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Arsenal great Robert Pires: I never would have left for Man United

Henrikh Mkhitaryan explains why he's enjoying his new club Arsenal so much.

Arsenal great Robert Pires said joining Manchester United was out of the question in his day, but insisted the club must move on from losing Alexis Sanchez to their rivals.

Pires discussed Sanchez's departure with Marca and said he would never have considered making a similar switch.

But he added that Arsenal have not been weakened by the move after getting Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return and signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January.

"Of course Arsenal lost a great player but we also got a great player in return, so for me, it's the same," Pires said. "A team is not made up of just one player. Sanchez did well at Arsenal but that is in the past.

"Now we have to look at the present and the future and hope that Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang can find a good connection just as they had back in Dortmund. To see the two of them with [Mesut] Ozil is very exciting. I think in general, everything is the same at Arsenal."

Pires still trains with Arsenal's first team on a regular basis and has maintained a close relationship with manager Arsene Wenger.

And while they are in sixth place in the Premier League and could miss out on the Champions League for the second year running unless they win the Europa League, Pires stood by the under-fire Arsenal boss.

Arsene Wenger should prioritise the League Cup in the pursuit of silverware.
Arsene Wenger's goal every season is to win the Premier League, according to Robert Pires.

"I don't think Arsenal is necessarily in a downward slope because the Premier League is very hard and very competitive. Seven teams can win the Premier League each season which makes it difficult for everyone," he said. "I'm close to Wenger and his main aim each season is to win the Premier League. At times you can win and other times you cannot because it's very difficult to do so.

"It's important for Arsenal to fight for trophies at the end of each season, starting with the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday. But the biggest aim now is to win the Europa League."

Pires also expressed confidence that Wenger will continue to field his best XI throughout the run-in.

"He wants to win every game and try to play with the best team possible," Pires said. "He has a good team but the Premier League is difficult and Wenger wants to finish in the top four. That is why it's important for the players do everything possible for that to happen.

"Wenger always wants to try and win. He has spent a lot of money on players in Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and he has also brought Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United. Wenger has that philosophy of trying to win."

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

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