March 31, 2023
Arteta will not give in to Arsenal's commitment to Europe and the Premier League

Arteta will not give in to Arsenal’s commitment to Europe and the Premier League

Mikel Arteta is adamant that Arsenal will not drop their tools in the Europa League to help their bid to win a first Premier League title in 19 years.

Arteta’s Premier League leaders sit five points clear of second-placed Manchester City with 11 games remaining.

Withdrawing from the Europa League could help the Gunners’ hopes of maintaining their lead in the title race, as it would allow more recovery and preparation time.

But Arteta doesn’t share that view because the Arsenal boss is trying to restore a winning culture to a club mired in mediocrity for much of the past two decades.

Arsenal host Sporting Lisbon in the second leg of the Europa League round of 16 on Thursday with the tie delicately balanced after a 2-2 draw in Portugal last week.

“Our priority is the two competitions,” said Arteta.

“The best way to prepare for any competition is to win the previous match and have the right confidence and excitement to face the next match.”

Arteta’s philosophy has so far been proven correct.

Arsenal have won six and drawn one of their seven Premier League games on the heels of their Europa League games this season.

Despite returning to London in the early hours of Friday morning, the visitors cruised to a 3-0 win at Fulham on Sunday with the game won at half time.

It’s master against apprentice in the fight for the Premier League title as Arteta takes on his old boss, City manager Pep Guardiola.

Arteta was Guardiola’s assistant for three years between 2016 and 2019.

Guardiola’s influence is clear in Arsenal’s style of play under Arteta, but also in the mindset the Spaniard tries to instill.

– ‘Addiction’ winner –

City lifted the League Cup for four consecutive seasons under Guardiola between 2018 and 2021.

Rather than prefer a less congested match schedule, the City boss believes that winning trophies is an “addiction”.

The FA Cup is where Arsenal have been able to gain their success over the past 19 years, winning the competition five times, including Arteta’s first season in charge.

But Arsenal have only won one European trophy in their history: the 1993/94 European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Arteta is desperate to change that terrible record for a club the size of Arsenal and is unwilling to commit despite the risk of his young team running out of gas in the closing months of the season.

If Arsenal are to reach the final in Budapest on May 31, they will have to overcome an all-star cast of big names in Europe’s second-tier competition.

Manchester United have one foot in the quarter-finals after a comprehensive 4-1 win over Real Betis at Old Trafford.

Juventus still have work to do when they travel to Freiburg defending a 1-0 first-leg lead.

Six-time winners Sevilla may be fighting a relegation battle in La Liga, but they are always a threat in the Europa League round of 16 and take a 2-0 lead in Istanbul against Fenerbahce.

José Mourinho led Roma to their first European trophy in 61 years by lifting the Europa Conference League last season.

The Italian giants are also well placed to reach the quarter-finals after beating Real Sociedad 2-0 at home last week.


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