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Laurent Koscielny and Robin Van Persie, partly hidden, celebrate the third goal against West Bromwich.
Laurent Koscielny and Robin Van Persie, partly hidden, celebrate the third goal against West Bromwich.

Wenger hopes Van Persie will stay at Arsenal as Man City beckons

Premier League round-up: Redknapp thinks it will be harder for Spurs next year, Chelsea eye Champions League...

Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal's achievement of clinching Champions League football for a 15th successive season can help the club keep Robin van Persie.

Arsenal's 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion ensured they finished above their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, taking third spot in the Premier League.

The success represents a major turnaround in fortunes for Arsenal who were in 17th place in October after losing four of their opening seven games, with some fans calling for Wenger to be sacked.

Van Persie ended the season with 30 league goals as Yossi Benayoun, Andre Santos and Laurent Koscielny scored against West Brom.

Wenger said: "Will Champions League football help to keep Van Persie? It makes it easier to attract good players and keep them.

"The intention is to speak with him before he leaves for the Dutch camp [for Euro 2012]."

Wenger added: "I'm proud of the season. The mental solidity, the unity and solidarity inside the club has been tested. We didn't show any weakness and kept united.

"In the end, we came back. It's a good lesson for everyone. I told everyone to keep doing what they are doing and in the end we got there.

"I cannot say the season has been a failure. We have qualified for the 15th time. Only three clubs have done that in Europe.

"We were 17th in the league and in the first seven games we had lost four of them. When you have played seven games, there are 31 to go. It's very difficult to imagine you can finish third.

"But we have had an exceptional run after our Champions League exit. I think if you look at the season as a whole in the last 16 games, we have lost only twice."

Roy Hodgson, the new England manager, paid tribute to the West Brom fans after the final whistle as his reign at the Hawthorns ended.

He said: "This is a fantastic football club with a great tradition and even in the rough times, I felt the fans were behind us. You deserve another year in the Premier League and I would like to thank all the staff and players for their support during this past 15 months."

Marton Fulop who replaced the injured goalkeeper Ben Foster was to blame for all three Arsenal goals.

But Keith Downing, the West Brom assistant boss, said: "Ben had a slight issue with his groin and in Marton's defence he was called on late. He is devastated. He is a genuine guy. We had no reservations about playing him. We are disappointed for Marton, he sets high standards and he knows one or two of the goals were down to him."

Shane Long and Graham Dorrans scored for West Brom after Benayoun's opener but Fulop's blunders enabled the Gunners to recover.

Redknapp expects it to get tougher next season

Harry Redknapp has praised his Tottenham Hotspur side for finishing fourth in the Premier League, despite being uncertain whether it will be enough to secure Champions League football.

Spurs’ 2-0 win over Fulham secured fourth, which would normally guarantee Champions League football.

But Chelsea will snatch that spot away from Spurs if they can beat Bayern Munich in the final of this year’s competition.

“All you can do is do your job,” he said. “At the start of the year Champions League football, fourth position, I couldn’t have asked for more than that.”Redknapp reckons finishing in the top four will be more difficult in the coming years.

“When we finished fourth [in 2010] Man City were just arriving. It is going to be even more difficult next year,” he said.

“Man United and Man City are not going to be out of the top four: that’s impossible. So you are looking for two places. Chelsea, I don’t think Mr Abramovich will stand for them finishing outside the top four again.”

Round-up

Chelsea 2, Blackburn 1

Manager Steve Kean refused to be drawn on the agenda of his meeting with Blackburn’s owners in India this week after his relegated side finished the season with a defeat. Reportedly up for discussion this week is the promotion of press officer Paul Agnew to replace sacked deputy chief executive officer Paul Hunt, with Kean apparently set to push his name forward. “I don’t want to [talk about the speculation]”, said Kean.

Wigan 3, Wolves 2

Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, said he is happy to be linked to jobs at bigger clubs but insists there is still work to do at Wigan. The latest speculation has Spaniard being considered by Liverpool. “When you get stories linking clubs with your players or in this case with a manager, it must be because you have done something right. We can’t control speculation and I’m not going to lie to you, I like the speculation.”

Everton 3, Newcastle 1

Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, shrugged off the disappointment of missing out on a Champions League place after defeat at Everton ended their slim hopes. “It has been a tremendous season. We have played every game to try and win,” Pardew said. “To finish above the likes of Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea, it is a fantastic achievement.”

Norwich City 2, Aston Villa 0

Alex McLeish has vowed to carry on as Aston Villa manager despite the travelling fans sending him a loud message they expected much better next season. “That was an unacceptable performance and I have to change that, and there will be change,” said McLeish, whose team finished two points above the relegation zone. “I cannot accept that because I have been used to winning trophies all of my career as a player and a manager ... I am not a quitter.”

Swansea City 1, Liverpool 0

Kenny Dalglish responded angrily to a newspaper story he may not be in charge at Liverpool next season after his side’s disappointing league campaign ended with a 1-0 defeat at Swansea. After watching Danny Graham’s goal condemn them to an eighth-placed finish, Dalglish was asked if he expected to be in the Anfield hot seat next season. He replied: “I expect the owners to have more dignity and integrity than to believe a story in a newspaper.”

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