur’s result to guarantee third place and the Frenchman acknowledged that their come-from-behind 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion was quite the nail-biter too.
“When we were 1-0 up we were nervous. When we were 2-1 down, we got back to our game again and in the end we just hung on,” the boss stated.
When asked his level of awareness about the Tottenham fixture, he continued: “Yes [I was aware of what was going on]. They were 2-0 up and basically I did not want to finish fourth. If Chelsea win the Champions League then you are not in it and you are also not [definitely] in it because you play a qualifier.”
With the third place, Arsenal have now sealed an automatic Champions League Group Stage berth and with that, also the ticket to attract more big names along with the recently signed Lukas Podolski.
However, their top concern remains the future of skipper Robin van Persie, who has remained non-committal despite a strong finish to the season.