Unai Emery has been urged to take the Europa League seriously, with Ray Parlour of the opinion that success in that competition can deliver “a very good season” for Arsenal.
The Gunners are having to contend with a second successive campaign outside of the Champions League, with Arsene Wenger overseeing a tumble out of the Premier League’s top four.
Europe’s second tier competition has not always been a priority for those involved, with Thursday night football often viewed as a hindrance to domestic efforts.
Arsenal did, however, make the semi-final stage in 2017-18 and Parlour believes landing major silverware under a boss with a proven track record in the tournament can get the club heading in the right direction once more.
He told the Daily Star: “I think the Europa League could be important.
“That’s the ideal competition to win because you win a trophy, which a lot of clubs are still waiting for their first trophy, but if you can win the Europa League you’re back in the Champions League as well so that becomes a very good season for any club.
“That’s why I was so disappointed last season because they had a great opportunity, especially the first game against Atletico Madrid when they had a man sent off. If you win the game 1-0 or 2-0 you probably go through to the final and maybe win the final.”
Arsenal should be able to ease their way into the Europa League knockout stage, with Parlour aware that Emery will only make a decision on how hard to push in continental competition once the Premier League picture becomes clearer in 2019.
The former Gunners midfielder added: “The one thing about the first few rounds you can rotate your squad, play your different players because it’s not strong obviously.
“When the third-place teams come in from the Champions League there are some great clubs coming into the Europa League then.
“The great thing about it is you can assess your situation should you qualify for the next stages. Whether it starts February, March you can have a look at it then and say, ‘Where are we in the league?’
“If we’ve got no chance of getting in the top four, being realistic we have to concentrate on the Europa League so I think we’ll look at it then.
“Maybe he’s fourth in the league and he’s thinking we’ve got to keep this going in the league and that’s when he’ll assess it.
“Injuries, suspensions, all these factors come into it.
“You don’t abandon anything at the start of the season, you always say, ‘Right hopefully we can challenge.’”