Arsenal v CSKA Moscow

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Press conference

Micki - My memories of facing CSKA... and scoring

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be our secret weapon when we face CSKA Moscow in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

The Armenian international played against them in September while he was still with Manchester United, and even scored during a 4-1 win in the Russian capital.
So what is his assessment of CSKA?
"I can say that they are a very good team," Mkhitaryan said. "They have changed a few players and if they are in the quarter-final it means they are very good opponents and there are no easy games to play in that stage.
"We are going to face a very good team with very good experience. Everybody knows that the defensive line with the Ignashevich brothers, they are more than 35 years old and of course they can help them to play better and be more compact in defence."
Mkhitaryan won the Europa League last season, but he insists he is taking each game - in each competition - one step at a time.
"We're not going to think that we have to give all our strength and power to the Europa League games," he said. "It’s not like that.
"We still have seven games to go in the Premier League and we have to win every game. We don't have to think that there is no problems to solve in the Premier League and we don’t need to play because were in sixth place.
"No, we’re going to try to give our best and to win the last seven games and then to see where we can go in the Europa League."

Pre-Match Report

Arsenal v CSKA Moscow: The Brief

With diplomatic tensions between the UK and Russia heightened at present, our Europa League quarter-final against CSKA Moscow has acquired a certain edge that neither club will particularly welcome.

Arsene Wenger flat-batted any questions about it in his pre-match press conference, and understandably so. After all, considering the already considerable pressure on us to win this tournament, we could do without anything that will further strain a tie that is far from straightforward.
We have been installed as favourites to progress but a quick glance at the CSKA side underlines the quality that the visitors have in their ranks. Igor Akinfeev, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Golvin - all fine players who will relish the chance to cause an upset in the capital. Elsewhere, a backline of Sergei Ignashevich (38) and the Berezutski twins (both 35), may be aging but they each possess extensive European experience and know-how.
Our task is to overcome the many challenges that CSKA will present, as well as block out all the external noise surrounding this tie. It may not be as easy as that, but having won four games on the bounce we finally have some momentum on our side. This should be quite a game.
Read on for our comprehensive pre-match briefing. We’ve got goals, team news, quotes from the manager, match facts, graphics and a chance to have your say.




Wenger on the dynamics of this tie...

“When you play at home in the first leg, you don’t know exactly what you have to achieve. Usually when you play the second game at home, you know exactly what kind of result you need and that’s not the case in the first. You’re a bit more in a situation where you know you have to do both things well - defend and attack well - without knowing exactly what will be needed to qualify."

Wenger on CSKA


Arsenal: Cazorla (calf), Aubameyang (cup-tied)

CSKA Moscow: Vasin (knee), Gordyushenko (meniscus), Fernandes (hamstring)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores against Stoke


Tactical expert Michael Cox:

“CSKA can be lethal on the break – they use a two-man strikeforce, but in a way neither is a true centre forward. Ahmed Musa, on loan from Leicester City since January, is an electric speedy winger who offers a constant counter-attacking threat, and in this system will look to make runs into the channels to collect long passes, perhaps in the mould of his ex-teammate Jamie Vardy.

"Alongside him is Brazilian Vitinho, a brilliant all-round attacker capable of genuine moments of magic, and very adept at shooting from long-range. Arsenal must watch him carefully."

CSKA train at Emirates Stadium


Wenger on the importance of keeping a clean sheet...

"The weight of an away goal is important in Europe. Ideally, you don’t want to concede but even if you do concede, you still want to win the game. You don’t stop playing if you concede a goal. Ideally, you want to combine both scoring goals and not conceding, but the situations are not always ideal. When you play away from home, you have the same advantage." 

Matchday Show: CSKA Moscow (h)

Matchday Show: CSKA Moscow (h)


Xhaka - We’ve had a good warning from CSKA

Not many will have expected CSKA Moscow to progress to the Europa League quarter-final when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Lyon in their last-16 first leg.

But an impressive second-leg showing in France resulted in a 3-2 win and a subsequent place in the last eight.

The Russian side travel to Emirates Stadium as underdogs again on Thursday evening, but Granit Xhaka says we must see their performance at Lyon as a warning.

“I’d have preferred to have the first game away from home, but hopefully we can take a big step towards qualifying at the Emirates,” the midfielder told Arsenal Player. 

“We’re looking forward to it and we know it will be tough, because CSKA showed a lot of character to beat Lyon in the last round. They won 3-2 away from home and that’s a good warning for us. We’ll need to remain focused throughout. 

“I think we showed character [at home to AC Milan in the last round], especially when we went 1-0 down. You could sense that our confidence had returned, especially after we also won the previous two games. We’re happy to have progressed.”

Matchday Show: CSKA Moscow (h)

Matchday Show: CSKA Moscow (h)

Team news

Team news: Lacazette, plus Cech or Ospina?

