Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal have little margin for error if they are to force their way back up the Premier League table. The home defeat by Swansea City last weekend made it just two wins in eight matches since the international break, and saw the Gunners slip to tenth.
While Wenger maintains there is plenty of time left to make up the gap on the top four - which currently stands at five points - the Arsenal manager knows his beleaguered team cannot produce many more below-par performances as they prepare to tackle fifth-placed West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium tomorrow.
"The danger of our situation is the margin for error is very small, but it is also a good opportunity to show we can be consistent, and I believe we can be," Wenger said. "Let's not go overboard. We have 24 games to play, we are in all the competitions, how many clubs would love to [be], so it is down to us to make the season right and to turn the season around well on our side. I am confident we will and I believe we have the quality to do it."
Midfielder Mikel Arteta was one of several first-team regulars to miss the midweek trip to Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League, when a 2-1 defeat saw the Gunners miss out on top spot in Group B and, with it, seeding for the Round of 16. The Spaniard revealed the squad were determined to put matters right on Saturday, with many having worked overtime at London Colney, analysing recent performances on DVD. Wenger is confident of the desired response.
"There is one thing I don't question and that is the attitude and spirit of this team," said the Frenchman. "But I can say that all day - what is important is that we win the game when we play, and that is what we want to do.
"We were a bit jaded [against Swansea], even if that is not accepted by many players, because we had two away games after the Champions League. I am confident we have refreshed and can show that tomorrow."
Arsenal supporters have been restless in recent weeks following a string of flat home performances after the 5-2 thrashing of arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
"At home I feel there is a lack of freedom to play," said Wenger. "That is always our strength, we are a creative team who wants to go forward. Therefore [the] only thing now is to get the fans behind the team. To get the fans behind the team, the attitude has to come from us and [we have to] be united and turn that around."
Wenger maintains just simply buying a few new players in January is not the answer.
"Football is not only to splash money out and work, it's also about patience and the pride to create your own players," he insisted. "There are some important aspects in the game we never get credit for, but I find them very important.
"For example, in the last ten years, we have brought more players out than any other club together at Champions League level. You can look all across Europe. That is part of our pride as well - to give a chance to players to show their talent at that level."
Wenger praises Clarke, expresses Walcott frustration
Despite two defeats last week, West Brom have impressed this season under Steve Clarke, who has made a solid start to his managerial career.
Wenger said: "The most important thing is to be in touch with the top, top level to see what is requested, and Steve Clarke has done that for a long time, so he shows now that he is ready for the job."
Arsenal will be without England attacker Theo Walcott tomorrow because of a calf problem, while fullback Bacary Sagna (foot) is doubtful. While Wenger is confident the latter will extend his contract, the future of Walcott remains uncertain.
"With Theo, I have no news," said Wenger, who may have to weigh up whether to cash in on Walcott next month rather than risk losing him for nothing in the summer. "Honestly, I am frustrated. Between the player and me it is all clear - he knows what he wants and he has to make up his mind."