Jack Wilshere admits Arsenal need a "minor miracle" to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
Seventh-placed Arsenal are nine points behind leaders Manchester United after 10 matches, ahead of Saturday's home game against Fulham.
"We can't drop any points now and have to treat every game as a cup final," 20-year-old midfielder Wilshere told the BBC's Football Focus.
"We need three points in every game. We can't afford to slip up now."
He added: "Our aim every year is to challenge for the Premier League which we continue to do. We wouldn't be Arsenal if we wanted any less.
"OK, now we are in a position where it could take, maybe, a minor miracle to do that. But we know what we have to do."
Wilshere returned to the Arsenal first team last month after a 17-month absence following stress fractures to his ankle and foot.
During his spell out the England international watched two captains - Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie - leave the Emirates as the Gunners went through a period of transition.
But he believes current skipper Thomas Vermaelen is the perfect leader for Arsene Wenger's new-look side.
"I have a new skipper now. Now we have more of a speaker," said Wilshere, who is suspended for the Fulham clash following his sending-off at Manchester United.
"Cesc led with his football, but Thomas is more of a leader and good to have in the changing room.
"You look at top teams - Chelsea have John Terry, Manchester United have Vidic and we have Thomas Vermaelen."
He added: "Trust me, this new team is still as good as when I left them - if not even better.
"We have players like Santi Cazorla who is a footballing genius, then you have a leader like Mikel Arteta, who is in that holding role dictating everyone."
Wilshere says he was always confident of making a full recovery from his long-term injury, but admits he did question whether he would return as the same player.
"I always knew I would come back," he said. "It was just the fact that you question yourself.
"You watch the game and think this has got faster since I last played. That is natural. Any ex-player will say the same.
"I was concerned that I might not be the same player - or how long it would take.
"There are no hiding places in this game. Normally pre-season is behind closed doors or you are doing running. I am trying to get my match fitness in front of 60,000."
Jack Wilshere was talking at the opening of a new state-of-the-art Lung Function Unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Arsenal were in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity during the 2009/10 season, raising more than £800,000.