Arsene Wenger was in genial mood at his pre-match press conference at a cinema in Minsk on Wednesday evening as he discussed a range of subjects.
But when it came to the match against BATE Borisov - who have won the league in Belarus for the past 11 seasons - he insists his squad will have to be at their best.
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“I’ve been in this country before, I came with the French national team,” the Arsenal manager said. “They played against Belarus in June when I was on holiday. They have always technically had very good sides, and overall I remember France had a very difficult game.
“We know [BATE’s strength], we watched them yesterday. They are a team with good quality, technically strong, so we will need a good performance to have a chance.”
Wenger has named a travelling squad mixed with more experienced names such as Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker, alongside rising stars such as Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock. So what is the thinking behind that?
“I said on Monday night after the game that I would play an experienced team with a young bench, and that is what I did,” he said. “We have a very tight schedule and it is an important game, and that’s why there is only one or two young players who will start the game.”
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