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Arsenal's Arsene Wenger not concerned by empty seats, low attendance

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Will experience pay dividends in Europa League semis? (1:45)

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti delves into the Europa League semifinal matchups as Arsenal take on Atletico Madrid and Marseille square off with Red Bull Salzburg. (1:45)

LONDON -- Arsene Wenger said the empty seats at the Emirates Stadium are "not a big concern" and insisted Arsenal have a "very faithful crowd" despite low attendances at recent home games.

Nearly one third of all seats at the Emirates have been empty at recent home Premier League matches, with Arsenal languishing in sixth place and already out of the battle for a top-four spot.

But Wenger pointed to high demand from season-ticket holders to renew their seats and the fact that every game has been sold out.

"It's not a big concern because our crowd is very solid at the moment," Wenger said at a news conference on Thursday. "We have played on some special days, we don't go for the league [title]. I believe we have a very faithful crowd, very faithful fans, who will always be there and support the club. When you look at the renewal numbers for next season, they are absolutely outstanding.

"We are sold out in every single game so I don't know where the problem is at the moment. If you feel like next season it will not be the case, then we'll have to face it. But I believe that, if you look at our numbers and how much people want to renew tickets for next season, I don't believe that we have a major problem. We have a major problem at the moment because we're not in a position to win the league. That's our biggest problem. The biggest problem is not the number of fans who are behind the team."

A low attendance is expected for Sunday's home game against West Ham United, with Arsenal's main priority in the league now to stay ahead of seventh-place Burnley.

Wenger, though, promised to field his strongest team against West Ham and use the game as preparation for next Thursday's Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid.

The manager has rotated his team heavily for the last two league games in the wake of Europa League matches but said there's no need to do so this time.

"I would say this weekend is as well a preparation for Thursday. I rested some players after the Moscow game, and they will need a game," Wenger said. "It's not so much rest, it's more preparation."

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who injured knee ligaments in the first leg of the quarterfinal against CSKA Moscow, will miss the West Ham match but Wenger said it's "possible" he could be back for the game against Atletico.

Mkhitaryan is running again and will try to step up his training over the coming days, Wenger said.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is cup tied in the Europa League, could be rested against West Ham.

Aubameyang has six goals in eight league games since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in January, but Wenger said it may make more sense to play someone who can face Atletico.

"I would say most of the time, after the Europa League games, it was a help [to have him] because I could rest some players and bring someone fresh in," Wenger said. "When you prepare for the Europa League, it is a handicap because he cannot play, and when the games become important like they are at the moment, it raises the question."

Wenger said Atletico is a threat to their hopes of winning the Europa League and that their season depends on getting past the Spanish side.

"For us, it's absolutely vital to beat them and to have a chance to go into the final and win the competition," Wenger said. "We have a big obstacle, a big hurdle in the semifinal.

"I would even say that Atletico Madrid are seen as the favourites to win the competition, but I believe that at our best, we can beat them."

When asked, Wenger also said he is firmly in favour of safe standing, even though the Premier League said on Wednesday that it needs more evidence fans support its implementation before it can make a decision.

"The atmosphere is much better when people stand. The closer you are to the position of the player, the more supportive you are," he said. "I think as well that it is a tradition of English football to have that, and overall, I must say it is much better.

"There are safety reasons that they don't do it and I can understand that, but if the safety is right, then it has my 100 percent backing."