WENGER PLANNING VAN PERSIE TALKS
Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal's achievement of clinching Champions League football for a 15th successive season can help the club keep star striker Robin van Persie.
Arsenal's 3-2 win over West Brom at West Brom ensured they finished above north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday, taking third spot in the Barclays Premier League.
The success represents a major turnaround in fortunes for Arsenal who were in 17th place in October after losing four of their opening seven games, with some fans calling for Wenger to be sacked.
Van Persie ended the season with 30 league goals as Yossi Benayoun, Andre Santos and Laurent Koscielny netted against the Baggies.
Wenger said: "Will Champions League football help to keep Van Persie? It makes it easier to attract good players and keep them.
"The intention is to speak with him before he leaves for the Dutch camp (for Euro 2012)."
Wenger added: "I'm proud of the season. The mental solidity, the unity and solidarity inside the club has been tested. We didn't show any weakness and kept united.
"In the end, we came back. It's a good lesson for everyone. I told everyone to keep doing what they are doing and in the end we got there.
"I cannot say the season has been a failure. We have qualified for the 15th time. Only three clubs have done that in Europe. That means it's not as easy as it looks.
"We were 17th in the league and in the first seven games we had lost four of them. When you have played seven games, there are 31 to go. It's very difficult to imagine you can finish third.
"But we have had an exceptional run after our Champions League exit.
"I think if you look at the season as a whole in the last 16 games, we have lost only twice. We have created a fantastic run. In the end we finished with 70 points. That is respectable."
New England manager Roy Hodgson paid tribute to the West Brom fans after the final whistle as his reign at the Hawthorns came to an end.
Hodgson said: "This is a fantastic football club with a great tradition and even in the rough times, I felt the fans were behind us.
"You deserve another year in the Premier League and I would like to thank all the staff and players for their support during this past 15 months."
West Brom assistant boss Keith Downing backed goalkeeper Marton Fulop who replaced the injured Ben Foster and was to blame for all three Arsenal goals.
Downing said: "Ben had a slight issue with his groin and in Marton's defence he was called on late.
"He is devastated. He is a genuine guy. We had no reservations about playing him.
"He has been a great support to Ben. We are disappointed for Marton, he sets high standards and he knows one or two of the goals were down to him."
Shane Long and Graham Dorrans netted for West Brom after Benayoun's opener but Fulop's blunders enabled the Gunners to recover.
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