Speaking ahead of tonight’s game against Dinamo Zagreb at the Emirates, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reiterated the team’s commitment to qualifying from the group stages of the Champions League while also stating that the Gunners would take the Europa League seriously should they end up being eliminated from Europe’s premier competition (via Sky Sports).
The North London club are teetering on the edge of being eliminated in the group stages itself, as we currently sit at the bottom of Group F with only two games left to go. While making it into the top two would require a minor miracle, Arsenal can still secure the Europa spot if they win comprehensively against Zagreb at the Emirates tonight.
This seems to be the manager’s target, as he said, “We would take the competition [Europa League] seriously – but we are not out yet.
“I believe that this problem is exaggerated a little bit in England because we play Wednesday and Saturday, so it is the same as Thursday and Sunday. I can’t see the difference.
“There are plenty of examples in Portugal and Spain where teams have taken it seriously and won the championship. Benfica are the example, Sevilla have done as well.”
The fact that the manager himself seems to be admitting defeat shows how far we still have to go as a club to regain a spot amongst the elite clubs of Europe. In fact, this is likely to become the sixth consecutive season where we have failed to make it into the quarter finals of the Champions League, having been eliminated at the Round of 16 over the past five seasons.
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The most interesting thing to watch tonight will ultimately be the team that the manager will pick and who he chooses to replace Francis Coquelin in the midfield. Being knocked out of the Champions League was almost a given considering our humiliating losses to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, but until last week we were strongly placed in the Premier League. The loss to West Brom and the subsequent injury to Coquelin has weakened our position considerably. Tonight’s game will thus be a sort of trial run for the new lineup ahead of a run of Premier League games – ones we were expected to win but which have now become slightly more tense affairs.