Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Arteta misses Champions League football, urges player focus

Mikel Arteta hopes his players can deal with the pressure of hunting down a top four finish by taking things day-by-day.

While the Gunners are currently sixth in the Premier League rankings, with three games in hand Manchester United and West Ham – the sides in fifth and sixth – expectations are growing that a five-year exile from the Champions League could be brought to an end.

There’s a long way to go – 15 cup finals between now and May – so the boss is rightly demanding that his squad deliver full focus every day.

Ahead of Thursday’s crunch game with Wolves at Emirates Stadium, Arteta said: “There is going to be that pressure because mathematically it is possible [to qualify via the top four], but our focus has to be today.

“Train well today, prepare well today, be mentally ready, physically ready, tactically ready tomorrow to play a really difficult match and show it on the pitch. That should be the only aim.”

He reiterated the message when asked if his Arsenal project is currently ahead of schedule given the low expectations that accompanied the start of the campaign.

“We are where we are [in the table] and I’m happy that we are in this position and we want to make the most out of it and again that can be the aim and that should be the goal and the objective but the focus has to be today.”

He added: “We want to be competing and really challenging the best teams in this league in consecutive seasons and we’re not there yet. I think the team is evolving in the right direction. The project that we propose is happening and there are positives to take but we are not there yet.”

Having experienced Champions League football in every season that he represented the club on the pitch, it’s clear that Arteta misses big European nights at Emirates Stadium.

“I do a lot because as a football player I have experienced it and it’s one of the best feelings that you can have to be surrounded by opponents that are the best in the world and challenge yourself and evaluate yourself against that type of opposition.

“Then obviously, as a club, you play in a competition that brings the club to a different dimension, a different impact. It’s a competition that is very attached to this football club.”

He added: “I think for the club this is where we want to play and this has to be the aim for every year be playing amongst the best teams in the world and that’s what we want to do.”

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I’d prefer the CL though wouldn’t mind the Europa League for a season to get us back into playing in Europe at an easier level, then move up to the CL the next season.

Anyway, fingers crossed…


Europa League… you have won 6th prize in a beauty contest collect £10 Mill. Better than failing but no, it has got to be CL all the way. Get back to the top table attract the top players and top money.

The chance is there it’s up to the players to take it. Everything crossed…


CL would be great though I’d rather we went a long way in the EL and build up experience and confidence than get knocked out early in the CL.

Let’s see what happens…


You’d accept Europa League next season over the Champions’ League…? Has it ever occurred to you that we might just be able to attract a better striker if we can put ECL football on the table for him? Or are you just looking forward to ESR and Saka’s agents whispering sweet nothings in their ears about what life could be like playing for Club X next season – who have ECL football whilst we’re sodding about playing Moscow Glassblowers in the Europa….? Seriously mate, complacent attitudes from supporters like you are one of the main reasons this club is where… Read more »

Eazy Deezy

I see your point, but I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. We’d all prefer to be watching us in CL matches than EL, and like you say the money/prestige from CL can help us buy/keep players. But our squad is so thin at the moment, we could do a Leicester and struggle to compete on both fronts with CL and PL. At this stage in our development, there could be some benefits to being in an EL where we can rotate more, and get minutes for fringe or new players as we build out the squad. I’m… Read more »


Which is why, after qualification, you sign reinforcements in the summer to make the squad ready.

We’ve spent five years without ECL football, why on earth would you turn down the opportunity for these youngsters to continue their growth by pitting their wits against Europe’s best….?



Go play football manager and stop talking trash. You seriously think that the supporters are the main reason we have not qualified for the CL in the past 5 years?


Money in the coffers + able to attract new tier of players. I was leaning towards your POV earlier, but now. If we can we should try are best to qualify for CL


Agree, see above that I’d prefer the CL. But the EL may be better for one season. At least having European football of any sort is better than this season.


I agree with you CB — we’d all prefer the CL, but the EL can be a very positive year in the development of the squad’s ability to compete for the CL, and not just to be in the CL.


However if we could make the EL we could just see another spin out to mid table and be in the exact same situation. If you want to attract top players we must be in the CL, with vlahovic being a good example of this.


I don’t believe Vlahovic turned us down because we aren’t in the CL; he didn’t want to leave Italy (yet), and he knew Juventus were interested. That move was set in stone long before we came calling; we just moved up the delivery date by 6 months is all. We’ve always been able to attract top players — and we still can. But we’re back in the business of developing them, and that’s far more exciting. If we make the CL spots, we’ll be very busy in the transfer market, but even if we finish in the EL slots, I… Read more »

Wrighty’s hats

Interested to see how we respond in the transfer market once we are back in Europe – we’ll need a lot more reinforcement than just a CF and CM. I’d like to think we will be stronger contenders for both domestic cups next season but to compete across all 4 requires a much deeper squad than we have at the moment! Don’t know how far we can get with that in one transfer window. Guess realistically the whole project is going to take a few years yet to bear all of the glory we want it to, have to come… Read more »

Bleeding gums murphy

United got a draw last night in the last 16 with a home game to come to get in quarter finals. Set the bar a little higher or are you preparing yourself for potential disappointment? By sugar cubing EL as could be better for us.


