Per Mertesacker says the lessons Arsenal have learnt this season will stand them in good stead for the future.
The Gunners’ title challenge unravelled after a series of disappointing away performances against their biggest rivals.
However, their recent good form has left them well-placed for a top-four finish and Mertesacker believes there are some real positives to focus on.
We regrouped very well and how we managed this situation was even more important maybe than last yearPer Mertesacker
“We can learn a lot [from this season],” the Germany centre back said. “Last year we managed to deal with an even more difficult situation as with 10 games to go no-one expected us to be in the top four.
“This year, with a couple of injuries we struggled heavily but we regrouped very well and how we managed this situation was even more important maybe than last year. To secure Champions League football was another test for us.
“The fans wanted us to finish further up, we were top of the league for a long time and everyone dreamt about getting the title, but it takes more than just staying at the top until the winter period.
“We couldn't afford those away [defeats] against big teams so we didn't deserve to be in the top three. That is something for next year that we have to manage better.”
While Mertesacker is looking forward to the FA Cup final on May 17, he insists the Arsenal squad’s focus is firmly on securing fourth place.
“Everyone knows we’re in a cup final and everyone waits for that moment to get there [but] it's very important to get to the end of the season and secure Champions League football and then we're in the FA Cup final,” he said.
“We have good targets to go for and that's very important. We should have a lot of players back, and the squad is getting stronger and stronger.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 29 Apr 2014