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Forget title, focus on FA Cup- Wenger

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RODGERS-WENGERLONDON, April 5- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that the Premier League title is still beyond his players despite their emergence as the English top flight’s form side ahead of the season run-in.

Saturday’s 4-1 demolition of Liverpool took Arsenal another step closer to securing the season’s minimum objective of qualification for the Champions League.

Leaders Chelsea remain seven points above them with a game in hand, but Arsenal, who have won 10 of their last 11 matches, will have a chance to trim that gap when they host Jose Mourinho’s side later this month.

But for all the optimism engendered by his side’s excellent form, Wenger believes they have too much work to do due to a sluggish start to the season.

“Mathematically we can do it,” said the Frenchman. “But we need to be perfect and for Chelsea not to be perfect. Let’s focus on what we can master, which is our performance.

“We missed important players at the start of the season and dropped points. We have quality to fight at the top. But when you have players coming back from the World Cup and players who are not available, it is not easy.

“At one stage we played six games and earned one win, which leaves you with a mountain to climb.”

Arsenal tightened their grip on the top four while all but extinguishing Liverpool’s hopes with a crushing win at the Emirates Stadium.

Three goals in eight first-half minutes wrapped up the victory as Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez all struck.

Liverpool responded via a Jordan Henderson penalty, but the damage was already done.

A bad day for a depleted Liverpool got even worse when Emre Can received two yellow cards, before Oliver Giroud struck again for Arsenal in stoppage time.

Giroud, who has scored seven times in his last six league games, was not quite as downbeat about his side’s title credentials.

– ‘Focus on FA Cup’ –

“We want to finish strongly, but we have to take it game by game and focus on ourselves before looking at Chelsea and Man City’s results,” he said.

“We want to win every single game and then we’ll see what happens.”

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said that there was “too much ground to make up” for his side to secure a Champions League place, after back-to-back defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal.

He also faces a fight to retain the services of England forward Raheem Sterling, who has turned down a new £100,000-a-week ($148,320, 137,710 euros) contract and been linked with rival clubs including Arsenal.

But Rodgers played down concerns over Sterling’s future, saying: “Raheem is a kid focused on his football. He works hard every single day and he just wants to play his football.

“The kid for me gives me everything every time he trains and plays. The only thing I will say is that for his football development and financially, Liverpool is the best place for him.

“He has an opportunity to play, which is key for a young player. He won’t be going anywhere in the summer and we will sit down and try and find a solution.

“I’ve had a good chat with him and given my opinion. He just wants to play his football. I think he enjoys being here and knows he is privileged to play in front of the Liverpool supporters.

“As long as the player can see the ambition. The summer was very difficult in losing Luis Suarez, losing Daniel Sturridge to injury and with the integration of new players.”

Liverpool’s last remaining hope of silverware this season lies in the FA Cup, ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup quarter-final replay away to Championship side Blackburn Rovers.

“We have been dealt two big blows in our last two games,” Rodgers added.

“We very much won’t be in the top four as there’s too much ground to make up and we must focus on the FA Cup, which is important to us.”

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