Ew. I don’t want to be United. Why on earth would you set them as an example to follow …

Bleeding gums murphy

Highlighting that we are better than them and they are in last 16.


I certainly like our team much better, but United are officially better than us by nature of their position in the PL table and, as you say, that they are in the last 16 of the CL and we are not even playing a cup game.

Bleeding gums murphy

Exactly futs, so if we finish fourth then by your definition we are better than them and could have a good run in the champions league. Never fear success.


Nothing like getting your excuses in early! 😂


You can have your cake and eat it if we qualify for CL, then finish 3rd in group and go on to with the EL…

Making the CL will be massive when we are trying to attract players in the summer.


Well said. 👍🍺

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Ah the Europa League group stages.

I can see the team already; Turner, Norton-Cuffy, Saliba, Holding, Tavares; Lokonga, Patino; Pepe, Omari-Hutchinson, Martinelli; Balogun.

Hand on heart, I think United are taking 4th. Reason being, they can play awful and still win games, an aspect I don’t think Arsenal have yet.


I’m sure we all miss the champions league Mikel- can’t wait for the gunners to be back playing on tuesday / wednesday nights.


Crazy it’s only five years. Feels like so long since hearing the song and light show at kick off- I would’ve said more like seven or eight off the top of my head without really thinking it through.
I’m trying to tell myself I won’t be devastated if we don’t get it, and that I didn’t expect it anyway, but I’m really struggling to stay rational. It feels bizarrely in reach despite the little matter of fifteen games still to play.


I admire your honesty. I’ll be devastated if we don’t get top four too.

There’s too many people already dressing up the Europa as some means of progress. Well, I suppose it is, given that Arteta had us flirting with the relegation places not so long ago.

Bleeding gums murphy

It’s the old false prophecy of “hope for the best but expect the worse” it’s simply a way of trying to control or avoid disappointment. If you look for and expect shit, you get shit. I will be devastated if we don’t get CL from this position and the shite teams we are up against for fourth. Believe.


Im an optimist, i expected us to finish 4th, and maybe even 3rd. I fancied our chances against United, Spurs and a little bit Chelsea. We its in our hands now, we might be having those lights again come September

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

We all miss the CL. I would love for us to be in it, and with some signings to make the first 11 and squad players stronger. I wouldn’t want us to be the whipping boys anymore, the last few years in the tournament were embarrassing


Well said.
Akin to what was said on the arsecast this week, is this Arsenal side a CL side? I’d argue no, not really. Being thumped in the CL got pretty humiliating. A couple (2 or 3 maybe) signings for sure required.


….which will become a darn sight easier if we qualify for…..the ECL.


We were the whipping boys cause of the defense. Compare that with what we have now. And the issues we had upfront since van Persie left. A top striker, a top CM maybe 2, maybe a right back too and we are set.

Man Manny

One thing I can vouch for this iteration of Arsenal is that they will fight all the way. I notice that all those derogatory tags by pundits – soft underbelly, easy to play against, hate being ruffled, too nice, win when the pressure is off – have all disappeared. Even last season’s team might have buckled under the weight of Wolves’ attacks. (I just remembered it actually happened after Luiz was red carded with us a goal up.) I hope we make top 4; if we don’t, I am certain it won’t be for want of trying. The team will… Read more »

Brady’s bunch

Personally I think top three is there for any team that can string a good second half of the season together Chelsea don’t look like they’re at man city or Liverpool levels, the lukaku situation will worsen before it gets better.


Sp?rs just liked this post


I enjoyed that Burnley game


Conte has just admitted he can’t turn shit into gold


Great to see those muppets fall back to their latent Spursy ways.

That goal from the window licker up at City was highly annoying. He’s like a fly ‘round a cow’s arse. Not matter where you go, there’s some media of him celebrating.


I see that normalilty has been resumed in the other half of North London. They’ve gone all Spursy again!


Let’s focus on Teams above us in the table, not those behind😅


Take this one game at a time. The CL is close but our game against wolves and other important games is closer. I would love to see us in the champions League even if it means a group stage exit. It would be a great experience for guys like ESR, Saka, Odergaard, and even bench players like Nuno Tavares and Sambi Lokanga


I think us not having the distraction of European football this season has saved Arteta’s job. It’s given him the time he’s needed on the training pitch to get across his tactics and philosophy with a young, and largely new squad. Tactically we are so much more incisive this season vs the impotent horseshoe tactics of last season. There’s no way we’d have a shot at top 4 this season if we had to deal with the distraction of Europa League football. Making top 4 would be an incredible achievement and will give us access to the talent we need… Read more »

Brady’s bunch

We now have one of the best defences in the league sort the midfield pivot and a top striker whoever that may be and we’re a force to be reckoned with.

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