According to the latest reports, former Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has revealed that he believes the Gunners can go all the way and lift the Europa League this season. The German retired from football last season and has taken up a coaching role at the Arsenal U-23’s and their academy.
Unai Emery has done quite a wonderful job ever since taking over as Arsenal manager back in the summer of 2018 after replacing the legendary Arsene Wenger. The 69-year-old boss has been in charge of Arsenal for 22 long years and won several major honours, including three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups during his time there. But Wenger’s philosophy began to grow stale and many of the younger generations of managers began to outwit and out tactic Wenger in his last few seasons. Even the Arsenal faithful wanted him out of the club as they looked for a new man to carry the mantle forward.
Now Emery has breathed fresh air into the club and brought about an upward trend in the style of football that Arsenal play, the Gunners look like solid candidates to qualify into the Champions League for next season by finishing inside the top four. The Gunners have also made it to the quarterfinals of the Europa League and took it a step further after beating Napoli 2-0 in the first leg of the quarter-final encounter.
Arsenal now face a tricky situation travelling away from home as they have been extremely poor on their visits. The English side suffered defeats in the first leg against BATE Borisov and Rennes respectively but they turned things around at the Emirates. Arsenal must now ensure that such a situation does not arise in Naples with the Italian side.
But former Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has faith in the Gunners to go on and win the competition. The German retired from football last year and took up a coaching job for the U-23’s at Arsenal’s academy since the end of last season. Mertesacker spent seven years at Arsenal and captained the club to three FA Cup trophies during his time at the Emirates as a player.
When asked whether Arsenal could go on to lift the Europa League trophy at the end of the season, the 34-year-old former Germany international replied by saying, “Definitely, the Europa League and has grown throughout these experiences.”
?Chelsea lead Slavia Prague.
?Arsenal lead Napoli.
???????They won't meet in the semi-finals. Are we set for an all English Europa League final? pic.twitter.com/nVbrRAHFYJ
— Coral (@Coral) April 18, 2019
However, Mertesacker has also warned the club about the threat that Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli possess and Arsenal need to be wary of a hostile atmosphere in Italy. “The first leg was great, but in Naples – the city, the fans, and the special atmosphere – it can quickly go in the other direction. We are glad that we did not concede a goal. Nevertheless, the chances for the semi-final are good – and we have to make up for that after last year’s elimination,” he said.
Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last year but suffered defeat against Atletico Madrid in a 2-1 aggregate elimination. Hopefully, they don’t repeat that again this year and can go all the way.