Arsene Wenger targets consolation of finishing second

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal will fight for a second-place finish as his side look for a victory over Manchester City to secure entry into the Champions League group stages.

Leicester may have already sealed the Premier League title but the remainder of the top-four picture is yet to be completed.

The Gunners travel to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow in third place, three points adrift of Tottenham in second with the same gap back to City in fourth.

Whoever finishes fourth faces a Champions League play-off before they can reach the group-stage draw, with Manchester United and West Ham remaining hopeful of crashing the party.

Even a draw in Manchester would make Arsenal favourites to finish third given they host rock-bottom Aston Villa on the closing day, but Wenger — who also revealed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain faces two months on the sidelines with a knee injury — has his eye on second.

“We have not given up hope. We will fight until the end,” he said when asked about finishing runners-up.

“Not playing in a Champions League play-off is our target now, to secure a position in the Champions League next year.

“If possible, to get second place and at least secure third place, and on Sunday we can achieve that. We still have two games and if we win those two games we will be all right.

Having sat top of the table at the turn of the year, a trip to face Manuel Pellegrini’s City on the penultimate weekend of the season would have been seen as a potential decider for where the Premier League trophy would end up.

But, after both sides endured a poor second half to the campaign, Wenger admits there will be plenty of regrets surrounding the fixture.

Asked if there was a sense of what the fixture could have been, the 66-year-old replied: “Of course but it is still an important game, even if Leicester are champions today.

“It is still a very important game because part of the responsibility of being professional is to prepare the future. The future of Arsenal Football Club depends on this game.

“We have regrets because we had the chance to finish top of the league, but apart from that it is difficult to compare with City you know.

“They are a team who is expected to win the league every year with the investment they have, so they must be in a similar position.”

Wenger, meanwhile, reckonsPellegrini would have always known that Pep Guardiola would one day replace him as City manager.

“Once they took (director of football) Txiki Begiristain (from Barcelona) you could see what was coming,” Wenger said.

“He has always known that in the back of his mind I think. I have big sympathy for Pellegrini, until Sunday.


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