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Wenger: Second place finish can fuel next year's title challenge

With the top four nearly sewn up, Arsenal aren't just playing for honor.

"is second place a trophy? I do not know."
"is second place a trophy? I do not know."
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

According to Arsene Wenger, now that Chelsea have clinched the Premier League title, Arsenal's league goal is second place, and the manager believes achieving it could be a springboard for a title challenge next season. At his press conference before tomorrow's match against Swansea City, Wenger had this to say:

We feel we have made progress in our consistency, in our quality, in our stability…I believe it's important to finish as close as possible to Chelsea and come out of the season and think we are ready for a challenge next season.

When asked whether he thought a strong finish this year could lead to a title next year, he said it's hard to assess without knowing what the landscape of the league will be -- with Manchester United signing Memphis Depay already, and (unsubstantiated, but frightening) rumors of Pep Guardiola leaving Bayern Munich for Manchester City, that's certainly true. But his answer, still:

Yes. That's the target, of course...You gain as well your confidence from what you have achieved the year before and how well you have moved forward…That’s why for us it’s important that we continue to be consistent until the end of the season.

Arsenal haven't finished outside the top four in Arsene Wenger's tenure as manager, which is in and of itself an achievement -- but, as basically everyone knows, it's not the ultimate goal. In the league, that would of course be winning, which is something Arsenal haven't achieved since the Invincible season of 2003-04. It's been almost as long since we've finished higher than third; the last time Arsenal were league runners-up was the 2004-05 season a decade ago. 10 points from the next four games will secure second place. Chelsea can't be caught, but that would be a pretty good consolation prize -- and something that would probably make us all pretty optimistic about the coming year.