Wenger lauds ‘mental strength’ after sealing second

Date published: Monday 16th May 2016 7:57

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes finishing second in the Premier League is bittersweet as they finish the season 10 points behind champions Leicester.

The Gunners’ 4-0 win over bottom side Aston Villa and Tottenham’s 5-1 defeat to relegated Newcastle on the last day of the season was enough to see them snatch second place in the table at the expense of their great rivals.

Wenger said: “You have to say Leicester have had an exceptional year. It is not only us who is behind Leicester.

“We have beaten them twice.

“We are not happy about being second but then there are 18 other teams behind us.

“Our aim was to be first and for a while we believed we could do it.

“We kept togetherness and we have now not lost for nine games and that mental strength we have in the dressing room got us through that period.

“We are second and we want to be first.

“We don’t start the season and think we want to finish above Tottenham but today we played with the only target we had. Today the aim before the game was to finish second.

“We achieved it, for a while our supporters were not going home very happy and today at least they had some satisfaction.”

A hat-trick from Olivier Giroud and an own goal from Villa goalkeeper Mark Bunn meant Mikel Arteta, who has been at the club since 2011, and Tomas Rosicky, who has been at the Emirates for 10 years, had the perfect send-off.

Midfielder Arteta, 34, was in tears as he left the pitch to a standing ovation after the final whistle with both players leaving the club in the summer.

Speaking about the duo Wenger said: “I think Tomas Rosicky is an incredible football player and highly respected in our dressing room.

“It was a very sad day for me yesterday not to pick him in my squad because it was something at stake.

“We lose him, we lose Arteta, two leaders in the dressing room and I am convinced that in the bad periods they had a positive influence in the squad and we will miss them next season.

“I would like to thank them for what they have done for us and wish them well.”

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