Mikel Arteta has said that the team is focused on Champions League qualification following our unceremonious exit from the Europa League. We were knocked out by Olympiacos in the last few minutes of extra time and now just have one in-road to the Champions League, finishing in the top four (or five if Man City’s ban is upheld).
We have some very tricky league games coming up, meaning we need to win as many as we possibly can, starting with West Ham this weekend in our last home London derby of the season.
We still remain just five points off of the top five, and are closing the gap on Spurs, Chelsea and United week in week out, Mikel Arteta said via The Daily Mail:
“The players know the demands of playing for this club and if we don’t reach any European competition we know what the meaning of that is so they don’t need any more pressure. Of course as Arsenal players, as a club, we have to fight for the Champions League but we have to go game by game, try to beat West Ham first and we will be closer…”
We also still remain in the FA Cup where we will face Sheffield United in a few weeks time, with the date to be confirmed. If we can beat West Ham on Saturday and close the gap at the top, we then have two tricky away games at Man City and Brighton and we’ll need to be at our best to get anything from those two games.
Then it’s the Sheffield United FA Cup game, and as we move into April, we host Norwich at home, then it’s Wolves away, Leicester at home, Spurs away, Liverpool at home, Villa away and then finishing up with Watford at home. We also are still yet to play Southampton away, which keeps being moved due to cup progression. See our full fixture list here.
My personal thought is we might come undone at City and Brighton and the Champions League might be a step too far overall. Europa League qualification, at a stretch is doable, but we have to win our home games, starting with West Ham this weekend and hope we can pick up a few away from home as well.