Ostersunds vs Arsenal - Wenger wants UEFA to review rules which rule Auba out of UEL

Posted Thursday, February 15, 2018 by PA

Ostersunds vs Arsenal - Wenger wants UEFA to review rules which rule Auba out of UEL

Arsene Wenger has called on UEFA to alter the rules which have left Arsenal unable to play club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Europa League.

The Gabon striker, a January arrival from Borussia Dortmund, is unavailable for the Gunners’ trip to face Swedish side Ostersund as his former club could come up against Arsenal in the latter rounds, having dropped into the competition after finishing third in their Champions League group.

Another January signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, can feature because, although he turned out four times for Manchester United in the Champions League this term, the Red Devils remain in Europe’s premier club tournament.

But Wenger, who is also without Alexandre Lacazette after the forward underwent minor knee surgery on Tuesday, believes the regulation is antiquated.

Asked if Aubameyang’s absence was caused by an old-fashioned rule, Wenger replied: “Yes. Unanimously, I believe that all the clubs agree now this rule has to disappear in Europe.

“Especially because, for example, he played Dortmund, Dortmund has been reversed in the Europa League and he cannot play.

“When you look at the transfer amounts you spend now, that you have to spend £50, 60, 70million in the middle of the season, that the players cannot play doesn’t make sense. Unanimously everywhere in Europe now the clubs are against this rule.”

Ostersund boss Graham Potter has likened the clash to a traditional third-round FA Cup tie.

Englishman Potter has led Ostersund on a fairytale adventure from lower-league minnows to the surprise package of the Europa League.

Potter took charge of the club seven years ago and has not looked back.

Under the tutelage of the former West Brom and Southampton defender, the club have risen from the fourth division to the Allsvenskan and last April won the Svenska Cupen – their first ever major trophy.

Although Potter was keen to point out that Ostersund have already stunned the likes of Turkish giants Galatasaray to get this far, Potter admits it has the set-up of a classic FA Cup romance.

“In some ways I know where you are coming from in terms of the small team against the big team, absolutely,” he said when asked to compare the tie to an FA Cup match.

“For us in this type of game, as we have approached all the games in Europe, we have tried to play as well as we can, be ourselves in the game and use the opportunity to show what we are about.

“Normally in the third round of the FA Cup you have not beaten Galatasary or PAOK or Hertha Berlin. But in terms of the size of the two teams, absolutely. We are obviously all excited about the game and the visit of Arsenal, a Champions League club.”

Despite bringing Ostersund from obscurity to European competition, Potter conceded beating Wenger’s Arsenal would top all his previous achievements.

“I’ve never got through to the last 16 of the Europa League so of course it will be the biggest. Because that is where we’re at, that’s the competition,” he said.

“Everything we’ve done, every stage we’ve got to is new to us. That’s why I’m so proud of the players and so impressed by them because it’s not easy to do something that’s never been done before.

“We’d never won a major trophy before, we won that. We were never in a Europa League qualification before, especially against a big team like Galatasaray and we coped with that really well.

“It goes without saying if we are successful it’s a huge moment for everybody connected with the club. Not just mine, but the players and the chairman I imagine.”



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