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Former Arsenal striker John Hartson has warned that Arsenal must take the Europa League serious if it wants to get back to the Champions League next season.
The second tier European competition has been modified in a way that the winner of the competition automatically qualifies for the Champions League.
Manchester United made the most of this opportunity last season, despite finishing sixth on the Premier League table, they qualified for the UCL by virtue of winning the EL.
Arsene Wenger recently hinted he would focus on qualifying for the Champions League via the league table, meaning he could take the EL for granted but Hartson has warned we must take the competition serious.
The former striker says we are likely to miss out on the top four again, as a result focusing on the Europa League is important.
Hartson told the Daily Star as quoted by Goal: “I think a top-four place is a big ask for Arsenal, I really do think that. What with Manchester City spending so big, Liverpool as well.
“Chelsea, and Manchester United under Jose Mourinho of course, are a lot of people’s favourites for the title.
“But Arsenal can adopt Manchester United’s attitude to the Europa League last season.
“Mourinho said from the outset he thought it was the best way in for United – he was almost telepathic how he called that.
“Ajax hadn’t won an away game all the way through the competition, so it was almost as if United absolutely breezed the final it in a strange type of way.
“United had a couple of tricky away games, but they won it at a canter. I think Arsenal have to take it seriously.
“In the Europa League, they’re probably favourites to win it behind AC Milan.”
I can’t help but agree with Hartson as regards taking the Europa League serious.
We obviously have enough quality to challenge for a place in the top four, but the level of competition in the Premier League has made it even more difficult to finish in the top four. It will be too risky to put all our eggs in one basket.