Wenger on finishing in the top four

Arsene Wenger spoke to the media after Laurent Koscielny's second-half goal ensured that Arsenal finished the season in the top four.

on feeling happy and relieved…
Yes I am. We knew before the game that we had to win and any other result could kick us out of the potential Champions League group stage. We were right because Tottenham and Chelsea won and we had the big disadvantage to play away from home. I'm happy as well because the exceptional attitude and determination of this group of players has been rewarded. They continued to believe when we were seven points behind Tottenham in mid-March. [They knew] that we had no room for error anymore and you could never see any sign of giving in. That's why the exceptional mental attitude of the players has been rewarded. Today it was a bit of a game against the nerves [as well as] against Newcastle and I felt that sometimes the nerves player as big a part as Newcastle. We were in control. They had an initial chance with Cisse. After that, in the second half I don't think they had a chance. We were in control but couldn't kill the game off. That's why it was nervy until the end.

on if the players have repaid his belief…
Yes. At least they're rewarded. I've had many groups in my life and this is one who has been absolutely outstanding on that front. They've shown a combination of quality but attitude as well. In the modern day, I always admire the way they behaved and their focus every day in training. Sometimes as a manager you feel as well that when a group is so dedicated and face so many storms. We had some big lows with Bradford, with Blackburn and with Bayern at home. You could never see that the players could dismantle or that the group was not united. That's not easy in the modern game.

on if the team have conquered a mental hurdle…
In the last three months, I believe we have been remarkably consistent. We won every away game so it's a good springboard for next season, to transfer that belief into the start of next season. That means we need stability and to strengthen our group if possible. There are many clubs out there with a lot of money so the competition is very hard. There's not as much talent as money today in football.

on what qualifying for the Champions League means for Arsenal…
It means for us to be capable 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's always a very tricky round for us. But at least we have the chance.

on if the team will be competitive next season…
Since February 1, we have taken more points than anybody else in the league. I don't believe that's just down to coincidence, just to the fact that the group has grown. This team has grown throughout the season. We lacked belief for a long period because we couldn't win a big game. The Bayern game changed our season away from home.

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