Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that winning the Europa League is the club's main priority for the rest of the season, after explaining that the weekend's Premier League clash against West Ham will be 'preparation' for the semi final against Atletico Madrid next week.
Champions League football is on offer for the Gunners if they can win the Europa League, with a sixth or even seventh place finish their likely fate in the Premier League after a poor domestic campaign, with a defeat Newcastle last weekend the most recent setback.
A number of players, including Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin, were rested for the Newcastle game following the previous week's away clash with CSKA Moscow.
Wenger has confirmed they will now come back into the team to face West Ham on Sunday in order to keep up their match fitness ahead of facing Atletico at the Emirates Stadium four days later.
"This weekend is preparation for Thursday. I rested some players after the Moscow match, and they will need a game," the boss explained when addressing the press on Thursday morning.
Aaron Ramsey, who suffered a nasty gash during the game in Moscow, is also set to return after recovering from the wound. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is nearing a return and may feature against Atletico, but Sunday could come too soon for the Armenian international.
After the semi final first leg, Arsenal will travel to Madrid for the return fixture a week later in early May. For the winner of the tie, either Marseille or Red Bull Salzburg await in the final in Lyon. The winner will get automatic passage to the 2018/19 Champions League group stage.