English Premiership

Wenger salutes players

2012-05-14 09:53
Arsene Wenger (AFP)

Birmingham - 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.

GALLERY: Past weekend in pictures

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."

Read more on:    arsenal  |  arsene wenger  |  soccer

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

29 October 2016
Sunderland v Arsenal, Stadium of Light 13:30
Manchester United v Burnley, Old Trafford 16:00
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth, Riverside Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v Hull City, Vicarage Road 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City, White Hart Lane 16:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 18:30
30 October 2016
Everton v West Ham United, Goodison Park 15:30
Southampton v Chelsea, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
31 October 2016
Stoke City v Swansea City, Britannia Stadium 22:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Will Jose Mourinho lead Manchester United to the English Premiership title in 2016/17?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.