While he says he’s completely focused on what happens this season, Mikel Arteta admits that no European football next season for Arsenal would be ‘a big concern for everybody’.
The Gunners are now in their third successive Europa League campaign, but the domestic issues that have plagued the team – just six wins from twenty-three league games – mean even playing in that competition is far from assured next time around.
The aim at the beginning of this season was to get back into the Champions League, and that’s where Arteta is setting his sights as we prepare to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tonight.
Speaking about the top four, the Arsenal boss said, “It’s very, very important for us to win this game to fight for that.
“The game we played at home could have made a big difference and we were very close to it. Tomorrow we need to win.
“I don’t look at next season at all. I just look at what we can do to get better, and what happens next season is only going to be a consequence of what we are able to do this season.
“We cannot waste these four months just thinking about next season, because the hurry of a big football club is now, not in the summer.”
The Spaniard is keeping a positive outlook, suggesting that a run of good results could change the complexion of the table.
“If we are able to win three or four games on the trot, then we are right there,” he said.
“That’s the challenge we have and all the teams have at the moment. When you look at the results from the weekend, all the draws, and how one decision changed the whole game between Burnley and Leicester, the margin is not that big.”
Cup football also provides us with an opportunity to secure European football next season. The winners of the Europa League gain access to the Champions League, while there is a Europa League place for the winners of the FA Cup.