Pires backs Arsenal to win the Europa League and secure Premier League top-four finish

It may look a difficult task on paper, but the Frenchman is backing the Gunners to achieve both their goals for the rest of the campaign

Robert Pires has backed Arsenal to win the Europa League and finish in the Premier League’s top four this season.

The Gunners are set to take on Rennes in the second leg of their last-16 Europa League tie on Thursday, and the north London club face the task of overcoming a 1-3 aggregate scoreline .

But despite being on the wrong side of defeat last time out, Pires has backed his former club to turn the tie around and advance to the competition’s last eight over the Ligue 1 club.

"I'm confident and positive, like the players. All of the players and Unai Emery know that they played bad against Rennes, but this is football,” Pires told Marca .

“Maybe it's because Rennes played well. The atmosphere was very good, the fans added pressure and unfortunately Sokratis [Papastathopoulos] was sent off, but we have a second chance at home at the Emirates. 

“It's strange, but maybe after the Manchester United win I have a good feeling. Anything is possible because when Arsenal play at home they can beat any team."

Pires has also been impressed by Emery’s work at the Gunners this season since coming in to the replace Arsene Wenger in the dugout.

The north London club are currently fourth in the Premier League table and just a point behind third-place Tottenham.

The last time Arsenal managed to finish third in England's top flight was back in 2016, having finished fifth and sixth over the last two campaigns.

"I think he [Emery] is doing well because they're in the top four and I think they can qualify for next season's Champions League,” Pires added. 

“I think, and I hope, that he can win the Europa League, as he won it three times with Sevilla. So he has a lot of experience and knows there is good quality and a good squad. 

“I think he has built a good team and they are now ready to fight for the end of the season."

Following the game against Rennes on Thursday, Arsenal's next fixture is not until April 1 against Newcastle in the Premier League.