Europa League: Arsenal boss Unai Emery and Petr Cech speak ahead of BATE Borisov clash
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Arsenal boss Unai Emery and Petr Cech have been speaking in Belarus ahead of the Europa League clash with BATE Borisov. Read on for a full transcript.
Om squad selection…
UE: Good evening. We are here with the players that I think are okay to play. The players who I don’t take in the squad are Aaron Ramsey, because he hasn’t trained with us, Sokratis, who started to train with us yesterday and today, but I don’t think it’s enough. Mesut is the same and after being sick, Aubameyang started training on Monday, yesterday and today and I think he is okay for the match.
On the danger of BATE…
UE: [We treat them] with respect, first. We can speak about two different situations from them. One is last year they played here and Arsenal won 4-2. The second is thinking about this year when they played in the groups, for example against Chelsea they lost one 1-0 but they had chances to score and to draw in this match. They are not in competition in the league but they prepared also in pre-season. We know they are a very organised team. I prefer to think they can take their best performance against us tomorrow with good players and their motivation is going to be very high. For this competition it’s the last 32 and they want to do well like us, respecting us. For us it’s to prepare and start this last 32 with a very big motivation and ambition to do something important.
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On whether he savours these moments now he knows he will retire in the summer...
PC: You are right that it might be the last time I am in the competition but I prepare with the team day-by-day. I don’t think about whether it’s my last game, competition or round or not. I prepare how I have my whole life, my whole career and obviously I want to give the best performance. I want to win with the team. My only concentration is to be ready for the game.
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On the transition between the group stage and knockout stage...
PC: We have to play well and seriously in the group to qualify for the play-off stage and we had a group with good teams. We had to prepare for every game and over the course of the group we had good performances, twice against Sporting, with Vorskla we played some good games in difficult conditions so I think this can help us to go through to the next round. Obviously we are the favourites for the tie but you have to do it on the pitch, be focused home and away if you want to progress. BATE are involved in European competition every year and have a lot of experience playing in Europe so it is not going to be easy.
On whether Denis Suarez is ready to start...
UE: First I am thinking for the best performance tomorrow with the best players. His adaptation is good but it needs time. He is okay to start being involved in the first XI but also to be in the bench so that later in the match he can play. This adaptation is important for us and then also he can be playing, but he needs to earn it, little-by-little, to take minutes, confidence and rhythm with us. These can be the two possibilities.
On the pitch and conditions...
UE: We played against Vorskla in Kiev and it was cold and snowing and here there is more I think. It’s not an excuse for us, the weather or the pitch. A white pitch is okay, after that we play 90 minutes and it’s the same for them as us.
On signing off with the Europa League trophy...
PC: Of course, that would be an ideal scenario for me to finish in my career. We prepare every day for every competition and I think this is what we are aiming for. We aim to win every game and improve step-by-step. For us as a club it’s obviously very important for us to go as far as possible and if you win the Europa League it’s a great memory for every player and secondly you can book your place in the Champions League. So as you can see, there is a lot to play for.
On whether this is our best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season...
UE: My thought is that every match is a big challenge. In the Premier League, Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and now in the Europa League. Our target is clear. That is to play next year in the Champions League. But we know it’s not easy and we have two ways now. One is Europa League, but to win the Europa League is very difficult. We know it’s a very big challenge in the last 32 against BATE Borisov and then other matches. But in the Premier League also we are with the possibility to take this position to play in the Champions League next year. But our challenge is to only think of the next game and the next game is tomorrow. We have to continue working and improving things collectively and individually for us. We know we need to work hard, to improve and to be better towards this way in two competitions.