Wenger: ‘Arsenal will be happy with third place’

Tottenham, Newcastle United and Chelsea are battling the Gunners for two remaining Champions League positions and the Frenchman admits he would be pleased to fend them off
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had admitted that he would be happy with his side finishing third in the Premier League, even though that was not the target at the start of the season.

“We want more, but where we are at the moment we will be happy with third place because there are great teams who would be very happy if they got there," he told reporters on Friday.

The Gunners have had a tumultuous season but recovered from a poor start to stage a remarkable turnaround which has seen them storm up the league.

But, with Newcastle United, Tottenham and Chelsea all within seven points of the north London outfit, Wenger has accepted that finishing third is his side’s priority.

“You always want more, but you see that the competition in England is difficult - Chelsea are now in the Champions League [semifinal stage] against Barcelona, but they are sixth at the moment, that means it is not easy."

“We want to win our next game and that is the only way we can secure our [Champions League] qualification."

“We have done remarkably well in the last two months and we want to take advantage of that run we have created and show that [on Saturday].”

The Gunners have won nine of their last 11 league fixtures, although their last match was a home defeat at the hands of a resurgent Wigan.

Wenger continued: “We feel that as a team we have improved during the season and it is important now to finish in a strong way.

“That gives us confidence to do well at the start of next season.

“We played the first seven games and lost four. It is difficult after to win the championship.”

Saturday's opponents Chelsea must travel to Camp Nou on Tuesday for a Champions League semifinal and hold a slender 1-0 aggregate lead.

But Wenger warned: “We want to focus on our performance, let's not expect any lack of focus from Chelsea.

“They are on a high so it is always natural to be up for the next game.”

The French coach also insisted that the defeat against the Latics on Monday night should not affect his side's positive momentum heading into the clash with the Blues.

“Like always after a big disappointment you focus on the next one, it is part of getting over defeats without losing your confidence,” Wenger said.

“You have to make sure that your frustration is transformed into energy in the next game.”

Mikel Arteta (ankle), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Yossi Benayoun (parent club) will not be available for selection this weekend but the Arsenal coach is refusing to complain about his midfield woes.

Wenger said: “It is not ideal but we cannot complain, we have to overcome that. You always expect in April that not everybody will be on board and our game is based on collective play.

“That is why we have to focus on our team play and not think about who is here or not here.”