Arsene Wenger changes tune at Press Conference and gives Newcastle encouragement
The reality is now striking home for Arsene Wenger.
The Arsenal boss had repeatedly said at previous press conferences and in interviews, that it was too early to be prioritising European commitments.
However, the Gunners boss now admits his team ‘have a very, very, very slim chance to get further up’ the Premier League.
Arsenal are currently in sixth place, only three points behind Chelsea, but apart from an extra £1.9m in PL place money, it is meaningless.
Either position would guarantee Europa League involvement which isn’t exactly what Arsenal need, or want.
The parallels with Manchester United are obvious.
Arsenal have gone one season without Champions League football and the damage done by a second consecutive one could be a relative killer, as well as the lost revenue it would definitely make it much harder to land top players and to keep the best ones they already have.
Everybody talks now about Man Utd having a great season in 2016/17, winning the Europa League guaranteed a return to the Champions League money and prestige, which undoubtedly helped them in the transfer market last summer.
The reality was though that they finished only sixth in the Premier League and Jose Mourinho and the club would have been slaughtered without that Europa League/Champions League lifeline.
Arsenal are 13 points off fourth place now and with only six games to go, Arsene Wenger is facing the reality: ‘The Europa League is important for us…of course we focus on it [compared to the Premier League]’.
For the first leg of their quarter-final, Wenger played their first team and then rested seven first choice players last Sunday in the Premier League.
Newcastle and their fans obviously hoping it will be a similar story tonight [second leg v CSKA Moscow] and Sunday.
Events of the last 48 hours appear to have rubber stamped what Arsene Wenger intends to do and surely, what he must do.
After watching Barcelona surrender a three goal first leg lead to Roma on Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger declared ‘last night was maybe a good warning for us’.
This was followed on Wednesday night by Real Madrid going three down to Juventus at home, after winning 3-0 away in Italy, only a last second Ronaldo penalty scraping them through.
Despite winning the FA Cup in three of the last four years and maintaining an incredible Champions League run until this season, many Arsenal fans have waged a ridiculous hate campaign against a manager who they owe everything to.
If Arsene Wenger doesn’t play a full strength team tonight [which would automatically rule most of them out of starting v Newcastle], despite the three goal advantage they hold, there is no way surely even he could survive if they were then dumped out of the Europa League and consequently, the Champions League next season.
“The Europa League is important for us.
“Everybody knows that and we are at the stage where of course we focus on it because in the Premier League we have a very, very, very slim chance to get further up.
“The Europa League is one of the big targets of the season.
“We know it is an important target for us to go as far as possible… last night was maybe a good warning for us.
“It’s very important we have a positive start.”
Granit Xhaka misses tonight v CSKA Moscow after being left at home as he is suffering from flu.
Whilst injury rules out David Ospina (ankle), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (knee) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles).
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied.
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