Arsenal Eyes Europa League Qualification
Arsenal finally wins a match after the coronavirus lockdown, they have played two games before now and they lost the two games the third is the one they won now against ten Southampton 2-0. Mikel Arteta after the victory says he still remains hopeful that his side can qualify for Europe next season.
Arsenal had lost both of their previous two games, to Manchester City and Brighton, but Thursday’s victory arrests the slump, moving them up to ninth in the table. Champions League qualification at this point is not a realistic target so they can only aim for the Europa league but they might just be hope with Manchester City’s involvement in Europe still up in the air pending their appeal against a ban for breaching financial fair play, Arteta’s side could well claim a Europa League spot.
“I am always very positive,” said Arteta. “We have enough time, we have enough games left to do it. “We had two defeats for the first time since I joined, but now we have won and it lifts the spirit, it lifts the belief. “The calendar of the Premier League has given us is pretty tough. We have four away games and we have to recover the players now.”
Arsenal was helped along their way at St Mary’s by a dreadful error from Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy who faltered under pressure from Eddie Nketiah following a back-pass, allowing the striker to intercept his attempted ball out slot into an unguarded net.
The win was sealed late on when Jack Stephens was sent off for fouling Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the last man and from the resulting free-kick substitute Joe Willock finished after Alexandre Lacazette’s free-kick struck the wall and his follow-up was parried. It was timely boost for the Gunners, who have struggled with injuries and form since the restart.
With 10 points separating Southampton from the bottom three it is very unlikely that they will get dragged into a relegation fight. Since the restart, Arsenal have lurched from one mini-crisis to the next David Luiz’s calamitous display against Manchester City, injury problems galore, and a winning position thrown away at Brighton.
Matteo Guendouzi was left out of the squad entirely. While Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta stated that his exclusion was down to “squad management”, he also did not entirely dismiss speculation that the Frenchman blotted his copybook by clashing with Neal Maupay at the end of the Brighton game on Saturday.