Football: Our history obliges us to be in the Champions League, says Arteta

Arsenal's Thomas Partey (right) heads home the first goal during the match against Leicester City, in London, on March 13, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Arsenal returned to the Premier League top four after goals from Thomas Partey and Alexandre Lacazette earned them a 2-0 win at home to Leicester City on Sunday (March 13).

The win moves the Gunners a point ahead of Manchester United but crucially Mikel Arteta's side have three games in hand on their rivals for the final Champions League slot.

Partey put Arsenal ahead in the 11th minute with a simple, glancing near-post header from a Gabriel Martinelli corner which was poorly defended by the Foxes.

Arsenal's second came after Kasper Schmeichel parried out a Martin Odegaard free kick and Partey's goalbound header was cleared off the line by Luke Thomas.

But the video replay showed that Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu had reached out a hand towards Partey's header and after reviewing the monitor referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot and Lacazette drilled home the spot-kick.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers felt the decision had been unfair.

“I am disappointed in the penalty. That there was disappointing, I don’t know what else he could do. He was moving but it touched his hand and it was accidental,” he said.

A return to Europe’s elite competition, after a five-year absence, is now within Arsenal's grasp if they can maintain their solid form over their final 12 games.

“We have to be there, we should be there. Our history obliges us to be there but we are not there yet and there are still a lot of games to play,” said Arteta, whose side host Liverpool on Wednesday.

“We have an excellent group of people at the club who believe in what we do and then you have to put performance into results. The last few months we have been more consistent.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers said his team would now be focusing firmly on their Europa League campaign which sees them face French side Rennes in the round of 16 on Thursday.

“We are not choosy over trophies as we only have the one we can play for. It is a real focus for us but not to take anything away from the Premier League as we want to finish as high as we can,” he said.

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