Europa League: Emery trusts Arsenal to progress
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Unai Emery insists he trusts his Arsenal players to overturn their Europa League deficit to BATE Borisov following a surprise first-leg defeat in Belarus.
Alexandre Lacazette was shown a late red card as a strong Arsenal side under-performed and were deservedly beaten 1-0 by Stanislav Dragun’s header on the stroke of half-time.
The result means the Gunners have won just two of their last seven away games – against Blackpool in the FA Cup and Saturday’s narrow Premier League victory at bottom side Huddersfield.
Emery made only two alterations to the side which won 2-1 in West Yorkshire as Petr Cech came in for Bernd Leno in goal and Granit Xhaka returned from a groin injury to replace Lucas Torreira.
But, with Lacazette having a second-half equaliser correctly ruled out for offside before the France striker was sent off for swinging an elbow in frustration towards Aleksandar Filipovic with five minutes remaining, Arsenal slipped to a narrow loss at the Borisov Arena.
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With no game before next Thursday’s return leg at the Emirates Stadium, Emery believes his squad will have the ability to turn things around and secure progression.
“I trust in our players and I trust in our stadium and supporters,” he said.
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“There are two matches. Tonight’s match is important but we can’t (be knocked out), we are going to play a second match next week. I trust in our work to prepare for the next match and to have a different result in the Emirates Stadium.
“It’s a difficult match. Next week we are going to play another 90 minutes and I am sure it is going to be different.
“Today the first half was a good performance for us, we had chances to score, sometimes last week our chances were a goal and today is not.
“We worked. I am happy with the players as we worked and we tried.”
Emery also revealed he spoke to Lacazette in the immediate aftermath of his red card and warned him to not let his temperament get the better of him.
“I didn’t see the action but we spoke and frustration needs controlling,” the Spaniard replied when asked about the sending off.
“It’s bad news with the red card. Next week we aren’t going to play with him but now we are going to think with the players that are okay for next week.”
The defeat was made all the more galling by the fact BATE, the reigning Belarusian Premier League champions, have not played a competitive game since mid-December.
Despite winning 13 consecutive league titles, the club have struggled in Europe and this is only the third time they have made it to the Europa League knockout stages.