Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger remains adamant that his side’s chances of being crowned Premier League champions are very much alive despite a stuttering run of form which has given rise to oft-asked questions about their staying power.
The Gunners having accumulated just one point from the last nine on offer, while the north London club have won only four of 12 league clashes since beating Manchester City before Christmas.
Their barren run of form has seen Arsenal slip to third, eight points behind leaders Leicester with nine games of the season remaining, while they trail derby rivals Tottenham by three.
“The championship is far from over,” said Wenger, whose side travel to second-tier high-flyers Hull City tonight for an FA Cup fifth round replay.
“I’d just remind you we’ve beaten Leicester twice and have done our job against them. People should look at other teams. We will not give up and will fight until the end.”
Wenger is the longest-serving manager in Europe but has received stringing criticism in recent weeks from pundits, former players and supporters alike following their slump.
Their downturn also included a 2-0 home defeat to defending European champions Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions league last-16 tie, although the Frenchman has rebuffed suggestions that he feels wounded by the burden of scrutiny.
“I have always the same pressure which is the same pressure I apply to myself,” added Wenger. “People talk and you have more people talking than 20 years ago and more opinions.
“That doesn’t change the pressure. The real pressure comes from your desire to win the next game and that is the only one that matters really.
“I believe that opinions are opinions. I do my job and one day someone will replace me and will replace you. That is part of life and as long as you have done well, given your best and that is the quality of work people do.
"That is what I try to do. I try to do my best and leave this club in the best shape so the guy coming after me has good potential to work with.”
Arsenal’s attentions turn to the FA Cup tonight and maintaining their bid to win the competition for the third season running. The likes of Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Mathieu Flamini and Calum Chambers, who were all substitutes in Saturday’s north London derby, are likely to come into contention for a start, as could teenager Alex Iwobi.
“I will have to make changes but I’m not so much concerned about replacing one player with another one,” said Wenger. “It’s more that I have to rotate a little bit and keep the right balance in the team.”