Alexandre Lacazette

Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news update ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first leg against CSKA Moscow.

The Arsenal manager discussed Alexandre Lacazette’s return to full fitness and who could start in goal against the Russian side.
This is what he told the media:
on the team news…
We basically have everybody available I think.
on whether Lacazette is ready to start…
Lacazette is ready to start, yes. I have not decided if he will start or not yet, but he’s available and ready to start.
on who starts in goal…
That as well… you will see that tomorrow.


Follow the CSKA Moscow game LIVE on

Matchday Show: CSKA Moscow (h)

We face CSKA Moscow in the Europa League on Thursday evening - and if you're not going to the game, don't panic, you can follow the game LIVE on

Tune in to the website from 7.35pm (UK time) for the following from our Europa League quarter-final first-leg tie: 

  • Matchday Show, with live build-up and audio commentary from 8.05pm (UK time)
  • Live text commentary - featuring minute-by-minute updates and insights from our fans on Twitter
  • A short goals clip will be available from midnight Thursday

It's all free with Digital Membership - and remember, you can listen on the Arsenal App too!


Why we will see a different Lacazette now

Alexandre Lacazette

Arsene Wenger has not decided whether he will start Alexandre Lacazette against CSKA Moscow on Thursday night - but is confident we will see the best of him when he does play.

The France international spent nearly two months out with a knee injury, and the boss says all the signs since his return to training have been positive.

"It's good to have him back because it gives us different opportunities," Wenger said. "Danny [Welbeck] is more a guy who goes behind, whereas Lacazette is more combination play so to have both options is important.

"I think [we will see the best of him] because I realise now when I see him in training that he was not himself for a while. 

"It was not dramatically different before. He was a good player. But I think in the last seven or eight games he played, he was not completely free with his knee. 

"Unfortunately, in our job you need you body and when you are not 100 per cent you cannot play well."

Press conference

'You accept the problems you face and solve them'

Arsene Wenger freely admits he would have preferred not to have played the first leg of our Europa League quarter-final at home - but is happy to "accept the problem".

We host CSKA Moscow at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night, and the Arsenal manager told the media how that would affect the dynamic of the tie.
This is what he said in the pre-match press conference:
on whether he’d rather have the tie the other way around...
Ideally yes, but then again if you want to do well in Europe you don’t choose, you accept the problems you face and you sort them out and you solve them. That’s down to the quality teams and nobody always has the ideal way. If you want to go far you have to accept at some stage that you have to play first at home and then away.
on if CSKA have a chance to win…
Before the game, both teams have a chance to win, of course. They are as strong side. They went to Lyon and they won. I watched the game they played in Lyon - they played extremely well. They created many chances and for me it’s a 50/50.
on whether scoring lots of goals means the tie could be over tomorrow…
No. We played these two games we speak about [against Ostersunds and Milan] away from home first. We had a clear attitude, to try to win the game, and it went well. Tomorrow we will try to repeat the same kind of performance, but we’re playing against a team who has done well in Europe as well. We certainly need a top-class performance. What we want to focus on is just on the quality of our performance.
on if there’s more confidence now after four wins in a row…
We were disappointed with our results against Manchester City and it always takes a bit of time to grieve and recover. The mentality in the team is very good, very strong and very healthy as well. We recovered. You judge a team and the quality of a team on the way they come out of a crisis. On that front, I believe it’s very positive on our side.

Press conference

'There's extra pressure on us in this competition'

Arsene Wenger was typically honest when asked about our Europa League campaign in his pre-match press briefing ahead of the CSKA Moscow game.

The Arsenal manager acknowledged the "extra pressure" we are under considering our slim hopes of making the top four and this is what he told the media:
on the Europa League…
Yes, there is some extra pressure on us to do extremely well in this competition. That’s part of being where we are. I must say we have to see it in a way that it’s an opportunity we want to take and keep the priorities right - that means focusing on how well we play together, on the quality of our game, on how we want to play football. After, the consequence will be a positive result.

on how special it’d be to win his first European trophy in England…
We don’t live in dreamland, we are in a quarter-final and we have to be very realistic and go step by step and give everything to go through in the quarter-final. Then we’ll see.
on recent attendances at the Emirates…
I’m not worried about that. I think the crowd, when something is at stake, is always there and behind us. Anyway, on top of that, what will decide the crowd’s attitude is the quality of our game.
on what he can expect from the home crowd…
I’m always concerned when our stadium is not completely full but I don't think that will be a problem tomorrow. For us tomorrow it’s about our performance and our crowd will be behind us.
on tension between the UK and Russia...

Honestly, nobody knows really what’s going on and it looks more to be diplomatic relations between England and Russia at the moment are a bit complicated. I just hope it won’t affect both ties and that it will not affect the supporters. Nor for the Russian people who come over here and not for English people who want to travel there.