Arsene Wenger says Arsenal must focus on their own performances as they enter the second half of the season and hopes defensive stability will help them close the gap on their rivals.
The Gunners currently sit fifth in the Premier League table, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea and with Southampton, Manchester United and Manchester City also ensconced in the Champions League positions.
Questioned whether he thinks his side are likely title challengers given their current standing, Wenger refused to be drawn on specific aims instead underlining the importance of giving their all.
“We will fight to be as close as possible [to the top],” he told his pre-Southampton press conference. “We are not in a mode of calculating, we are in a mode of ‘let’s go to the next game and win it’.
“You give your best and if there is a weakness in front of you, you want to take advantage of it. I don’t know if there will be any weakness in front of us, but what I know is that we can give our best until the end of the season to have a chance to do it.
“I believe that there is a deficit between the potential we have shown and the number of points we have. That’s what we want to get right. I feel we were very, very unlucky with the injuries we got. With the number of injuries we’ve had, we have survived quite well.
“But I believe that hopefully in the second part of the season, we’ll have more stability, especially defensively, to be more consistent.”
One of the keys to achieving that stability will depend on the fitness of Laurent Koscielny. The French international has missed a big chunk of the season so far with Achilles and calf injuries, but returned to the starting line-up on Saturday to help the Gunners grind out a 2-1 victory at Upton Park.
“His individual quality is huge, he is a top-class defender,” the manager said of his compatriot.
“On top of that he has a lot of experience together with Per Mertesacker and you could feel that in the game against West Ham.
“They understand each other well, they understand each other’s movements and they cover each other very well.
“You judge a defence more as a back four. We want to show have big targets in front of us now and that our back four can deal with the problems we have. In some games we were a bit exposed because we had a lack of experience.”