Manager Arsene Wenger has been previewing Thursday evenings clash between Arsenal and AC Milan today, and here’s what he had to say.
With Premier League hopes over with Arsenal facing a mountain to climb to get out of sixth place and even into fifth, the Europa League is the clubs’ best bet to end the season on a high and renew some confidence and belief ahead of next season – not least Champions League aspirations.
Easier said than done though, especially given the inconsistency on show this year, but Wenger remains positive and as he met with the media earlier today he opened with a team news update as he spoke to the Official Site.
A confirmed absentee for the game is Alexandre Lacazette as although he’s returned to training he won’t be available for selection until after the international break.
‘Basically, some players had a test this morning. Everybody`s available apart from Lacazette who is coming back into training, but is too short to be available for tomorrow. Yes, he`s on track. He had a full session outside today and should be available after the break.’
Speaking about the game more specifically, he also said this year’s competition was tougher than ever given the sides involved and he conceded that with the international break following the game it didn’t make squad selection any easier.
‘No, it`s never easy for me because I always have to leave top players out. Players sometimes have done very well in the last game, so it`s never easy. But you always pick the team that you think has the best chances to win the next game.’
Wenger was asked whether he’d prefer to go further in the Europa League rather than get a Round of 16 elimination in the Champions League and he felt you couldn’t make that comparison.
‘You never compare. You`re right, I want to be in the Champions League and in the Europa League, if you look at the teams that are in there, it is very strong. We play Milan to have a chance to qualify for the quarter-final. You look who is in there and there is Milan, Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, we have all the French teams, some good French teams. You have many good teams in there and this competition is maybe this season, at a higher level than ever.’