Emery confirms Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence for Europa League final

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has confirmed that the club won’t be able to bank on the services if Henrikh Mkhitaryan when they face Chelsea in the Europa League final next week. The Armenian’s participation in the final had been doubtful due to his country’s poor relations with Azerbaijan and Emery has now revealed that the playmaker has decided not to travel to Baku for personal reasons.

Speaking in a press conference arranged by UEFA, he said: “It’s bad news but we cannot do anything for this issue, it’s a very personal decision and we need to respect him. I don’t understand the political problems now, but I must respect [his decision]. I spoke this morning with Mkhitaryan and it’s a personal decision. I respect him. He wants to play to help us by being with the team but they spoke, both him and his family, and decided not to go. I come from the Basque Country and we had a big political problem that finished five or six years ago, and I can understand it is a very personal decision for his family and also thinking in their country.”

Mkhitaryan has not enjoyed the best of seasons with the north London club but his absence for the final may leave the Gunners with just one wide attacking option in Alex Iwobi unless Danny Welbeck manages to prove his fitness after a long-term ankle problem. The England international will be leaving the club on a free this summer but prior to that, he could make a final bow at the Europa League final, should he continue to show positive signs in training.

Welbeck joined the team in training prior to the final Premier League game of the season and he has recently been involved in an in-door game with his teammates where he has shown no side effects after an operation for a double ankle fracture. The versatile forward has not featured for the Gunners since the Europa League clash against Sporting in November.