Wenger may break vow to Ospina to recall Cech for Europa League tie with CSKA Moscow
Petr Cech is poised for a Europa League SOS on Thursday with David Ospina’s availability for the showdown against CSKA Moscow shrouded in mystery.
Arsene Wenger insisted he had a fully-fit squad going into Thursday night’s clash at the Emirates Stadium.
Intriguingly, though, it is understood Ospina feels he is fit enough to start against the Russians on Thursday.
Second-choice Ospina was told in the summer that he would start in Arsenal’s Europa League games.
So far manager Wenger has kept to his word, though the Colombian did miss a month from October due to a back injury.
With that in mind, the South American is likely to be deeply frustrated if Wenger opts for Cech.
However, the Gunners manager knows winning the Europa League will be a deciding factor when his job is reviewed at the end of the season.
And knowing his future could depend on it, Wenger is pondering a surprise goalkeeping change.
‘I always played Ospina. I played Ospina on Sunday (against Stoke) – but I don’t want to give my team out.’ On the Europa League carrying far more importance given the club’s below-par league position, Wenger added: ‘There is some extra pressure on us to do extremely well in this competition. That’s part of being where we are.’
Meanwhile, Wenger believes the ongoing political tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia will not spill over into Thursday’s showdown.
The game will be played amid of backdrop of diplomatic unrest between the two nations, heightening fears of potential trouble.
‘Relations between England and Russia at the moment are a bit complicated, I just hope it won’t affect both ties,’ Wenger said.
Wenger also believes is Arsenal fans will return in their droves on Thursday after Sunday’s no-show against Stoke.
There were in-excess of 10,000 empty seats at the weekend, underlining the growing apathy from fans towards the club at the moment.
But Wenger added: ‘I don’t think that (the crowd) will be a problem. I think the crowd, when something is at stake, is always there.’