After Middlesbrough Victory, Arsene Wenger Demands Perfection from Ailing Arsenal Squad

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, April 17. Wenger says Arsenal must win all its remaining games to qualify for the Champions League. Scott Heppell/Reuters

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal must win its remaining seven games of the English Premier League season, or face a year without UEFA Champions League football.

In a game with implications for teams at the top and bottom of the Premier League table on Monday evening, Arsenal ground out a 2-1 victory over a Middlesbrough team seemingly destined for relegation.

That win, arriving after four consecutive league defeats away from home, left Arsenal seven points behind Manchester City for the final Champions League qualifying place, with a game in hand. Wenger, whose future at Emirates Stadium remains unclear even this close to the end of the season, said after the game that only maximum points from now on could give his team hope of a top-four finish.

"For us, the clarity is there," Wenger told reporters including The Times after the victory secured by goals from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. "We have to win every game to have a chance of getting in the top four."

Arsenal would finish on 78 points if it were to take 21 points from its final seven games. Even then, Manchester City could afford to drop four points from its final six games, with a goal difference currently superior to Arsenal's. Liverpool, on 66 points, has played one more game than City and two more than Arsenal and remains, theoretically, catchable.

"It didn't matter how we won, we had to go out there and get back to basics," Wenger added. "In recent weeks things have not gone well but to see the fans travel up here on a Monday night means everything to us. To see them support us through the tough times means a lot."

Arsenal has a weekend off from the rigors of the Premier League, when it faces Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal on Sunday.