While praising his side's win over Galatasaray in the Europa League, Barcelona coach Xavi says it can mean nothing with Sunday's El Clasico in mind.

The Blaugrana will have to back up quickly from Thursday's 2-1 win on aggregate, progressing to the quarter-finals in the process, with a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid awaiting. 

"Today was an important game, because we are playing for a European trophy," Xavi told reporters after the match. "We want to go far in this competition, and we are very happy to be in the quarter-finals, as we deserve to be there.

"Yes, we are in good form at the moment heading into El Clasico, but that means nothing.

"I have experienced everything about those games, playing badly and then winning or playing well and then they beat us. Sunday will be a different story, a very difficult and complex one."

Barcelona's win in Istanbul was partly clouded by injuries to Sergino Dest and Gerard Pique, who both had to come off in the second half.

With Barca already leading 2-1, Dest produced a desperate but perfectly-timed sliding tackle on Muhammed Aturkoglu in the 55th minute, injuring his hamstring in the process.

Dest’s injury comes at an inconvenient time for club, with Sunday’s Clasico awaiting, and country, with Gregg Berhalter announcing Dest in the United States national team’s latest squad only hours after the final whistle.

Gerard Pique was also a second-half substitute, aggravating a groin injury coming into the match and coming off for Clement Lenglet in the 81st minute.

"In the end he told me that it was difficult for him to sprint and we decided to make the change," Xavi told Movistar+ post-match.

"We weren’t there to give it away. We only won with one goal, and Pique has had discomfort for a month."

Though Dest's status is questionable for Sunday, it is as yet unclear whether Pique will be fit in time for Barcelona's clash against their fierce rivals.

David Moyes ranks West Ham's elimination over Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday among the most special nights in his time at the club.

Andriy Yarmolenko’s 112th-minute winner gave the Hammers a 2-0 win on the night, with the tie locked at 1-1 on aggregate after 90 minutes, following Tomas Soucek's first-half goal.

West Ham have now progressed to their first European quarter-finals since the 1980-81 Cup Winners’ Cup, where they lost to Dinamo Tbilisi.

From surviving Premier League relegation in 2019-20 to Thursday's elimination of the six-time Europa League holders in Sevilla, Moyes was quick to bring it all into perspective.

"This will be as high as we have had,” he told BT Sport post-match. “We have had other nights, avoiding relegation was an incredible high but thankfully we have moved on from that.

"Beating a serial winner of this competition made it a bit more special. They just keep going. You could see the resilience in them. We keep on going.

"Nights like this really help you build. I thought Sevilla were probably favourites for the tournament. For us to beat them over two legs is an incredible result."

Hammers midfielder Declan Rice believes confidence is flowing through the club, and is comfortable with any potential opponent, including Barcelona – who progressed past Galatasaray earlier on Thursday.

"I’ll take anyone [in the quarter-finals],” he told BT Sport. "There's no one to fear. Sevilla were probably the favourites. We can go anywhere and get a result. Teams come here knowing they’re in for a game.

"It would be special to go there [to Barcelona]. That's what this club deserves, there's a big buzz around the place. David Moyes deserves massive credit.

"I'm lost for words. Walking around the pitch, taking it in. I love West Ham fans. They care so much about this club. They demand 100 per cent and if you do that, they treat you as one of their own. It was special to be on the pitch tonight."

After scoring upon his return against Aston Villa on the weekend, Yarmolenko's winner provided a poignant moment amid the backdrop of armed conflict in his native Ukraine, according to Rice.

"Yarmolenko was a little bit emotional away from the lads afterwards," Rice said. "For what he's been through to perform like this is a credit to him – his desire, the way he chased players and scored two crucial goals.

"He deserves this. He's stepped up, I'm delighted for him."

Michail Antonio was bullish on West Ham's chances of winning the Europa League after the Premier League side progressed past Sevilla to the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Trailing the six-time Europa League winners 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg, Andriy Yarmolenko won the tie in the 22nd minute of extra time following Antonio's assist for Tomas Soucek in the first half of normal time.

This will be West Ham's first European quarter-finals appearance since the 1980-81 Cup Winners' Cup, where they lost to Dinamo Tbilisi.

Nevertheless, Antonio feels the Hammers can go on and take the silverware.

"We fear nobody. We play in the Premier League and it doesn’t matter who we play, we try to get the three points," he told BT Sport post-match. "We're in this to win it. We're not just here to take part. Why can't we win it?"

