By Richard Clarke

It is the potential in his side that keeps Arsène Wenger going through the despondency of defeats like the one at Bolton on Saturday.

After a bright start, Arsenal gave away a sloppy goal. Just before the break, old boy Nicolas Anelka added a superb second. Gilberto replied immediately and the visitors came close to an equaliser. However another Anelka strike sealed Arsenal's third away defeat of the Premiership campaign.

They are down to sixth place and 13 points adrift of leaders Manchester United. The manager admitted it would be "pretentious" to believe his side could win the title now. However the youthful exuberance of his squad soon lifts the gloom after a reverse like the one on Saturday.

"We had a lack of experience at the back in the decisive moments on Saturday," said Wenger. "But as well we have shown a lot of good qualities going forward. We just have to find the right balance now.

"The target is to get the best out of our potential, keep going and see where we finish at the end of the season.

"It would be pretentious to say at the moment that we would be champions. But I am just sad that the players do not get rewarded for what they produce. That does not make me desperate.

"If you look at the game and the amount of effort we put into the game then you want your team to be rewarded. At the moment that is not the case.

"This is a side well surrounded with experienced players who can do extremely well. But if you look at the back [on Saturday] we were aged 22, 21 and 20. Then there was Walcott, 17, Fabregas, 19, Flamini, 22, and Adebayor, 22. It is very young. The mix between youth and experience has to be right - especially defensively.

"You can see that the quality is there and the potential is there. The quicker we learn the quicker we will get satisfaction."

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Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Richard Clarke 27 Nov 2006