Arsenal deserved to be rewarded this season, says Arsene Wenger

Gunners boss reflects on another disappointing campaign

Arsene Wenger has revealed his frustration at another trophyless season but is standing by his players, who he feels have been ‘exceptional’.

The Gunners face a battle to finish in third place and avoid a Champions League play-off game in August after slipping to their EIGHTH league defeat of the season against Aston Villa last weekend.

And while Wenger admitted that the run of three wins in 14 games that ended his side’s trophy hunt has been traumatic, the Frenchman still feels there have been positives.

“It has been a stressful season,” admitted Wenger. “When you know that you have no chance you accept it but this season we felt that the attitude and potential of the team was right and that we were very close in every competition.

“You cannot say we failed quality-wise because we have produced fantastic games and the energy this team has given is amazing. I wanted them to be rewarded so much that I got more and more frustrated.

“We have gone out against Barcelona [in the Champions League], we have not gone out against any other team. We have gone out against Manchester United [in the FA Cup] – the two Champions League finalists.”

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The Gunners now head to Fulham on Sunday for their final game needing a victory to have a chance of finishing third, and Wenger acknowledged that his squad, who have now played 57 games in all competitions, have run out of energy at the crucial moment.

“The team has given everything and they were very close,” he added. “In hindsight we played too many games in December, January and February.

“We played 27 games [in those three months] and I think mentally it had an impact on the team more then physically.

“There was the fact that we had to play Stoke just [four days] before the Carling Cup final too, and then the disappointment in the final had a big impact on the team’s belief.

“I am frustrated because I feel quality-wise and attitude-wise it was the best season we have had for a long time and the players and fans were not rewarded. We were so close but not to get over the line is difficult to take.

“We have faced a lot of scepticism, that was not easy, but overall this team is exceptional for me and they will show it.

“We have done well in the big games but have dropped points against the weaker sides at home. Now we just want to finish as well as we can.”