In a week where they'll face Arsenal in the Europa League, Brian Gartland believes Dundalk's next game in the SSE Airtricity League against St Patrick's Athletic is perhaps more important. 

It's a busy time for the Co Louth club, with games coming thick and fast. After defeat to Molde in their opening Europa League group encounter, Filippo Giovagnoli's men also suffered a reverse when going down 1-0 to Waterford FC in the Premier Division.

Dundalk made six changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Molde but, despite a promising start, they were far from their best at the RSC. And the Lilywhites must look over their shoulder with regard to finishing third in the Premier Division and with it a guaranteed European spot for next season.

Gartland and his team-mates are in the middle of a busy schedule

Waterford remain in the hunt to grab such a berth, and scanning further down the table sees St Pat's well placed if they win their games in hand. One of those is against Dundalk at Richmond Park on Sunday and Gartland is only too aware of the importance of that clash when looking at the schedule for the week.

"It's a massive game for the club but St Pat's next weekend is also massive to make sure we're back in Europe again," said Gartland when speaking to RTÉ Sport.

"We needed the result against Waterford to take that pressure off our backs and enjoy the big games coming up. We've got quality and so we should be able to stay fluid and keep you're game going to beat any team in this league. That's the way we feel. We were good in glimpses against Waterford but overall we lacked creativity.

"Now we have them and Pat's chasing us for that third spot." 

A view of The Emirates

Gartland was involved in Dundalk's 2016 Europa League adventure and leaving the worries about European qualification aside, the trip to the Emirates is something he is relishing.

"As somebody who has played for clubs in Ireland throughout my career, you always dream about playing in a big stadium against one of Europe's top teams.

"Arsenal are a top team and for many years were a Champions League team.

"It's something we're looking forward to but it's a massive task. We're going there to give a good account of ourselves.

"Stranger things have happened in football and that's why we love it because it's unpredictable.

"We'd be hoping to pull off something miraculous."


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