Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wenger mindful of Barca collapse ahead of CSKA return



Wenger mindful of Barca collapse ahead of CSKA return

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger arrives for their Europa League quarterfinal first leg with CSKA Moscow at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 5. AFP
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger arrives for their Europa League quarterfinal first leg with CSKA Moscow at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 5. AFP

Wenger mindful of Barca collapse ahead of CSKA return

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal cannot afford a dip in concentration in Thursday night’s Europa League quarterfinal second leg against CSKA Moscow despite holding a 4-1 advantage in the tie.

“Football is an unpredictable game and that’s why we love it so much,” Wenger told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday, after watching Barcelona crash out of the Champions League from a similar position on Tuesday night.

“Now we just need to keep ourselves concentrated and to show our best on the pitch to keep [our lead].”

The Gunners are sixth in the Premier League, a huge 13 points off fourth-placed arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Only the top four sides in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League. That means Arsenal’s only realistic route back into Europe’s most prestigious and lucrative tournament is by winning the second-string Europa League.

It is also the only trophy the Gunners can lift this season.

“Europa League is our top priority this season as in the league things aren’t going really well,” said Wenger, mindful that CSKA cannot be written off just yet.

“CSKA have a very strong midfield. Probably the strongest midfield in the Russian league. [Alan] Dzagoev and [Alexander] Golovin have proved their high level in the match in London.

“We’re currently in the last eight and we still need to show our best to advance into the semifinals.”

Wenger has been in charge of Arsenal since 1996 but has yet to win any European trophy with the club, although they were beaten on penalties in the 2000 UEFA Cup final, the forerunner of the Europa League, and lost to Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.

‘Never relax’

Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi believes Roma’s 3-0 defeat of Barcelona, a result that sent the Italian side through on away goals, should serve as a note of caution for his teammates.

“I think that the match between Roma and Barcelona should become a really good lesson for us ahead of the match with CSKA,” Mustafi said. “You should never relax otherwise you can crash out of the tournament. We shouldn’t repeat these mistakes.”

CSKA face a monumental task to flip the tie in their favour against a team coach Viktor Gancharenko called one of the favourites for the Europa League title.

“If you play without faith, nothing will happen,” Gancharenko said. “We should come onto the pitch [on Thursday] with a belief that we can change the situation.

“We also need to make some tactical changes but there’s no guarantee that our play will become much better.”

Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who hurt his knee in the first leg, is out injured but Gancharenko knows his absence won’t lessen the size of the challenge that stands in front of CSKA.

“Arsenal have a big number of players. They can substitute Mkhitaryan with a very skilled player though it’s very hard to make a worthy replacement,” he said.

“But anyway it will not make our task easier. Arsenal and Atletico [Madrid] are the main Europa League favourites.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Inter-provincial travel ban lifted; Phnom Penh and Takmao not exempted

    The government on April 25 decided to lift the inter-provincial travel ban and the closure of tourist attractions across the country, effectively immediately. The travel ban and closures of all resorts were imposed on April 6 and 17 respectively in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19,

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the