Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger won’t give up on a top-four finish this season despite a 2-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday that ensured they will finish below their local rivals for the first time in his 21 years at the club.
Draws for Manchester City and Manchester United in the Premier League earlier on Sunday took them six and five points respectively above Wenger’s side, who have a game in hand, in the race for Champions League football next season.
Next weekend Arsenal, who have reached an FA Cup final against league leaders Chelsea, play at home to United and must win to keep up their hopes of a place in the top four.
“It will be very difficult but we have to fight,” Wenger told reporters after Sunday’s loss at White Hart Lane. “We have a cup final and the chance to get in the top four.
“We have to give everything in every game. We couldn’t afford to lose the game today.
“We have to play more and create more than we did today.”
Dele Alli put Spurs ahead after 55 minutes before Harry Kane was fouled in the area soon after and converted the penalty, reports Reuters.
Wenger felt the first goal and the spot-kick were soft.
“Spurs were sharper than us physically and we were too restricted in our game. At the moment, we are not back to the level of confidence we need to play in the way we can.
“The desire was there but we lacked something today.”
Like his counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, Wenger was also keen to emphasise that there are more important aspects to a season than finishing above your greatest rivals.
Sunday’s win means Spurs are guaranteed to finish above bitter rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995.
“Well done to them, but when you start the championship the target is not to finish above Spurs, it is to fight for the title,” said the Frenchman.
“In 20 years it happened once. Mathematically it has to happen once. We’re not happy with it but we don’t compare ourselves to Spurs, we compare ourselves to where we want to be.”
At the moment, Arsenal are some way off that.