While tensions between the UK and Russia escalate, Arsenal defender Calum Chambers has called on his teammates to ignore the non-football distractions as his side host CSKA Moscow in the Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday.
As the fallout of the Sergei Skripal spy-poisoning incident continues and a major diplomatic dispute between Russia and the UK rages, several countries have ordered the expulsion Russian diplomats.
In addition, some politicians have called on England to boycott the World Cup in Russia this summer, while Gunners fans planning to make the trip to Moscow for the second leg of the quarter final were warned about "anti-British sentiment" due to "heightened political tensions" by a statement on the club's website (via the Guardian).
However, both CSKA and UEFA officials have played down fears of trouble, and defender Chambers insists the Arsenal players are staying focussed on football and not any wider geo-political context.
The 23-year-old told Standard Sport: “We are just trying to focus on the game. You can get too wound up with things going on around it.
“At the end of the day it is a football match and we want to go and win and get a good result so I think everyone is fully focused on them, how we are going to play against them. That is the best way to do it and not focus on other things around it.”
Reports also claim extra stewards and police have been drafted in for the visit of CSKA on Thursday, as a precautionary measure.
With the reverse fixture one week later on April 12, around 1,000 Arsenal fans are due to travel to Russia, according to The Sun - who claim fans "are to be marshalled to and from CSKA's VEB Arena."
Beating CSKA and ultimately winning the Europa League remains Arsenal's only realistic prospect of qualifying for the Champions League next season, with the Gunners 13 points off fourth-placed Tottenham in the Premier League.