February 15, 2018 / 8:25 AM / 8 months ago

Wenger questions cup-tied rule over Aubameyang exclusion

(Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has questioned UEFA’s ‘cup-tied’ rule that prevents striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from playing for the north London outfit in the Europa League this campaign, saying that it “doesn’t make sense”.

Soccer Football - Europa League - Arsenal Training - Arsenal Training Centre, St Albans, Britain - February 14, 2018 Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during training Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Aubameyang, who joined Arsenal last month, played for former club Borrusia Dortmund in the Champions League earlier this season and the cup-tied rule prevents the 28-year-old from representing his new club in Europe for the rest of the season.

The rule leaves Danny Welbeck and Eddie Nketiah as Wenger’s only striking options for the Europa League last-32 tie against Ostersunds, starting with the first leg on Thursday, as French striker Alexandre Lacazette is sidelined with a knee injury.

“Unanimously, I believe that all the clubs agree now this rule has to disappear in Europe,” Wenger told a news conference on Wednesday.

“Especially because, for example, he played Dortmund, Dortmund has been reversed in the Europa League and he cannot play.

Arsenal's Manager Arsene Wenger attends a news conference in Ostersund, Sweden February 14, 2018. TT News Agency/Robert Henriksson via REUTERS

“When you look at the transfer amounts you spend now, that you have to spend 50, 60, 70 million pounds in the middle of the season, that the players cannot play doesn’t make sense.”

The French boss praised Ostersunds manager Graham Potter, who has helped the Swedish club progress from the fourth division to the Europa League knockout stages.

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who missed the club’s 1-0 Premier League defeat by Tottenham Hotspur last weekend due to a groin injury, has also been ruled out of the European tie and is a doubt for the League Cup final against Manchester City.

“He doesn’t move forward as quickly as I expected,” Wenger added. “Today I would say certainly he will not be available for the second game against Ostersunds.

“Maybe for the cup final. I don’t know yet, it depends how he will progress from now.”

Arsenal host Ostersunds in the return leg of the Europa League tie next week before the League Cup final against City at Wembley on Feb. 25.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien

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