Wenger expects CSKA Moscow full house after fans’ Stoke snub
Arsenal booed off at half-time but score three in powerful last 20 minutes
03 April, 2018 — By Tom Foot
Arsene Wenger: ‘At the moment we don’t go a lot in people’s mind, we have had a break from the Premier league. And we don’t have a championship to fight for’
ARSENAL 3 (Aubameyang pen 76, 86, Lacazette pen 89)
ARSENE Wenger said he understood thousands of fans snubbing the 3-0 win over Stoke to spend more time with their families.
The Arsenal boss said he was not worried by the swathes of empty seats across the Emirates and predicted a full house for the Europa League quarter final clash with CSKA Moscow on Thursday.
The Gunners scored three in a sparkling final fifteen – but the first half ranked among the worst every played at the Emirates.
“They will be back on Thursday,” said Wenger. “It’s explainable as it’s Easter – there is a lot of family happening. At the moment we don’t go a lot in people’s mind, we have had a break from the Premier league. And we don’t have a championship to fight for. There is an issue with the combination of quality and the number of goals scored.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang placed a penalty into the bottom right corner on 76 minutes after Mesut Ozil stumbled under pressure in the box.
Arsenal’s number 14 swept in a second from a corner on 86 minutes and then, just before full time, Alexandre Lacazette buried a penalty after being barged over by Babou Ndayie.
It was a nice touch for Aubameyang – on a hat trick – to make way for the bench ridden big summer signing to get a confidence-boosting goal. He had been out for two months injured.
Wenger said: “It shows well the state of our society when people are generous we are surprised. Even more with footballers, and even more with strikers. But I liked that – it can only make us stronger.”
He asked a journalist who had asked him about it: “Would you have done it ? I don’t think so.”
The match had until around 70 minutes been most memorable for the large numbers of empty seats on an Easter Sunday. It is a worrying thought that season ticket holders are unable or unwilling to sell on their seats to other supporters. Chants of “this ground’s too big for you” have become routine at the Emirates in recent weeks.
Arsenal’s football in the first half was slow and unimaginative, particularly the passing and vision from midfield. Mohammed Elneny, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck were the guiltiest parties. The Gunners were booed off at the break.
Welbeck – his touch had been appalling – had Arsenal’s first meaningful effort on 57 minutes. He pulled his volley wide and was replaced soon after by Lacazette a minute later. He brought a bit of urgency to the game and Stoke were outclassed in the final fifteen.
Wenger said: “We didn’t play well and lacked pace but in the second half we rectified that. I felt we could have lost this game in the first half, but always in second half felt we could win. The urgency of the team was different and that is down to the attitude of the players.”
ARSENAL: Ospina, Monreal, Mustafi, Chambers, Bellerin, El Neny (Xhaka 76), Wilshere (Mikhitaryan 76), Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang, Welbeck (Lacazette 61).
Subs not used: Macey, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Koscielny.
STOKE: Butland, Bauer, Peters, Allen, Johnson, Indi, Shawcross, Diouf (Berahino 64), Shaqiri, Ndiaye, Sobhi (Crouch 80).
Subs not used: Ireland, Cameron, Haugaard, Campbell, Sorenson.
Tickets sold: 59,371