Wojciech Szczesny with Europa League taunt for Spurs

 

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has taunted Tottenham by claiming that they could end up playing Europa League football next year.

Szczesny, a man who has never hidden his dislike for Spurs, also claims the Gunners' bitter local rivals will be running scared of his team following their recent good form and insists that his team have what it takes to finish third this season above Harry Redknapp's side.

Arsenal have spent most of the season way behind Tottenham in the Barclays Premier League, but a recent run of three straight wins has given Arsene Wenger's men a renewed sense of belief.

Arsenal sit four points behind their London rivals after following up their 5-2 win over Spurs by earning a hard-fought victory at Liverpool.

The Gunners' confidence levels hit new heights last night as they beat AC Milan 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium, although that was not enough to prevent them dropping out of the Champions League due to their 4-0 hammering in the first leg.

Szczesny was buoyant about his team's chances of beating Spurs to third place and even claimed the club's neighbours could be set to slide in to fifth position after they suffered successive defeats.

The Arsenal goalkeeper said: "I would not settle right now for fourth place. We are four points behind the other north London club - I am not going to say their name - and hopefully we can challenge them.

"Hopefully Chelsea can challenge them for fourth place and I would be really pleased to see them in the Europa League next season.

"That would be fantastic. Hopefully they will be looking at this result and are looking over their shoulders.

"The momentum is with us. We won two fantastic games against Liverpool and Tottenham and we won a great game against Milan."

Arsenal raced in to a 3-0 lead last night with a breathtaking display of attacking football which left Wenger's men on the cusp of recording the greatest comeback in Champions League history.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky were all outstanding on what was a thrilling night of football which Szczesny thinks will make the rest of Europe realise Arsenal are still a major force to be reckoned with.

"I think we have sent a message to the rest of the teams in the league that we can beat anyone in the country, anyone in Europe," Szczesny said.

"Teams are going to struggle against us when we play like that.

"It was a very good performance against one of the best sides in Europe and we have more confidence now.

"We actually believe that we can beat anyone at any level so a lot has changed in the players' attitude."

Arsenal knew they faced a tough task to make the quarter-finals when they were drawn against seven-time European champions Milan, but they made it even more difficult for themselves with their abject defensive display in Italy.

Szczesny, playing his first full season in the Champions League, thinks he and his team-mates have learned a lot from the Milan games despite their hammering in the San Siro and thinks the Gunners will bounce back stronger and even win the competition next year.

"That tie was a great experience for our players," the 21-year-old said.

"For some of us it is our first season in the Champions League and I'm sure that we will use that experience next year in the competition to help us go a little bit further, maybe even win it."

Last night's match ended on a disappointing note as Wenger confronted referee Damir Skomina on the pitch after the game.

Wenger, who was unhappy with the Slovenian's performance, could now face his third touchline ban in Uefa competition in the space of year.

European football's governing body will look in to Skomina's match report, which they expect to receive tomorrow, before deciding whether to charge Wenger, who was hit with a one-man ban last season for berating referee Massimo following his team's last-16 exit to Barcelona last year.

Wenger was then handed a further two-match touchline suspension for violating that ban by communicating with the Arsenal bench from the stands during the Gunners' play-off tie against Udinese earlier this season.

Szczesny also hit out at managerless Chelsea, claiming recently sacked former manager Andre Villas-Boas had little chance of succeeding at Stamford Bridge due to overwhelming player power - something which he insists would never have been a problem at Arsenal.

"I think some of the English players at Chelsea run the club, pretty much," he said in the London Evening Standard.

"They have had seven managers (since 2007) and it's a little bit different here. I don't think there has ever been danger of chaos with us this season.

"It's completely different at this club. In the dressing room, we know that Arsene Wenger is the boss. Robin van Persie is our captain and a leader but in the dressing room we're all even."

PA

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