Wenger lauds Arsenal, wants to “avoid Atletico Madrid” in quarters

AP Photo/Alastair Grant
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Lots of managers and players like to act as if tournament draws shouldn’t matter, or that there shouldn’t be teams to avoid.

And we all know that’s garbage.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-1 (5-1 agg.) AC Milan ]

Arsene Wenger‘s not going to bother trying to fool you as Arsenal earned a spot in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals with a decisive win over AC Milan on Thursday.

Anybody but Atleti.

“We would certainly want to avoid Atletico Madrid, but we will see, we have no influence over that,” Wenger said.

The Gunners were very good aside from a world-class goal from Hakan Calhanoglu, winning the tie 5-1 and the leg 3-1 thanks to a pair from Danny Welbeck and a Granit Xhaka goal. From the BBC:

“We have to improve defensively, but overall we are team with technical quality which is more offense-minded.

“We struggle a bit more when we have to defend. We finished the game more compact and more solid.”

Welbeck won a penalty for the first goal with a fairly blatant embellishment — he was even looking to the fourth official before he hit the deck — but the Gunners definitely deserved to be on the winning end of the Round of 16 tie.

Jack Wilshere was celebrating the win as well as an England call-up, and said the result was an impressive one.

“We needed it,” Wilshere said. “We set the level last week in Milan. It was about getting the job done tonight and being professional. We didn’t start well but it woke us up. They got a good goal early on and made us work for it. We are happy to be through to the next round and we will see who we get.”

The quarterfinal draw is set for 8 a.m. ET Friday. You can find the full field here.