Arsenal playmaker Emile Smith-Rowe has claimed that his side’s failure to finish in the top four last season has given his teammates extra motivation ahead of the new campaign.
The Gunners looked to be favorites to claim the Premier League’s final Champions League qualification spot. However, a poor run of form towards the end of the season meant they fell short as they were leapfrogged by arch-rivals Tottenham.
While Smith-Rowe has admitted that missing out on Europe’s elite club competition did damage team morale, he claimed that the experience will benefit them in the long run. The 21-year-old told The Evening Standard:
“It’s definitely tough looking back on it, it was in our hands. The Spurs game (which Arsenal lost 3-0), it was tough. It wasn’t a nice atmosphere [in the dressing room]. All the boys were down.”
“The manager picked us up and we had another chance after that but it didn’t go our way in the end. Going forward, we have just got to stick together as a team. We are a young team, we are still getting there. It’s fuel for us going forward and we can’t wait to start the season.”
Arsenal midfielder determined to play Champions League football
The Gunners have not played Champions League football since 2017. They will compete in the Europa League this season, having missed out on continental competition altogether last term.
Mikel Arteta’s side have enjoyed an excellent transfer window so far in which they have signed four players, most notably Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus.
When asked his thoughts on the upcoming campaign, Smith-Rowe expressed his determination to get his boyhood club back into the Champions League, as he stated:
“It will be a good season, a tough season. The big clubs are buying players and every season is hard but we are confident. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the Champions League. We need to get back in it, not just for us but for the fans as well.”
Smith-Rowe has been a standout performer for Aretata’s team in recent years. He has scored 18 times in 82 appearances since making his first-team debut in 2018.
The youngster had previously enjoyed loan spells at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town. He made his England senior debut last year and has since earned three caps.