Soccer

Wenger says Arsenal faces 'massive' challenge to reach top 4

  • FILE - In this  Sunday, April 2, 2017 file photo, Arsenal team manager Arsene Wenger gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates stadium in London. With Arsenal in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 21 years, manager Arsene Wenger says his sixth-placed team faces a "massive" challenge to finish in the top four of the Premier League, Wenger said Friday April 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

    FILE - In this Sunday, April 2, 2017 file photo, Arsenal team manager Arsene Wenger gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates stadium in London. With Arsenal in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 21 years, manager Arsene Wenger says his sixth-placed team faces a "massive" challenge to finish in the top four of the Premier League, Wenger said Friday April 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday April 10, 2017 file photo, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger walks to the dugout ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park in London. With Arsenal in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 21 years, manager Arsene Wenger says his sixth-placed team faces a "massive" challenge to finish in the top four of the Premier League, Wenger said Friday April 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)

    FILE - In this Monday April 10, 2017 file photo, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger walks to the dugout ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park in London. With Arsenal in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 21 years, manager Arsene Wenger says his sixth-placed team faces a "massive" challenge to finish in the top four of the Premier League, Wenger said Friday April 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)  (The Associated Press)

With Arsenal in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 21 years, manager Arsene Wenger says his team faces a "massive" challenge to finish in the top four of the Premier League.

Sixth-placed Arsenal is seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, which sits in the last Champions League qualification spot. Manchester United is three points ahead of Arsenal in fifth, with both clubs having eight games left to play and City seven.

"We might get there, we might not get there, but the only thing to get there is to believe we can do it and that's what we have to focus on," Wenger said Friday.

"It's not the fear to fail, it's the desire to make it and that's the only chance we have to make it."

Arsenal plays at relegation-threatened Middlesbrough on Monday. Its final games include a north London derby at Spurs on April 30 and a home game against Jose Mourinho's Manchester United a week later.

Wenger conceded the mood in the Arsenal camp had "not been very enjoyable" following the 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday, its third league loss in the last five games.

Arsenal produced a disorganized performance and forward Theo Walcott questioned the team's desire and fight by saying that Palace "wanted it more."

For Wenger, "it is not acceptable (that we wanted it less)."

"That's what I said straight after the game. We were beaten, and you have to face reality and respond," the Frenchman added.

Asked what lessons he had learned from the defeat, Wenger said: "To play with restriction and a little bit of a handbrake on doesn't help the performance. We are under pressure to deliver and the best way to do it is to play with freedom and accept the risk."

Wenger hopes goalkeeper Petr Cech and defender Laurent Koscielny will return to the squad following injury.