Arsene Wenger says he won’t prioritise the Europa League over domestic football, as Arsenal attempt to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
After Arsenal’s defeat against Tottenham on Saturday, they’re now six points off the top four. That was before Liverpool and Chelsea even played.
Finishing in the Champions League qualification places is starting to look like a long-shot at best. Arsene Wenger says priotising isn’t an option though, and the Gunners have to keep trying in the league.
“We want to qualify through the league first,” the manager said. “Because you cannot bank on a cup success you know? That would not be reasonable.
“In top level sport you do not switch on Friday to play on Saturday and the day after you switch off for three weeks & you switch on again. It doesn’t work like that.
“There is no prioritisation at all. We want to win our Champions League spot through the league and as well if possible through the Europa League but today it is not tomorrow we play the final of the Europa League.
“We are at the start of the real competition now and we have still a possibility to qualify through the league so we have absolutely to try to achieve that.”
Wenger has a point on consistency of performances. It’s very difficult to turn up at your best for infrequent Europa League matches if you’ve played poorly in the intervening Premier League games.
At the same time, if Arsenal keep making it through the knockout rounds in the European competition, they may have to choose between fielding a strong side against the likes of Atletico Madrid, or in a big league game days later.
You’d hope, like Manchester United, they’d pick the Europa League match, whatever Wenger claims publicly right now.
Maybe Arsenal don’t need to start picking teams tactically just yet, when they’re just one of 32 teams left in the European competition.
Later on though, if the gap in the Premier League remains the same, that should change.