Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has urged his side to finish third in the Barclays Premier League because missing out on Champions League qualification with a fourth-place finish will not be an acceptable excuse.
The Gunners are currently three points ahead of fourth-place Newcastle and another four ahead of sixth-place Chelsea. However, the Blues will replace whoever finishes fourth in next year’s Champions League if they defeat Bayern Munich in this year’s final next month.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has already voiced his disagreement with these rules and is desperately hoping for a Bayern win in the final.
Wenger, on the other hand, has taken a different approach by arguing that despite the controversial nature of the rules, it is also inappropriate to prevent the Champions League winners from defending their crown.
“It [the current system] is not completely fair. But the problem is, if another team wins the Champions League, nothing changes here. So it is a bit illogical that your team finishing fourth is not involved in it,” Wenger commented about the loopholes in the current rule book.
But insisting that the rules are already made clear to all teams before the season, he continued: “It is the rule that everybody knows before the season starts, nobody complained and if Chelsea win then England will have four clubs represented in the Champions League. We have to accept it.”
Wenger’s men played out a goalless draw at home to Roberto DiMatteo’s in-form Chelsea side but the result was more of a setback for the Gunners than it was for the Blues.
With a potential win over Bayern on May 19, the Blues will be allowed to defend their Champions League title even if they finish outside of the top four places, which is similar to the fate of their FA Cup final opponents Liverpool back in 2005.
Although Wenger realizes that some may be left feeling sorry for themselves due to Chelsea’s European advantage, the Frenchman believes that his London rivals have earned it.
“But the surprise of the season is that Chelsea, who are not even in the Champions League places at the moment, nor Bayern, are not top of their leagues. That shows you how unpredictable the Champions League is because nobody would have predicted this season that the final would be Chelsea against Bayern Munich,” he explained.
Lastly, emphasizing the need to defeat Stoke City tomorrow in order for his side to maintain control of their own destiny, Wenger concluded: “From our side, we are in a position where we want to win our remaining games. That is the only chance to master our future.”