February 10, 2018 / 4:40 PM / 11 days ago

Top-four finish still priority for Wenger

LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said qualifying for next season’s Champions League via a Premier League top-four finish remained his priority after Arsenal slipped to a third league defeat in five games at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Harry Kane’s second-half header gave Tottenham a 1-0 victory over their neighbours that left Arsenal five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea having played a game more.

Manchester United secured a return to the Champions League by winning last year’s Europa League and Arsenal are through to the last 32 of Europe’s second-tier club competition.

“The priority remains being in the Champions League (qualification places) through the Premier League,” Wenger told reporters.

“I am not a great fan of the Europa League winner qualifying for the Champions League - I think it is not right. If it is an opportunity we have to try to take it as well, but the priority remains the Premier League.”

Arsenal struggled to create real openings against Spurs at Wembley, mustering one shot on target all match, and Wenger pointed to their poor record of 15 goals on the road this season as an area of concern.

“Today was a game we couldn’t afford to lose” Wenger added. “It makes it much more difficult now (finishing in top four), but we have to fight. There was more at stake in this game than just the derby, that’s why it is so disappointing. “(Our away record) is very poor. Football is about scoring goals, and if you look at the numbers, compared to the top six, we do not score enough goals away from home.”

Editing by Ed Osmond

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