Wenger still gunning for top four spot with Arsenal

Arsenal have one foot in the Europa League last 16 but Arsene Wenger will not ease up on the pursuit of a Premier League top-four spot.

Published : Feb 21, 2018 20:22 IST

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal's preferred route into the Champions League remains a top-four Premier League finish.

Arsenal host Ostersunds on Thursday, with a 3-0 first-leg lead over their Swedish opponents and a spot in the last 16 of the Europa League virtually assured.

The picture is not so rosy in the Premier League, with the Gunners currently sixth – eight points behind Chelsea in fourth with 11 matches remaining.

Nevertheless, Wenger told a pre-match news conference he is not ready to prioritise the Gunners' European campaign just yet.

"It is one of the priorities that we have but there is a long way to go," he said of a competition that still boasts the likes of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan as potential future opponents.

"We will focus to do well but ideally we want to go back to the Champions league through the Premier League."

Arsenal claimed a league victory over a weakened Manchester United side towards the end of last season as Jose Mourinho placed most of eggs in the Europa League basket.

However, Wenger feels it is too early in the competition this time around to make a similar call.

"He did that much later in the season, once they were in the semi-final," he said.

"We are not as far as that. We have to focus on the Premier League."

As such, complacency will not be tolerated.

"A big part is done but to be professional is to finish the job," Wenger said.

"We have enough maturity and love for the game we want to play. That's why I think it is important to win the game tomorrow.

"If we go out and think we will have stroll we could have a bad surprise."

Wenger confirmed Danny Welbeck will get another chance to start in his favoured centre-forward role, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied and Alexandre Lacazette on the mend following knee surgery.

"He's doing well and I think he will be ahead of his planned recovery," Wenger said regarding Lacazette's progress.

"It should be four weeks, maybe three-and-a-half weeks, but overall he's doing well."

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