Antonio became only the second player to notch 10 goals and assists for a Premier League club in all competitions this season, after Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. He is the first to do so for West Ham since Dimitri Payet in 2015-16.

He was taken off injured against Aston Villa but managed to play 120 minutes on Thursday, and the 31-year-old believes the home crowd at London Stadium spurred him on.

"I've been here seven years and the only atmosphere close to this was the last day at the Boleyn Ground. The fans roared all the way through, backing us. They were the 12th man," he said.

"I’ll give the win to them, they were the ones who did it for us.

"This season is like a dream come true. This is the first time in Europe for me. I've become West Ham's Premier League top scorer. We're just here enjoying our football."

In the battle between sixth in the Premier League and second in LaLiga, West Ham were the more aggressive, but had to be patient to find the breakthrough.

That the winner came from Yarmolenko, amid the backdrop of armed conflict in his native Ukraine, provided Antonio some added joy.

"We dominated. We always believed in ourselves. From the first half we were on them, creating chances. [We thought] keep doing what we're doing and we'd get the win," he added.

"Andriy Yarmolenko is such a lovely guy. I can't imagine what he's going through. He's got a finishing touch now. Hopefully he can keep doing it."

Michail Antonio was bullish on West Ham's chances of winning the Europa League after the Premier League side progressed past Sevilla to the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Trailing the six-time Europa League winners 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg, Andriy Yarmolenko won the tie in the 22nd minute of extra time following Antonio's assist for Tomas Soucek in the first half of normal time.

This will be West Ham's first European quarter-finals appearance since the 1980-81 Cup Winners' Cup, where they lost to Dinamo Tbilisi.

Nevertheless, Antonio feels the Hammers can go on and take the silverware.

"We fear nobody. We play in the Premier League and it doesn’t matter who we play, we try to get the three points," he told BT Sport post-match. "We're in this to win it. We're not just here to take part. Why can't we win it?"

Antonio became only the second player to notch 10 goals and assists for a Premier League club in all competitions this season, after Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. He is the first to do so for West Ham since Dimitri Payet in 2015-16.

He was taken off injured against Aston Villa but managed to play 120 minutes on Thursday, and the 31-year-old believes the home crowd at London Stadium spurred him on.

"I've been here seven years and the only atmosphere close to this was the last day at the Boleyn Ground. The fans roared all the way through, backing us. They were the 12th man," he said.

"I’ll give the win to them, they were the ones who did it for us.

"This season is like a dream come true. This is the first time in Europe for me. I've become West Ham's Premier League top scorer. We're just here enjoying our football."

In the battle between sixth in the Premier League and second in LaLiga, West Ham were the more aggressive, but had to be patient to find the breakthrough.

That the winner came from Yarmolenko, amid the backdrop of armed conflict in his native Ukraine, provided Antonio some added joy.

"We dominated. We always believed in ourselves. From the first half we were on them, creating chances. [We thought] keep doing what we're doing and we'd get the win," he added.

"Andriy Yarmolenko is such a lovely guy. I can't imagine what he's going through. He's got a finishing touch now. Hopefully he can keep doing it."

Allan McGregor stacked up the goalkeeping records as Rangers reached a European quarter-final for the first time since their run to the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

The 40-year-old made 11 saves to limit Red Star Belgrade to a 2-1 win in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie, giving Rangers a 4-2 aggregate victory.

That was three more saves than any other goalkeeper had managed in a Europa League game this season – Fernando Muslera of Galatasaray made eight against Marseille – and the most by a Rangers goalkeeper since the competition was launched in 2009-10, replacing the UEFA Cup.

McGregor's saves total was the highest ever by a goalkeeper aged 40 or above in the Europa League, Opta said. Only Tim Howard, who made 12 saves for Everton against Wolfsburg in 2014, has ever made more stops in a game for a British club in the competition.

Former Rangers boss Ally McCoist said of McGregor: "He's been fantastic over these two games.

"Some of these saves he's produced, you'd think he's 20 years of age again. He's been wonderful. What a servant to the football club."

It was the first time since David de Gea made 10 stops for Manchester United against Roma on May 6 last year that any goalkeeper had reached double figures in saves in a Europa League match.

McGregor was making his 50th appearance in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, becoming the first Rangers player to reach that landmark with the club.

The last player to make more saves in a Europa League game was Karl-Johan Johnsson of FC Copenhagen in their 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Manchester United in August 2020.

McGregor, who missed out on appearing in the 2008 UEFA Cup trophy match through injury, earned praise from current Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

"At moments he needs to be there, he is there. I'm really happy with his performances. Even at his age he's really important for us," Van Bronckhorst told BT Sport.

