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Chances of beating CSKA are ‘50-50’, says Arsenal boss

Arsene Wenger says Gunners need ‘top-class performance’ to beat Russian side at the Emirates Stadium

05 April, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

Arsenal face CSKA Moscow at the Emirates tonight (Thursday), before Southampton travel to north London on Sunday

ARSENE Wenger rates Arsenal’s chances of reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League as only “50-50” as they prepare to welcome CSKA Moscow to the Emirates Stadium tonight (Thursday).

The Gunners boss expects his team to go into the showdown in confident mood having “recovered from a crisis” to win their last four games.

Reflecting on his Russian opponents during yesterday’s (Wednesday) press conference, Wenger said: “In the previous rounds we had a clear attitude, to try to win the game, and it went well.

“We will try to repeat the same kind of performance, but we’re playing against a team who have done well in Europe as well.

“We certainly need a top-class performance. What we want to focus on is the quality of our performance.

“Before the game, both teams have a chance to win, of course. They are a strong side. They went to Lyon and they won. I watched the game they played in Lyon and they played extremely well. They created many chances, and for me it’s 50/50.”

Arsenal endured four consecutive losses over February and March, including back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final and in the Premier League. It was a run of results that Wenger admitted left some supporters with “hatred” towards his position as manager.

The north Londoners are still 13 points off the top four with just seven league games remaining, but can qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning the Europa League.

With Southampton following CSKA Moscow to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Wenger believes that his side has finally bounced back from the depths of disappointment.

“We were disappointed with our results against Manchester City and it always takes a bit of time to grieve and recover,” he said. “The mentality in the team is very good, very strong and very healthy. We recovered.

“I think always you judge a team by the way they come out of a crisis. On that front I believe that is very positive on our side.

“There’s some extra pressure on us to do extremely well in the Europa League but that’s part of being where we are. We have to see it in a way that it’s an opportunity we want to take and keep the priorities right and, of course, focus on how well we play together.”

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