Ronald Koeman is desperate for Arsenal to do Southampton a favour and help secure them a UEFA Europa League spot to round off an “amazing season”.
A 2-0 defeat at Manchester City on Sunday ultimately saw Southampton finish seventh in the Premier League, lagging behind both Tottenham and Liverpool, despite the latter’s 6-1 humiliation at the hands of Stoke City.
Southampton’s chances of playing in Europe for the first time since the 2003-04 season remain alive, though, as an Arsenal win in the FA Cup final will give Koeman’s men continental football and deprive Aston Villa.
The Europa League has often been derided by pundits and managers alike in English football, but Koeman is keen to qualify.
“If we get the chance to play in Europe, I like that, because that means a lot for the club, a lot for the players, a lot for the fans,” he said.
“We are preparing for the pre-season and next week we will know if we do or don’t have two games in the week before starting the premier league.
“[It has been an] amazing season. If you finish seventh in the league, that is our title, maybe, behind the big six clubs.
“You don’t get anything for seventh, but we hope next week we get the chance to play in the qualifcation rounds for Europe.
“Then you have something. It means you get the possibility to play in Europe and even when you have to play the qualifiers, it makes this season a special one.”
It remains to be seen which of the current squad will still be around to enjoy the Europa League with Southampton should Arsenal defeat Villa and, while Koeman is not optimistic about keeping Toby Alderweireld, he was positive regarding Nathaniel Clyne’s future.
“I am still confident he [Clyne] will sign a new contract,” he added. “Next week we will know his situation.
“Toby is more difficult because he is still [on loan] from Atletico Madrid. The player likes to stay, we’d like to keep Toby, but it’s not about us.”