Petr Cech suggests that Arsenal should adopt Chelsea’s mentality and target the Europa League, after missing out on a Champions League spot at the end of last season.
For the first time in 20 years, Arsenal will not be playing in the Champions League this week. Instead, they’ll be welcoming FC Koln to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday as they kick-off their Europa League campaign.
The trophy isn’t a priority for Arsenal at the moment, and Petr Cech, who won the trophy with Chelsea in 2013, has said the time will come when the Gunners will have to decide to seriously pursuit it or not.
You make your decision,” he said, reports the Daily Star. “When I was at Chelsea, we were really disappointed to be out from the group stage of the Champions League.
“But we decided that it was the first time and hopefully the last time we played the Europa League and we wanted to win it.
“You decide how to approach it. You go in it to win it, give yourself a chance to do it or make different priorities and then see how it goes.
“It’s one of the trophies that this club has not won since it became the Europa League. It could be one of the targets because it’s always nice to win a European trophy, regardless of which one it is.”
Cech’s experience in the competition came when Chelsea failed to qualify from their Champions League and dropped down into the Europa League knock-out rounds. They went on to lift the trophy in the end, defeating Benfica in the final.
Manchester United won the competition last year, having sacrificed their league form to ensure Champions League qualification via a different route. For Arsenal, it seems to be a case of wait and see.
They should be able to get through the group stages without much issue. How they decide to tackle the knock-out rounds would depend on where they are in the Premier League, I feel.
If we’re struggling domestically, we may end up relying on the Europa League to get back into the Champions League as United did.