Petr Cech: Failing to qualify for Champions League ‘not a problem’

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech says that missing out on the Champions League is “not a problem” and that the club can bounce back the way Chelsea have done this season.
Arsenal failed to finish in the top four of the Premier League for the first time in 20 years despite beating Everton 3-1 on Sunday, meaning they will play in the Europa League next season after 19 straight years in the Champions League.
Cech, who has won both European competitions with Chelsea, said it was “disappointing” to miss out on the Champions League but downplayed the significance.
“If you have one off year in 20 years, it’s not a problem,” he told Arsenal’s official website. “I think the club has a strong foundation, strong organisation and everything to be out for one year and come back straight in, like Chelsea did last season. I think it helped them not to be involved [in Europe] this season, because they could keep all their energy for the league.”
Chelsea missed out on a place in Europe altogether last season after finishing 10th, but bounced back in style this term by winning the Premier League.
Cech, meanwhile, says Arsenal’s focus must now be on keeping the current team together this summer.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger seemed to rule out a squad overhaul on Sunday by saying he wants to keep “90 percent” of his current players while adding “one or two” top-class additions.
“I think that’s the main [thing], you need to keep the team together and try to strengthen it in areas the manager would like to,” Cech said. “Then we’ll be ready to go again. We had four more points than last year, so we improved in terms of our points total. But the others had a great season and it was not enough to be in the top four.”
Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker made his first appearance of the season after coming on for the injured Gabriel Paulista in the second half against Everton.
Mertesacker was sidelined with a knee injury until January and had not played a minute since.
But Shkodran Mustafi missed Sunday’s game with an illness and Laurent Koscielny was sent off in the first half before Gabriel’s injury forced him into action.
“It was amazing just to get my first appearance on the final day of the Premier League season,” Mertesacker told Arsenal’s official website. “Today we had a couple of injuries before the game that got me in the squad. Then we unfortunately had a red card and another injury, which gave me a chance to play.
“But I felt quite good, honestly. What I did in training over the last year paid off today. Being on the pitch with the boys is what I used to do for 15 years. I’m still learning but I’m used to it. Take nothing for granted but it was special today.”

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