Arsene Wenger believes his Arsenal side are currently “nowhere near” being involved in the race for the Premier League title – but believes a consistent run could change all that.
The Gunners currently sit third in the table and are nine points adrift of league-leaders Chelsea, with Manchester City four points clear in second spot.
The chase for the top four has closed up in recent weeks with Arsenal likely to come under heavy pressure from the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Wenger takes his side across London to face struggling QPR on Wednesday night looking for a seventh win in eight league games but, even with such a strong run of form, Wenger feels a push for the title is not currently feasible.
“At the moment we are nowhere near to winning the Premier League, and nowhere near close to being in the race,” he said.
“But what we want is to do as well as we can without speculating on the weakness of any team. The only thing you can say is that it’s very tight.
“You look in front of you, Manchester City are four points ahead of us, and you look behind you, there’s plenty of people chasing us.
“That will be very, very tight and it will be down to consistency in our results and mental strength. That will certainly be needed again on Wednesday night.”
Whilst closing in on Capital One Cup winners Chelsea seems an outside bet for Wenger, he is hoping a drop in form form reigning champions Man City could open up the chance to pip Manuel Pellegrini’s side to second spot.
“At the moment we are too far from Chelsea to say we are in the title race, but you never know what can happen,” he added.
“I speak as well about Man City, why should they give up for the title? They have done it three years ago by being eight points behind.
“If you ask a team who is four points behind us, they will say it’s realistic to try and catch us. Manchester City are four points in front of us so mathematically of course that is possible.
Wenger confirmed Aaron Ramsey is ahead of schedule in recovering from a hamstring injury and is back in the squad for the short hop to Loftus Road.
The Wales international has not featured since suffering another hamstring problem on February 10 but is now back in contention, although fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere remains sidelined.
The 23-year-old had been closing in on his own return but underwent surgery on his troublesome ankle and, despite Wenger claiming he would be absent for days rather than weeks, he confirmed Wilshere will not feature in neither the QPR contest or Monday’s FA Cup sixth-round clash at Manchester United.
“He is doing well,” Wenger said of the England international.
“It takes some time to heal the wound after the surgery – it will take his a few days. I don’t set any dates, but what is for sure is that for Man United he will not be available.”
As well as having Ramsey at his disposal, Wenger is hoping Francis Coquelin could also play despite fracturing his nose in Sunday’s victory over Everton, with the midfielder set to sport a protective mask.