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Arsenal need a win to salvage their rapidly sinking ship when they travel to AC Milan for their Europa League last-16 first leg on Thursday.
The Gunners have lost four straight matches, and eight of their last 13, leading to what has become an annual ritual of widespread calls for manager Arsene Wenger to go.
Sixth in the Premier League, 13 points off the top four, their only realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League next term is by winning the Europa League.
With that in mind Wenger rested midfielder Aaron Ramsey and only brought on defender Hector Bellerin and Danny Welbeck, his only available striker for the Europa League, as late substitutes in Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.
“Yes [it’s a sign of the Europa League’s importance], because we have to be realistic,” Wenger said.
“We need two teams to collapse [in the Premier League]. I can’t see that at the moment, because two teams to drop so many points is very difficult to imagine.
“Of course the Europa League becomes important. It’s a massive game in Milan.”
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