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Wenger challenges Arsenal players to perform or perish

London: Arsenal manager has challenged his players to prove they are worthy of top four position this season, which would ensure a Champions League spot, warning his men that they are playing for their future.

Arsenal face Reading at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, still four points adrift of fourth place and with just nine games left this season it would be a daunting task for the Gunners to achieve a top-four finish, the Telegraph reports.

The prospect of failing to qualify for Europe`s elite club competition for the first time in 16 years is both a threat and a motivation, but a defeat in the north London derby this month was widely believed to have signalled the beginning of the end for Arsenal`s top-four challenge.

Wenger said his players have gone through difficult times and have responded well, adding they have shown mental strength, because they lost to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and against Tottenham.

Wenger added his men could well have been scared that the group was going to implode but they have shown a strong response in winning against Bayern and Swansea [1-0 and 2-0 respectively], and that shows that the group is mentally strong.

When it was put to Wenger that the next few games would be a challenge to the squad to convince him that they still had a future at Arsenal, he replied in a yes.