Pressure on Arsenal to keep Champions League hopes alive, says Swansea City's Michael Laudrup
MICHAEL Laudrup reckons Arsenal could see Champions League hopes dashed for the second time in three days tomorrow if they fail to beat Swansea City.
Arsene Wenger's men return to Premier League action after their latest European campaign came to an end at Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
The sole goal now remaining for Arsenal this season is to ensure they qualify for next year's Champions League.
And Laudrup reckons that will be difficult if Chelsea see off West Ham at Stamford Bridge and the Gunners do not triumph in SA1.
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"Chelsea are at home against West Ham. If they win and Arsenal don't, they could be seven or eight points behind and that would be a big gap at this stage of the season," said the Swansea manager.
"For them it's a very, very important game. If Chelsea win at home, Arsenal need to win to keep alive the possibility of qualifying for the Champions League again next season."
Laudrup tuned into see Arsenal win 2-0 in Germany only to miss out on the last eight in Europe on away goals.
And though the Gunners were knocked out, Laudrup reckons Wenger's players will be boosted by the manner of their exit.
"I think that because they lost 3-1 in the first leg at home to Bayern Munich, the Arsenal players would already have accepted in their minds that they were probably going to go out," the Dane added.
"And I really think that even though they lost overall, they will be stronger now than before Wednesday's game because they won away from home against a very good side.
"Arsene Wenger will want to keep the confidence going against us, especially because there is the international break after this game.
"He will talk to his players about that."
Laudrup reckons Arsenal will be without one of their two key players tomorrow as Jack Wilshere is injured, but he is wary of the playmaking skills of Spanish international Santi Cazorla.
"He will be the man to watch for us," he said. "He can create things for (Theo) Walcott, for (Olivier) Giroud or for (Lukas) Podolski if he is fit."
Swansea are optimistic that Leon Britton will be okay to return tomorrow after a hip problem, meaning Laudrup has a welcome selection headache.
If Britton is to come back into the side then one of Laudrup's midfielders must drop out, unless he pushes Michu into attack and omits the in-form Luke Moore.
While Arsenal are desperate for points, Swansea are under almost no pressure with top-flight survival already secure, but Laudrup is convinced there will be no shortage of desire within home ranks.
"When you are a smaller team and you play a bigger team, it will always be something special," he said. "We still have to play Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.
"They will all be huge games for our players, and that's good because the motivation will be there."