Arsenal's last lingering mathematical chances of winning the Premier League title were finally extinguished on Sunday when they lost 3-1 at Stoke City.
Goals from Kenwyne Jones, former Gunner Jermaine Pennant and Jon Walters condemmed Arsenal to a sixth season without a trophy while buoyant Stoke head for the FA Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium next Saturday.
Jones scored with a simple chance after 28 minutes when Arsenal's defence, who have struggled to deal with set-pieces all season, allowed him to steal in at a corner and guide the ball home with his chest.
Pennant, who only made 12 appearances for Arsenal in six seasons early in his career, doubled Stoke's lead with a stunning 25-metre strike after running unchallenged at the Arsenal defence. The shot took a slight deflection off Johan Djourou that left goalie Wojciech Szczesny floundering.
Robin van Persie pulled a goal back for Arsenal late on to extend his run of scoring in Premier League away matches to eight but Walters pounced on some soft defending almost immediately to kill of the Gunners.
With two matches to play Arsenal are on 67 points, three behind second placed Chelsea (70pts) and leaders Manchester United (73) who meet at Old Trafford in what is effectively the title decider later on Sunday (1310 GMT).
In earlier action, Wolverhampton Wanderers improved their chances of staying in the Premier League when they beat local rivals West Bromwich Albion 3-1 in a keenly fought derby to pull out of the relegation zone.
Wolves capitalised on poor defending by their neighbours to score twice in 13 first-half minutes through Stephen Fletcher and Adlene Guedioura before Fletcher added a third goal after another defensive mistake by Abdoulaye Meite two minutes after halftime.
West Brom, who have climbed to safety after a run of good results since Roy Hodgson took over as coach in February, replied when Peter Odemwingie scored for the fifth successive league match with a 55th-minute penalty after Guedioura tripped Jerome Thomas in the box.
Although they are still not safe with two games to play, Wolves are now 17th with 37 points, with Blackpool dropping into the bottom three on 36. Wigan Athletic are 19th on 36 and West Ham United bottom with 33.