Arsenal boss Unai Emery ‘proud’ as Gunners reach Europa League final
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal boss Unai Emery said he is ‘proud’ of his player after they beat Valencia 4-2 at the Mestalla on Thursday night, 7-3 on aggregate, to reach the Europa League final. Read on to see what he had to say.
On how satisfying the result was...
"Good evening. We had the confidence and we were confident because we lost Sunday in the Premier League in a game needed to be in the top four. We knew it was going to be difficult but we had two ways. This possibility after the Premier League loss, we took it strongly in our mind to prepare, to focus and to work hard to make this final. We can be proud of the players and of the work of our supporters who are here today with us and it's not finished, this success. It's one step more to play the final. We are happy but also, we know it's going to continue to be difficult. But it's not easy to play finals."
On the two strikers...
"Yes, really they are very good strikers but I am proud of them in how they worked defensively. We needed that today, the big players can be good strikers but when their commitment is like today, working defensively to help us, it's amazing. After their goal, our attacking moments were coming because our positioning and other players can create chances for them to score. But I think it's the work of every player and they did it perfectly."
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On if he and the players watched the Tottenham game last night...
"No, not really. We were speaking about the different situations that can happen in 90 minutes, for example in the first leg when we started losing 1-0 - but our reaction was an amazing reaction and today was the same, when we received the first goal, about how we can come back to this result and keep our game plan. At the beginning they pushed a lot against us with a big atmosphere here and I think our response was amazing. We can take some different examples: Tottenham, Liverpool or last year against Atletico Madrid. We need all the experience for the players and the coaches and we spoke about that. But above all is to create a new history, a new step and a new moment. It's not easy to play finals. We have some finals between the players and coaches but not a lot and today again the possibility to play in Europe again for one final is big, and to give our supporters a special moment in Baku."
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On how proud he is and what he said to Aubameyang...
"Every player congratulated him and before the match I think we spoke in the hotel, everybody, about our moments, about our experiences, about being together and how we can take the best performance collectively and individually. They made that and after the match congratulations because every player gave us all they can do in 90 minutes and after, individually, we can also speak about some players. Aubameyang for the goals, Lacazette for another goal but I think we worked very well and this work is for being proud of them and also remembering our supporters at home. We played last week and they were full in the stadium with us. Today they are coming here to support us and I think we can be proud of each single player and each single supporters."
On if this is the best way qualify for the UCL...
"We had two possibilities. One is Premier League and we lost, and the second is the Europa League. I think the Europa League has improved a lot and I said yesterday here in the press conference that I started here with Valencia in the Europa League in 2008. It was different, very different. Last year it was Atletico Madrid, two years ago it was Manchester United and the year before that it was Sevilla playing in the final against Liverpool. It's a good competition to get into the Champions League. Our objective is clear: to go to the Champions League. But also this is one title and one moment."
On winning away to Napoli and Valencia and what that says…
"Really, really these two matches were amazing. The mentality for these two matches and how we responded against two big teams in Europe was perfect. But each competition and match is different. Today, we showed everybody our character and also our capacity to be prepared. We struggled in some moments defensively but could also take good moments in the attacking third to score. Not one team this year has scored four goals against Valencia. Only Atletico Madrid scored three goals against them. It's a good team, a very difficult team and today we showed in this moment we can do that."