Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill and Everton counterpart David Moyes both admitted Arsenal are now red-hot favourites to claim the fourth Champions League spot after seeing their sides share a thrilling 3-3 draw at Villa Park.
O'Neill watched Villa recover from 3-1 down to salvage a point but it was the result neither side wanted in their uphill battle to overtake the Gunners. Villa remain a point ahead of the Toffees but are now eight adrift of Arsenal, who have a superior goal difference, with just six games remaining.
O'Neill said: "I thought we should have won. Even at 2-0 and 3-1 down, we fought back. We showed great character and determination."
He added: "But will obtaining fourth place now be hard? I wouldn't disagree with that. One of the two of us had to win. It is a result that definitely suits Arsenal. From that viewpoint, it is disappointing but we shouldn't just give up the fight.
"Arsenal still have some very tough games, so have we. We just have to win them. If we win every game, it will give us quite a few points and Arsenal still have the top three to play.
"This is where the excitement comes from. It is trying to compete and wanting to compete. In the last two years, we are averaging 40,000 gates. Villa are resurgent."
Moyes was similarly dubious about his side's chances of joining the top four.
He said: "Arsenal's result at Wigan (a 4-1 win) made it very difficult for any of us to get up there.
"If Villa had beaten us, they would have still been in with a shout and if we had won, we wouldn't have given up the chase.
"I don't think you give up the chase until it is mathematically impossible but I think, if we are being realistic, it will now be very hard. Everton and Villa have tried hard to push the top boys but maybe have come up just a little bit short."
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