Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal are in a fight to finish in the top four this season after watching their Premier League title bid falter over the last week.
The Gunners have been an ever-present inside the top four since 1996 but that position is likely to come under threat this season as the scrap for Champions League qualification intensifies.
Arsenal appeared to be more focused on a title tilt until damaging defeats to Watford and Chelsea left them just a point above Liverpool in fifth.
With Chelsea top of the table and Tottenham and Manchester City in decent form, Wenger will be wary of not only their challenge but also of the Reds and Manchester United lurking on the periphery.
And he concedes that not only are his side battling it out for a first title since 2004 but they are also looking to keep up their run of top-four finishes.
“You fight as far as you can,” he said when asked if everyone has given up chasing strong favourites Chelsea for the title.
“We are in a double fight because we are in a fight to be in the top four. But when you are in a competition you fight, you do not go home and analyse rationally ‘if they win here they have three points’.
“We have as well to fight like we want to catch Chelsea or you have no fuel. You have to refuse to give up.”
Asked if this was the hardest season to finish in the top four, he replied: “I’ll tell you at the end of the season. It’s hard of course but I think we have enough quality to do it.”
He also refused to divulge the outcome of a team meeting held to analyse the back-to-back defeats which have threatened to destabilise Arsenal’s campaign.
“I don’t want to come out on that because it is difficult enough to keep some things internal,” he said.
“There is no need for me to come out on top of that to (reveal) what I say in the meetings with the players.”
Relegation-threatened Hull are next up for Wenger’s men as Marco Silva takes his Tigers to the Emirates Stadium in tomorrow’s early kick-off.
The Arsenal boss has once again had to deal with supporters questioning whether he is the right man to take the club forward after the surprise reverse to Watford and the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea.
Wenger, 67, sees his current contract expire in the summer and has yet to be drawn on whether he will stay — but he insists any criticism does not bother him.
“I focus on what is important,” he added. “And what is important is to prepare for the next game and analyse what happened and prepare for the next one.
“I am long enough in the job that you go from hero to zero in one minute. I am the same person as last Tuesday and I can analyse things the same way.
“I have managed 2,000 games, I analyse 2,000 games deeply after every game so I can take comments with a distance and perspective.
“I can separate what is emotional, what is not emotional, what is objective, what makes sense or not. I am not too much affected by that.”
Wenger also said his players would not be playing against Hull with one eye on next week’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich — and wants to prepare for the trip to the Allianz Arena with a return to winning ways domestically.
“The best way to deal with Bayern is to win on Saturday, and to get the priorities right,” he added. “Your priority in football is your next game, you don’t even know if you play the game after if you are a footballer. The priority is to focus on Saturday.”
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