Wenger salutes players as Arsenal finish third

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger paid tribute to his players after they qualified for the Champions League once again despite a disastrous start to the campaign.

The Gunners' 3-2 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday secured third place as they finished a point and a place ahead of North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to guarantee entry to Europe's elite competition next season.

That was something of an achievement for Wenger's team, who lost four of their first seven Premier League matches, including an 8-2 humiliation at Manchester United, and the Frenchman insisted his players deserve credit for turning their fortunes around.

"If you look at the season as a whole, in the last 16 league games we have lost only twice," said Wenger, who said Robin van Persie's lingering applause towards the away fans afterwards was a "positive sign" he will still be at the Emirates Stadium next season.

"We have created a fantastic run. In the end we finished with 70 points. That is respectable.

"We were 17th in the league in September and after the first seven games we had lost four of them. It's very difficult to imagine you can finish third. But we have had an exceptional run after our Champions League exit.

"I'm proud of the season. The unity and solidarity inside the club has been tested and we didn't show any weakness. In the end, we came back. It's a good lesson for everyone.

"I cannot say the season has been a failure. We have qualified for the 15th time. Only three clubs have done that in Europe. That means it's not as easy as it looks."

Defeat was a disappointing end to a superb 16-month spell with the Baggies for outgoing head coach Roy Hodgson, in his final game before taking on the England job on a permanent basis.

He addressed the Hawthorns crowd after the match to express his gratitude.

"I am touched by the reception. It is a fantastic football club of great tradition and support," Hodgson said.

"You deserve another year in the Premier League. Everyone has been fantastic and I would not have been England manager if it was not for the contribution of everyone at this club."

Mistakes from Baggies understudy goalkeeper Marton Fulop, only in the side because of a groin injury to Ben Foster, gifted the Gunners their first and third goals from Yossi Benayoun and Laurent Koscielny.

The hosts had responded with strikes from Shane Long and Graham Dorrans, only for Andre Santos to level matters before Koscielny clinched the points early in the second half.

Baggies assistant manager Keith Downing said: "When you are playing a side of quality you cannot afford to give those types of goals away.

"It left us with a mountain to climb. Marton is devastated. He sets high standards and he knows one or two of the goals were down to him."

Meanwhile, Foster confirmed afterwards that he will not be ending his international exile to link up with Hodgson at Euro 2012.

"I've always said all along my best form has been since I retired from England and I feel my body gets a good rest, and I feel it needs that rest as well," Foster said.

"Not only that, the fact I've got a young family now, and the family is very big with me. I've got a three- and a four-year-old and they do take up a lot of my time.

"I make no secret, I miss them when I'm away with England. For me, I prefer to spend that time with the family than being away from them.

"Roy tried hard to persuade me. I get on with him so well and he is a fantastic manager. You learn so much off him.

"I know he will do a fantastic job for England but he totally understood my reasons why and was very respectful of that and understood my decision and my way of thinking."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

  • Project NOAH exec receives recognition
    Project NOAH exec receives recognition

    Project NOAH executive director and University of the Philippines professor Mahar Lagmay recently received recognition from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his work in disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the Philippines. …

  • Nightclub ban for US troops
    Nightclub ban for US troops

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said yesterday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipino he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow the 10-day annual military exercises, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow
    US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening  defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Palace defends legal tack in sea row
    Palace defends legal tack in sea row

    There is nothing weak about taking the legal and diplomatic approach to push for the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Malacañang maintained yesterday. On Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares led a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s massive reclamation activities in the Spratly island group to fortify its presence in the disputed waters. Colmenares also criticized the Philippine government for supposedly not doing enough to defend …

  • Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death
    Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death

    The sons of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, yesterday appealed to government officials to do everything to spare their mother from death. “We love you,” Mark Daniel, 12, said when asked for a message for his mother following a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Mark Daniel, an incoming Grade 8 student, reiterated his appeal to those in power to help save his mother from death. His younger brother, …

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options