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Monreal: Beating Man United crucial for Arsenal’s top-four hopes

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Nacho Monreal has urged Arsenal to take the “first step” towards sealing a top-four finish in the Premier League by defeating Manchester United on Sunday.

The in-form Red Devils will pay a visit to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday looking to seal a fourth consecutive victory and, in the process, insert a crucial advantage over their rivals.

Currently, just a point separates fifth-place Arsenal from leapfrogging United as they bid to seal a return to Champions League football after a two-season absence.

However, the Gunners won’t have it easy with United still unbeaten on the road under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and on a high following their sensational comeback victory at Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday in the Champions League.

But Sunday’s game also represents an opportunity for Arsenal, who have a more favourable run-in to the final nine Premier League games than United, and Monreal is keen for them to brush aside their FA Cup defeat in January.

“We lost against them in a different competition, so they beat us in the FA Cup playing at home,” The Spanish defender told Arsenal.com.

“But now we are fighting for the Premier League and our target since the beginning of the season is to finish in the top four and play Champions League football next year.

“We have the opportunity to get our target and the first step is next Sunday. We play against them and we need to forget what happened in the FA Cup and we need to refocus in the next game and try to get the three points because if we do it we will be on a higher step to get to our target.

“There is still nine games to go and it’s going to be really tough until the end of the season – and we cannot forget that there is another club in Chelsea.

“At the moment there are three clubs fighting for one place, but obviously, if we get the three points on the weekend it will be perfect for us.”

Monreal has managed a goal and six assists in 23 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions.

Unai Emery’s side will kick-off their Premier League match against United at 5:30 PM (CET) on Sunday.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 03: Arsenal player Nacho Monreal in action during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal FC at Etihad Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)