Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said securing Champions League qualification this season would be “powerful” for the London club’s future.

Arsenal, who finished a disappointing eighth last season, sit fourth in the Premier League standings, two points ahead of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur with five games to play. They play away at West Ham United tomorrow with the East London club also in contention for a top four finish.

Moving forward

Arsenal last played in the Champions League in 2016-17 when they reached the round of 16.

“Qualifying for the Champions League would be an important achievement, and something very necessary and powerful for the club moving forward,” Artetasaid.

Asked if he was ready for criticism should they fall short in their bid, Arteta replied, “That’s part of the job and the expectation that we have here is to not only be in the Champions League but also win trophies every single year.” Since arriving as the manager in 2019, Arteta has led Arsenal to the FA Cup and the Community Shield.

Arteta said the club will look to strengthen the squad in the summer as they aim to win major trophies again.

“We want to make the squad stronger, the starting 11 stronger, the specificity and the personality of our players stronger, and that’s what we are going to be seeking to do,” he said.

Sell players

“It will depend on many factors... How many players are back from their loans, with the commitments we still have with them, our financial position in relation to where we finish, the clubs’ demands when we want to buy players or sell players.

“There are a lot of question marks there, but this is football... The good thing is that the plan is clear, but the plan is just the plan until you start to work through that plan.”

West Ham defender Craig Dawson serves a one-game ban following his red card against Chelsea. Fellow centre-backs Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna remain out because of respective ankle and knee injuries.

Arteta is optimistic Bukayo Saka will be fit despite the winger limping off after 74 minutes against Manchester United last weekend.