Arsene Wenger has compared finishing in fourth place to winning a trophy.
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Quoting Pep Guardiola, the under-fire Arsenal boss has further risked the wrath of Gunners fans, many of whom are already protesting against him before each game.
After 20 straight seasons of finishing in the top four of the Premier League, thus securing UEFA Champions League qualification in the process, Wenger’s men are seven points outside the top four as things stand although they do have a game in hand on fourth-place Manchester City.
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Still, when speaking to the media ahead of Arsenal’s clash with West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) Wenger gave a little reminder as to just how tough finishing in the top four is…
“It’s a good challenge [reaching the top four],” Wenger said. “It is perfectly possible, for 20 years I have done it. I am quite pleased that people can realize it is not as easy as it looks. Like Pep Guardiola said ‘to achieve a top four in England is a trophy.’
“We have many games in April, we need to have everyone on board and to work like we did against Manchester City, then we have a chance. We also have an FA Cup semi-final. There is all to go for and it is a good opportunity to show we are united and strong.”
With Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all fighting for the final two UCL spots (Chelsea lead the PL on 69 points and Tottenham sit in second on 62 points) the top four race is set to go down to the wire.
On paper Arsenal and Man United have the toughest remaining schedules and given all of the uncertainty around Arsenal about Wenger’s future, plus whether or not Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will stay beyond this summer, the Gunners have just one win in their last six games and it seems like they must win out to finish in the top four.
After Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis met with supporters at a fans forum on Sunday ans has been quoted as saying Wenger must be a “catalyst for change” at the club, perhaps this is a little retort from Wenger to give a reminder of what a sterling job he’s done over the past two decades.
The 67-year-old Frenchman still hasn’t revealed his future plans but this crescendo of speculation seems to be approaching some sort of end game.
If Arsenal fail to finish in the top four Wenger can’t stay on, right?