Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has warned his underperforming Gunners stars that it is their ‘responsibility’ to qualify for Europe next season, amid what’s been a difficult campaign for the north London club.
Arteta’s men endured more disappointment in the Europa League on Thursday evening, as they conceded an agonising late equaliser to draw with Czech side Slavia Prague in their quarter-final tie at the Emirates, leaving their hopes of progression to the next round firmly in the balance.
That result came after a dismal display in the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League last weekend to leave the Gunners in 10th and seemingly with little hope of European qualification for next season, a triumph in the Europa League perhaps their best and only chance.
Arsenal are currently facing up to the prospect of a fifth successive campaign without Champions League football, while competing in any form of European competition next season appears slim, despite the introduction of a new third tier format, the UEFA Europa Conference League, which begins next term.
Asked about if he was feeling the ‘pressure’ to qualify for continental competition, Arteta insisted that it should be the bare ‘minimum’ that the club should achieve each season.
“It is not pressure – it is our responsibility,” he told his pre-match press conference.
“The club we represent has high demands and that is the minimum we can ask for and we have to, over time, work to deliver those goals because it is what we get asked for.”
The Spaniard was asked whether a year without involvement in Europe could also potentially be a benefit to side that is currently enduring something of a transition phase.
“It is true there are some really good examples of teams that were rebuilding their teams and it helped them in their project, but I would rather be in Europe.”