Arsenal have dropped out of the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, but Arsene Wenger is still adamant that he would rather that the club return to the Top Four to guarantee Champions League football next season, rather than win the Europa League, like Manchester United did last season.
Jose Mourinho’s side finished below us at the end of the last campaign, but were happy to reach the ECL as winners of the minor competition, but Wenger refuses to think of this as Arsenal’s best route. “Wednesday or Thursday night is no difference for us‚” Wenger said. “Apart from the different competition.”
“But you play similarly. Winning the competition is not the best chance [for Arsenal to return to the Champions League]. It is one of the opportunities. But I have come out many times to say I think the best way to do this is through the Premier League. We’ve qualified for 20 years through the Premier League. We want to win every competition we are in, but we don’t do that for the reasons of qualification.”
That would seem to indicate that he is not intending to take the Europa League too seriously, and judging by the amount of changes to the starting line-up he intends to make tonight it will look like one of his League Cup sides, but Wenger is still pretending that he wants to win it but admits his disappointment at not being in the major event. “Of course the disappointment from not finishing top four was there, but we were one point short‚” Wenger said. “We won 76 points last year. Now we are humble enough to be happy enough to win every single competition we are in.”
I think when we see the team that plays tonight we will think we are watching the Europa League Cup!