Football: Arsenal gunning to stay third against Stoke

Arsenal defender Carl Jekinson has said the Gunners are desperate to cling onto third place in the Premier League in order to ensure Champions League qualification for next season.

Chelsea's passage into the Champions League final has increased the likelihood of just the top three clubs in the Premier League qualifying for next year's competition, instead of four.

Normally the English top flight's first, second and third-placed sides gain entry to the Champions League group stage, with the team that finishes fourth going into a preliminary qualifying match.

But if Chelsea, who are currently sixth, beat Bayern Munich in the May 19 final, they will gain a qualifying berth at the expense of the fourth-placed club in the Premier League.

Arsenal head into Saturday's match at Stoke City in third place, three points above Newcastle United, who have a game in hand on the Gunners.

And Jenkinson wants to end the Premier League season knowing Arsene Wenger's side are in next term's elite European competition, rather than relying on Bayern beating Chelsea.

"Of course Chelsea can win it, they wouldn't have got this far if they didn't have it in them to win," Jenkinson said.

"But it is in our hands now, we are in third place and we can't be relying on other things for us to be in the Champions League now.

"We need to make sure of it ourselves and the only way to do that is finish in third place. We just have to do everything we can to win our next three games and make that place ours."

Arsenal have won just once in their last four visits to Stoke City's Britannia Stadium, most recently succumbing to a 3-1 defeat last May.

And Jenkinson added that Stoke's physical style of play under manager Tony Pulis is something Arsenal must accept.

"I think it is fair to say that most teams struggle with the physical side that Stoke have," the Arsenal right-back added.

"It is something we have to be aware of and it is no surprise anymore, everybody knows how Stoke play.

"They are a big, strong and physical side but we are prepared for that, know what is coming and just have to deal with it as best as we can.

"We have to be prepared for the sort of game we know they are going to throw at us. But we are looking forward to going up there and getting a win."

Pulis, meanwhile, is looking forward to completing a clean sweep of upsets against the traditional powerhouses of the Premier League.

Stoke have beaten Liverpool and Spurs and drawn with both Manchester clubs and Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium to secure top-flight safety for a fourth year running.

Newcastle are the only team in the top eight to have won at the Britannia this season.

"To go through a whole season unbeaten against what I consider the top six clubs would be an unbelievable achievement for this club," Pulis said.

"We've played in Europe this season and reached the FA Cup final last year but this would be the biggest thing for me since we got promoted.

"If we get through that, it'll be the first time where one of the top teams has come here and not won in a Premier League season.

"We've never achieved that before. If we do that against Arsenal it'll be fantastic. I'd like to see the other clubs' statistics against the top six."

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