Wenger wants fans 'full of hope'
Published 23/05/2015 | 22:51
Manager Arsene Wenger wants his team to show Arsenal fans they can have genuine hope of a sustained Barclays Premier League title challenge next season by finishing this one "on a high".
The Gunners are all but secure of third place, heading into Sunday's final match of the league campaign against West Brom three points clear of Manchester United and with a superior goal difference.
It is, of course, not the ending Wenger would have set out for back in August, a slow start ultimately putting paid to any hopes of a late title charge to reel in Chelsea despite a formidable run since the turn of the year.
The Frenchman, though, feels the squad is on the cusp of something special, with the opportunity to retain the FA Cup at Wembley also on the horizon.
"We have used our hiccups now at home and we we want to go on the final day finishing on a high and send the fans back home in peace ready for next season," said Wenger, whose side laboured through a goalless draw with Sunderland on Wednesday night - their third match at home without scoring.
"It is also important in the Premiership that they go home full of hope."
Wenger added: "The confidence level (going into the FA Cup final) will come from recent results, and the important result will, of course, be from the game against West Brom, so it is vital."
Much of Arsenal's upturn in fortunes since the start of 2015 has been down to the consistent performances of Francis Coquelin, who has excelled in a defensive midfield role since returning from a loan spell at Charlton.
Wenger has been impressed with the 24-year-old's determination after at one stage looking to have missed his first-team chance.
"When I took him (into the Arsenal academy from Laval), what I liked is the fact that he wins duels and a strength in the challenge, and a strength to read the opponent's game," Wenger said.
"He lost his way a bit and wanted to be more of a playmaker and I think he lost some time there, then came back to what his real identity is.
"Francis is an intelligent boy with big passion for the game and has shown some absolutely remarkable mental strength because he accepted going to Charlton for a month to show he can play. He came back and played."
Wenger added: "His qualities are a good reader of the game, good intelligence, strength in the challenge.
"What is very interesting is that the ball comes out of his feet quickly - he is not slow to make the decision.
"It is not easy today to find players who have that quality, to win the ball and after that get it out of their feet quickly."
Wenger likened the impact of Coquelin to that of having brought in a £40million signing during the January transfer window.
"The fact that it is not a spectacular buy means it goes a bit under the radar and nobody notices too much, but he has had a great contribution," the Gunners boss added.