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Getting Arsenal back into the Champions League is manager Unai Emery’s main goal, but the Spaniard said on Friday it won’t be an easy job as the competition for a top-four finish in the Premier League is tough, reports Reuters
Arsenal are fifth in the standings behind Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Liverpool and champions Manchester City.
The Gunners have failed to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition for two seasons in a row having finished sixth and fifth respectively in their last two league campaigns.
“Two years we’ve lost playing in the Champions League, but now the Premier League is at a big level with big teams and a big demand for us,” Emery told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s domestic league trip to Bournemouth.
“Our first idea is get the position in Europe and to play in the Champions League… We want (to finish in the top four) but it’s not easy. We are going to work in each training and each match to be closer to the top four.”
Emery, who took over from Arsene Wenger in the close season, has improved Arsenal’s form after a slow start, with the club now unbeaten in their last 16 matches in all competitions.
The manager said he expected more from his team, who have drawn in their last three matches in the league, starting with the trip to ninth-placed Bournemouth.
“We need more in some things, being different tactically, individually, in the spirit, in the mentality. But we are a work in progress and are in this process,” Emery added.
“Sunday for us is a big test. A high level test for how we can continue our progress, and it’s very important to show the supporters our mentality.”
Meanwhile, Bournemouth striker Joshua King has recovered from an ankle injury but faces a late fitness test to be in contention for Sunday’s Premier League clash against Arsenal, manager Eddie Howe said on Friday.
King, who has started nine league games scoring four goals this season, aggravated an ankle issue in Bournemouth’s goalless draw with Southampton last month, but has since resumed training with the squad. “Joshua King has improved and trained with the group and we’ll be excited if he is fit,” Howe told a news conference.
Howe said his squad was in a better position injury-wise than after their 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United before the international break.
“We had a number of players with knocks. The break has given us the chance to nurse our players and we’ll look at them all and assess
their fitness ahead of Sunday,”
he added.