Wenger calls for courage on hos­tile ter­ri­tory in hard­line state

Daily Mirror - - SPORTS - FROM NEIL McLEMAN in Borisov

ARSENE WENGER ar­rived in the last dic­ta­tor­ship in Europe and or­dered his Ar­se­nal young­sters to show their “courage” in the hate­filled home of Be­larus cham­pi­ons BATE Borisov.

The Gun­ners boss left be­hind a raft of star names for the Europa League tie at the Borisov Arena, which was closed as a pun­ish­ment for racist chant­ing in 2014.

He will send out his cup side with Per Merte­sacker and Jack Wil­shere lend­ing vi­tal ex­pe­ri­ence to star­lets such as Joe Wil­lock and Ains­ley Mait­land-Niles.

And Wenger told the next gen­er­a­tion to seize their chance as Ar­se­nal bid to end the month un­beaten. “This is the kind of job where you don’t get 10 op­por­tu­ni­ties to play for Ar­se­nal,” said the French­man.

“When you get it, even if it’s only 20 min­utes, you have to con­vince peo­ple you have the qual­i­ties to do it and you have the courage to play and show your qual­i­ties.

“There’s al­ways an un­cer­tainty. You see in train­ing the player has the qual­ity. Yes, he is here be­cause he has the qual­i­ties.

“After, to show it dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion is some­thing dif­fer­ent. And in my ex­pe­ri­ence you only dis­cover that dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion.

“They have a new sta­dium, a good crowd – I’ve heard it’s 17,000 ca­pac­ity – so it will be very loud.” Alexan­der Lukashenko has been Be­larus pres­i­dent since 1994 and crushed dis­sent after the 2010 elec­tion. In 2014, equally back­ward fans abused Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazil­ian striker Luiz Adri­ano.

Wenger said: “I don’t have any pre­con­ceived ideas. I hope that will not hap­pen, and UEFA has al­ways been very strong to deal with that.”

Wenger ad­mit­ted Mait­landNiles, who come. He has to re­alise that and no mat­ter what po­si­tion he plays, he has to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity.”

While Ar­se­nal have not lost in five matches, BATE have won the Be­larus ti­tle for the last 11 years and are un­beaten at home in Europe in their last seven matches. They last lost here to Barcelona in the Cham­pi­ons League group stages in 2015.

Wenger said: “They’re a team with good qual­ity, tech­ni­cally strong, so we will need a good per­for­mance to have a chance.”

Lau­rent Ko­scielny, Aaron Ram­sey, Me­sut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Alexan­dre La­cazette did not make the 2,700-mile round trip ahead of Sun­day’s league game with Brighton.

WON’T ROLL OVER Chuba Akpom (above) and Ains­ley Mait­land-Niles train­ing yes­ter­day and (far left) Ed­die Nke­tiah and Joe Wil­lock re­laxed

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