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Champions League qualification in Arsenal's hands, says Emery

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By Reuters
Champions League qualification in Arsenal's hands, says Emery
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 21, 2019 Arsenal manager Unai Emery REUTERS/Eddie Keogh   -   Copyright  EDDIE KEOGH(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four and qualifying for the Champions League are still in their own hands despite losing ground over the weekend, manager Unai Emery said on Tuesday.

Arsenal, who were looking to move up to third over the weekend, now find themselves fifth in the table after Crystal Palace’s 3-2 win at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

With four games to go this season, Emery’s side are a point behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur and fourth-placed Chelsea, although the latter have played a game more.

“We have it in our hands,” Emery told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers. “At the beginning of the season, after winter, we struggled in the table. We were in a worse position than we are now.

“Our way is not changing. We are in our way at the end of the season with a big possibility to take our target. I’m still proud of our season, knowing that the key moments are now. Tomorrow is a big moment, match and challenge for us.”

Emery brushed aside suggestions that mid-table Wolves, who have nothing to play for this season, might take their foot off the pedal. The newly-promoted side have an impressive record against the top six teams, picking up 13 points so far.

“They’re going to push a lot tomorrow,” Emery said. “I worked one thing here very quickly, we are playing against all of the teams and they want to battle us, fighting and playing with a big motivation.

“One is the motivation in the table for each player and one is the motivation against Arsenal. Every team wants to battle us because they respect us and also because it’s important to try to win against us.”

Emery also refused to comment on whether midfielder Granit Xhaka would return from a hip injury but confirmed Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Barcelona loanee Denis Suarez (groin) would not be available.

“I want to keep all the information we can have for tomorrow,” he said when asked about Xhaka’s possible return. “Sorry. It’s because I think it’s better for us.

“You know Aaron Ramsey cannot play, Denis Suarez cannot play.”

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)