Wenger won’t rule out pipping Chelsea to third place as Arsenal enjoy upper hand on Spurs
PUBLISHED: 08:05 15 May 2013 | UPDATED: 19:29 15 May 2013
Manager Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal now have a third-place finish in their sights after relegating FA Cup winners Wigan with a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium - but his side could yet end up in a play-off with Chelsea for automatic Champions League qualification.
Lukas Podolski nodded the Gunners in front on 11 minutes last night, only for Shaun Maloney to give the visitors hope when he crashed home a free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
However, three goals in the space of eight minutes just after the hour from Theo Walcott, Podolski and Aaron Ramsey meant there was to be no fairytale ending for Roberto Martinez’s men, despite another brave crack at the great escape.
Arsenal will head to Newcastle in the knowledge victory on the final day of the Premier League season would secure another crack at taking on Europe’s elite once again.
The Gunners are a point ahead of Tottenham, who host Sunderland, and two behind Chelsea, who have a better goal difference by just one.
Should Arsenal win 2-1 on Sunday and Chelsea draw 0-0 at home to Everton, then both London clubs would have identical records, with a one-off match at a neutral venue set to decide which side would go into the group stage rather than a qualifying tie.
Wenger, however, will focus on only securing victory to keep destiny in their own hands.
He said: “It is all open, but it depends on our result. Even third place is not out of sight if we win the game.
“In every single game until the end, for a long time now, we are in a position where we absolutely want the three points.
“I am confident because we have experience. We play for a long time under massive pressure and we have always found the solutions with the problems that we have faced.”
Wenger added: “At the moment, we prepare for next season as well because the way that you play and finish determines the ability to start well next season.
“That is a big part, but bigger is to finish well and that is at Newcastle on Sunday.”
Midfielder Mikel Arteta is doubtful for the trip to St James’ Park with a calf injury which could mean calling upon England’s Jack Wilshere, who is set for summer surgery to clear up a niggling ankle problem.
Wenger said: “Arteta he is not all right. He pulled his calf so that could be a problem for Sunday.
“We don’t know. We have to wait for 24 hours. He is a massive doubt for Sunday.
“He is very important - that is why I don’t rule him out at the moment.
“Maybe we will have to push Wilshere in [if Arteta doesn’t make it]. I don’t know.”
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