Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal endured a disappointing campaign despite securing the runners-up spot, behind champions Leicester, for the first time since 2005.
Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Aston Villa combined with Tottenham’s disastrous 5-1 defeat at Newcastle on Sunday ensured Wenger’s side finished above their local rivals, who had seemed certain to take second place for several weeks.
The Gunners have now finished above Tottenham every year since 1995 and the significance of unexpectedly maintaining bragging rights over their hated neighbours was evident from the gleeful reaction of the home supporters.
But while Arsenal’s season ended on a high, Wenger admitted it was impossible to disguise the disappointment at not challenging Leicester more closely.
“We are not happy by being second but 18 other teams behind us would be happy to be in our position,” Wenger said. “But of course our target was to be first and for a while we believed we could do it.
“I think we kept going when we had a period that was very difficult for us, we kept togetherness and we have now not lost for nine games and that mental strength in the dressing room got us through that period.”