Arsene Wenger admits that Arsenal would prefer not to face Spanish side Atletico Madrid when Friday’s draw for the Europa League quarter-finals is made.
The Gunners progressed to the next stage of the competition courtesy of a 5-1 aggregate win over AC Milan with Danny Welbeck’s brace and Granit Xhaka’s strike enough to seal a second-leg 3-1 victory after the visitors threatened a comeback through Hakan Calhanoglu fine long-range effort.
Speaking after Thursday’s win, Arsenal’s third in a row, Wenger told the BBC: “We would certainly want to avoid Atletico Madrid.”
Clubs from eight different nations will go into the pot in Nyon, Switzerland with CSKA Moscow, Lazio, Marseille, RB Leipzig, RB Salzburg and Sporting Lisbon making up the lineup. Borussia
On his side’s performance on the night, Wenger added: “It’s much better. We needed that to recover from our results.
“It shows how the team has responded. We had a difficult game but in the end we won it.”
Arsenal steadied the ship courtesy of Welbeck’s penalty on 39 minutes, won when the England international took a tumble in the block. To say the decision to award a spot-kick is something of an understatement, although the boss refused to be drawn on suggestions his striker had taken a dive.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Wenger said on BT Sport. “I’ll watch it again and give you an honest answer.
“I must say the positive of the situation, 1-0 down, you could see a response. Were we lucky on the penalty? I don’t know.
“I don’t want to accuse Danny Welbeck of diving before seeing it. He looked genuine that it was a penalty.”
Despite being on the wrong end of the decision, opposition manager Gennaro Gattuso was surprisingly magnanimous about Welbeck’s fall.
“Welbeck did his job and we don’t judge a nation by something one player does. I’m not there to judge him. We were playing in an important game and even when I was a player, I always tried to get away with something,” he told reporters afterwards.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee because we don’t want to look for excuses. It would be easy to cling on to that, saying it was bad luck.”