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Arsenal update: Still in battle for top four

Arsenal remain in battle for a top four finish in Arsenal v Sunderland

Chelsea have secured the 2017 England Premier League title and trophy. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side’s 4-3 win over Watford was important as they are now only one win away from breaking the record for the most wins ever in a Premier League season. Champions Chelsea are in first with 87 points, Tottenham Hotspur are in second with 77 points, Manchester City are in third with 72 points, Liverpool are in fourth with 70 points, Arsenal are in fifth with 69 points, Manchester United are in sixth with 63 points and Everton are in seventh with 61 points. Arsenal are one point behind Liverpool with two games to go after the Gunners defeated Stoke 4-1 with goals from Giroud (42’min, 80’min,; Ozil 55’min; and Sanchez 76’min. Alexis Sanchez’s stunning pass for Mesut Ozil’s goal at Stoke City took him to 10 assists for the Premier League campaign. That makes him the first top-flight player this season to reach double figures for assists and goals - he has 21 to date.

“At the start, he was a player mainly focused on scoring goals,” said Gunners boss Arsène Wenger. “He developed his assist potential with us very well and now he plays in a position where he can provide as well as score. He’s become a complete player and has developed very well here at Arsenal Football Club. Of course, it’s an exceptional achievement and I would like to say that, to score and provide in double figures, you need to be a special player.” Arsenal’s battle for qualification for the UEFA Champions League is in full swing at the top of the EPL Table after the Gunners beat Stoke City 4-1 to continue their excellent end-of-season form keeping their hopes of securing a top-four place alive as they play to win against rivals Sunderland at Emirates Stadium in London on May 16th and against Everton on May 21. Great Gunners tickets for both Premier League matches are still available for sale securely now from 1st4FootballTickets.com!

Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can qualify for the Champions League next season if they beat last season's point tally. “Our chances depend on winning our games,” said Wenger. “We have 69 points, we can get to 75. That will be four points more than last year, so let’s focus on finishing as well as we can. We have created a momentum again. We had a difficult period and we recovered from it. The only chance we have to be in the top four is to win our games. A big ask is to always win and that’s always difficult. The only influence we can have is to win our games.”

“I’m very positive because it looks like we’ve got stronger in every single game,” added Wenger. “Against us, the other teams fight and we have to dig deep every time to win the games. We’ve won six of our last seven games and we have created the momentum again after having a period where we were not stable away from home. We look strong again now and we’ve won our last three away games, so it’s positive.” Asked about his team, Wenger had nothing but praise. “ I believe that the players have character, the players have spirit,” continued Wenger. “When you have gone through the period we have gone through with such a hostile environment, you don’t recover if you’re not strong. The players have been extremely strong to respond well in the way that we did. We lacked defensive stability in some important games this season, and we had to completely rethink the system. I had to make some changes and now we look more stable at the moment.”

Wenger declared that his side have to have a strong finish. “Because we do our job properly and we are focused until the end. As long as we are in competition, we prepare the teams well and that’s why we were always finishing strong because we kept our focus,” said Wenger. “I believe finishing outside the top four will not have any influence on the way the club will be led and how we will behave on the transfer market. Wenger was asked what finishing at 75 points and defeating Chelsea in the FA Cup would mean to him. “It would mean that the season has not gone as well as I hoped at the start of the season,” replied Wenger. “Not as well as I hoped at the start of the season because I started the season to win the Premier League and when you don’t do it, you’re never completely satisfied, like everybody else. But as well, it’s not disastrous. I think what’s encouraging is the way the team develops recently and the way the ambition of the team is back. Overall I think it’s difficult to get points in this league, it’s difficult for everybody.”

When asked if he thought Liverpool will win against Middlesbrough, Wenger was not sure. “Confident or not, I don’t know. You face a problem in a different way. When you’re a manager, you want your team to give absolutely its best until the last second to have a chance, to have no regrets. That’s what you do. You focus on your own team and hope that results go for you at some stage. But we focus on just doing well. Some teams turn up, some teams are on holiday. It’s very difficult to plan. You just want your team to do well and to focus completely until the last. I think to be professional is to do your job properly until the last second of the season. Just for the fact that we can look in the mirror and say ‘we did it properly’. That’s for me absolutely vital. I work every day not to turn up halfway, but to turn up properly and do my job properly. If we don’t have the results, I’m very disappointed. But what is not excusable is not to give your best.”

