Mikel Arteta tells Arsenal players what’s required to finish in Champions League spots

Arsenal are closing on their rivals above them in the Premier League table and have put themselves in a strong position to achieve European football next season.

Mikel Arteta has urged his Arsenal stars not to get ahead of themselves now they have a slim sight of qualification for the Champions League.

The Gunners have worked their way back into the Europa League spots after three league wins on the bounce.

More interestingly they are now just eight points off fourth-place Chelsea, and six behind United who are in fifth.

Qualification for the Champions League could go down to the fifth spot in the table if Man City’s UEFA ban is upheld, but Arteta has made clear to his players the effort required if they are to book their place at Europe’s top table next season.

“We have to win every game and then wait and pray,” Arteta said. “It’s not about a game, we need to go game by game.

“A few weeks ago we were really far from thinking about Europe and we are a little bit closer at the moment so lets go game by game and see where that takes us.”

Arsenal have not been in the Champions League for the past three seasons, and sealing their path would be a huge acheievement for Arteta, who took over the side when they were in 10th position.

His men gained ground in the table by beating Wolves on Saturday – who are just one place and now only three points above them.

But Arsenal now face a tricky run-in, starting with third-place Leicester, followed by the north London derby with Tottenham and the visit of champions Liverpool.

Then comes the small matter of the FA Cup semi-final against defending champions Man City, before ending the season with clashes with Aston Villa and Watford – both of whom are scrapping for points in the relegation battle.

Arteta added: “Well now we are in a good run, we got some momentum. Now we get to the crucial point of the season where we’re going to face the top teams in the next two weeks.

“We just try to get prepared as well as we can, we know how important these games are going to be for the future of the season so we are very focused and committed to try to do as well as we can.”