Arsenal are “alive” in the Champions League race again – but cannot afford any more slip-ups between now and the end of the Premier League season. That’s the verdict of Mikel Arteta after a huge victory at Wolves on Saturday evening.
The Gunners clinched a surprise 2-0 win at Molineux, their first this season away from home at a top-half team, thanks to Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette’s goals in either half.
After Manchester United beat Bournemouth 5-2 earlier in the day, Arsenal moved within six points of the Red Devils, who temporarily moved into fourth.
Chelsea reclaimed the final Champions League spot after their 3-0 victory over Watford at Stamford Bridge, which leaves Arteta’s charges eight points adrift of fourth place with five games to go.
Arsenal – also into the FA Cup semi-finals – face Leicester, Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Watford between now and the end of the season.
And having put together four consecutive wins across all competitions, Arteta insists his side cannot afford any more setbacks if they want to end their top-four drought – having been stuck in the Europa League for the past three seasons.
“We need to win football matches as frequently as we can and let’s see where it take us,” Arteta told BBC Sport.
“A few weeks ago it looked impossible but we are alive. We will try again on Tuesday and see what happens.”
The Spaniard added in his post-match press conference: “This was one of my best results because of the schedule we’ve had – and because of how well they have done.
“It’s another step forward. The more solid we are the better the chance we will have to win football matches. It comes down to all 11 players defending.
“I was happy with the effort after Brighton.
“But I said then we cannot give anything to our opponents. Hopefully this will give us better chances to win games.
“I’m in the race to try to win against Leicester and then let’s see what happens. Weeks ago it looked impossible and the fixtures we had in the next few weeks.
“We try to improve every time and there’s a better chance the better we play, the better we compete.
“At this level of intensity if we play like this against any team we will make it hard for them. Then we will see.
“Every game we have no margin for error. We knew that. We’re trying to win every game.
“If we can’t let’s enjoy a little bit tonight and tomorrow start thinking about Leicester and try to go again.”
He added: “I think the reason we had a life and can win against any team is that at the moment we are enjoying to suffer together.
“In difficult moments if you enjoy that you’ll get rewarded because we have the ability after to hurt teams. At the moment we don’t have the ability to batter teams for 95 minutes.
“To be able to do that you have to be very able to compete and be a team. A team means 11 that started and all the subs, the way they came on today and make a difference in the team.”
Speaking ahead of the trip to Wolves, Arteta hinted that he will need support from the north London club’s board to bridge the gap to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
The newly-crowned champions of England and the recently-deposed back-to-back champions have established themselves as the country’s dominant forces.
And Arteta said: It looks like [Liverpool and Man City] at the moment and what happened in the table for the last two or three years suggests that.
“But things change very quickly. Look how Liverpool have evolved in the last four or five years.
“Man United as well is looking really strong at the moment. They are making a lot of good decisions. Leicester the same, Wolves with the season they are having.
“It’s going to be a challenge but that gap has to be closed. For us, the margin that we have for improvement is still very, very big.
“We don’t know how the market is going to be. We are pulling different plans together to see what we are going to be able to do.
“At the moment the uncertainty is still big. The way we are going to finish the season will dictate a lot of things financially as well.
“We have to be a bit patient and see what happens. We’re seeing different things.
“The way Chelsea is dealing with the market is different to the rest at the moment, but Bayern Munich are also being really aggressive.
“If you ask me, we cannot be a team that has to sell its best player to try to bring in and improve our squad, that’s for sure.”