“I think no team is absolutely, on the mental front and the confidence front, consistent from the first to the last day of the season,” said Wenger. “But every team suffers at a moment in the season and when we suffered, I think we suffered a lot. After we went out of the Champions League, in very special circumstances, because you look at these two games and you take the first halves, we would have qualified. So it was very difficult to swallow for the team, the way it happened and it took us some time to recover. When you’re in a difficult period you can be divided or united and I think we responded in a united way.” Wenger was asked if he believes it is possible for the Gunners to finish with a 75-point total at the end of the season.

“I don’t want to go into conclusions too early. It shows that if you can make 75 points it’s a decent total because I won the championship with 78,” remarked Wenger. “But this season it looks at the end of the season that many teams who have been assured to stay in the league have just released their focus and as well, you had basically two leagues, the top six and the rest of the Premier League. Everybody took too many points from lower teams. That usually did not happen in the years before.” Meanwhile, Arsenal will sign Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac this summer. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international is set to join the Gunners on a free transfer on July 1. Arsenal will be getting Kolasinac on a free transfer so the titan club can spend more money on other positions, with a new striker topping the list.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola took aim at rival Arsene Wenger by claiming if Arsenal had performed better throughout the season and secured their top-four status by now, then the Frenchman would have no need to complain about a perceived lack of effort by other teams after West Ham's recent 4-0 defeat by Liverpool, a result which severely dented Arsenal's hopes of a top-four finish. "I don’t understand how the managers speak for the other clubs and the other teams," said Pep. "Ask to Arsene not to me. The people who are hired are focused intheir teams, they do what they have to do. I never saw one player in my life go to the pitch and don’t try to win the game and when the target is done, it’s done, but so if you don’t want that, win more games yourself, or qualify before or win the champions league, and after we don’t have the problems for the other ones.”

“Yeah, but he plays against Everton and Sunderland, no? Both teams are done, no? One is relegated and one is in the Europa League, so it’s the same situation, so you don’t want to complain, do it better during in the season and you will not have this problem,” continuet Guardiola. “I would like to be Chelsea right now. If I were Chelsea, they don’t have to qualify for the champions league, so it’s for our fault or it could be better, not because of the opponents. West Brom are professionals, they’re going to play to win the game. They play the way they want to play, so if teams of Tony Pulis want to play that way, perfect. We have to adapt to that, so every manager and every team makes whatever he wants.” There is still some uncertainty over Arsene Wenger's future as manager at Arsenal. Wenger admitted last month he was planning for next season, but there has still been no announcement on whether he will leave this summer or sign a new deal.

 

"Do I stay two months or 10 years? I plan," said Wenger. "I do my job exactly the same. Of course, you can do that. Of course, transfer targets will ask if I will be at the club, but we are always honest. Arsenal is a world brand today, respected all over the world. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said his squad deserves praise for finishing the season strongly. "The Arsenal name is bigger than my name and coming to Arsenal is more important - you don't come to Arsene Wenger, you come to Arsenal."

Arsenal tickets

Buy the very best Arsenal tickets for the remaining Premier League fixtures, the FA Cup Final against 2016-17 Champions Chelsea, and the Emirates Cup from 1st4FootballTickets.com. All the remaining Arsenal matches this season will be played at either Emirates Stadium or Wembley Stadium in London.

MAY 16 2017 English Premier League Arsenal v Sunderland Tickets Emirates Stadium - London, United Kingdom
MAY 21 2017 English Premier League Arsenal v Everton Tickets Emirates Stadium - London, United Kingdom
MAY 27 2017 FA Cup Final 2017: Chelsea v Arsenal Tickets Wembley Stadium - London, United Kingdom
JUL 29 2017 Emirates Cup RB Leipzig v Fc Sevilla & Arsenal v Benfica Tickets Emirates Stadium - London, United Kingdom
JUL 30 2017 Emirates Cup RB Leipzig v Benfica & Arsenal v Fc Sevilla Tickets Emirates Stadium - London, United Kingdom

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