Arsenal legend Lauren insists the Gunners MUST win Europa League this season or they risk being left behind by their Premier League rivals ahead of Thursday’s showdown with Villarreal
- Arsenal are 10th in the Premier League, so Europa League victory is imperative
- Lauren believes reaching the Champions League would boost the club’s rebuild
- The Gunners face Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday
Arsenal legend Lauren believes his former side could be left behind in the Premier League if they fail to return to the Champions League next season.
After Friday’s 1-0 defeat by Everton, Mikel Arteta’s men are languishing down in 10th in the Premier League standings with Europa League glory being their only realistic chance of clinching a place in next season’s elite club competition.
They face LaLiga outfit Villarreal in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday and Lauren has stressed just how big a match it is for the future of the club.
Lauren has warned Arsenal of the impact of missing out on next season’s Champions League
The Gunners hero believes a place in the competition will help them strengthen dramatically
‘You need to play the Champions League every single year, that will give you the tools and ability to attract those players in order to win the league,’ he told The Mirror.
‘Honestly, we are one step behind Manchester City, Chelsea or even Liverpool. Unless you have the tools, then you can’t win the league.’
Lauren has been impressed by the displays of Arsenal’s younger players, even though the team are drifting into mid-table mediocrity.
He believes that regardless of where Arsenal finish in the league this season, Europa League glory and a Champions League place would provide a springboard for the Gunners to become Premier League contenders once again.
‘Bukayo Saka is absolutely brilliant,’ Lauren said. ‘Emile Smith-Rowe can play any position, he plays it simple, makes the right pass at the right moment. Bukayo doesn’t rush his game.
Lauren heaped praise on Arsenal youngsters EmilE Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal face Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday
‘But those two players and the other young players need other big players to fulfil their potential and they need the team to progress.
‘If they want to catch up, they have to make a real effort to build in the long term with more top players. You can’t compete with Manchester City, Chelsea, if you want to win the league you have to fight with the same weapons.’
Arsenal meet the Spaniards, who are managed by former Gunners boss Unai Emery, away in the first leg on Thursday with the return leg a week later at the Emirates.
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