Arsene Wenger: Teams 'having a breather' instead of competing until end
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger has accused some Premier League teams of "having a breather" instead of fighting until the end of the campaign, as Arsenal look for help from others in order to get into the top four.
Wenger lamented that the lower-table teams who are safe from relegation have often failed to challenge the top-six sides -- comments that come after West Ham suffered a 4-0 loss against Liverpool on Sunday.
Arsenal need Liverpool or Manchester City to drop points in order to have any chance of clinching a Champions League spot.
"We have two leagues. For example we had to fight very hard at Stoke and Southampton [last week]," Wenger told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's game against Sunderland. "But some teams, once they are safe, they just have a breather, which didn't happen 10 years ago. The league has changed, mentally and morally, it has changed a lot."
Wenger's comments come as Arsenal could finish the campaign with more points than last season -- when they were second -- and still miss out on a Champions League spot.
Wenger will be hoping Middlesbrough -- who face Liverpool on Sunday with nothing to play for after being relegated -- and City's remaining opponents, West Brom and Watford, can do Arsenal a favour by picking up results.
When asked if Arsenal could be considered a victim of the league's imbalance if they do not finish in the top four, Wenger said that the Gunners only have themselves to blame for their predicament.
"I would say we would be a victim of the lack of consistency that we have shown during the season. Overall that is in a very short spell where we have paid for it," he said. "But no, we are a victim of nobody.
"At the end of the day, if we make 75 points we can only be beaten by one point. That one point can happen in a season on one side or the other. You always will have regrets because you could have one point more, but you forget as well the games you won in the last minute."
Manchester United are also set to finish outside the top four, although they could still make the Champions League if they win the Europa League final against Ajax.
Wenger knows that the big clubs around him will all look to bolster their squads this summer in order to compete with champions Chelsea next season.
"Man United, they will bounce back as well next season," Wenger said. "They will buy players. We are very tight with Man City, they will buy again. But that's part of the modern challenge -- to find the players who strengthen the team. It depends on how you buy. To buy doesn't necessarily mean success.
"There is a shortage of top-level players, because there are some big teams in Europe who have top players but they do not need to sell them. We are the richest league in the world certainly, but you still have some top, top-level players who play in other leagues. There is more money available than good players."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.