By Rob Kelly

Arsène Wenger believes it will need “exceptional consistency” to claim a top-four finish – but says the past week has offered genuine cause for optimism.

With Chelsea letting slip a three-goal lead against Manchester United and Arsenal beating Blackburn 7-1 over the weekend, the Gunners moved to within three points of Andre Villas-Boas’ side.

And with the season now moving towards its final stretch, Wenger is confident his side are back in form ahead of this weekend’s match at Sunderland.

“We had a good week last week. We had a good result against Aston Villa and a good performance against Bolton,” he said.

“We had the same number of chances [at the Reebok] that we had against Blackburn but we scored on Saturday. We still have real hope that we can finish the season the strongest. We have a good spirit and desire within the group - and we have quality.

“We know that with the position we are in we need an exceptional consistency, so that is the challenge we have in front of us at Sunderland.”

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 8 Feb 2012