Arsene Wenger has surprisingly revealed that he will not rest key players for their away trip to Ostersund in the round of 32 clash of the Europa League this Thursday (15 February) as Arsenal do not have any game scheduled for the weekend, having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by Nottingham Forest.
The Gunners have previously fielded a completely different eleven for the group stage matches, focusing the first choice team for the league.
Their weekend loss to Tottenham means that the Europa is now their best chance to get into the Champions League, replicating what Manchester United managed to achieve last season. The Red Devils finished sixth in the league but won the Europa League, which allowed them direct entry into Europe's top club competition this season.
They are currently seven points adrift of Tottenham, with only 11 games left in the season. The Gunners fought toe to toe with Spurs in the first half and were unlucky to have gone into the break without anything to show for their efforts.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan got into a few good positions to play in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but failed to make the most of the opportunities, something which was later discussed by Wenger.
Wilshere also played in Aubameyang in the first half but the Gabon international was deemed offside in what was a very tight call by the linesman.
The Gunners had an opportunity to level the game at the end through Alexandre Lacazette, who was presented with two gilt-edged chances, but the Frenchman failed to make use of the opportunities at hand, leaving the Gunners seven points behind Spurs.
This was their third consecutive away loss in the league, having earlier lost to Bournemouth and Swansea, meaning that they have to put all their eggs in the Europa League basket to have a fighting chance of qualifying for Europe.
Wenger revealed that he would have fielded a competitive team against the Swedish club anyway, stressing that they need to win their next game on the back of an away record, which is the worst that has ever been under his stewardship.
"I would have anyway gone for it, especially as we have no game between the two matches," Wenger said, before admitting that a freer schedule only further allows that, as quoted by the Independent. "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.
"We have to win the next game. Our record since I've been at Arsenal is one of the worst away from home. Certainly the worst since I'm in England. 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."