Arsenal attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan wary of CSKA Moscow threat
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Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cautious of the threat CSKA Moscow pose Arsenal in their crucial Europa League quarter final tie on Thursday.
With the Gunners set to host the Russian side who knocked out highly-fancied Lyon in the previous round at the Emirates, hopes are rising the North Londoners can claim only the third European title in their history next month.
However the 29-year-old Armenian – who lifted the trophy with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United last season by beating Ajax in the final – is not taking anything for granted against manager Viktor Goncharenko’s side.
Speaking at the club’s training ground London Colney on Wednesday lunchtime Mkhitaryan said: “There are no easy teams to play. There are still games to go in the Premier League.
“We are going to give our best to win those games and also see where we are in Europa League”, adding “It is important to have a good result for the second leg.”
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Although Arsenal beat Stoke City 3-0 at the Emirates on Easter Sunday it was a lacklustre performance enlivened by three late goals to break the deadlock to leave the side in sixth place – a full 13 points off the coveted top four position which will ensure qualification to the Champions League.
With the Europa League appearing to be Arsenal’s best chance of a route back to the continent’s top table Wenger is taking the threat of CSKA seriously.
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Speaking alongside Mkhitaryan at Colney Wenger said: Wenger: “There is some extra pressure on us to do extremely well in this competition.
“It’s an opportunity we want to take. We do not live in dreamland. We have to win the quarter final.
“Russian teams have a good football culture. I have always difficult games against Russian teams.
“When you play at home you don’t know what you have to achieve. You have to defend well and attack well. Ideally you don’t want to concede but you don’t stop playing if you concede.”
Wenger confirmed he has everyone available for selection for the crucial match including Alexandre Lacazette.
The Islington Gazette observed the open training session at Colney on Wednesday morning as Petr Cech took part after recovering from a groin injury.
However, Wenger increased speculation that he would be ditching his ‘Cup Keeper’ policy which has seen David Ospina become his first choice shot-stopper in knock-out competitions this term.
When asked if the policy would continue Wenger smiled and said: “You will find out [against CSKA].”