Mikel Arteta has warned his Arsenal players who focus all their efforts solely on the Europa League would be a “big mistake” and insist that there is a lot to play in the Premier League.
Arsenal produced one of their best performances of the season, beating Slavia Prague 4-0 away from home in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final.
The 5-1 overall victory over the Czech side set up a semi-final with Villarreal – which is headed by ex-Arsenal manager Unai Emery.
If they win the competition, the Gunners will advance to the Champions League which would be a huge boost after a tough season.
It is incredibly unlikely that they will be able to seal the Champions League qualification through the Premier League. They are 10 points behind fourth-placed West Ham with seven games to go, while Chelsea and Liverpool also remain in the race.
Qualifying for the Europa League may prove more likely, especially with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur having already dropped points this weekend, and Arteta is convinced that there is a lot to play domestically, even if there is has a temptation to concentrate their efforts solely on victory in Europe.
“Putting our eggs in one basket would be a big mistake,” Arteta said ahead of Sunday’s Premier League meeting with Fulham.
“I love this sentence. My dad has always told me this since I was 15. We can’t do that.
“The league is really important – there are a lot of points to play and there have been a lot of changes in the last few weeks in terms of the table.
“We want to be involved until the last game and the way to do that is to set up a race ourselves. “
Arteta believes his side have set the bar against Slavia Prague and hope to find the consistency that has been lacking this season.
“If you look at the performances and the results we’ve had against some of the toughest opponents, you’d say, ‘How is that possible? “
But for different reasons, some in detail, others our own mistakes, we conceded and gave a lot of points.
“It has put our season under scrutiny and put us in a position that we are not comfortable with.
“The form we have had in the Europa League has been very, very positive – we won a place in the semi-finals and are really optimistic about the opportunity to get into this final.
“After the performance and the positive result we got against Sheffield United, to start again like we did in Prague is reassuring.
“It breeds trust. There is a level that we can reach, and when we play at that level, we are a really tough team to face. This is the bar we need to set for ourselves.
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