Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that Thursday evening’s Europa League clash with AC Milan is the Gunners’ only chance of salvaging their season, reports The S*n.
Arsenal were eliminated from the FA Cup in the third round by Nottingham Forest, lost to Manchester City in the League Cup final and are mathematically out of the title race in March – 33 points behind leaders Man City.
They are also 13 points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, meaning a second consecutive season without Champions League football, unless they win the Europa League this campaign.
“This is an opportunity we have to take and that has increased the pressure to do well in this competition even more,” Wenger said.
“It makes me think of last year when we had the FA Cup to save our season. Last season, we had 75 points and only missed the Champions League by one point.
“We won’t reach that this time. It’s difficult when you go through a bad patch like this but it’s only when things are difficult you can show you have quality and strength.
“The players have been affected by what has happened. In life you quickly forget how good you are. They must not forget that we have good players.
“We have to set targets that are attainable, focus on what we can do better and not be too scared about the consequences of another bad result.”
Arsenal travel to the San Siro to face Serie A side AC Milan in the first leg of their last-16 meeting and go into the game as underdogs given the recent contrasting form of the two clubs.
The Gunners have lost eight games in 2018, four on the bounce ahead of their European encounter and have won just three games from 14 away from home in all competitions.
If Arsenal fail to progress against Milan, their Champions League hopes will be all but dead this season, as they only have nine league games remaining to pull back a 13-point deficit.