No Complaints About Europe From Wenger!

Last updated : 20 May 2013 By Footy Mad - Editor

dArsene Wenger secured a 16th consecutive crack at the Champions League.

The Gunners clinched fourth place in the Barclays Premier League and a qualifying tie for the European competition with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Newcastle to end derby rivals Tottenham's hopes of overhauling them on the final day of the campaign.

Wenger was thrilled with a high-octane run-in which allowed his side to reel in and eventually overtake Spurs, and is confident that the growth which enabled them to do that will serve them well once again next season.

Arsene Wenger: "Since February 1, we have taken more points than everybody else in the league, and I don't believe that's just down to coincidence, but just to the fact that the group has grown, this team has grown through the season.

"We lacked belief for long periods because we couldn't win a big game, but the Bayern [Munich] game changed our season away from home.

"In the last three months, I believe we have been remarkably consistent. We have won every away game, so it is a good springboard for next season, to transfer that belief into the start of next season.

"That means we need to have stability and strengthen our group if possible because there are many clubs out there with a lot of money, so the competition is very hard and there is not as much talent as money today in football.

"It means to us to be able to play with the top teams in Europe - that's what you want.

"It means as well that it's easier to bring in players when you have a chance to be in the Champions League - let's not forget, we are not in yet, we have to qualify and that is always a very tricky round for us.

"But at least we have a chance."

dVictory was secured seven minutes after the break when central defender Laurent Koscielny volleyed home from close range after striker Lukas Podolski had headed down Theo Walcott's right-wing free-kick.

Newcastle had perhaps shaded the first half without testing keeper Wojciech Szczesny unduly, but the Gunners gradually wore them down and might have cemented victory at the death when Walcott out-stripped a leggy defence and stabbed the ball past 38-year-old keeper Steve Harper, making his final appearance for the Magpies after 20 years on the books, only to see his effort come back off the post.

Manager Alan Pardew was at least able to comfort himself after thumping home defeats by Sunderland and Liverpool in their last two games.

But ultimately a 16th-placed finish with 41 points - 24 fewer than his side managed last year when they ended the campaign in fifth - was a major disappointment.

Alan Pardew: "It was the depth, really, and quality we need to improve on. But next year, we haven't got that pressure and we can go week to week in this Premier League.

"But we are not going to be foolish enough to think that we don't have a couple of issues to sort out in the team - not major issues, but certainly one or two players to add to offer us a different look.

"I'm pretty confident I'll be the manager here.

"I love being the manager and I will be speaking to [owner] Mike [Ashley] and [managing director] Derek [Llambias] this week to make sure we get a response and the right reaction."