Wenger won't be following Mourinho's lead by prioritising Arsenal Europa League win

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Manchester United secured a passage to the Champions League through European success last season, but the Gunners are still chasing a top-four finish

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will not follow Manchester United’s lead by prioritising Europa League success as a route into the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho took the decision in 2016-17 to throw in the towel on a top-four finish and focus on continental glory.

That gamble paid off, with the Red Devils back among the European elite despite finishing sixth in the Premier League.

Arsenal could soon find themselves in a similar position, with a north London derby defeat having left them six points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool, but Wenger maintains that he will not be looking to sneak into the Champions League party through the back door.

Quizzed after a 1-0 defeat to arch-rivals Tottenham on whether it is too early to be giving up on Premier League places, the Frenchman said: “It’s too early, yes.

“Football is not about switching off for three games and then switching it on for one game.

“Manchester United decided that once they were in the semi-final. We are far from the semi-final and we have to fight to have a chance to come back.

“For me, it’s a very disappointing result because the priority has to be to get into the Champions League from the Premier League.

“I’m not a great fan of qualifying through the Europa League because I don’t think it’s right.

“If it’s an opportunity, we’ll have to try to take it as well. The priority is still to be in the Premier League.”

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Having come unstuck against Spurs, Arsenal’s focus will now switch to continental matters.

With the current holders of the famous trophy having also slipped out of the FA Cup, their next two outings will be in Europa League action – as they prepare to face Swedish minnows Ostersund at the last-32 stage.

They will then take on runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final – with major silverware on the line which could salvage another season – before returning to top-flight competition on March 1 with another meeting with Pep Guardiola’s title hopefuls.

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