- Premier League
Wenger: It's vital we make Champions League
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may be closing on his first trophy in nine years after reaching the FA Cup final, but he has admitted it is "vital" for the club to qualify for the Champions League.
Arsenal's hopes of a top-four finish are dependent on Everton slipping up in one of the final five matches and Wenger has stated it is not a position he is comfortable with.
Wenger's Arsenal future is on the line despite the Frenchman stating he "sacrifices every day" to end his nine-year trophy drought but several key players - most notably Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla - have already voiced their displeasure at the situation.
A busy summer for Wenger?
- Arsene Wenger is already planning his summer shopping list in a bid to strengthen his floundering Arsenal side, with the Daily Mail reporting the club has already started negotiations to bring in a host of big names.
- The newspaper claims Arsenal have already made contact with Real Madrid regarding Alvaro Morata and have also spoken to Schalke about long-time target Julian Draxler.
- Similarly, Bayern Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender is also thought to be a priority on Wenger's transfer list.
- "We do spend time on next season, we are really focused and working very hard," Wenger said on Monday, admitting he was already looking towards next season. "Every day we spend time on that."
"It's vital to me to make the top four," Wenger told reporters at the club's London Colney training base. "I want this club to play in the Champions League.
"What will be an advantage is our desire to play in this competition because we love the Champions League and just to imagine how much we love it will help us to achieve it. I would like them rather to concentrate on the pleasure to be in it [than worry about not qualifying].
"You don't go backwards [in the Europa League], but you want to play with the top teams. It is vital for the young players as well to be the in Champions League. You learn more by playing against Bayern or Barcelona or Real Madrid than if you play in the Europa League, that's for sure."
Wenger suggested his team's heavy defeats against Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton in recent weeks have taken their toll on his team, as he prepares for one final push in his bid to maintain his record of qualifying for the Champions League over the last 16 years.
"We had a difficult schedule and today the rate of the negative results and negative aspects of the results in the big games is massive," Wenger stated. "To deal with that is very difficult. When you have a succession of big games one after the other, if you lose the first one you are always in trouble.
"The mental part is so important in the physical recovery. The fact we come out in a positive mood will help us to recover. I believe physically we can cope with it."
Wenger again claimed that his lengthy injury list was the prime culprit for the club's disappointing run of form in recent weeks, as the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wislhere and Theo Walcott have all been confined to the treatment room.
"It's difficult to predict you will have Ozil, Walcott, Wilshere out at the same time and Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil and Walcott out. It's too many," added Wenger, whose side played a draining but ultimately successful FA Cup semi-final against Wigan that went all the way to a penalty shoot-out at Wembley last Saturday.
"Fatigue is an issue but it's difficult to predict how you will be three days later after an FA Cup semi-final."
Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny are close to a return to the Arsenal line-up after recovering from their recent injuries.