Football: Arteta won’t compromise on Arsenal’s bid for Europa and Premier League glory

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has challenged his side to win both the Premier League and the Europa League. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON – Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal will not down tools in the Europa League to aid their bid to win a first Premier League title for 19 years.

The Gunners sit five points clear of second-placed Manchester City in the English top flight with 11 games left.

Bowing out of the Europa League could help their hopes of holding on to the lead in the title race, as it would allow for more recovery and preparation time.

But Arteta does not share that view because he 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 their Europa League last-16 clash at the Emirates on Thursday with the tie delicately balanced after a 2-2 draw in Portugal last week.

“Our priority is the two competitions,” said the Gunners boss.

“The best way to prepare for any competition is to win the previous match and having the confidence and the proper emotion to approach the next game.

“We have to play all the games with the best possible players to win them.”

Arteta’s philosophy has so far been proven to be right.

Arsenal have won six and drawn one of their seven Premier League games after their Europa League matches this season.

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

Arteta will be going all out on Thursday, but he remains without the injured Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny.

Sporting, meanwhile, are missing the suspended Hidemasa Morita and Sebastian Coates. Former Arsenal man Hector Bellerin could be sidelined, alongside Daniel Braganca.

If Arsenal are to make it to the Europa League final in Budapest on May 31, they will have to progress past a stellar cast of big names in Europe’s second-tier competition.

Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United have one foot in the quarter-finals after a comprehensive 4-1 win over Real Betis at Old Trafford, and are likely to complete the job when they make the trip to Seville.

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

Six-time winners Sevilla are always a threat in the knockout stages of the Europa League and take a 2-0 lead to Istanbul against Fenerbahce.

Jose Mourinho’s Roma are also well-placed to reach the last eight after beating Real Sociedad 2-0 at home last week. AFP

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