Qarabag boss: Arsenal “saved” Mkhitaryan

Qarabag FK Training and Press Conference
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Gurban Gurbanov, manager of Qarabag FK looks on during a Qarabag press conference ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group C match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on September 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Qarabag boss Gurban Gurbanov feels that politics didn’t factor into Arsenal’s decision to leave out Henrikh Mkhitaryan for their Europa League clash

The 29-year-old midfielder has not travelled with the 21-man Arsenal squad for this evening’s Group E game against Qarabag at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

The decision to leave out Mkhitaryan came due to a long-standing diplomatic conflict between his native Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

But Gurbanov feels that’s not the case and instead suggested that Arsenal had “saved” Mkhitaryan from the 60,000 Azerbaijani fans.

“I didn’t want politics to interrupt the sport but we could not do anything on this issue,” said Gurbanov, according to the Evening Standard.

“But Arsenal Football Club tried to save this player but it is not a matter for us if he is coming or not.

“If Henrikh Mkhitaryan would come to Azerbaijan it is not the first time, but until now a lot of Armenian sportsmen came to Azerbaijan but it is the choice of Arsenal that they didn’t send (him).

WATFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Arsenal FC at Vicarage Road on April 15, 2019 in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

BREAKING: Mkhitaryan will miss the Europa League Final

The Armenian footballer will not travel to Azerbaijan for the final between Arsenal and Chelsea at the end of May.

“Arsenal may be afraid that in front of 60,000 Azerbaijani fans, Mkhitaryan has some pressure and that is why they didn’t send Mkhitaryan.”

The game between Qarabag and Arsenal will begin at 18:55 (CEST).

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