Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Arteta: This competition gets harder and harder

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are determined to finish top of their Europa League group with the competition becoming “harder and harder” to win due to the quality of opponents dropping down from the Champions League. 

As things stand, Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon, RB Salzburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla and Juventus will all be parachuted into Europe’s second-tier competition for a mid-February knockout stage play-off. 

Given the hectic post-World Cup schedule a potentially hazardous double-header with a European big banana is not what we want, so the boss has called for focus from his players as they look to secure a point from their final two games versus PSV Eindhoven and FC Zurich. 

“Last week, we made the first step which was to qualify for the next round. Now we need to win tomorrow because we want to finish first,” Arteta told his pre-game press conference in Holland. 

“This competition is getting harder and harder. How it looks today and what the possibilities are, it looks like the next round is going to be extremely competitive. That’s why finishing top of the group and avoiding another two games is such an important thing for us.”

Despite his players looking fatigued at the weekend and tomorrow’s clash being the eighth of the month, Arteta said he had little choice but to bring a strong squad. In addition to long-term absentees Mo Elneny, Emile Smith Rowe and Oleksandr Zinchenko, Marquinhos will be absent due to illness. 

“We don’t have that many players,” explained Arteta. “I bring the players that we have. We are bringing four kids with us because we cannot make up the squad.

“We need to put 11 players there [on the pitch] and we cannot change 10 or 11 players every game.”

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Partey gonna shoot

In a way it’s a good thing if the likes of Barca, Juve, Atletico come to Europa. Would love to face them. Arsenal haven’t played them in ages & will be great to knock them out! Want Arsenal vs Barca in the finals!


Totally, I would love us to crush a few Euro big names… This team isn’t scared of anyone, why are so many fans still scared?


Hope we get through with at least a draw plus no injuries and players not getting overly tired.


Just why do they have this drop down rule? It’s not just self (Arsenal) interest, it has always seemed ridiculous to me that halfway through the tournament new teams come in.

Jesus of Sao Paulo

TV money. It’s always about the 🤑💸💵💰💯. UEFA doesn’t give a monkey’s about player welfare nor fans. Those greedy money grabbing wankpigs


West ham supporters would argue Arsenal joined the tournament halfway through.

Most cup competitions work like that.


Most cup competitions don’t become a losers bracket after the group stage.
There’s a difference between qualifiers and runners up prizes

Thand al’Ror

It’s a UEFA competition, so the answer should be obvious (for the money – it’s always for the money).


They are at least stopping this from 2024/25 (and having a lot more games instead – 8 matches in the group stage instead of 6, with a pseudo-swiss format).

Cliff Bastin

Don’t worry guys spurs will join too and then we’ll draw them in the semi final where they bottle.

Boy Bastin

I think that the later stages of the EL will present Arteta and Arsenal with a difficult balancing act. As it stands, the squad doesn’t seem to me to be strong enough to compete across multiple competitions (and we’re talking about “only” the PL and EL currently, not the two domestic cups as well) without over-relying on a key group of players. That’s clearly causing problems with fatigue etc. Hopefully, we can sign a couple of players in January, but we shouldn’t assume the players we want/need will be available then. If they are, their clubs will be pushing for… Read more »

Teryima Adi

Use what you have to get what you want, Arteta. Play your strongest team and hope for the best against Nottingham Forest on Sunday. COYG!!!

Boy Bastin

I think, on balance, that’s right but it’s tricky. I just hope that Arteta doesn’t have to use all his “strongest” players though – but that will depend upon how the game goes. Unfortunately, in the first leg against PSV he was forced to use more to get the win and that had consequences for the PL game at Southampton. We wouldn’t want that repeated against (a weaker) Forest side. Hopefully, that won’t be necessary in Holland, although I expect a tough game there.

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