Belfast Telegraph

Failing to return to Europe's elite stage is not an option: Sokratis


Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Sokratis Papastathopoulos

By Mark Staniforth

Sokratis Papastathopoulos insists he is not contemplating ending the season without Champions League qualification and achieving the target he set when he joined Arsenal last summer.

The Gunners beat Valencia 3-1 at the Emirates on Thursday night in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie.

Alexandre Lacazette netted a first-half brace to cancel out Mouctar Diakhaby's early opener for the visitors, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang adding a third in the final minute.

While Unai Emery's side have one foot in the final, a run of three successive Premier League defeats means achieving Champions League qualification by finishing in the top four now appears unlikely.

Emery, who won the Europa League in three consecutive seasons while in charge at Sevilla, knows lifting the trophy is another route back into the continent's elite club competition.

That was his main task when he was appointed as Arsene Wenger's successor and Sokratis is not considering failure as an option.

"I believe and think only this - to play in the Champions League," the summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund said ahead of tomorrow's clash with Brighton. "We can go to the final and win the Europa League.

"We want the Champions League. I came here because I'd like to play in the Champions League, I didn't come to play in the Europa League.

"Our manager and staff behind him help us every day, we work a lot with the training, the video, we analyse everything and I hope in the end we are right."

Belfast Telegraph


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