Rangers knocked out Borussia Dortmund in the first knockout round and are beginning to cut a swathe through a strong field of clubs, just as they did on their UEFA Cup run 14 years ago.

Mirko Ivanic gave Red Star an early lead on Thursday and they pushed for more, but Ryan Kent's goal against the run of play in the 56th minute put the Scottish visitors back in control.

A late penalty from El Fardou Ben Nabouhane gave Red Star victory on the night, but it was Rangers who were celebrating at the final whistle.

Van Bronckhorst added: "Our belief is only getting stronger. There are big teams left in the draw, so we have to wait and see tomorrow [when the draw takes place].

"The opponent will be stronger with each round. The result against Dortmund is one that the whole of Europe thinks is a great achievement. We're going to enjoy the night, and then prepare for Dundee on Sunday."

Pedri says it is "crazy" to compare his goal against Galatasaray to one of the many scored by Lionel Messi after the young midfielder helped Barcelona overcome Galatasaray.

The 19-year-old levelled up in Thursday's Europa League last-16 second leg with an impressive goal before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck to earn Barca a 2-1 victory.

Pedri collected the ball in the opposition box, shimmied past both Marcao and Berkan Kutlu and then slotted past Barca loanee Inaki Pena.

It was a goal that had all the hallmarks of a trademark Messi goal in the famous Blaugrana colours, but Pedri could not see the comparisons.

"The truth is I can't really remember the goal, I'll have to see it repeated," he told Movistar+. 

"I know Ferran Torres gave it to me and I thought about shooting, but I faked the shot because I could see a leg, then I faked again until I could find a gap.

"I don't remember much about the play; these things happen on the pitch. But comparing one of my goals to Messi is crazy."

Pedri's goal arrived nine minutes after home skipper Marcao opened the scoring in the two-legged tie after getting in front of Ferran Torres to head in Alexandru Cicaldau's corner.

"Their goal helped us face up to the match better. It was difficult to come here at 0-0 and play on a pitch that is so tight – I haven't played on a pitch like that, it was crazy."

At the age of 19 years and 112 days, Pedri is the first player under 20 to score for Barcelona in the UEFA Cup or Europa League since Ivan De La Pena in April 1996.

Barca boss Xavi recently compared Pedri to club legend Andres Iniesta and reiterated after the Gala win that the sky is the limit for the Spain international.

"He is capable of this and so much more," Xavi said. "He has patience in his play and scored a great goal. He is a privilege to coach. 

"It was a spectacular goal, sublime. In addition, he generates moves with his individual actions.

Thanks to Pedri's strike and Aubameyang's second-half effort at a hostile NEF Stadyumu, Barca are now in the hat for Friday's quarter-final draw.

The LaLiga giants are unbeaten in 11 games since the tail end of January, making this their best-such run since January 2020 when Ernesto Valverde was in charge.

Xavi recently stated his side cannot be considered the favourites, despite their standing as one of Europe's most successful ever clubs, but Pedri disagrees.

"We are enjoying playing our football and that shows on the pitch," he said. "We have to go match-by-match but, yes, I think we are the favourites. We're going to go all out."

Barcelona have now progressed from eight of their past nine ties in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup and Europa League, their only elimination coming against Celtic in 2003-04.

Rangers rode their luck to clinch a place in the Europa League quarter-finals after a 2-1 defeat in Serbia secured a 4-2 aggregate victory over Red Star Belgrade.

Hosts Red Star were emphatically on top after 10 minutes of the second half, leading through Mirko Ivanic's early strike and repeatedly threatening the Rangers goal.

Yet Ryan Kent took advantage of an injury to nearest man Cristiano Piccini to charge into space before sending a deflected strike into the back of the net, taking sting out of the contest.

Allan McGregor made a remarkable string of saves for the Scottish visitors, who reached the last eight of a European competition for the first time since losing to Zenit in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup final. A stoppage-time penalty from El Fardou Ben Nabouhane gave Red Star the win on the night, but they had nothing to celebrate.

The hosts made a bright start and were ahead inside 10 minutes. From a short corner on the right, Rangers carelessly allowed a cross from Guelor Kanga to bounce, and Ivanic controlled with his chest before ramming past McGregor from eight yards.

It was almost 2-0 moments later as McGregor saved well from Ivanic, and the Scottish giants were jolted. Red Star went route one and carved out another glorious chance, but Milan Pavkov trickled a shot wide after Ohi Omoijuanfo got the better of two defenders in the air.

