Arsene Wenger has refused to blame Arsenal's faded Premier League title challenge solely on the absence of Aaron Ramsey, but said his team's injuries prevented it from pushing for the crown.
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 its slump than the loss of Ramsey, who played in the north London club's 3-0 victory over Newcastle on Monday.
"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," Wenger told reporters.
"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 put Arsenal back in the driving seat to claim the fourth Champions League spot, with Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud all finding the net during the win over the Magpies. Wenger believes his men are now capable of taking six points from their final two games of the season.
"We had some problems at the start of the game, trying to find our way through the defense," 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.