Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal have a “responsibility” to deliver European football for next season.
The Gunners will head to basement club Sheffield United on Sunday bidding to climb up the Premier League from their mid-table position.
Arsenal are also locked at 1-1 at the midway point of their Europa League quarter-final with Slavia Prague, leaving their European ambitions for next season hanging in the balance.
Asked if he feels personal pressure to steer Arsenal into European competition next season, Arteta replied: “It is not pressure – it is our responsibility.
“The club we represent has high demands and that is the minimum we can ask for and we have to, over time, work to deliver those goals because it is what we get asked for.”
Asked if there could be any benefit to a season out of Europe in order to build a long-term project, Arteta continued: “We go back to what we used to say when those teams were in a position not to qualify for Europe, we are talking about similar things.
“It is true there are some really good examples of teams that were rebuilding their teams and it helped them in their project, but I would rather be in Europe.”
Asked where failing to qualify for Europe would leave Arsenal, Arteta added: “That’s too many ifs. What if we qualify for Europe and win the Europa League? I prefer to think like that.”
Arteta expecting Partey to finish season ‘in a strong way’
Midfielder Thomas Partey is finally approaching full sharpness after long-term injury issues.
Arteta now believes the 27-year-old is ready to hit top form – this season, not next.
“Hopefully on Sunday and next Thursday you can see the best version of Thomas,” said Arteta.
“Now he has got a sequence of two or three games, apart from the international break, I think you will see that he will finish the season in a really strong way.
“It is very difficult to make a real assessment because he has missed six months. That is a long time.
“He is still adapting to our way of playing which is different to what he did at Atletico Madrid.
“He had some big sparks and we can all see what he can bring to the team.
“Now it is about finding that consistency level that we need from him and building a team that can play around him because he has that capacity.”