Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan urges Wenger to stay strong in Europa League
'We have to win in every game to get more confidence,' insists Gunners midfielder after first-leg victory against Swedish minnows
16 February, 2018 — By Steve Barnett
Arsene Wenger: ‘We want to win the game at home and we’ll try to put out a team that will do that’
Europa League: Last-32, First Leg
OSTERSUNDS FK 0
ARSENAL 3 (Monreal 13, Papagiannopoulos OG 24, Ozil 58)
HENRIKH Mkhitaryan called on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to play a strong team in the second leg of their Europa League tie against Ostersunds FK.
The Gunners as good as guaranteed their place in the last 16 of the competition with a 3-0 victory over the Swedish minnows last night (Thursday).
The two sides meet again at the Emirates Stadium next Thursday, just three days before facing Manchester City in the final of the Carabao Cup.
But despite the silverware showdown at Wembley on Sunday, Mkhitaryan urged Wenger to help the north Londoners build some much-needed confidence before tackling City.
“I don’t think we can rest players, we have to focus on every game,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we got a good result or not, we have to win in every game to get more confidence and have better success.
“I think we have to play with the same team and make sure we win at home.”
It took Arsenal 13 minutes to find the back of the net against Ostersunds, with left-back Nacho Monreal scoring from close range after goalkeeper Aly Keita fumbled Alex Iwobi’s initial shot.
The home side continued to be their own worst enemies 10 minutes later when Sotirios Papagiannopoulos diverted Mkhitaryan’s cross into his own net.
Ostersund improved after the break but any hopes of a revival were ended when Mesut Ozil added a third, squeezing the ball past Keita with confidence.
The Swedish club’s English manager, Graham Potter, who has led them to three promotions since 2010, was handed a final frustration late on when he saw his side miss from the penalty spot.
Wenger echoed Mkhitaryan’s thoughts of staying with a strong side when quizzed on whether or not he would rest players in the second leg.
“We will see,” said the Frenchman. “We want to win the game at home and we’ll try to put out a team that will do that.”
Reflecting on the 3-0 win, Wenger added, “We started well, and controlled the game. We maybe didn’t push enough in the second half, but we played a serious game and overall it’s job done.”
ARSENAL: Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal (Kolasinac, 73), El Neny, Maitland-Niles, Mkhitaryan (Nelson, 84), Ozil, Iwobi, Welbeck (Nketiah, 83)
Subs not used: Macey, Holding, Xhaka, Willock