Arsene Wenger retained his humour at today’s news conference, but insisted winning the Europa League is an opportunity Arsenal must now grab.
Wenger has called on his players to step up and do just that against AC Milan tomorrow as they look to stop their season petering out with two months of the campaign remaining.
“It makes me think about last year,” Wenger replied when asked if having a trophy to play for was similar to last season’s run to a third FA Cup success in four years.
“Last year we won the FA Cup, we made 75 points and missed out of the Champions League by one point.
“75 points is still a very good score what we will not reach this season. This is an opportunity we have to take, yes, of course.
“It increases the pressure on it even more on this competition. At the moment, it is certainly difficult when you go through a patch like that but I believe as well it is a good opportunity to show you have the quality and the strengths.
“You can only show that when it is difficult. It is a good opportunity to show we can deal with that and as well, on the longer term, it will make the team even stronger.”
Wenger also rejected the notion that he should be giving Gennaro Gattuso advice. Instead, the Gunners boss joked that it should be the other way around looking at recent form.
“I don’t give him too much advice. He’s a guy with much experience. I’m not doing well so I can get advice from him,” joked Wenger.
Wenger also confirmed Hector Bellerin has not travelled due to a knee injury while Nacho Monreal’s back problem means he was also left in London.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who began his career at Milan, is cup-tied with fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette sidelined with a knee issue.