Arsene Wenger explains why Arsenal MUST finish in the Premier League top three

Arsene Wenger only wants Arsenal to finish in the Premier League top three, with the French boss not wanting to go through the Champions League play-offs next season.

Having defeated West Brom 2-0 on Thursday night, the Gunners currently sit third, but they are only two points ahead of Manchester City in fourth – and just four points ahead of Manchester United in fifth.

While falling out of the top four is unlikely, it is possible that Arsenal will finish in fourth place once again, and have to go through the unpredictable challenge of the play-off stage.

But Wenger wants to finish third, and be entered straight into the group stages rather than be drawn in a play-off at the start of next season.

“Top four is not Champions League. Top three, yes. That’s why it is important,” he said.

“We want to play against the top teams and we want to be in the Champions League.

“What has changed over the years is that the impact of the finances in the Champions League is not as big any more. For a period in the past the money was vital for us.

“But the sporting impact, the planning of the next season, of course it changes completely. Especially when you have a big summer tournament like the Euros which is now like a World Cup because it starts on June 10 and finishes on the 10th of July.

“When you have to play Champions League qualifiers the European Championship is still going on. You can play teams in the qualifiers who are in the middle of their championship because they have started already in June.

“But for us we don’t know where we finish. We are not guaranteed top four and we have to fight for that. Man United is behind us and they will fight for it as well. We have difficult games and so do they.”

Arsenal’s season has not lived up to expectations, but there have still be some exceptional performers amongst their ranks.

Mesut Ozil has laid on 18 goals for his teammates to finish, and is the best creative player in the division, but he failed to be named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Right-back Hector Bellerin was the only Arsenal representative in an XI dominated by Leicester and Spurs stars, and Wenger has admitted he is confused as to why the German star missed out on selection.

“It’s a surprise to me,” Wenger added.

“I cannot explain it. It’s the players who vote. I don’t know why they did not pick him. When you are top in the assists usually that is a sign of quality that should get you a place in the top team.”

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