Mikel Arteta: Champions League qualification dependant on Arsenal not Man City
Gunners' timely return to winning ways coincides with Manchester City ban from UEFA competition as unlikely Champions League challenge gains traction
Last Updated: 17/02/20 12:30pm
Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal's prospects of qualifying for the Champions League depend on their performances and not on Manchester City's ban from the competition.
The Gunners boosted their European qualification hopes with a 4-0 rout of Newcastle on Super Sunday, a result that came two days after City were expelled from all UEFA competitions for two seasons for "serious breaches" to Financial Fair Play regulations.
Were the unprecedented ban to be upheld, and providing City finished in the top four, it would mean a fifth-place finish in the Premier League would secure qualification to the Champions League - a possibility that seemed out of Arsenal's reach a fortnight ago.
"A week ago, before we went to Dubai, we drew with Burnley and everything looked like it was too far," Arteta told his post-match press conference. "It looked like it would take an incredible run to [qualify for the Champions League].
"Today it feels a bit closer, but it is going to depend on us. We have to improve as a team, we need to be more consistent over 90 minutes and, if we are able to adapt, our performances will lead to much better results. If that is the case, we will be in the mix in the last few games of the season."
Arteta shocked; City 'suffering'
Friday's seismic news from UEFA reverberated around the footballing world but it was felt more closely by Arteta, who served as assistant to Pep Guardiola at City for over three seasons before his appointment as Arsenal head coach in December.
"My first reaction was shock," the Gunners boss added. "I have been in contact with Pep and the people at the club I know to feel for them because I know they are suffering.
"I just want the best for Manchester City. The admiration and love I have for Pep, and not only Pep - the staff, the players - I just want the best for them. I know how hard they work and hopefully a positive thing can come from this."
Asked if it was strange that Arteta, a former City employee, could potentially be the beneficiary of their ban from UEFA competitions, the Spaniard replied: "I don't think about it. I just want the best for Manchester City, I really do.
"That is the way I feel and now I have to give the very best of me for Arsenal to try to maximise everything we have here and try and bring the club as high as possible again.
"The ultimate target is to improve as a team right now, to win at Olympiakos on Thursday and improve on today's performance."
Arsenal in the mould of Arteta?
After a frustrating first-half performance against Newcastle, Arsenal came alive after the break thanks to two goals in three minutes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe, before late strikes from Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette secured a handsome victory.
Asked if Ozil's goal - which came after a 35-pass move in which every player, including goalkeeper Bernd Leno, had touched the ball - offered a glimpse of the type of football Arteta wants to characterise his Arsenal tenure, the Spaniard replied: "It's part of it.
"Obviously when everyone is involved in what we want to do and are participating towards a goal is pleasing for me. We are working on a lot of things to make sure everyone is relevant in the things we want to achieve."