Arsene Wenger believes it would be a disaster were Arsenal to fail to qualify for the Champions League again next season.
The Gunners have slumped to successive defeats at Fulham and Swansea to derail their drive up the table, with the gap to Chelsea at four points ahead of this weekend's fixtures which sees Wenger's men host Manchester United on Sunday. Arsenal have played in Europe's elite competition for 14 consecutive seasons under Wenger.
Earlier this week, chairman Peter Hill-Wood admitted the club had a contingency plan for the financial blow of failing to make the top four, stressing "so it's not a disaster" if they did not qualify. However, Wenger said: "For me it would be [a disaster]. Because I want to play with the best."
He added: "We want to be in there, in the top four, and to play in the Champions League, and anything else would not be good enough."
Should Arsenal lose to United on Sunday, they could be cast further adrift of the top four, while leaders Manchester City and arch-rivals Tottenham, who clash at the Etihad Stadium, already seem well out of reach. Wenger, though, continues to focus on the positives.
"It could be a good one [weekend]", he said.
"In the press you are now educated to see everything in black. You reflect the fans' fear, but you create it as well."
While insisting he is not looking for excuses for Arsenal's recent poor displays, Wenger believes his side have been on the wrong end of some key decisions, such as when Swansea were awarded a penalty for what the Arsenal manager saw as a dive by Nathan Dyer in a match they would go on to lose 3-2 at Liberty Stadium.
The Arsenal manager said: "We want the right decisions to be made. There are some people [in Sweden] who made a study of last season and we were second in the league considering the decisions of the referees and we finished fourth. It showed we were two points behind the leaders.
"There is no conspiracy, you can still win the game with a bad decision, but you want the right decisions to be made."