Mikel Arteta says Arsenal must find a level of consistency in the final third of the season if they are to have any chance of securing Champions League football via the Premier League.
News that Manchester City are set to be banned from European competition for two seasons because of serious breaches of Uefa’s club licensing and financial fair play regulations has opened up the possibility that a side finishing in fifth behind the reigning champions could take their place.
While it’s likely that City will appeal the ban, which could in turn see it delayed and, or reduced, the carrot of qualification is obviously appealing.
For the moment Arteta, who watched his side beat Newcastle 4-0 at the Emirates this afternoon, maintain his players should focus on themselves.
In his post-game press conference, he said: “A week ago before we went to Dubai and we drew at Burnley everything looked like it was too far and it’s going to take an incredible run to do it, but today it feels a little bit closer.
“But it’s going to depend on us and we need to improve as a team and be more consistent over 90 minutes.
“If we’re able to do that, performances will lead to much better results and if that’s the case, we will be in the mix for the last few games of the season.”
He added: “The ultimate target now is to improve as a team and win against Olympiacos on Thursday and improve on today’s performance.”
Asked if he was conflicted about Arsenal taking advantage of the punishment due to be dished out to his former club, Arteta was quick to make clear that he wishes his former club the best for the future.
“I’ve been in contact with him (Pep Guardiola),” he confirmed. “I wish the best for City, the love and admiration that I have for Pep, the staff and the players.
“I just want to wish the best for them, I know how hard they work and hopefully a positive thing can come for them.
“My first reaction was that I was shocked. Being in contact with Pep and the people at the club that I know to feel for them because I know they are suffering.
“I don’t think we know at the moment what can happen and if there is any further actions to all the clubs, I don’t know, we will have to wait and see.”