Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal can take great credit for their progress this season – even if they end up empty handed again.
The Gunners have seen both their Barclays Premier League title challenge and Champions League hopes fade away over the past two months.
Their domestic challenge could be ended mathematically this weekend, as they currently trail leaders Manchester United and Chelsea by four points with two games to play.
Wenger believes but for some more composure and a slice of good fortune, his side could be leading the charge for the championship and that they have come a long way since the previous campaign, when they were never in the hunt for top spot.
“We have made a big improvement this season,” he said.
“We don’t think we have been rewarded for the efforts we have put in.
“We have been consistent, losing just three games, and nobody expected us to do that at the start of the year.
“If we won at Man United, which we could have done, we would be champions.
“You cannot say just these two have been good and the rest are rubbish.
“It was very tight between the three teams.”
Wenger’s men host UEFA Cup hopefuls Everton tomorrow, and the Arsenal manager said: “We would like to get to 83 points – that would be a big improvement on last season.
“The championship race was very tight, but we want to focus on finishing well.”
Wenger, though, knows the hard work must continue.
He said: “The only way to show some quality is over the longer distance. We can all win one game and over six months be strong.
“The manager can show his strengths if he makes stability for eight, 10, 15, 20 years, like (Sir Alex) Ferguson at Manchester United.
“The quality of a club and strength of it is more judged on a longer distance.
“It is a marathon to lead a club and I believe this particular club has always shown different strengths to other clubs.
“For the rest, I am not involved in the politics.”
Off the pitch, meanwhile, Wenger maintains the departure of Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman will not distract his focus from team affairs at Emirates Stadium.
Edelman has spent eight years with the Gunners and was instrumental in the move from Highbury to a new 60,000-seater venue at Ashburton Grove but on Thursday announced he was leaving “in search of a fresh challenge”.
While Wenger – who continues to work without a designated director of football - admitted his surprise at the announcement, the Arsenal manager insisted it would still be business as usual as far as he was concerned.
“I think the stability will remain,” he said.
“(Arsenal director) Ken (Friar) has already worked with me on the contracts and he will replace Keith for the coming weeks so I don’t think it will be a major change for me.”