November 23, 2018 / 4:56 PM / 22 days ago

Emery says top-four finish is Arsenal's main priority

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - November 11, 2018 Arsenal manager Unai Emery gestures during the match Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley/File Photo

(Reuters) - Getting Arsenal back into the Champions League is manager Unai Emery’s main goal, but the Spaniard said on Friday it won’t be an easy job as the competition for a top-four finish in the Premier League is tough.

Arsenal are fifth in the standings behind Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Liverpool and champions Manchester City.

The Gunners have failed to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition for two seasons in a row having finished sixth and fifth respectively in their last two league campaigns.

“Two years we’ve lost playing in the Champions League, but now the Premier League is at a big level with big teams and a big demand for us,” Emery told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s domestic league trip to Bournemouth.

“Our first idea is get the position in Europe and to play in the Champions League... We want (to finish in the top four) but it’s not easy. We are going to work in each training and each match to be closer to the top four.”

Emery, who took over from Arsene Wenger in the close season, has improved Arsenal’s form after a slow start, with the club now unbeaten in their last 16 matches in all competitions.

The manager said he expected more from his team, who have drawn in their last three matches in the league, starting with the trip to ninth-placed Bournemouth.

“We need more in some things, being different tactically, individually, in the spirit, in the mentality. But we are a work in progress and are in this process,” Emery added.

“Sunday for us is a big test. A high level test for how we can continue our progress, and it’s very important to show the supporters our mentality.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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