In a testament to how tight the race for a top four finish in England is, in the last 10 days Arsene Wenger has went from talking up his team as title contenders to admitting that the Gunners are in a fight to finish in the top four.
One of Wenger’s crowning achievements is that he has managed to keep Arsenal in the top four since 1996 but that streak is in jeopardy with only five points separating second place and sixth.
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.”
Wenger 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.”