The Gunners entered the last day in third place, but knew they needed to beat West Brom at the Hawthorns to seal this position, with Spurs and Newcastle breathing down their necks.
The Emirates Stadium outfit had to fight back after being 2-1 down, as goals from Shane Long and Graeme Dorrans had cancelled out a Yossi Benayoun opener.
However, strikes from Andre Santos and Laurent Koscielny sealed a 3-2 victory for the visitors, much to Arsene Wenger’s delight.
“I’m proud of the season. The mental solidity, the unity and solidarity inside the club has been tested. We didn’t show any weakness and kept united,” he confessed to Sky Sports.
“In the end, we came back. It’s a good lesson for everyone. I told everyone to keep doing what they are doing and in the end we got there.
“I cannot say the season has been a failure. We have qualified for the 15th time. Only three clubs have done that in Europe. That means it’s not as easy as it looks.
“We were 17th in the league and in the first seven games we had lost four of them. When you have played seven games, there are 31 to go. It’s very difficult to imagine you can finish third.
“But we have had an exceptional run after our Champions League exit.
“I think if you look at the season as a whole in the last 16 games, we have lost only twice. We have created a fantastic run. In the end we finished with 70 points. That is respectable,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, at White Hart Lane Tottenham beat Fulham 2-0, with goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe ensuring the hosts took fourth place.
Harry Redknapp was pleased to finish fourth, even though he knows that Chelsea could steal the last Champions League qualification berth if they beat Bayern Munich in this season’s finale next Saturday.
“You think if you can break into the top four you’d be absolutely delighted and that’s how I am. We finished fourth and I couldn’t be more pleased,” he confessed.
“I was just concerned about us winning today, all that mattered was that we won the game. If we didn’t win today Newcastle could have won at Everton and suddenly we’d be fifth.
“We can’t do any more. Win today, finish fourth, I couldn’t be more pleased with what the players have done here this year.
“If people start getting carried away about what Tottenham should be doing then I think they need a reality check,” he stated.
By Gareth McKnight