Arsenal defender Rob Holding has admitted he would rather win the Europa League this season than finish in the Premier League’s top four.
The Gunners have not finished inside the Premier League’s top four for the past three seasons, having previously done so every year between 1996 and 2016.
Europa League over top four finish? Five things to know…
- Arsenal have not finished in the Premier League top four for three years.
- The Gunners have finished fifth twice and sixth once.
- Arsenal are currently in their third Europa League campaign.
- After reaching the semi-finals in 2017/18, they were losing finalists in 2018/19.
- And Rob Holding admits he would prefer Europa League glory to a top four finish.
As a result, they have also missed out on Champions League football, currently undertaking their third consecutive Europa League campaign – two of which have come under Unai Emery.
In their first season in the competition under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal were beaten by eventual winners Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals, losing 2-1 on aggregate.
And, after finishing fifth in the Premier League last season, Arsenal still had the chance to secure Champions League football due to their place in the Europa League final but the Gunners were humbled 4-1 by Chelsea.
Holding, was absent from the final, and most of Arsenal’s season, having suffered a cruciate ligament injury in December. As such, the 24-year-old has admitted he would rather win the Europa League this season than finish in the top four – though both would secure Champions League football.
“Top four is more than within our capability,” he told reporters.
“I want to win the Europa League first and foremost.
“We got to the final last year but I was injured and I didn’t get to play in it. Top four and a Europa League trophy would be a brilliant way to end it.”
Arsenal currently sit top of their Europa League group with six points from two games and will be looking to extend their perfect start when they face Vitoria on Thursday.
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Holding following in Giggs’ footstep to help injury issues
Holding has made just two appearances for Arsenal’s first team this season, including in a 4-0 win over Standard Liege last time out in the Europa League, as he continues his return from injury.
And the 24-year-old has revealed he does yoga alongside a small group of team-mates to help maintain his career, a passion inspired by a DVD starring Wales manager and former Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs.
“There is about six players plus Freddie Ljungberg, he joins in and does a bit of yoga,” he added.
“It’s a good group there and it’s up to you. If you want to do it, you can do it. We come in and do one session a week. I enjoy it, so I do it.
“I’ve been doing it since I’ve been here, so coming up to the fourth year now.
“When I was growing up, my mum actually got me a Ryan Giggs DVD about yoga.
“It lengthened his career, so I was like, you know what, if he’s doing it then I should be doing it. So I’ve just maintained it.”