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Arsene Wenger: Arsenal won't rest stars in Europa League quest

Arsene Wenger 'regrets' the gilt-edged chances Arsenal missed in their 1-0 defeat at Tottenham, which leaves the Gunners six points adrift of fourth.
A rousing second-half performance from Spurs led them to a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Arsenal in the North London derby, at Wembley.
ESPN FC's Craig Burley looks back at Tottenham's North London derby triumph and how Spurs came alive in the second half to down Arsenal.
A rousing second-half performance from Spurs led them to a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Arsenal in the North London derby, at Wembley.

LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said he will take his strongest team to Sweden for Thursday's Europa League game against Ostersund and backed Alexandre Lacazette to start scoring again.

The Europa League now represents Arsenal's best chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League after the derby loss to Tottenham on Saturday left them sixth in the Premier League.

Wenger said he would not rotate his players against Ostersund, with the Gunners having next weekend off after being eliminated from the FA Cup.

"I would have anyway gone for it, especially as we have no game between the two matches," Wenger said.

"I will play the normal team because it is one of the opportunities we have especially because we don't play in the FA Cup. There is no reason why I should rest players."

Striker Lacazette missed two good chances to equalise in the 1-0 loss at Wembley after coming on as a substitute, but is expected to start at Ostersund as new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied in the Europa League.

Wenger admitted France international Lacazette was struggling for confidence at the moment but said: "He has gone through difficult periods before.

"He works hard in training, works on his finishing. I don't know what happened [against Spurs] -- did he not touch the ball well? It can happen, it is a fraction of a second.

"Maybe the confidence is not at its highest because he has seen a competitor [Aubameyang] coming in for him.

"He will score goals. He is a goal scorer, he scored goals in his whole career. He will score again."

Arsenal do not play another league match again until March, with the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City meaning their home game against Pep Guardiola's team is postponed.

Saturday's loss at Spurs was the Gunners seventh away defeat in the league this season, and Wenger said that was the worst since he had been at the club.

He added: "That doesn't work -- we have to play much better away from home and make superior results if we want to have a chance to come back."

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.


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