Mikel Arteta insists Arsenal ‘have to be in the Champions League’ ahead of the club’s return to the competition.
Arsenal begin their Champions League group stage campaign at home to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday evening, having secured qualification to Europe’s elite competition after a six-season absence.
Excitement is building in north London ahead of the clash with the Dutch side and Arteta insists Arsenal are a club that belongs on the biggest stage.
“Every time I watched it and we weren’t there, I felt it. I think you put pressure on yourself. This club has to be in the Champions League,” he told his pre-match press conference.
“When I have the job that I have, I have the responsibility to try to bring the club to the biggest stages, to the biggest tournament and then be fighting for them. It was a process but now we are here, we have to make the most out of it.”
Arsenal’s qualification came after a runners-up finish in the Premier League last season, with Arteta’s side having showed continued improvement under his management.
The Gunners had agonisingly missed out on Champions League football the previous season and Arteta admits it has been a ‘learning process’ for his side in achieving their return to this level.
“I think it’s a learning process. When you’re looking to achieve, you have to take some lessons from that. I think we did that and we got better as a team and we did the right things as well to improve the squad. Now we are here and I think we fully deserve to be here.”
Arteta is anticipating an ‘incredible atmosphere’ at the Emirates and admits he is relishing the return of Champions League football to the ground.
“We will see but I’m sure it will be an incredible atmosphere and they will create a special night. I’ve played in a few of them with the club and I have beautiful memories of them, so we’re waiting for it.”
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