Mikel Arteta delivers ambitious Champions League challenge to Arsenal stars

Mikel Arteta has admitted another season without Champions League football is not good enough for a club like Arsenal.

The Gunners lock horns with third-place Leicester at the Emirates on Tuesday and have an outside chance of making the top four after three straight wins.

Arteta's side currently sit in Europa League qualification in seventh, but their form since returning to action last month has given them hope that they could return to Europe's elite club competition.

The north Londoners are six points off Manchester United in fifth, which could be enough to clinch a place in the Champions League if Manchester City ’s European ban is upheld.

And Arteta has rallied his troops ahead of their ambitious pursuit.

“This club has to play in Europe and this club has to play in the Champions League,” said the Gunners boss.

“If we don’t have the choice to do that then obviously it is better to play in Europe than not to play. We will try to the end.

“If we will be able to take it to the last day, then we would have done really well to have given ourselves a chance.

“The only thing we can control is our performances – and the better they are, and the better we play, the bigger the chance we have to win the games.

“It is clear that it is not in our hands. The only thing we can do is win as many games as possible and see what happens with the opponents.

“Yes, if there were 15 games it would have been much easier – but that is the situation we have.”

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Premier League action has resumed without fans – and Arteta believes that playing in empty stadiums is actually helping his players.

“When they play in front of 80,000 people it is much harder, mostly when they are on the ball or the ball is coming close to them,” added Arteta.

“Others need that extra motivation, extra pressure, extra passion to perform better. Every player is different. But some of the players are not rushing what they do.”

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