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Mar 15, 2014

Mertesacker: No more slip ups

Centre-back Per Mertesacker has warned Arsenal have no more margin for error if they are to last the distance in the Premier League title race.

• Crace: Sherwood and Spurs outwitted by a cunning Benfica
• 50-50: Arsenal vs. Tottenham

The Gunners must pick themselves up from the disappointment of a midweek Champions League exit to Bayern Munich, despite drawing 1-1 at the Allianz Arena, for the small matter of Sunday's north London derby against Tottenham. However, by the time they kick off at White Hart Lane, Arsene Wenger's side could find themselves 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, albeit with two matches in hand.

Wenger will take Arsenal to Stamford Bridge next weekend for what will be his 1,000th match in charge, before a rearranged clash with Swansea and then the visit of Manchester City on March 29.

Mertesacker accepts Arsenal simply cannot afford any more slip ups like they suffered with the recent defeat at Stoke if they are to get themselves back into the hunt for a potential shot at the double, their FA Cup semi-final against Wigan at Wembley set for April 12.

"These are all decisive games. There are no points to drop anymore. They are vital games and we are up for it," the German said. "I think it is up to us as to how close we can stay to the top.

"We have to concentrate on ourselves and we have to stay as close as possible to the top and that is the most important thing to us. It depends entirely on our finish; how we cope with the situation of our injured players and the situation that we have another chance in the FA Cup."

Mertesacker continued on Sky Sports Weekend Warm-Up show: "We have two competitions left and if we can manage to finish like last year, with strong performances, I think we have a good chance to compete in both competitions until the end.

"The hunger is there and the hunger is increasing. We went through tough periods this season and last season, but overall we have shown great spirit and great togetherness, so let's get something out of this season that's what we have to deal with."

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