Arsene Wenger says third-place finish would be 'great'

Arsene Wenger says finishing third in the Barclays Premier League would be 'great' after Arsenal put themselves in pole position for automatic Champions League qualification with a draw at Manchester United.

A late Tyler Blackett own goal handed the Gunners an equaliser after Ander Herrera's opener at Old Trafford and means one point from their last two games would as-good-as give Wenger's side a top-three finish.

But Arsenal have again failed to maintain a title challenge with this season a 10th in succession that they have ended the campaign outside of the Premier League's top two.

Wenger said after the game that while a title rally was Arsenal's main objective back in August, they could be happy with their finish behind champions Chelsea and Manchester City in second.

Of Sunday's game, the French manager said: 'I am pleased with the performance and the only regret I have is we didn't take the three points.

'We were a bit slow to start, Man United was sharper at the beginning and we were a bit stretched as well. In the second half we were more compact and took over and showed a great response. We got a deserved point. We won more duels and had enough chances to win the game in the end.' 

Arsenal have had to contend with the Champions League play-off round in the last two years, adding to early fixture congestion after the summer break, and Wenger wants to avoid that problem this time around.

Finishing third would, of course, do that but if United were to force the Gunners back to fourth they could face tricky challenges early in the season.

'It takes the pressure off during the holidays and in the preparation period,' Wenger said of finishing third. 'It would be great to do it, but it is still to do.

'If you had asked me in October, I would have said yes (I would be satisfied with third). Overall, of course you want to be first, but 17 teams would exchange a position with you.'

England winger Theo Walcott came off the bench to set up the equaliser with his deflected cross-shot, and he agreed with his manager at the importance of taking a point from Old Trafford.

'We've come to Old Trafford and got a positive result,' he told Sky Sports. 'At times we didn't play well but you could see that in the last 20 minutes we were very strong.

'We've got a game in hand over United now and it was a crucial point, knowing that. We just just need one more point because of goal difference. It feels like a win for us today.'

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