Leading Europa League group could be crucial for Arsenal, says Arteta

Arsenal lead Group A with 12 points from four games, five ahead of second-placed PSV, and if they avoid defeat they will qualify for the round of 16 and avoid a two-legged playoff.

Finishing top of the Europa League group could be crucial to Arsenal’s hopes of advancing in the competition, manager Mikel Arteta said ahead of Thursday’s visit to PSV Eindhoven, where he needs a point to secure first place.

Arsenal lead Group A with 12 points from four games, five ahead of second-placed PSV, and if they avoid defeat they will qualify for the round of 16 and avoid a two-legged playoff.

“This competition is getting harder and harder,” Arteta told a news conference on Wednesday.

“How it looks today and what the possibilities are, it looks like the next round will be extremely competitive.

“That’s why finishing first in the group and avoiding another two games is such an important thing for us.”

The eight sides who come second in the standings will compete in February’s playoffs, where they will face the eight teams finishing third in their Champions League group.

Barcelona was relegated to the Europa League on Wednesday, while the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid — who lost their chance to remain in Europe’s top club competition — could earn places next week.

In the last round of games, Arsenal hosts Zurich on Nov. 3 when PSV travels to Bodo/Glimt.

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