Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2019-20Getty Images

Arteta refusing to give up on Arsenal ambition until ‘it’s mathematically impossible’

Mikel Arteta is refusing to give up on Arsenal’s European qualification ambitions until it is “mathematically impossible” for them to finish inside the top seven.

Inconsistency continues to hinder the efforts of the north London giants in 2019-20 and that has been an issue for some time, with the Gunners regularly taking two steps back after establishing forward momentum.

A derby defeat to arch-rivals Tottenham in their last Premier League outing saw that sequence continue, with Spurs helped on their way to a 2-1 win by individual errors from Arteta’s side.

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Arsenal are, however, just four points adrift of surprise package Sheffield United – who sit seventh – with three games left to take in.

They are also through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, where they will meet holders Manchester City.

Routes to continental competition remain open to the Gunners, and that is helping to keep Arteta upbeat.

He has told Arsenal’s official website: “I'm going to keep going and I'm going to try to persuade the boys to keep going, and fight until we have a little bit of hope and until it's mathematically impossible. This is where we are.”

Arteta is aware of the areas in which Arsenal must improve if they are to deliver on expectations.

Defensive leaks have been undermining their efforts for far too long, with more lapses in concentration costing them dear at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Sead Kolasinac teed up Heung-min Son to restore parity on derby day with a misplaced pass, before Toby Alderweireld was given a free run to nod home from a corner.

Quizzed on whether set-pieces have become a cause for concern, Arteta added: “It's one of them but in this league it's very difficult.

“It is part of the process we are trying to do. We will improve there and we know how important they are in big matches.

“We talked about it before the game that set-pieces in this game are crucial, and it cost us the three points.”

Arsenal will be back in action on Wednesday when they welcome newly-crowned Premier League champions Liverpool to Emirates Stadium.