Published: 13 April, 2012
by STEVE BARNETT
MIKEL Arteta has warned the teams chasing an automatic qualification place in Europe next season that Arsenal are not about to waste their chance of finishing third.
If the Gunners beat relegation-threatened Wigan at the Emirates on Monday they will open up an eight-point lead over north London rivals Tottenham and on Newcastle, while moving 10 points clear of Chelsea.
With just five games to go, Arteta insists that it is essential for Arsene Wenger’s side to keep their focus as the campaign nears its climax.
“Third place gives you direct access to the Champions League,” he said. “It’s really important.
“It’s been a big fight; we have come all the way through from the back.
“We’ve put in a big effort, we are in a strong position now and we don’t want to waste it. We had a set-back at QPR and it says a lot for our spirit that we came straight back.
“Everyone was saying we were in trouble again because Newcastle look really strong, and Chelsea have been winning.
“It will be a big fight and I think it will go right until the end,” he added.
“There are some big games ahead. Everyone must play each other. We’ve got Chelsea at home and have got to go to Stoke so it can change again.”
Wenger has echoed Arteta’s call for calm and is also refusing to get carried away by the Gunners’ glittering form – which has seen them bag nine wins from their last 10 Premier League outings.
“We have still a long way to go, but at least we are in a strong position now,” said the Frenchman.
“Our target is to win our games starting with the next one. It’s looking good, but in our job when you have my experience you are always cautious.”