Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Furious Arsenal fans call for club to boycott Europa League final in Azerbaijan over Mkhitaryan absent

Angry Arsenal fans are calling on their club to boycott the Europa League final after Henrikh Mkhitaryan's unavailability was confirmed.

The Europa League final is set to be played in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, on May 29, and Mkhitaryan's country, Armenia, has been at loggerhead with the host nation for three decades which resulted in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Arsenal released a statement Tuesday to announce that Mkhitaryan will not be travelling to Baku next week for the final as his safety could not be guaranteed.

The statement said: "We are very disappointed to announce that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be travelling with the squad for our Uefa Europa League final against Chelsea.

"We have thoroughly explored all the options for Micki to be part of the squad but after discussing this with Micki and his family we have collectively agreed he will not be in our travelling party.

Victory in the Europa League final would provide Unai Emery's team a back-door entry into next season's Champions League after finishing fifth in the Premiere League this season.

But supporters are now wanting their own team to forgo a return to the Champions League to stand up to UEFA, who could not give Mkhitaryan any assurances.

Popular Arsenal supporter James McNicholas - who runs Gunnerblog - tweeted from the blog's account: "I would be more proud of my club for boycotting the Europa League Final than for winning it."

Another Twitter User said: "If Mkhitaryan can't play for us it's quite simple really, the game gets moved to another country. If UEFA insist the game does goes ahead without him we forfeit the game. F***'um.

Another one wrote: "If we decided to forfeit the game UEFA would go into meltdown! The thought of a team pulling out of one of their showpiece finals would be too embarrassing for them in my opinion & they would have to come to our aid."

One joked: "If Arsenal can't take Mkhitaryan to Baku for the Europa League final then the only fair solution is for Chelsea to leave one of their players in England. I nominate Eden Hazard."

Meanwhile, another fan added: "Hypothetically speaking, what if FC Alashkert (Armenian champions) had progressed all the way to this year's Europa League Final? How the f*** would UEFA have handled that?"

Mkhitaryan played more minutes than any other Arsenal midfielder in the run to the Europa League final and only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have scored more goals for the club this season.

But as well as losing Aaron Ramsey to injury, now Emery must make his plans to try and beat Chelsea without another key playmaker - and one who has scored in and won a Europa League final before with Manchester United.

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