LIVERPOOL -- Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal now face an uphill task to maintain his record of qualifying for the Champions League in every full season in charge and believes his team, who were beaten 3-0 at Everton, have lost some of their “charisma” in a confidence-sapping run of away defeats.
The Gunners still occupy fourth place but Everton are only a point behind them and have a game in hand and Arsenal, who have never ended a campaign outside the top four since Wenger’s appointment in 1996, face an uphill task.
“I am absolutely 100 percent determined to fight to make the top four but it will be difficult,” said the Frenchman in his news conference at Goodison Park.
“The fight is very open and is depending not only on us. Everton is in a strong position but we have confronted that before and it is [a question of] how we respond.”
Arsenal have five games left, none against teams in the top eight, but have not won in their last four and Wenger accepted they have to play much better than they did against Everton if they are to qualify for the Champions League for a 17th successive season.
“We have still a programme that is feasible,” he said. “We have to first focus on the quality of our performances before we dream of places. Let’s get back to playing better than that.
“Our performance was not convincing: not defensively, not offensively. The penetration and incisiveness of our games is missing. Everton was better and deserved to win. It was a very disappointing result and a very disappointing performance. We have to regroup and get back to basics.”
Arsenal have now lost their away games against each of the rest of the top six and, after conceding six goals each at Manchester City and Chelsea and five at Liverpool, let in three at Everton.
And Wenger said those heavy losses had taken their toll on his side, adding: “I wouldn’t question the spirit of this team. They are focused and want to do well but they have lost something on the confidence front.
“Our big defeats away from home have taken something of our charisma from the team. Is that fear? Is that belief? Is that confidence? Maybe a bit all together.”