Premier League

Wenger expects tight finish

Arsenal boss not writing off Everton

Wenger: Expecting close race

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Arsene Wenger believes there are 'five or six' teams in the Premier League title race and has refused to write off Aston Villa or even Everton.

Arsenal, currently fifth in the table, trail leaders Manchester United by nine points ahead of their trip to Goodison Park on Wednesday evening.

Everton are five points adrift of the Gunners but David Moyes' men have been in fine form in recent weeks.

Wenger has been impressed by the Toffees, and third-placed Aston Villa, and feels it could be difficult for the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

"There are five or even six teams who could still win the title," Wenger said in The Sun.

"Do not rule out Aston Villa and even Everton. It is much tighter than people think.

"When there are still 16 games to go and we are just four points behind third place, you cannot say that the final positions are already decided.

"Why does everybody think that Chelsea and Liverpool are guaranteed to be in the Champions League next season? I do not understand that.

"Even Manchester United are not certainties. Everyone says they are favourites yet they are not winning 4-0 and 5-0 every week.

"So why should the other teams not have hope of coming back?"

Overshadowed

Arsenal have been pursuing Zenit St Petersburg playmaker Andrei Arshavin during the transfer window but Wenger denied reports on Tuesday that a fee had been agreed.

The French tactician is more concerned with the players already at his disposal and is confident Arsenal can mount a strong challenge over the coming months.

He said: "I feel it (the Arshavin saga) has overshadowed things, yes, but let's be quiet, focused and continue on.

"Our job is to focus on what we want to achieve.

"We got fair criticism this year, but we have overcome that and we are now hungrier than ever."