Per Mertesacker: Arsenal don't deserve top three finish

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Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker claims the north London club don't deserve to finish in the top three places in the Premier League, because of their poor record against their main title rivals this season.

The London Evening Standard reports how the Germany international warned his Gunners teammates they must improve in matches against top-quality opposition, if they are to have any chance of winning the domestic crown in 2014/15.

Arsene Wenger's side have taken just five points from a possible 18 against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City this campaign, with their only victory coming in the form of a 2-0 win against the current leaders at the Emirates Stadium back in November.

"Everyone dreamed about the title but it takes more than staying top until the winter period," explained Mertesacker. "We could not afford [to lose] those big games against big teams, so we did not deserve to be in the first three. That is something we have to manage much better next year.

"The away games killed us. We have to learn how to play and how to defend in the first 20 minutes [Arsenal conceded four in the first 20 minutes at Anfield and three in 17 minutes at Chelsea]. The games were all similar, we got caught on the break and that is something we have to look at."

Despite impressive early season performances, Arsenal slipped away in the title race, and at one point even looked like missing out on qualification for the Champions League.

However, last night's 3-0 victory over Newcastle United all but secured a fourth place finish with Wenger's side now four points clear of Everton, needing one more win from their remaining two games - against West Brom and Norwich City - to book their place in Europe's elite club competition for a 17th successive season.

"Everyone questioned our qualities but how we have came back, especially from those away games, as a team makes us stronger for the future," added the 29-year-old. "This year we have struggled heavily with a couple of injuries but we have regrouped very well.

"Securing Champions League football was another test for us. We are in the FA Cup Final [against Hull City] and it is important to finish in the top four. They are good targets for us now."

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Per Mertesacker
Premier League

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