Football: Arsenal hit top gear but Wenger still ruing slow start

LONDON (REUTERS) - Ten wins in 11 Premier League matches is title-winning form but ultimately it will probably prove in vain for an Arsenal side paying dearly for misfiring at the start of the season.

Saturday's thumping 4-1 victory over Liverpool sent Arsenal into second place, four points behind Chelsea who have two games in hand of the surging Gunners.

With Chelsea still to face Arsenal at the Emirates, as well as Manchester United and Liverpool, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a title dogfight could develop in the closing weeks of the season.

It is a long shot, however, according to manager Arsene Wenger.

"What we can master now mathematically is the top four, where we will finish," Wenger told reporters.

"For the title we need us to be perfect and Chelsea not to be perfect, so let's focus on what we can master which means our own performance and go with the same intensity."

Wenger was purring as his side ripped apart Liverpool, reaching halftime 3-0 ahead with Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez all striking in a sizzling eight-minute spell.

Olivier Giroud sealed victory in the final minute after Jordan Henderson had reduced the arrears from the penalty spot and the visitors had Emre Can sent off.

With Arsenal now playing their best football of the season, fans will ask why they have left it so late to mount a challenge. They won only two of their first eight games.

"We missed important players at the start of the season where we dropped too many points," Wenger said.

"If you look since everybody's been back and available, the number of points we have made shows we have the quality to fight at the top. When you start the championship with the players coming back from the World Cup not available and having big players out for three or four months, we played six games in the Premier League and won one," the Frenchman added.

"You have a mountain to climb after."

Arsenal were flattered by a 3-0 halftime lead, but Wenger applauded the clinical streak his players displayed and the way they snuffed out Liverpool's hopes of a second-half revival.

"We had a killing instinct and took advantage of our strong moments in the first half," he said.

"The second half was more down to, can we maintain the discipline, intensity and not allow them to come back early? We did that."