Arsene Wenger wants to support Chelsea in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, but only if his Arsenal side hang on to third place in the Premier League.
With three games to go his side have moved ahead of rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the race for third spot, and an automatic Champions League berth, but are only three points above in-form Newcastle United who have a game in hand.
Tottenham are six behind with a game in hand and Wenger knows defeat at Stoke City on Saturday, a fixture that usually proves problematic for his side, could open the door for their rivals.
Finishing fourth would usually be rewarded with a place in the final qualifying round for the Champions League but if sixth-placed Chelsea beat Bayern on May 19 and finish outside the top four, UEFA would hand them the last of England's places in next season’s competition.
“Look, if we finish third you want Chelsea to win the Champions League because it's great for the Premier League,” Wenger said at his news conference on Friday.
“If you are in fourth it would be masochistic to wish that you were out of the Champions League. You cannot ask the impossible.”
“That is why maybe the rule is a little bit malicious. Overall I think everyone in England wants an English team to win the Champions League, but the team who is fourth will certainly wish to have a chance to play in it.”
“It is the rule that everybody knows before the season starts, nobody complained and if Chelsea win then England will have four clubs represented in the Champions League. We have to accept it.”
Wenger said nothing was certain, however, in the unpredictable Premier League and wants his side to concentrate on winning their final three matches.
“Let’s not forget that the team in fourth can also be Chelsea. You don't know yet,” he said.
“What we want is to finish third and not be in that tense situation -- we are in the driving seat.”
“If we win our games it is no problem for us. Let’s make sure that we wish that Chelsea win.”