Arsenal's Arsene Wenger hopes pipping Tottenham satisfies fans
LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he hoped fans would get some satisfaction from seeing the Gunners finish above Tottenham for the 21st year in a row, despite missing out on the Premier League title.
Arsenal's campaign finished on a high note as they overtook their North London rivals on the final day, winning 4-0 at home to Aston Villa while Spurs collapsed to a 5-1 defeat at relegated Newcastle.
It led to the biggest celebrations of the season at the Emirates, where the crowd has been increasingly divided this season.
"For a while, our supporters were not going home very happy here. At least today they had some satisfaction," Wenger said.
"We don't start the season thinking we want to finish above Tottenham. We want to win the league. There is a frustration that we didn't win the league, but you play with the target you have.
"Today, the only target we had before the game was to finish second. We achieved it."
Arsenal fans have a name for the day when Tottenham cannot mathematically finish above the Gunners in the league table -- St. Totteringham's Day -- and it has happened each year since 1995.
It had seemed unlikely to happen this season, but Spurs only took two points from their final four games to enable the Gunners to move ahead of them.
Asked about the fact it had looked likely that Tottenham would finish ahead of them, Wenger quipped: "Many years it looked like that."
Wenger has been under mounting pressure as Arsenal's title challenge fell apart and Leicester ran away with the championship.
But during the team's lap of appreciation around the Emirates after the game, chants of "One Arsene Wenger" rang around the stadium.
"It is a positive feeling," Wenger said. "I am not masochistic enough to love being booed. But I am in a public job, and I accept criticism.
"I think I have proven in 20 years that I accept being criticised. My target is to keep everyone happy, but unfortunately I don't manage to do it always."
Second place is Arsenal's highest finish in the league since the 2004-05 campaignn, but Wenger stressed: "We are not happy with being second. Eighteen other teams behind us would be happy to be in our position, but of course our target was to be first.
"But I knew always that the second part of the season would be tough. We had to go to many difficult places, we had to go to Man United, to City, to Tottenham to Liverpool.
"I knew that our position in the end would depend on us getting through these difficult games without damage."
The manager praised his team's attitude in continuing to fight and then securing second place.
"I think we kept going until the end," he said. "And at a period when it was very difficult for us, we kept togetherness.
"We have not lost in nine games now, and that mental strength we have in the dressing room got us through that period."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.