The Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor admits it would take "a miracle" for Arsenal to win the Premier League title this year – but insists they will not finish empty-handed next season.
Arsène Wenger's side have given themselves a mathematical, if highly improbable, chance of overtaking Manchester United and Chelsea following their 6-2 win over Derby County on Monday night.
However, with just two games left, Arsenal face a four-point deficit and also an inferior goal difference to United. For most of the season, it was the Gunners who set the pace, before their challenge fell apart following four straight draws and then defeat at Chelsea.
Adebayor came off the bench at Pride Park to net a second-half hat-trick. While the 24-year-old accepts it would now take "something amazing" for Arsenal to come back to win the title at this late stage, he maintains that it will be a different story in 12 months' time.
"I am praying for a miracle now, but miracles do happen," Adebayor said. "We have put pressure on the top two and it is not too late for something amazing to happen. Obviously, we have to hope that Chelsea and United make mistakes at the weekend – but I can promise we will not make any.
"We showed with our win we have character because it might have been easy just to look at the table and give up on trying to be champions – but that is not who we are.
"What was also important is that we sent out a message to our rivals that despite all the disappointments we have had in the past couple of months we are sticking together and showing that we are getting better and better.
"This season we may end up with nothing – but it will not look the same this time next year."
Derby will need to win their remaining two games against Blackburn and Reading to beat the lowest points total ever recorded in the Premier League by Sunderland two years ago. They have won just once all season in the League – before Paul Jewell's arrival in November – and the Derby manager admits that his focus is firmly on next season. "The most important thing is that we start next season well," Jewell said, "and that's what we're going to try and do.
"We have to make sure we are good enough to get out of the Championship. I have done it twice before and I intend to do it again," he added.Reuse content