Curtis Davies has admitted it will be "a tough pill to swallow" should Aston Villa fail to qualify for the Champions League after being in such a strong position at the beginning of March.
Martin O'Neill's side were lying in fourth spot in the Barclays Premier League at that juncture and six points clear of a stuttering Arsenal. But Saturday's 1-1 home draw with West Ham all but ended any lingering hopes of joining Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea in Europe's premier competition.
Villa are now seven points adrift of the Gunners and Davies said: "Is the Champions League out of reach now? It is going to be tough. We can only go and win the five games we have left. I know Arsenal are involved other competitions, including the Champions League, and they are going to be focusing on them as well so you can hope that they are going to slip up."
He added: "But, to be entirely honest, I don't really see Arsenal slipping up too many times over the course of the rest of the season.
"For us as players, and also the fans, because we were in fourth place for so long and looking so strong when in that position, then it is a tough pill to swallow.
"We had to win against West Ham. Then you could have said 'Arsenal have still got to play the top three and that is going to be tough for them.'
"But I didn't see them losing all three of those games anyway and, with them now having a game in hand, for them to lose another one after that as well to let us back in is a big ask."
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