Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger warned his players it was unacceptable if they felt their season was already over even before Sunday's defeat at Stoke.

Victory the previous weekend over champions-elect Manchester United had made it mathematically possible they could stage a late run to snatch the Barclays Premier League title but realistically such a prospect was beyond their means.

Instead they conceded the opening goal to an unmarked Kenwyne Jones, who did not even have to jump to convert Jermaine Pennant's free-kick, and then saw the Stoke winger fire in a second. Wenger said: "I believe to play football is a privilege and to play for Arsenal is an even bigger privilege so that is not acceptable."

Robin van Persie pulled a goal back nine minutes from time only for Jon Walters to go straight down the other end and restore the Potters' two-goal cushion. Arsenal failed to compete in all areas of the pitch and Wenger was annoyed to think many of his players were already thinking about their summer holidays.

He added: "Something has gone, you could see that. From the first minute in the fight we were not strong enough. It was a disappointing performance. The competitive level for Stoke was higher than ours and overall I think we lost the game because Stoke defended much better than we did, with much more purpose.

"If you don't turn up it is the same competitive spirit in every game and you can lose everywhere, especially at Stoke. Basically there is not a lot to say. But you have to give credit to Stoke, they did fight well."

By contrast, Stoke were on their game from the off despite an understandable temptation to ease up with an FA Cup final against Manchester City next weekend. "You couldn't question the commitment, which is what we base everything on," said manager Tony Pulis.

"The biggest compliment I can pay our players is that with a cup final only six days away their attitude in trying to win a game was 110% and that speaks volumes for them.

"We have played one of the best teams in the country, a team which is competing against the likes of Barcelona and other great teams in Europe, and we have beaten them quite comprehensively."

Stoke will check on a knee injury to defender Robert Huth later on Monday, although Jones is expected to be fine after coming off as a precaution late on.

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Topics:
Jermaine Pennant
Arsenal
Robin Van Persie
Stoke City
Football
Manchester City
Robert Huth
Kenwyne Jones
Premier League
Manchester United
FA Cup