By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes that his team would have been crowned champions this season if they had held on to their lead at Old Trafford last month.
Arsenal got their noses in front against Manchester United on April 13 thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor's header and were a whisker away from a second goal when Rio Ferdinand's attempted clearance bounced off goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar from point-blank range. Within two minutes United were level before Owen Hargreaves' free kick all but ended Arsenal's title bid.
As far as Wenger is concerned, his players would have stayed on course for the title if fortune had favoured them at Old Trafford. Nonetheless, the Frenchman is convinced his team has made significant progress this season.
"I feel we were one game away in this championship," said Wenger. "If we win at Old Trafford, we are champions. That is just one game and in it we were 1-0 up and had good chances to score the second goal.
"You cannot say we have had a terrible season. We have 77 points and in the past have won championships with 78 points.
"For me, this team has a good future. We have reached 77 points [after beating Derby] and have lost just three times all season. The team has grown and we are stronger than we were at the beginning of the season. We had a difficult period in March and we paid for that."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 1 May 2008