Belfast Telegraph

Gervinho would be proud of third place

Gervinho maintains everyone at Arsenal should be proud if the Gunners end a testing campaign in the Barclays Premier League with third place to show for their efforts.

The Gunners, who appear set to be without midfielder Mikel Arteta for their final four matches because of an ankle injury, host Chelsea on Saturday aiming to bounce back from the disappointment of Monday night's shock 2-1 home defeat by Wigan.

Gervinho said: "Everybody is determined to fight until the end, from the players and the manager to the fans, to maintain third place. If we manage to keep it then everybody should be proud because we fought very hard for it."

Arsenal are currently five points ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham and Newcastle, and some seven in front of the Blues, albeit having now played a match more.

While it has been a remarkable turnaround by Arsene Wenger to guide his men back into Champions League contention following an appalling start, which saw them slump down as low as 17th place, qualification for next season's elite European competition is far from guaranteed.

Indeed, should Chelsea, who on Wednesday night won the first leg of their semi-final against Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, go on to win the competition in Munich next month but fail to finish in at least fourth place, then they would take the spot in next season's group stages and consign their rivals to the Europa League.

Gervinho, a £10.5million summer signing from French side Lille, added: "It is true that I am disappointed to see another year without a trophy. I am used to getting trophies, but we tried and we went through a lot this year.

"We are happy to have reached that level. I hope next year we will do even better."

A run of nine wins from 11, including seven successive victories, saw the Gunners overhaul Spurs, Chelsea and Newcastle. Gervinho believes the squad were spurred on by those who claimed Wenger's men were now a spent force.

"We learnt a lot from the negative start we had. It has made us stronger. We learnt a lot during that struggle," he said.

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