Piccini's fizzing left-footed drive just before half-time forced McGregor to pull off the spectacular to keep Red Star's lead down to one goal.

Early in the second half, McGregor had to stretch as Kanga's corner from the left almost bounced in. The hosts kept coming and Omoijuanfo hit a speculative volley that struck Connor Goldson and, fortunately for Rangers, deflected straight at McGregor.

The Rangers equaliser came against the run of play and was a choker for the hosts, Kent playing a one-two with Glen Kamara and bursting from his own half. The winger dashed away from a limping Piccini before hitting a shot that deflected off Aleksandar Dragovic and looped over goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

McGregor made a double save from Kanga and Ben, then kept out a header from Milan Gajic, before he was beaten from the spot at the death. It was some night for McGregor, and some night for Rangers.

Barcelona recovered from a goal behind to see off Galatasaray 2-1 on aggregate and advance to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

The visitors wasted plenty of opportunities in last week's goalless first leg and fell behind in the tie when Marcao headed Galatasaray ahead after 28 minutes on Thursday.

However, Pedri fired Barca back on level terms before half-time and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continued his good form by putting his side ahead for the first time.

Xavi's side saw out the victory at a hostile NEF Stadyumu to make it 11 games unbeaten in all competitions and take their place in Friday's draw for the next round.

Jordi Alba blocked a goal-bound Bafetimbi Gomis shot and Frenkie de Jong shot wide from a one-on-one as both sides pushed for an early opener.

The breakthrough in the tie arrived just before the half-hour mark when home skipper Marcao got in front of Ferran Torres to guide in Alexandru Cicaldau's corner.

But that lead lasted for all of nine minutes as Pedri was played in by De Jong, skipped past two players and coolly tucked past Barcelona loanee Inaki Pena.

Aubameyang then sent a looping header against the top of the bar but tucked into an empty net four minutes into the second half after Sergio Busquets' initial shot was saved.

Galatasaray could not muster any further clear-cut opportunities and the frustration of home fans told late on when missiles were thrown onto the field.

Alba kicked the ball into the stands in response and was issued a yellow card but he was smiling minutes later when, after Torres wasted a chance to add a third when firing against the bar, the full-time whistle sounded.

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini has hailed Ukraine midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi's contributions to the club in recent weeks, amid the ongoing crisis unfolding back in the latter's home country.

The Ukraine international has been a key performer for the Serie A side so far this term, but has found himself thrust into the spotlight for different reasons following Russia's invasion of his home country.

Malinovskyi netted in last week's Europa League last-16 clash with Bayer Leverkusen, in which La Dea prevailed 3-2, and is expected to figure in Thursday's reverse encounter in Germany.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Gasperini offered praise for how the midfielder has responded, including a poignant gesture where he kissed a black armband in the first leg in Bergamo after scoring.

"To tell the truth, Ruslan has had a really important season, and this one has been a bit more troubled," the head coach told his pre-match news conference.

"Now he has moments in which he is in the best situation, he becomes decisive. In addition, we realise the emotional moment he is going through.

"When he manages to clean up his game, with the shot that he has, it will become important. He is a player that we have adapted to that role, he often becomes decisive.

"We hope that in the end, he is as good as possible, because we need him."

Elsewhere, Gasperini revealed that Duvan Zapata is nearing a comeback from injury, with the coach adding that he hopes to have the Colombia star back on hand as early as next month.

"He is recovering well, we hope his return is close," he added. "We will see in April, we hope it is plausible. He will have to get to match sharpness, but he is training well individually and in the gym."

Atalanta face Leverkusen on Thursday, before they wrap up their March commitments with a trip to Bologna in Serie A before the international break brings a halt to club football.

West Ham United manager David Moyes has told fans to expect more European nights in future on the eve of their Europa League round of 16 second leg against Sevilla.

The Hammers welcome the LaLiga side to the London Stadium on Thursday after losing the first leg 1-0 in Spain last week thanks to a Munir El Haddadi strike.

It has been an impressive European campaign for Moyes' team, and the former Everton and Manchester United manager pointed to how well they have done against some of England's elite in recent times.

West Ham are currently sixth in the Premier League, three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal albeit having played three games more, and have beaten both Liverpool and Chelsea this season.

Ahead of Thursday's second leg, Moyes told a news conference that fans should be prepared for nerves ahead of a big European game, saying: “[The fans] better get used to it because we're going to have more, that’s the way I look at it, we’re going to have a lot more of these types of games.

