Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has issued a rally cry to his players as the club looks to qualify for next season's Champions League, stressing the next two or three weeks could make or break the rest of their campaign.
The Gunners are sitting 10 points behind Chelsea in fourth place, but Friday's news that Manchester City would be banned from UEFA competitions for the next two years could make a fifth-place finish in the Premier League good enough for qualification to Europe's elite competition.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal's return from the inaugural winter break, Arteta says he's still targeting Champions League qualification and believes the club can compete if they can build up some momentum over the next few weeks.
"The next two or three weeks is going to dictate how close we are going to be in the last four or five weeks of the season to challenge for the European spots or not," Arteta said, quoted by FourFourTwo.
"I think winning takes you to winning the next game and the confidence related to that is huge, which in football the mental aspect is more important than anything else.
"So when you are doubting about yourself and your ability to win games, obviously the confidence affects, but that’s part of something that we need to go over and improve, and the moment that comes I think that will generate naturally another dynamic."
There has been no official confirmation from the Premier League over what happens to its fourth Champions League spot following Manchester City's two-year ban. However, UEFA’s admission criteria says: "A club which is not admitted to the competition is replaced by the next best-placed club in the top domestic championship of the same association, provided the new club fulfils the admission criteria."
Arsenal return to action against Newcastle United on Sunday, with their Europa League knockout stages and FA Cup fifth-round match against Portsmouth also just around the corner.
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Source : 90min