Wenger: North London derby important for Champions League qualification

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Saturday's north London derby against Tottenham will have a 'big influence' on who qualifies for the Champions League.

Spurs visit the Emirates Stadium this week one point, and one place, ahead of Arsenal, who are eighth after 11 games - their worst start to a Premier League season since Wenger took charge.

Tottenham have never finished above their north London rivals during Wenger's time at the club, and the Arsenal boss expects his side's dominance to continue this season, although he concedes Spurs have closed the gap.

"I get that question every year," Wenger said in the Daily Mail. "Yes, they have [closed the gap] recently. For some time, we were winning championships and they were not in the top four at all, so of course they've got closer in recent years.

"They have a good side every year and they are always a team who are now fighting with us. What's important in the end, the consistency.

"Certainly the results in the two derbies can have a big influence as well on the qualifying spots for the Champions League.

Spurs finished fourth last season, but dropped out of the Champions League qualifying spots as Chelsea won the European competition - qualifying as winners.

Arsenal spent much of the season behind Tottenham, but overhauled their rivals towards the end of the season, eventually finishing third.

Catalyst for their surge was their 5-2 victory over Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium last year. Spurs went 2-0 ahead in that game, only to concede five unanswered goals as Arsenal romped to victory.

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