Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui feels second-placed Arsenal do not deserve criticism

Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui insists it is unfair to label Arsenal as bottlers after their title challenge faltered.

The Gunners will finish second behind Manchester City having topped the table for the majority of the season.

They held an eight-point lead in March but dropped crucial points against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton in the run-in before losing 4-1 at City in April.

Arsenal’s defeats to Brighton and Nottingham Forest handed City a third straight title but, ahead of Wolves’ trip to the Emirates for Sunday’s Premier League finale, Lopetegui feels the Gunners do not deserve criticism for coming second.

“Of course (they don’t). It’s an incredible league and in the end they lost to Manchester City in one of the last matches,” he said.

“They have done fantastic work – you only have to look at the teams that finished below them, incredible teams.

“So I praise Mikel (Arteta) for his fantastic work. I remember he had big problems when he arrived two years ago but they showed faith and belief in him and now they are collecting the rewards.

“He’s improved the team and changed a lot of players and put a lot of quality on the pitch and produced fantastic answers.

“Now they have an incredible project in front of them.

“That’s the merit of Mikel – fantastic work. In the same way, it highlights the merit of the club and the sporting director because he wouldn’t be able to do what he’s done without the belief in him.

“In football to believe in the mid term or long term is very difficult.

“It’s generally always short term. I think they are reaping the rewards for that belief and I’m happy for them because the teams that show patience and work a lot for the future deserve to have success.”

Lopetegui remains in talks with Wolves over his future having guided them to mid-table safety. He is looking for clarification on the amount of backing he will receive in the summer with financial fair play restricting the club’s spending power.

He wants to revamp the squad with several expected to leave including Ruben Neves and the out-of-contract Joao Moutinho and Adama Traore but Lopetegui suggested Raul Jimenez still has a Wolves future.

“Raul has another year on his contract with us and for me it’s not his last match with us. He’s our player,” he said.

“Raul is our player and he’s under contract. I hope he continues with us.”