Thursday 27 October 2016

Arsene Wenger reflects on bittersweet finish for Arsenal

Published 15/05/2016 | 22:31

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is pleased with finishing above Tottenham but not about finishing second
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is pleased with finishing above Tottenham but not about finishing second

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes finishing second in the Barclays Premier League is bittersweet as they finish the season 10 points behind champions Leicester.

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The Gunners' 4-0 win over bottom side Aston Villa and Tottenham's 5-1 defeat to relegated Newcastle on the last day of the season was enough to see them snatch second place in the table at the expense of their great rivals.

Wenger said: "You have to say Leicester have had an exceptional year. It is not only us who is behind Leicester.

"We have beaten them twice.

"We are not happy about being second but then there are 18 other teams behind us.

"Our aim was to be first and for a while we believed we could do it.

"We kept togetherness and we have now not lost for nine games and that mental strength we have in the dressing room got us through that period.

"We are second and we want to be first.

"We don't start the season and think we want to finish above Tottenham but today we played with the only target we had. Today the aim before the game was to finish second.

"We achieved it, for a while our supporters were not going home very happy and today at least they had some satisfaction."

A hat-trick from Olivier Giroud and an own goal from Villa goalkeeper Mark Bunn meant Mikel Arteta, who has been at the club since 2011, and Tomas Rosicky, who has been at the Emirates for 10 years, had the perfect send-off.

Midfielder Arteta, 34, was in tears as he left the pitch to a standing ovation after the final whistle with both players leaving the club in the summer.

Speaking about the duo Wenger said: "I think Tomas Rosicky is an incredible football player and highly respected in our dressing room.

"It was a very sad day for me yesterday not to pick him in my squad because it was something at stake.

"We lose him, we lose Arteta, two leaders in the dressing room and I am convinced that in the bad periods they had a positive influence in the squad and we will miss them next season.

"I would like to thank them for what they have done for us and wish them well."

Aston Villa caretaker manager Erik Black was disappointed with the final result and felt hard done by to be defeated by four goals after his side's performance.

He said: "I thought we contained them for a good 80 minutes.

"We had a couple of enforced changes before the game, we asked two midfielders to play (in defence) and I thought they behaved admirably, I thought they worked extremely hard.

"Having conceded a goal very early on, you fear the worst but we stuck at it and not only that in the second half there was a little period where I thought we put Arsenal on the back foot.

"The players deserve a lot of credit and it is a 4-0 defeat but you take that on the chin, but I thought it was harsh the 4-0."

Press Association

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