Wenger expects more numbers on Thursday, Lacazette’s return a huge boost

Arsenal fans are currently enduring the worst league season of Arsene Wenger’s time at the club.

The Gunners never looked like challenging for the league title this season; not even in the first couple of months of the season. With seven games left to play in the season, the North London side are mathematically in the race for top-four spots. However, realistically, the league season is as good as over for them.

Arsenal’s current predicament in the league has had a direct impact on the fans attendance in home-games. In the last few home games, a lot of empty seats can be seen during games at the Emirates Stadium.

The same thing happened during Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Stoke City, and manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged the empty seats following the game. However, Wenger fell short of taking the blame for low numbers and pointed out that major reasons for low turnout were the Easter and the international break.

The French manager does expect the fans to come out in number for the Europa League clash with CSKA Moscow on Thursday.

“They will be back on Thursday, don’t worry,” he told his post-game press conference.

“It’s explainable by the fact that it’s Easter. It’s a family happening where people go away and it’s a fact that we don’t think about a lot in the Premier League.

“There’s also the fact that we had a break. In the Premier League, in the last two or three weeks, we’ve faced that problem. It’s just down to the fact that we’re not fighting for the championship. People know that will not change now.”

As things stand, Arsenal’s season hinges totally on their Europa League campaign. The second-tier European competition represents their only chance of winning silverware this season and for qualification to Champions League. They are set to play the first leg of their quarter-final tie at home on Thursday. Behind La Liga giants Atletico Madrid, the Gunners are the second-favourite to win the title.

Lacazette’s return huge boost for Arsenal’s Europa League hopes

The North London side also received a huge boost as striker Alexandre Lacazette made a goal-scoring comeback from his injury in the win over the Potters.

The French striker had missed his side’s ties against Ostersunds FC and AC Milan, but he is likely to feature in the starting XI against CSKA Moscow.

As Pierre-Emerick Aubmeyang is ineligible to represent the Gunners in Europa League this season, Lacazette is their top striking option for the tournament. Danny Welbeck was industrious in both legs against Milan, but Arsenal fans would feel relieved to see Lacazette leading the lines on Thursday.

Following the game, midfielder Jack Wilshere said that Lacazette looked like he was never away from the pitch.

“I’m buzzing for Laca,” Wilshere told Arsenal Player following the full-time. “I know how hard he’s worked. He didn’t take his injury well, but nobody does. He was down but he knew what it takes to come back.

“He’s worked hard and only trained a couple of days, but he was out there and looked like he’s not been away. It’s good for the team, good for him and I’m happy for him.”

 

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