• Premier League

Wenger warns Arsenal against failure

ESPN staff
March 28, 2014
Arsenal v Manchester City: How the teams compare

Arsene Wenger has told his Arsenal players that it will not be good enough if they fail to win the Premier League this season.

The manager believes his side can still claw their way back into the title race with victory against Manchester City on Saturday and insists the yhave shown they are worthy contenders this season.

But after previously equating qualification for the Champions League with winning a trophy, Wenger has changed his tune.

Missing out on Toure hurt Wenger

Yaya Toure is Manchester City's top scorer in the Premier League with 17 goals this season © Getty Images
  • Arsene Wenger has revealed the failed opportunity to sign Yaya Toure for Arsenal over a decade ago is one of his biggest regrets.
  • The midfielder played for Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in 2003 but then chose to move to Metalurh Donetsk and he has been a key force in Manchester City's title bid this season.
  • "It's up at the top," Wenger said when asked how highly missing out on Toure ranked on his lift of regrets. "But let's not forget that Yaya Toure had an agreement with us and it's not because we did not want to sign him that he went to Ukraine.
  • "We had to wait for his passport in Belgium. We have made mistakes [with transfers], but this was not a mistake. He preferred to go to Metalurh Donetsk because he could go there without a passport."

"We want to finish first in the league and the other priorities are still there," he said. "The first priority, it's never good enough to be anything but first. You want to be in the Champions League of course. [However,] it is never good enough to finish anything but first in sport.

"The ultimate target is to be the best. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, less good. Look, if you ask any team, they all want to be in the top four. You cannot say it's a shame, but you do not work day and night to be second.

"I believe we were 17 or 18 weeks top of the league this season, so the gap is not definite. We need to continue to work well and maybe we have been a bit unlucky with the injuries. We had too many players out at the same period. We [also need to] strengthen the squad as well."

Wenger voicing his perspective in this way could be seen as a direct response to Jose Mourinho's latest dig at his bitter rival, in which he scoffed at anyone who say finishing in the top four as the equivalent of silverware.

But in blaming injuries after Arsenal have been humiliated by Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City this season and calling for squad strengthening he appears to be looking towards next season.

Wenger said his club had to be realistic about their title chances earlier this week, and that their prospects were remote.

When asked on Friday if the City game would be make or break, he said: "It is [Arsenal's last chance] yes, but I believe we have to keep going despite the last two negative results.

"We have not given up [on the title race], believe me. We can show that. It is our attitude will decides that. Champions keep going when everyone else gives up and we have an opportunity to show that we have that mentality.

"We are in an important place in the Premier League, we are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. At the moment, it's not as doom and gloom as everyone paints the situation. We live in an age where every game is a definite judgement forever.

"Life is movement, life is change. Life is about having disappointment and transforming them into positives.

"If people say that Everton can catch us [for fourth place], that means we can catch the teams above us as well. It is the next game that is very importance and it's against Manchester City, who fight at the top.

"When you play a favourite, you have a chance to shorten the distance with them. The importance of this game will help the players to lift themselves. We are highly determined to give our best until the end of the season.

"This is an important part of the season and we want them [the fans] to be behind the team. You cannot fault the commitment of the team against Swansea on Tuesday. We were tremendous. We were unlucky to concede an own goal in the last minute, it can happen.

"The mood is of course disappointed, but we want to prepare for the next game. I believe that we have a feeling that we gave everything against Swansea and we were unlucky with the result. We want to put it right against City."

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