Mikel Arteta refuses to consider Arsenal missing out on European football for the first time in 25 YEARS ahead of its season-defining draw against Slavia Prague … while the Spaniard calls on his players to deliver ‘magical moments’
- Arsenal faces a season-defining second leg in the Europa League against Slavia Prague
- Archers have the prospect of a first season without European football since 1995-96
- Despite a season in the balance, Mikel Arteta does not want to look at that scenario
Arsenal are facing their first season without European football since 1995-96, but manager Mikel Arteta is unwilling to consider that dreaded scenario.
The Gunners are ninth in the Premier League list and 10 points from the top four, so winning the Europa League increasingly seems like their best hope of returning to the big European league.
However, Arteta’s side will face Slavia Prague on Thursday evening with their hopes of staying in the league.
Mikel Arteta has called on his players to deliver ‘magic’ in a season-defining Europa League tie
Due to elimination, Arsenal is faced with the prospect of no European football for the first time in 25 years
With a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Arsenal has work to do in the Czech capital to reach the semi-finals.
Asked if he considers the club not going to be in Europe after 25 consecutive seasons, Arteta answered bluntly, “No.”
He went on to add, “I don’t want to put it in my head or pass it on to any of the players or anyone at the club.”
Goalkeeper Bernd Leno said: ‘When you think about the future without Arsenal in a European competition, it doesn’t feel right.
‘It’s our job to make sure that doesn’t work out. Arsenal belongs to Europe and that is our goal and our job. ‘
Arsenal took the reins in the first leg against Slavia Prague after Nicolas Pepe (right) had scored
Positive thoughts are the only ones Arteta is interested in leading up to his team’s season-defining match against Slavia.
Arsenal need a better result than anyone who has been able to continue at Sinobo Stadium all season without the need for a penalty shootout.
Slavia didn’t hit home the entire campaign.
They have been held only four times and the highest scoring draw was 1-1.
Matching that result alone would be enough for Arsenal to force extra time.
Arteta said, “We know it’s going to be very difficult and they are doing extremely well at home. They are very strong.
‘We’ve been out strong, so I don’t want to focus too much on them.
‘I want to focus on what we can do and the task ahead, and we have to do our thing to have the best possible chance of getting through it.
“We’ve shown that big players need to step into big games and create magical moments and you need that – so let’s hope we can have them.”
With increasing scrutiny of his manager, Leno added, “We are all together. It’s not about the manager, it’s not about the team, we’re all in it.
Slavia Prague equalized and Bernd Leno echoed his manager’s thoughts ahead of the big game
‘Mikel is doing great and the team is fighting for him, the club, the fans and ourselves.
‘As players we want the best for ourselves and you can see from our performance over the past few weeks that we are fighting – although the results have not been the best.
‘We cannot change the past. We have to look ahead, and there are still a lot of big games ahead. It starts with Prague.
“Hopefully there will be a semi-final and final and we can end the season with a trophy and a great finish in the Premier League.”