Wenger accepts pressure is on

07 March 2018 13:40:31 EST

Arsene Wenger has told Arsenal his players to make the most of the opportunity to go all the way in the Europa League and secure Champions League football next season.

The Gunners are set to miss out on a top-four finish in the Premier League by a large margin, leaving their only route back into the top European club competition winning the Europa League.

This is an opportunity for us and we have to take it.

Arsene Wenger

And ahead of a last-16 first-leg meeting with AC Milan in the San Siro on Thursday, Wenger has spelt out what is on the line for his side, who have lost their last four games in all competitions.

The Frenchman said at his pre-match press conference: "Last year we had 75 points in the Premier League and missed out on the Champions League by a point.

"This is an opportunity for us and we have to take it. It increases the pressure, for sure, but I think as well it is a good opportunity.

"You want to show you have the quality and the strength and you can only show that when it is difficult."

Arsenal are 12/5 to earn a draw on Thursday evening and are 10/3 to keep a clean sheet, with the Gunners 12121/1 to go all the way and win the Europe League.

Wenger also confirmed that defenders Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, as well as striker Alexandre Lacazette, with miss the game in Milan due to injury.

Of Spanish full-back Bellerin, he added: "Bellerin has an inflammation of his left knee. He tried, but couldn't complete the training session, so we left him at home - it doesn't look a long-term problem."

January recruit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also misses out as he is ineligible, with the striker's former club Borussia Dortmund still in the Europa League.

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