Arsene Wenger has admitted Arsenal are further away from being title hopefuls as ever ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton.
The Arsenal manager conceded it was unrealistic for the Gunners to talk about winning the Premier League, after losing 3-1 at home to rivals Manchester United last weekend.
Arsenal are in fifth place, 15 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, ahead of travelling to St Mary’s and it is expected Wenger will once again rotate the entire starting XI.
Players such as Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, who all featured in the 6-0 Europa League thrashing of BATE Borisov at the Emirates, are likely to make way for Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette.
“At the moment we have different worries than the title,” Wenger said. “After such disappointment, you have to think about winning the next game.
“We are too far from the title at the moment to speak about the title. It’s not realistic. Let’s try to win our next game and over a longer distance see if we can come back.”
Wilshere again shone in Europe’s secondary competition but he, along with Walcott, Giroud, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin, are likely to be kept waiting to make an impact in the league.
Although he will make sweeping changes at Southampton, Wenger did question the fairness of playing the game at noon on Sunday.
“I have nothing against the fact that we have to do that, as long as our opponents have the same recovery days,” he said when asked about the time between the BATE and Southampton games.
“That was not the case last week and will not be the case again. Between three days and five days is a big gap on the recovery side. If we have to play every day I don’t mind as long as our opponents do as well.”
Another player enjoying a resurgence in the Arsenal side is defender Mathieu Debuchy, who got the ball rolling in the win over BATE as he scored his first goal in almost three years.
“He is under contract [until 2019],” Wenger replied when asked if his 32-year-old had a genuine future at the club.
“That’s down to his performances now and I opened the door for him [to leave] many times because he didn’t play and because he has (Hector) Bellerin in front of him.
“I consider him like anybody else and I must say I have a huge respect for his professional side and how much he did fight to come back to the top. He’s a tough, tough guy. Tough worker.”