Henrikh Mkhitaryan not traveling: The Armenian star may not be traveling with Arsenal for the Europa League clash against Qarabag.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan may be set to miss Arsenal’s tie against Qarabag due to political tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The English club drew Qarabag in their Europa League group.
Mkhitaryan did not travel to Azerbaijan with Borussia Dortmund in 2015, despite Azerbaijani embassy assuring that he will get visa on arrival.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan won’t be travelling to Baku this week, a decision made by the player but with full support of Arsenal.
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) October 1, 2018
Armenia and Azerbaijan are stuck in conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. The relations between both the countries worsened in 2016, when at least 200 people were killed in violent clashes between the two nations.
I’m told Henrikh Mkhitaryan won’t be making the trip to Azerbaijan for Thursday’s game. Player’s own decision based on the security situation amid the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Could be an issue for the final in Baku as well if Arsenal make it that far.
— Mattias Karén (@MattiasKaren) October 1, 2018
If Mkhitaryan decides to stay back for Arsenal’s trip to Azerbaijan, it might well be possible that he will also miss the Europa League final – if Arsenal goes that far in the competition. This year’s final is scheduled to be played in the city of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
Earlier, Unai Emery, the head coach of Arsenal, stated that he is yet to have a discussion with Mkhitaryan on the issue, but is hopeful that the player will be available for selection. “I would like him to stay with us if we can. If we can arrange this, I think it is better,” said Unai Emery in the press conference following the Europa League draw.
As per Vivaronews, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will miss Thursday’s Europa league clash away to Qarabag due to Azerbaijan banning Armenians from entering the country over tensions between the bordering rivals.
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) September 30, 2018
According to ESPN journalist Mattias Karen, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has himself taken the decision to not travel with the squad for the Europa League clash. Karen also reports that it could be a persistent issue for Arsenal, as the Europa League final is also staged in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.
Arsenal’s official spokesperson also released a statement on the issue after the Europa League draw last month.
“Safety and security of all our players and staff is always a top priority. We will be looking into this situation, talk to the player and make a decision after that,” read the statement.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not feature for Arsenal against Qarabag due to ongoing hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This, and much more, was explained on my @TifoFootball_ piece focusing on old Soviet scars still impacting European football: https://t.co/u6DHRV3vCt https://t.co/8Gh0o4QHrW
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) October 1, 2018
In 2015, Armenian athletes were granted visa on arrival in Azerbaijan to participate in European Games, but received hostile treatment from the public.
Arsenal are currently on a seven-match winning streak in all competitions.