‘Send the fans back home in peace’ for next season, Arsene Wenger tells Arsenal

'We want to go on the final day finishing on a high' said Arsene Wenger ahead of Arsenal's final Premier League match against West Brom on Sunday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacts during his side's draw against Sunderland in the Premier League on Wednesday. John Sibley / Action Images / Reuters / May 20, 2015
Powered by automated translation

Manager Arsene Wenger wants his team to show Arsenal fans they can have genuine hope of a sustained Premier League title challenge next season by finishing this one "on a high".

Wenger’s side are all but secure of third place, heading into Sunday’s final match of the league campaign against West Bromwich Albion three points clear of Manchester United and with a superior goal difference.

It is, of course, not the ending Wenger would have set out for back in August, a slow start ultimately dooming any hopes of a late title charge to reel in Chelsea despite a formidable run since the turn of the year.

The Frenchman, though, feels the squad is on the cusp of something special, with the opportunity to retain the FA Cup at Wembley also on the horizon.

“We have used our hiccups now at home and we want to go on the final day finishing on a high and send the fans back home in peace ready for next season,” said Wenger, whose side laboured through a goalless draw with Sunderland on Wednesday night, their third match at home without scoring.

“It is also important in the Premiership that they go home full of hope.”

Wenger added: “The confidence level will come from recent results, and the important result will, of course, be from the game against West Brom, so it is vital.”

Much of Arsenal’s upturn in fortunes since the start of 2015 has been down to the consistent performances of Francis Coquelin, who has excelled in a defensive midfield role since returning from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic.

Wenger has been impressed with the 24-year-old Frenchman’s determination after at one stage looking to have missed his first-team chance.

“When I took him, what I liked is the fact that he wins duels and a strength in the challenge, and a strength to read the opponent’s game,” Wenger said.

“He lost his way a bit and wanted to be more of a playmaker and I think he lost some time there, then came back to what his real identity is.

“Francis is an intelligent boy with big passion for the game and has shown some absolutely remarkable mental strength because he accepted going to Charlton for a month to show he can play. He came back and played.”

Wenger added: “His qualities are a good reader of the game, good intelligence, strength in the challenge.

“What is very interesting is that the ball comes out of his feet quickly – he is not slow to make the decision.

“It is not easy today to find players who have that quality, to win the ball and after that get it out of their feet quickly.”

Wenger likened the impact of Coquelin to that of having brought in a £40 million (Dh227.6m) signing during the January transfer window.

“The fact that it is not a spectacular buy means it goes a bit under the radar and nobody notices too much, but he has had a great contribution,” Wenger said.

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE