Unai Emery believes Arsenal are currently too inconsistent to finish in the Premier League top four.
The Gunners have finished outside the Champions League places for the past two years and sit six points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea following a 1-0 defeat at West Ham on Saturday.
Declan Rice scored the only goal of a forgettable game at the London Stadium, meaning Emery’s side are without an away league win since November.
The Spaniard had enjoyed a strong first half of the season following his appointment in the summer, a 22-game unbeaten run giving the club a chance of sealing a return to the Champions League.
But, after their latest setback against the Hammers and with a game at home to Chelsea next week, Emery admits Arsenal need to string together a better run of form.
“Now it’s more difficult, it’s clear,” he replied when asked if a top-four finish was still a possibility.
“I think the most important thing for us is to recover our confidence and be more competitive. We need consistency over 38 matches.
“Now it isn’t enough at the moment. West Ham was a bad result. If we can win today we are playing against Chelsea with a three-point maximum distance.
“The big opportunity for us was that we can take in our hands the possibility to be closer to them. This result makes that more difficult.”
Arsenal won only three away league games in Arsene Wenger’s final season – but their recent slump on the road now needs addressing.
“It’s our challenge,” Emery said of improving Arsenal’s away form.
“Each match is our challenge away. We are working on that. It’s also the opposition team. Like here, for example, they are with their supporters, they feel good and strong and can push.
“We need to take more confidence, better performances collectively, being competitive away to change this moment.
“We started the season away well, being competitive and winning. We need to do more to be more competitive and to impose our ideas and our quality.”