Wednesday 16 October 2019

Beating United pivotal in Champions League chase, says Monreal

Arsenal are currently one point behind Manchester United in the Premier League standings.

Nacho Monreal expects a tough fight for Champions League qualification (Nick Potts/PA)
Nacho Monreal expects a tough fight for Champions League qualification (Nick Potts/PA)

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Nacho Monreal wants Arsenal to take the first step towards their target of finishing in the Premier League top four by beating Manchester United on Sunday.

The Gunners host Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form side and currently sit a point behind the Red Devils – with a victory at the Emirates Stadium enough to take the hosts back into fourth place.

Unai Emery was appointed last summer with the remit of returning Arsenal to the Champions League after missing out on the top four in the last two seasons under Arsene Wenger.

They face a battle with United – unbeaten on the road since Solskjaer was named caretaker manager in December – and Chelsea, while north London neighbours Tottenham, third in the table, could be also be sucked into the fight.

Sunday’s game is the last time Arsenal will face a member of the so-called ‘Big Six’ this season and have a favourable run-in compared to their nearest rivals and Monreal is keen to move back up to fourth, as well as exacting some revenge for FA Cup defeat to United in January.

“We lost against them in a different competition, they beat us in the FA Cup playing at home but now we are fighting for the Premier League,” the Spain international told the club’s official website.

“Our target since the beginning of the season is to finish in the top four and play Champions League football next year.

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Monreal celebrates a goal for Laurent Koscielny in the win over Bournemouth (Adam Davy/PA)

“We have the opportunity to get our target and the first step is next Sunday. We play against them and we need to forget what happened in the FA Cup and we need to refocus in the next game and try to get the three points because if we do it we will be on a higher step to get to our target.

“There are still nine games to go and it’s going to be really tough until the end of the season – and we cannot forget that there is another club in Chelsea.

“At the moment there are three clubs fighting for one place, but obviously if we get the three points on the weekend it will be perfect for us.”

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Lucas Torreira, left, was sent off for his challenge on Danny Rose (John Walton/PA)

Emery will be without Lucas Torreira after the midfielder was sent off in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Spurs.

Long-term injury absentees Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin are still sidelined but Emery can call upon the rest of his squad on Sunday.

The Spaniard saw his side beaten 3-1 in Rennes on Thursday night to leave their Europa League hopes in the balance – meaning a top-four finish could become even more important in the quest for Champions League football.

PA Media

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