Mkhi­taryan makes his mark with Arse­nal

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

HEN­RIKH MKHI­TARYAN has been at Arse­nal for less than two months, but that hasn’t stopped the fiercely-driven star from ruf­fling a few feath­ers as he tries to lead the Gun­ners to Europa League glory.

Mkhi­taryan moved to Arse­nal as part of the deal that sent Alexis Sanchez to Manch­ester United in Jan­uary and the Ar­me­nian has al­ready es­tab­lished him­self as a key fig­ure in Arsene Wenger’s trou­bled side.

Af­ter net­ting again in Sun­day’s 3-0 vic­tory over Wat­ford, Mkhi­taryan has done his bit to ease the pres­sure on Wenger, who is fight­ing to save his job af­ter an­other mis­er­able sea­son.

Qual­i­fy­ing for next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League is es­sen­tial to Wenger’s hopes of ex­tend­ing his 22-year reign and, with their domes- tic form so patchy this year, win­ning the Europa League is their only re­al­is­tic way of achiev­ing that goal.

With that in mind, Mkhi­taryan’s pres­ence at the Emi­rates Sta­dium might be seen as a good omen for Wenger.

Although Mkhi­taryan strug­gled to con­vince Jose Mour­inho of his worth, he was still a valu­able con­trib­u­tor to their Europa League suc­cess last sea­son.

He scored five times on United’s pat to the fi­nal, in­clud­ing a pair of vi­tal strikes in each leg of the semi­fi­nal against An­der­lecht.

Cap­ping his mem­o­rable cam­paign in the com­pe­ti­tion, Mkhi­taryan hit United’s sec­ond goal in their 2-0 win against Ajax as they lifted the tro­phy in Stock­holm.

That re­fusal to be beaten down by Mour­inho is a tes­ta­ment to Mkhi­taryan’s com­pet­i­tive per­son­al­ity.

And it is that will­ing­ness to face po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing sit­u­a­tions that prompted him to is­sue a de­fi­ant chal­lenge to Arse­nal’s fu­ri­ous fans this week.

Though Arse­nal re­ported that 59,131 tick­ets were sold for the Wat­ford game, there were sev­eral thou­sand seats left empty as sup­port­ers stayed away in protest at Wenger’s strug­gles.

Recog­nis­ing that in­ter­nal strife will dent Arse­nal’s bid to get back on track in the clos­ing weeks of the sea­son, Mkhi­taryan called on sup­port­ers to show their true colours.

“Those who are com­ing to the sta­dium just when we are win­ning we have noth­ing to say. Just thanks to the fans who were sup­port­ing.” – AFP

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