Henrikh Mkhitaryan doesn’t see why Arsenal can’t win the Europa League, but insists the team can’t take their foot off the gas in the second leg against Östersunds FK and they must play the same team in the second leg regardless of the final against Manchester City.
Arsenal came out of Thursday night’s first leg with a comfortable 3-0 win. Henrikh Mkhitaryan contributed to the goals again, forcing the hosts into an own goal and then setting up Mesut Özil for the third. The former Manchester United man also has experience in the competition, scoring in the final last season.
After the match, when a reporter asked the Armenian if he could win the Europa League again with Arsenal, the 29-year-old responded confidently.
“Why not?” he said. “We have to keep fighting, we have to win every game. Then at the end, we’ll see where we’re at.”
The second leg takes place next Thursday, just a few days before the League Cup final. Mkhitaryan insists that’s no excuse to rest players for Wembley. When the interviewer asked if the job was done at 3-0, the playmaker answered:
“No, I don’t think so. Because we have to focus in every game. It doesn’t matter if we have got a good result or not. We have to win in every game to get more confidence and to have better success.
“It doesn’t matter who we are going to play after the second leg. Yes, we have a game in the cup final but we have to play with the same team, I think, and to win at home.”
In Mkhitaryan’s case, there’s no reason to rest him next Thursday anyway. Thanks to his involvement in the League Cup with Manchester United, he’s cup-tied for the final with Arsenal.
With players like Mesut Özil, I think they’re far more likely to get a rest. Allowing Östersunds FK to score three at the Emirates without getting a single goal in response really would be disastrous. We’ll see who Arsene Wenger chooses next week.