Leicester City’s remarkable rise to the Premier League summit has left Arsene Wenger feeling “guilty” over Arsenal’s failed title bid.
Arsenal had been in contention for much of the season but find themselves out of the title race with four matches remaining, fourth in the table and 10 points adrift of league-leading Leicester as they prepare to face Sunderland on Sunday.
Many predicted Arsenal to finally hoist the Premier League trophy aloft for the first time since 2004, but Leicester have defied the odds in an incredible season.
Wenger, though, insisted Arsenal’s demanding schedule has made things more difficult compared to Leicester, who he predicts will find things tougher next season due to the demands of Champions League football.
“It’s very simple. We all feel guilty and we are all looked at like it’s a shame we are not winning the league because Leicester are at the top,” Wenger told Sky Sports.
“But on the other hand, you have to say Leicester have not stolen the points. They have earned them, they have quality. If you look at the PFA Team of the Year, they have many players in there, so they are good players.
“I am convinced that all the teams today look at themselves and think ‘how could that happen?’, but when you win so many times 1-0 like Leicester have done, you see they have been absolutely efficient.
“It is true that technically many teams in the league are better, but many teams have had more problems. Leicester have had no injuries, many teams have had more competitions. Leicester went out of the FA Cup quite early, but you have to give them credit when everybody expected them to drop they didn’t and when they had to turn up they did.”
Wenger, whose Arsenal beat Leicester home and away in the Premier League this season, added: “They were hungry and efficient. My team is hungry also, but we have to deal with many problems and many competitions as well.
“When you play on Wednesday in Barcelona and then Saturday morning, you go to Crystal Palace or Everton, it changes things. Next year, I predict that Leicester will have more problems.
“They have found a good balance, hungry players who have not had obvious careers. We are accused the most, but we beat them twice. So we should be less accused than others for not having beaten them.
“They go to Man City, Tottenham, Man United, Liverpool and have only lost three games. At the end of the day, you have to say well done. Sport is about performance and when the team performs, you have to be big enough and say well done and respect it and respect Claudio Ranieri for what he has done.”