"I hope there'll be more in this tournament, and I want us to be challenging near the top of the league. If that is the case, then use this as a steppingstone.

"I think this is what West Ham supporters hoped for when they did move [from Upton Park to the London Stadium].

"I think they hoped for European nights and hoped for opportunities to come to big games against big sides. In some ways, we've done that but for me, I’ve only scratched the surface. I feel as if this can only be the beginning and we have to build on it.

"In nearly all the games we've played in we've given the big teams a run for their money and in the Premier League, we're challenging the top teams and if we can challenge the top teams in the Premier League, then we can give ourselves a chance in other games."

The Hammers' boss also spoke about the emotional scenes on Sunday after Ukraine international Andriy Yarmolenko scored the opener in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

Yarmolenko was in tears as he celebrated the goal in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"It was special, but at the moment I just felt it was us getting one goal in front at the time and it was special for that reason alone because the game was tight, and Aston Villa are a good team," Moyes said. 

"We'd not scored as many goals in open play as we'd have liked, so to go in front was important for us. The special part was Yarmolenko scoring.

"It was the first time he has been back after the war began and he came on and made a difference, scoring the goal, which obviously drew a lot of attention for that reason, but hopefully it's drawn attention in different parts of the world as well."

Xavi insisted Barcelona will focus on winning the Europa League as a means to qualify the Champions League, while declaring the clash with Galatasaray on Thursday as a "final".

Barca were held to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash with Galatasaray, setting up a winner-takes-all decider in Istanbul.

The Blaugrana have progressed from seven of their last eight ties in the UEFA Cup and Europa League last 16, with their only elimination at this stage coming in 2003-04 (1-0 on aggregate versus Celtic).

Turkish side Gala have also only won one of their previous nine meetings with Barcelona across all competitions (D3 L5), with that lone victory coming in November 1994 in the Champions League (2-1).

Barca head coach Xavi sees the competition as a perfect chance to qualify for the Champions League, despite his side being likely to qualify via finishing in Spain's top four - currently sitting third in the league.

"For us the main objective is to be in the Champions League," he told reporters at Wednesday's pre-match news conference. 

"Now we are in the Europa League, which if we win it would give us access to the Champions League. We are very excited, even if it is the Europa League, we are really looking forward to it.

"For us it's a final [against Galatasaray], it's heads or tails. The first part of the first leg was not good, we didn't come out with intensity.

"The example should be the [4-0 win] over Osasuna, where we were intense and we soon managed to get ahead.

"This is a final, in a stadium where they cheer and shout more. We have to try to do what we already did [at Napoli]."

Barca face a decisive week, with the trip to Galatasaray preceding El Clasico in LaLiga as they battle Real Madrid on Sunday, but Xavi feels he is capable of handling the pressure.

"I take the pressure naturally, I like it. I'm very competitive, I'm a winner and we like to experience these situations," he added. 

"We didn't have the best result in the first leg, but I see it as an opportunity. We're in the same situation of the game in Naples and from there we came out very strong.

"This is Europe and nobody is going to give you anything. The fitness issues, above all, are the inconvenience [this week]. We try to make a specific plan so that the players who play can recover in time for Sunday."

Barca are reportedly pursuing Erling Haaland, who Xavi was said to have met in Munich, but the Norwegian could end up at Real Madrid, as well as Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe.

Asked how he would respond to the attacking stars heading to the Spanish capital, Xavi responded: "We're working on the present - we want to win and go through to the next round.

"The club is working on the future team, but the team is still more important than individual players. If they add to the team and make us better, that will be great but the team will always prevail."

Russian football chiefs have failed in an attempt to suspend the ban on their teams appearing in UEFA competitions.

The Russian Football Union (FUR) lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after its clubs and national team were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice".

The joint-decision taken by FIFA and UEFA followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago.

Russia "categorically disagreed" with the ban and submitted its appeal, while also seeking an initial stay of execution.

However, CAS, which has yet to announce a schedule for the appeal hearing, has refused to put UEFA's sanctions on hold.

"The challenged decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in UEFA competitions," CAS said in a statement.

Spartak Moscow were Russia's only remaining representative in European club competition at the time of the decision, with opponents RB Leipzig receiving a bye to the Europa League quarter-finals.

Tuesday's CAS announcement only applies to UEFA competitions. Russia are hoping to overturn a FIFA ban that would potentially allow them to play in the World Cup.

