London – Arsene Wenger has called on his Arsenal stars to use the momentum from their FA Cup semi-final victory to regain their place in the Premier League's top four.
Wenger's side host West Ham on Tuesday looking to move back above Everton in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
Everton leapfrogged the Gunners into fourth spot with their win at Sunderland on Saturday and hold a two-point lead over Arsenal with five matches remaining.
Wenger and his players have had little time to recover from their draining penalty shoot-out win over holders Wigan on Saturday, but with a place in the final against Hull on May 17 now secure, the French coach insists the squad must make one last push to avoid failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 17 years.
“When you are in a semi-final and you win, it releases a little bit of pressure on the team on that front, but we want to bounce back in the Premier League,” Wenger said on Monday.
“Therefore we want to finish strong, we have a battle with Everton and of course it's now down to consistency in our final games.
“Five victories is the target. Do you need it? Nobody knows, but the target is of course to win every game.”
Arsenal have come to take for granted their place among the elite in Europe's leading club competition despite almost failing to qualify on a couple of occasions in the past.
But that honour is under greater threat than ever before from Roberto Martinez's Everton, who recently thrashed the Gunners 3-0.
If Arsenal do miss out this season it would be a huge blow for the club regardless of their progress to the Cup final, where the north Londoners are expected to finally end their nine-year trophy drought.
But Wenger is refusing to contemplate the damage of being exiled from the Champions League.
“We just want to not imagine the consequences of not doing it, what you want is just to focus on doing it,” he said.
“That is where we have the focus, the quality of the spirit, we have the desire and we are slowly getting our players back, so the squad is not depleted any more.
“I believe that they (Everton) have difficult games and we have difficult games, but we want to focus now on what we know we can do.
“We have a more complete squad and we want to win our games, no matter what Everton does. We want to finish in a strong way.
“We can finish the season well - we can finish in the top four, we can win the FA Cup - so it's down to how united we will be until the end of the season, and focused together.” – Sapa-AFP