Football

Chelsea will feel the Blues next season

Wenger says champions will find it tough to cope with Champions League commitments

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has stressed that it will be a "different story" for Premier League champions Chelsea next season when they have European football added to their schedule.

Antonio Conte's side secured the title on Saturday morning (Singapore time) with a 1-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion.

Wenger congratulated the Blues on their success - while also pointing out it makes it two straight years that the league has been won by a club not playing in Europe that season, with Leicester City having been crowned champions in 2015/16.

The Frenchman, whose side face Chelsea in the FA Cup final later this month, said: "(After) what we have seen this season, I congratulate Chelsea for what they have done but, you see as well, when they play in Europe, it will be a different story.

"They've done well, congratulations but, in the last two seasons, a team that hasn't played in Europe has won the league.

"It will be a different season because they will have to play Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday (due to Champions League matches)."

Arsenal registered their third win inside the space of a week last Saturday, following up 2-0 victories over Manchester United and Southampton with a 4-1 triumph at Stoke, where they had last won in 2010.

The battle for Champions League berths sees the Gunners three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with both having two matches left, and four points behind third-placed Liverpool, who have one game remaining following Sunday's 4-0 victory at West Ham United.

HOME GAMES

Arsenal's remaining league games are at home - against Sunderland tomorrow morning and Everton on Sunday.

After Liverpool's win at West Ham, a place in the Premier League's top four, and qualification for next season's Champions League, is now out of Arsenal's hands.

They need the Reds to fail to beat relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield on Sunday to stand any chance of maintaining Wenger's record of never finishing outside of the top four in a full season at the helm.

But, even if the Gunners do upset the odds by reaching the Champions League, a number of fan groups are still calling for Wenger's near 21-year reign to come to an end.

Following recent measures such as protest marches, staying away from the Emirates before kick-off and flying planes carrying anti-Wenger slogans over stadiums, those groups now want to stage a mass boycott of the Sunderland fixture.

In a statement released on onlinegooner.com, the group listed the likes of Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone and Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus as preferred alternatives to Wenger - before asking for fans to stay away tomorrow morning.

"We are calling on fans that feel the same way to boycott tomorrow evening's match against Sunderland," the statement read.

"Please consider joining us in this boycott. Don't sell your seat to a tourist or give it to a mate.

"Let yours be one of the many gaps in the stands that send a direct and unarguable message to the directors. You do not want to watch any more of the same old, same old.

"If you are in any doubt, look at our season and compare that to Chelsea, Juventus and Atletico Madrid. We are a bigger club than all three of them, but we are being held back by a greedy owner and a past-it manager.

"By doing this, we can send a message to Stan Kroenke and Arsene Wenger that Arsenal should be doing so much better."

A number of empty seats have been visible at Arsenal's recent home wins over Leicester and Manchester United, with some supporters already opting to steer clear. But Wenger, who again dodged the question over his own future, wants to see Arsenal fans back his side.

"My message is always the same, to support the team," he said. - PA SPORT

arsene wengerarsenalCHELSEA (EPL)