By PA Sport Staff
Granit Xhaka has almost had a Europa League winners’ medal in his grasp and this season both the Arsenal midfielder and his manager Mikel Arteta are aiming for glory in the competition.
The 29-year-old was in the Gunners side that lost the 2019 final to Chelsea having got as far as the semi-finals a year earlier, only to slip to defeat against Atletico Madrid.
Now, after a season away from European football, Arsenal return to Europa League action when they face FC Zurich in St Gallen on Thursday night.
Xhaka is likely to play a part even if Arteta opts to shuffle his pack, given the injuries to fellow central midfielders Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny, and the Switzerland captain admits those near-misses have been eating away.
“(I was) Very disappointed, first of all, because when you get to the final you want to win it, for sure,” he told reporters in St Gallen on the eve of Arsenal’s opener.
“But you can only learn about this. Three years later we are still here now in the Europa League – and it’s time to win.
“We want to start well in a new competition, in the Europa League and we want to take the three points back to London.”
Arsenal remain top of the Premier League despite seeing their perfect start to the season end with a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday.
Arteta, who won the FA Cup at the end of his first season at the Emirates Stadium, is now keen to break the club’s continental trophy hoodoo, which stretches back 28 years.
“That’s a long time and I would like to be the first one to break that negative record,” the Spaniard said.
“But you have to start somewhere and it’s tomorrow, and it’s time to play well and earn the right to win the match.
“This is a competition that we want to take very seriously against an opponent that is going to make life difficult for us, and we want to start the competition in the right way and maintain our momentum.”