New Straits Times

Wenger seeks solace in Europe


LONDON: Arsene Wenger said Arsenal must recover quickly if they are to avoid suffering a fifth successive defeat when they visit AC Milan in the Europa League this week.

Wenger accepted winning the competitio­n marks his side’s best hope of returning to the Champions League next season after a 2-1 defeat at Brighton left Arsenal 13 points adrift of the Premier League’s top four.

But he warned the effects of the London club’s recent schedule that included back-to-back 3-0 losses to Manchester City in the League Cup final and league, had taken their toll on his players.

He gave fatigue as the reason he opted to leave Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin and Danny Welbeck out of his starting line-up at south coast club Brighton’s Amex Stadium and the veteran manager is hoping his decision means he can call on fresh legs at the San Siro.

“It is important to recover mentally and physically, we are still jaded today, we gave a lot on Thursday night (against Manchester City) and you can see that today,” he said after Sunday’s latest setback.

The veteran manager, who took charge at Arsenal in 1996, added: “We have to be realistic, we need two teams to collapse to qualify for the Champions League, and I don’t see that happening.

“Two teams to drop so many points is very difficult to imagine. But we have to give our best as long as we can, and the Europa League becomes important.”

Wenger admitted his side’s confidence is low after a woeful run that has brought eight defeats since the turn of the year and he said he did not wish to add to that problem by criticisin­g the display against Brighton

Wenger, in a somewhat bizarre analogy more befitting the occasional ramblings of compatriot Eric Cantona, the former Manchester United star, added: “When you struggle for confidence, it’s difficult as well when you have just the trousers on... It’s easy to take the trousers off as well, but when you are naked completely you have to try and find a shirt and get dressed properly again.”

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