Vieira 'ready for Europe' amid Arsenal links

Vieira 'ready for Europe' amid Arsenal links

Vieira was brought to Arsenal by Wenger in 1996, and won three Premier League titles and three FA Cups before departing the club nine years later.

Speaking ahead of the first leg of the Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid, which comes at home on Thursday night, Wenger said the news was forced upon him.

"No, I haven't spoken with anyone at Arsenal", he said.

Wenger is without injured midfielders Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mohamed Elneny for the visit of tournament favourites Atletico, who have reached the Champions League final twice in the last four years.

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A number of managers have been linked with replacing Wenger, including former Gunners captain Patrick Vieira and ex-Barcelona manager Luis Enrique.

Later on Wednesday, Wenger moved to clarify he did not have an issue with the timing - just that it was not his decision.

'For me, it's better to be a leading light for a less-favoured team and win with them. I will continue to work, that is for sure.

Arsenal, who are sixth in the domestic standings, can still qualify for next season's Champions League by beating Atletico and going on to win the Europa League.

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"At the moment I do my job, keep my routine and focus on what I have to do every day", added the Frenchman, who is targeting his first European trophy.

He added: "Is there a flawless goodbye?"

Wenger said he is not planning to retire but that "honestly I don't know what I will do". "We usually play one way, with the same idea". "He manages the speed of transitions at Arsenal - if he wants his team to play quickly he will get them playing quickly". There was a lot of "I think he's done great and I'll always be in awe of him but I think it's time for a new change because things have run its course". "I don't want this to be perceived that I want to go because I don't want to leave".

Wenger is also hopeful that Henrikh Mkhitaryan could recover from a knee injury to feature in the second leg in Madrid next week but Mohamed Elneny is out for the rest of the season.

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Costa was responsible for Arsenal's downfall again when the two sides met at the Emirates Stadium later that season, forcing Per Mertesacker to make the last-man challenge which earned him a straight red card before dispatching the winning goal from Branislav Ivanovic's cross.

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