David Moyes believes Arsenal are benefiting from the absence of European football this season as they target third place in the Premier League.
Moyes watched his West Ham side fall to a 2-1 defeat to their London rivals on Sunday as they juggle the demands of trying to reach the Europa League final with an overstretched squad.
It mathematically ended the Hammers’ pursuit of fourth place and Moyes insists Arsenal’s domestic resurgence after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign is partly a result of their reduced workload.
“My goodness, it’s made a difference for them from day one,” Moyes said.
“Arsenal’s improvement this year has been incredible because probably not being involved in Europe has given them the chance to prepare correctly for games.
“They had a bit of a slow start to the season, but they’ve been in terrific form all season. It’s just as well when you have a young team and are trying to get a good enough squad together.
“Last season Arsenal got to the semi-finals of the Europa League and it became quite a difficult season for them because of that. We’re in it this year so we’re a bit the same.”
The defeat at London Stadium confirmed that West Ham can only qualify for the Champions League if they overhaul a 2-1 deficit when they travel to Eintracht Frankfurt for the decisive leg of their semi-final.
As of Sunday, Kurt Zouma was their only fit centre-back and against Arsenal even he seemed to be feeling the after-effects of a recent ankle injury.
“Of course we’ve got another chance to get into Europe a different way and we’re going to try and do that as well,” Moyes said.
“But the only thing in my head at the moment is this game and how we try to get rid of it and get ready for Thursday.
“Let’s just hope we can get those little things that are going against us at the moment to turn because we need that.”
Mikel Arteta admitted that Arsenal had “won ugly” in a battling performance that augurs well for the remaining four games of the season.
Third place is now a possibility after Chelsea were defeated 1-0 at Everton and Arteta knows the race for Champions League qualification, which also includes Tottenham, will go down to the wire.
“Mathematically, everything is open. We will have to go to Leeds and win again because everybody is going to put pressure because everyone wants to play in the position that we are in right now,” Arteta said.
“We have to handle that and we have a great opportunity. That willingness and motivation that we have is what is driving us to continue to do so.
“The level in this league is extraordinary. Teams win home and away in the same way and we want to be competing with those guys consistently. We’re proving that we are capable of doing that.”
Defender Ben White has a hamstring injury and is being assessed ahead of Sunday’s clash with Leeds.