Arsene Wenger has urged Arsenal to do everything in their power to make it through to the Europa League final – and says the lack of quality in their squad means a chance this good is unlikely to come round again.
The Gunners are 90 minutes away from the Europa League final, but must first overturn a 2-1 loss to Villarreal if they are to progress. Arsenal were second best for long periods during the first leg. But a goal from Nicolas Pepe gives them hope of reaching the final in Gdansk.
Assessing their chances, former boss Wenger is adamant they cannot let this golden opportunity pass them by. Victory in the final will grant Arsenal a place in the Champions League.
As such, Wenger claims ther lack of quality in Arsenal’s squad means their position in the Premier League is a true reflection on where they are. It also means they are unlikely to qualify through a top-four finish any time soon.
“I want them to do well,” he told beIN Sports. “It’s an opportunity to get to a final and come back to the Champions League.
“I believe there is no chance of that in the Premier League but it’s still possible [through the Europa League].
“It will be a success if Arsenal win a trophy, that is always a success, but your real qualities are decided by where you stand in the championship.
“This is the route left for them and they have to completely for it. It’s very strange [Arsenal facing former manager Emery], it looks like an indoor Arsenal game, especially with no fans!
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“But overall you still have an advantage playing at home, you feel more comfortable at home. I would say Arsenal have enough offensive potential to win the game.
“You have so many strikers and people who can score goals and be creative. 2-1 is the result at the moment but you should be quite confident to change and reverse it.”
Arteta aware of Arsenal opportunity
Having not played Champions League football since 2017, winning the Europa League could take the club back into the elite competition for next season.
“Well it’s a big moment,” he said of the second leg.
“Again, not for me but for the club for everything that has happened in the last two years, in the last months.
“All the instability that we’ve been here with for many different reasons. So, I think it will be really important and our biggest step forward if we are able to be in that final and have the opportunity to win that trophy.”
Asked if it would be acceptable for Arsenal to miss out on Champions League football for a fifth successive year, Arteta added: “It is the reality.
“It is not what we want, obviously. But there are a lot of things that have happened in that period for many reasons.
“One is because the level is being raised to a standard that is unprecedented in this league. And we are not the only club that has been out of that.
“But obviously no one accepts that situation and we want to change it straight away and this season we still have the opportunity to do that.”