Mikel Arteta on exceptional Arsene Wenger and why top four mentality hasn’t changed

The Gunners are on course to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in five years

Mikel Arteta has lauded former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for consistently finishing in the Premier League top four during his tenure at the club.

The Gunners are on course to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for the first time in five years, something that Wenger made sure of for 20 consecutive years when he was manager.

Tottenham currently occupy fourth spot after their 5-1 win over Newcastle on Sunday, although victory against Crystal Palace on Monday night would ensure that Arteta’s side are back in the European places.

“It’s [the top four race] very different,” said Arteta.

“The position is different, the context is different, the teams that were involved in that race are probably different. Nothing changed from when I played here.

“I never played to say ‘can we finish fourth this year?’, I never had that mentality and Arsene [Wenger] never installed that mentality around the club. It’s not different from what we want to do now.

Wenger, who is currently Head of Global Football Development at FIFA, has been invited to Emirates Stadium on several occasions but so far opted to keep a distance from the club he spent two decades at.

“I think the overall feeling for Arsene is exceptional, it’s excellent.

“I don’t think anybody will say it’s ‘good’ or ‘ok’. What he did to this football club to transform it from the bottom to the top, for many, many years.

“I don’t think anybody underestimated what he did.”