(Reuters) - Arsenal can sustain a Europa League challenge but a top-four finish in the Premier League would be the best way to reach next season’s Champions League, manager Arsene Wenger has said.
Manchester United won the Europa League title last season to secure direct entry to the Champions League. Manager Jose Mourinho made winning the competition a priority as United slipped to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League.
Wenger, however, believes domestic success is key to Arsenal’s ambitions after dropping out of the top four for the first time in 20 years.
“I think the best way to do it is through the Premier League,” Wenger told a news conference before Arsenal host Cologne in their Europa League opener on Thursday.
“We did that for 20 years. We got 75 points last year and overall, I am humble enough to be happy to win every competition.”
Wenger may be forced to make wholesale changes with one eye on Sunday’s London derby against Chelsea. But the Frenchman is not using the fixture as an excuse ahead of their European assignment.
“It is a good opportunity to show we can cope,” Wenger said.
“We played on Wednesday night in Barcelona and against Everton on Saturday morning. It is a preconceived idea, football is down to how you perform on the day. Three days is plenty of time to recover.”
Arsenal have made a poor start to the campaign, losing twice in their opening four league games.
They showed signs of recovery with an impressive 3-0 victory over Bournemouth but lost midfielder Francis Coquelin to a hamstring injury, leaving him on the sidelines for up to three weeks.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson