Arsene Wenger has refused to blame Arsenal's faded Premier League title challenge solely on the absence of Aaron Ramsey.
The Welsh midfielder was in sensational form in the opening stages of the season before a thigh injury saw him sidelined for three months.
During that time, Arsenal slipped out of title contention, but Wenger insists there was more to their slump than the loss of Ramsey, who helped the north London club to beat Newcastle United 3-0 on Monday to stand on the verge of securing fourth place.
"I would not like to take anything away from Aaron Ramsey but we lost a number of other players in the same period and altogether I think that would harm the chances of many teams," he is quoted as saying by BBC Sport.
"We would love for the season to be longer. We were top of the league but lost too many players at the crucial point of the season."
Three league wins on the spin have now put Arsenal back in the driving seat to claim the fourth UEFA Champions League spot, with Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud finding the net in a comfortable triumph over Newcastle.
But Wenger felt the result was not as straightforward as it looked.
"We had some problems at the start of the game, trying to find our way through the defence," he added. "When we found an opening we became stronger.
"We are four points ahead of Everton and we want to take maximum points from now until the end of the season."
Arsenal's four-point lead over Everton means Wenger's men are now just one win from Champions League qualification with two matches left to play.comments