Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are currently “nowhere near” being involved in the race for the Premier League title – but is setting his sights on overtaking second-placed Manchester City.
The Gunners are currently third in the table, nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea but just four behind second-placed City.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton are all in the hunt for Champions League qualification in what promises to be a thrilling finale to the season.
Wenger takes his side across London to face struggling QPR on Wednesday night looking for a seventh win in eight league games but, even with such a strong run of form, Wenger feels a push for the title is not currently feasible.
“At the moment we are nowhere near to winning the Premier League, and nowhere near close to being in the race,” he said.
“But what we want is to do as well as we can without speculating on the weakness of any team. The only thing you can say is that it’s very tight.
“You look in front of you, Manchester City are four points ahead of us, and you look behind you, there’s plenty of people chasing us.
“That will be very, very tight and it will be down to consistency in our results and mental strength. That will certainly be needed again on Wednesday night.”
While closing in on Capital One Cup winners Chelsea seems an outside bet for Wenger, he is hoping a drop in form from reigning champions City could open up the chance to pip Manuel Pellegrini’s side to second spot.
“At the moment we are too far from Chelsea to say we are in the title race, but you never know what can happen,” he added.
“I speak as well about Man City, why should they give up for the title? They have done it three years ago by being eight points behind.
“If you ask a team who is four points behind us, they will say it’s realistic to try and catch us. Manchester City are four points in front of us so mathematically of course that is possible.”
Wenger confirmed Aaron Ramsey is ahead of schedule in recovering from a hamstring injury and is back in the squad for the trip to Loftus Road.
The Wales international has not featured since suffering another hamstring problem on February 10 but is now back in contention, although fellow midfielder Jack Wilshere remains sidelined.
The 23-year-old had been closing in on his own return but underwent surgery on his troublesome ankle and, despite Wenger claiming he would be absent for days rather than weeks, he confirmed Wilshere will not feature in neither the QPR contest or Monday’s FA Cup sixth-round clash at Manchester United.
“He is doing well,” Wenger said of the England international.
“It takes some time to heal the wound after the surgery – it will take his a few days. I don’t set any dates, but what is for sure is that for Man United he will not be available.”