Third-place Arsenal are four points back of Manchester City on the Premier League table, a not insurmountable difference even this late in the domestic campaign. But goalkeeper David Ospina told reporters his side isn’t necessarily affixed on toppling last year’s champion.
“For now we are just thinking about ourselves,” Ospina said. “We’ll keep doing our job and picking up points and then we’ll see what happens.
“It’s game after game and we know we’re close to them now. But we need to concentrate on ourselves and not think about them.”
It’s perhaps a smart attitude to have as Arsenal prepares for its clash with Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday at Loftus Road hoping to maintain their current standing in the league.
The Gunners came up with their seventh-straight home victory after edging out Everton 2-0 Sunday, and their fourth straight in Premier League. Another win away from Emirates could be in the cards against a 18th-place QPR that has one triumph in its last 10 matches and was last beat by Arsenal 2-1 back on Dec. 26.
Arsenal received a major boost earlier this week after midfielder Aaron Ramsey was cleared to return for the first time in nearly a month after his third ankle injury of the season. Arsene Wenger’s side has thus far kept the ship level despite a midfield plagued by injuries, with Mathieu Flamini and Jack Wilshere still on the mend.
Ramsey will also be joined by midfielder Francis Coquelin, even after the 23-year-old endured a fractured nose after colliding with Olivier Giroud against Everton. Coquelin, who’s yet to score or assist a goal this term, is likely to wear a protective mask against QPR to avoid further injury.
Considering it’s a midweek match and QPR did not play over the weekend, Ramsey’s return will give Wenger some much needed depth as he likely rotates his players to keep the squad fresh throughout.
Ramsey will also help Arsenal’s leading goal scorer Alexis Sanchez in the attack, as the Chilean’s yet to reach the back of the net since Jan. 11’s brace in the 3-0 victory over Stoke.
Meanwhile the Gunners backline contends with QPR forward Charlie Austin, who sits behind only City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Diego Costa with 14 goals this term.
Austin netted his side’s only goal in the Boxing Day loss to Arsenal, and he’s only scored twice in the subsequent eight matches, but with the Gunners’ struggles defensively Austin could prove dangerous.
Three-points back of Sunderland, QPR is still a potentially lethal side threatened by relegation under new boss Chris Ramsey, and they will fight to move out of the league’s bottom four. And Ramsey also appears to have his squad focused solely on the task at hand, much like Arsenal.
"To be honest with you I very rarely look at the table," Ramsey said. "Whatever the other teams do will be irrelevant. We know that if we can get four or five wins that we're going to be there right until the end. The target is to win every game that we can.
"I don't think we have the luxury of setting a specific target."
Ramsey’s side could also get back several players from injury, including midfielder Sandro, and defenders Maurico Isla and Nedum Onuoha.
Kickoff time: 2:45 P.M. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra here
Prediction: Arsenal over QPR, 2-1