Arsene Wenger has not given up on a top-four finish in the Premier League after Arsenal moved past their points tally from last season with a 2-0 win over Sunderland on Tuesday.
The Gunners finished second in the table behind Leicester City in 2015-16, but are in danger of missing out on Champions League football this time around, sitting fifth ahead the final round of matches.
Wenger – who has yet to sign a new contract with the club – has received his fair share of criticism following their underwhelming results, but the Frenchman feels their potential failure to clinch a top-four finish is very much down their rivals’ improvements rather than their own struggles.
However, the Frenchman refuses to throw in the towel ahead of their clash with Everton on Sunday.
“We won 71 points last season and finished second. We now have 72 and want to go to 75. After that you deal with what happens,” Wenger told BBC Sport.
“We have got in on the final day many times.
“We had a difficult patch after the Bayern [Munich] game because it was difficult to recover. On the other hand it was a good mental test and we responded in a strong way.”
Arsenal initially struggled to find a way past Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, but two goals from Alexis Sanchez after the break eventually kept their top-four hopes alive.
“We had plenty of shots on goal but we needed to be patient. We were frustrated at half-time not to be leading,” Wenger added.
“Sunderland fought and you want that in the Premier League, that is what you want from every team.”