Russia were due to face Poland in a qualifying play-off semi-final later this month, but FIFA instead handed their opponents a bye to the final.

Should Russia fail in their challenge to that ruling, Poland will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have each announced they will refuse to play Russia due to ongoing events in Ukraine.

Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela has withdrawn his appeal against a 10-match UEFA ban for "racist behaviour" towards Rangers' Glen Kamara and apologised to the Finnish midfielder.

Kudela and Slavia strenuously denied the initial accusations levelled by Kamara in March 2021, with the Czech Republic international alleged to have made a racist comment while covering his mouth towards the end of an ill-tempered Europa League round-of-16 second leg that Rangers lost 2-0, eliminating them from the competition.

UEFA initially gave Kudela a one-match ban for "insulting players or others present at the match", but following a full investigation that was increased to 10 games in April.

Slavia accused Kamara of attacking Kudela after the game, and the Rangers man was given a three-match suspension "for assaulting another player".

Czech government official Vratislav Mynar, head of the office of the country's president, responded in an open letter to UEFA at the time, calling its decision "the pinnacle of hypocrisy".

But 11 months on, Kudela has withdrawn his appeal and said he is "so sorry" for approaching Kamara at all.

A statement from his legal counsel, which was posted on Slavia's website, read: "In agreement with the client, we will file a withdrawal today against UEFA's disciplinary decision on international sports arbitration before the Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. We respect the client's wishes to end the matter."

Kudela added: "I realise that it was a mistake to go to Glen Kamara at all and tell him anything. There were emotions in the match and unfortunately I can't take it back now. I'm so sorry.

"I am glad that this line of the story is over. The whole case has been going on for a long time, but I just want to focus on football.

"I would like to close it definitively, so after a long deliberation and agreement with the club, I told my lawyers to stop the ongoing international sports arbitration."

It was also confirmed that Scottish law enforcement will not be taking any further action against Kudela for the incident.

Mikel Arteta acknowledged that Arsenal playing in Europe next season "changes a lot" to attract transfer targets and he is demanding more from his in-form side.

Arsenal have taken 25 points from their last 30 available to them in the Premier League (W8 D1 L1) – no side has earned more points over their past 10 top-flight games – to leave them fourth in the league.

The Gunners, who are a point ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United and have played three games fewer, host Leicester City on Sunday as they search for a fifth straight league victory.

But Arteta warned his players that they must further extend their winning run to compete with the top teams, while he commented on how potential signings will be impacted by Arsenal's position come the end of the season.

"To be with the top teams you have to win consistently and do it in a convincing way," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"I need even more than that amount of victories [four in a row] because there are teams in this league who do that for 10, 11, 12 or 18 times, so still the margin is pretty big."

On any potential transfer dealings, he added: "There are two things: the amount of games that you have to play and the amount of players you need in the squad.

"The players you are losing or retaining in that squad, and then the [players] that are available, which playing in the European competitions changes a lot."

Arsenal appear favourites to secure the last spot in England's top four, but Arteta insists he is taking each game as it comes heading into a crucial period of the campaign.

"I don't know, the only matter for me is how we train tomorrow and how we play on Sunday," he responded when asked if his side were top-four favourites. 

"The rest, this is football and it's so unpredictable: nobody knows what can happen. Our only focus is on performing and winning matches."

Stand-in captain Alexandre Lacazette, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has provided more assists than any other Arsenal player in the Premier League this campaign (seven).

His two assists in the 3-2 win at Watford last time out took him to 100 goal involvements in all competitions in his Arsenal career (70 goals, 30 assists in 196 games), and Arteta has been pleased with the Frenchman, whose contract will be discussed in the close season.

"We have discussions as you know and at the end of the season, once we know where we are, we will make a decision altogether," Arteta said of Lacazette's situation. 

"I don't want anyone to think about something else that is not that. The decision, we agreed, is to do it in the summer and we're going to do it as soon as the season is finished.

On his lack of goals, Arteta responded: "I think he’s been very close and that’s why we have to keep pushing him and giving him support that he plays with that confidence and hopefully on Sunday he can do it."

The Arsenal boss has also been impressed with Lacazette's fellow attacker, Gabriel Martinelli, who has stepped up after the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in January.

"Gabi is playing in a different position because Auba certainly in the last few months played as a nine, but Gabi has shown big signs of where he’s moving," he continued. 

"Certainly the capacity that he has to score goals and be a threat in the final third and I think his contribution all around in his game has been exceptional. He totally deserves the amount of minutes that he’s been playing."

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