The Arsenal fans have been in buoyant mood in the Transfer Tavern since their side moved a step towards the semi-final of the Europa League by recording a 4-1 victory over CSKA Moscow at The Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening.
Now that the Gunners have been cut adrift of the top-four in the Premier League, winning the Europa League represents their only realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season, and so far they are showing no sign of slipping up in Europe. On Thursday night, Arsenal welcomed the Russian giants CSKA Moscow to The Emirates Stadium for the first-leg of their quarter-final clash, and they ensured that their visitors would not enjoy their stay in London by hitting 4 first-half goals past them.
Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette scored a pair of braces to put Arsenal into a commanding lead ahead of their trip to Russia next week, with the former scoring an audacious lob to put them 3 ahead. It was not only Ramsey’s goal-scoring capability that was so impressive against CSKA, but his range of passing and willingness to get stuck in and break up play demonstrated his immense ability to operate in a box to box midfield role.
With only a few days to rest between Arsenal’s midweek clash and their fixture against Southampton on Sunday afternoon, it would be wise for Wenger to drop Ramsey (valued at £36 million by Transfermarkt) to the bench this weekend to ensure that he remains fit for the trip to Moscow next week. Although Arsenal should be securing their place in the semi-final of the competition without too many problems now they have acquired a 4-1 lead, they cannot afford to show any signs of complacency, otherwise, they could be punished by their opponents.
At this stage in the season, Wenger’s priority should be purely on winning the Europa League, so he will have to be pragmatic in his approach to Premier League fixtures and accept that a handful of his key players will need time to rest up on the bench, rather than tiring themselves by playing three games in the space of a week.
Considering how poor Southampton have been this season, Arsenal should have the quality within their ranks to record a victory over the travelling side without Ramsey. A trip to Russia is a notoriously tough one to take due to the longevity of the flight, so Wenger must prioritise the fitness of his players over all other determining factors when he selects his starting eleven on Sunday afternoon.
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