MIKEL ARTETA has made it his mission to end Arsenal’s embarrassing Euros record – and prove the club still belong among the elite.
It is now 28 years since the Gunners won their last European trophy, the defunct Cup Winners’ Cup.
And Emirates boss Arteta has brought a powerful squad to Zurich to ensure a flying start to the Europa League.
He said: “Twenty-eight years is a long time and I want to be the first to break this negative record.
“But we have to start somewhere and we want to start this competition off right and keep our momentum going.
“Unfortunately we don’t have too many players available for rotation due to the injuries we’ve picked up over the past two weeks.
“But this is a competition we want to take very seriously, against an opponent who will make life difficult for us.
“So now is the time to play well and earn the right to win this match.”
With Arsenal currently at the top of the Premier League after a flying start to the season, Arteta is keen to complete qualifying for the Europa League group stage as soon as possible.
It’s an approach welcomed by Granit Xhaka, who refuses to even contemplate what could have been after relinquishing the final Champions League spot to Tottenham right after death last season.
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The Swiss midfielder said: “We don’t care about others. We don’t look at what other teams are doing.
“Of course we want to be champions [League] but we have to accept that we won’t be there this year.
“But it looks like the whole team is here in Zurich and we want to start well and take three points with us to London.
“Three years ago we reached the final of this competition and losing that game was very disappointing.
“We can only learn from this result and although we are still in the Europa League we are here to win it safely.”
Arteta confirmed Emile Smith Rowe has not traveled after picking up a persistent groin injury in warm-down following Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Manchester United.
He said: “Emile felt some uneasiness again in an area that had been worrying him for a number of weeks.
“He wasn’t feeling well after the game and hasn’t trained in the last few days so he’s out of the squad.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6171822/mikel-arteta-arsenal-europa-league/ Mikel Arteta is itching to bridge Arsenal’s 28-year European trophy drought but admits the squad is too thin for Europa League glory