Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has insisted that his side are not even contemplating a potential exit from European competition ahead of their playoff first-leg tie with Fenerbahce at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium this evening.
The Gunners have endured a difficult start to the 2013/14 campaign, with manager Arsene Wenger coming under heavy fire from riled supporters for his apparent refusal to take full advantage of the club's substantial transfer kitty following the humiliating 3-1 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa on Saturday.
Yet despite the widespread unrest that has engulfed the Emirates Stadium of late, Arteta, who joined the club from Premier League rivals Everton in 2011, claims the club are fully focused on ensuring that they progress to the Champions League group stage.
"I have never played there (Fenerbahce) but everyone says the atmosphere is incredible. We know that we are facing a very tough draw," the 31-year-old told the London Evening Standard.
"We also know how big it is and how hard we had to fight last year to get fourth place so we cannot throw it away now.
"It doesn’t matter who we are playing against but we have to get through that draw. It is vital for us to play in the Champions League. It is unthinkable for us not to qualify.”
Arsenal fans may, however, be buoyed by the rumours that even defeat could see their club progress into the tournament proper. Fenerbahce, who suffered their own disappointing defeat in their Super Lig opener at the weekend, are currently the subject of a match-fixing investigation which could continue to threaten their participation in European competition.
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