Saturday 24 August 2019

Xhaka believes Premier League’s top six should be in Champions League

For the first time, this season’s Champions League and Europa League finals will be contested by teams from the same country.

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka believes the top six of the Premier League should be playing in the Champions League (John Walton/PA)
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka believes the top six of the Premier League should be playing in the Champions League (John Walton/PA)

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka believes the Premier League’s top six clubs would all be at home in the Champions League.

For the first time, this season’s Champions League and Europa League finals will be contested by teams from the same country as England dominates UEFA’s continental competitions.

Liverpool and Tottenham both secured memorable second-leg comebacks to set-up the first all-English Champions League final since 2008.

Meanwhile, Xhaka’s Arsenal will meet Chelsea in Baku after the Gunners eased past Valencia and their London rivals progressed with a penalty shoot-out win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

With Manchester City favourites to retain the Premier League and Manchester United, although finishing the season with a whimper, also showing they can mix it with Europe’s best after turning around their Champions League round of 16 tie with Paris Saint-Germain, Xhaka feels all could cut it in the competition.

“Every team that can get to a final is strong enough so, we know Chelsea, we play a lot against them,” he said.

“Four teams in the final shows everyone what a league the Premier League is and we hope we are ready for the final.

“You should have to go for the first six from the Premier League into the Champions League, so strong is the league.

“It is only four teams, four teams in the final now and so we can be proud.”

Unai Emery’s Arsenal need to win the Europa League to seal a return to the Champions League as their top-four ambitions were all-but ended with a disappointing home draw against Brighton last week.

The Spaniard, appointed as Arsene Wenger’s successor last year, lifted the trophy three seasons in a row as manger of Sevilla and now Xhaka wants to add silverware to Emery’s first campaign in England.

“Of course, every trophy and every title is important,” he said.

“It is important if you take the title here and go to the Champions League. Of course we want to be in the Champions League through the Premier League but that is the past and we have to look forward now and we will see in three weeks.”

With both Arsenal and Chelsea having to travel to Baku for the final on May 29, the journey for plenty of fans will be a long one – if they are lucky enough to land a ticket.

UEFA have only issued around 6,000 tickets per club but Xhaka insists the players have to put everything to one side and worry only about bringing the trophy back to the Emirates Stadium.

“We can’t change anything” added the Switzerland international.

“It is not our job to say something about this – it is one game, it is a final and the better team win.

“I don’t know when we (will) go to Baku but it is one game. It is not about Baku, or we play in Europe or somewhere else.

“You have to be ready in this 90 minutes and you have to be ready in this moment.

“I think history is nice – if you can be in the history of this amazing club it is something to make you proud but first we have to win.”

PA Media

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