EUROPA LEAGUE: Arsenal boss Unai Emery demands Gunners ‘control’ semi-final second-leg against Valencia
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Arsenal boss Unai Emery has called for his side to ‘control’ their Europa League semi-final second-leg clash against Valencia at the Mestalla on Thursday night, with the Gunners holding a 3-1 advantage from the first-leg. Read on to see what the boss had to say.
On the threat of a comeback…
"Good evening. For us, it's the same message as when we played the first leg in London. We are in a 50/50 for two teams and after the first leg, the result has not changed my ideas. Tomorrow is going to be very difficult here and we can take some examples, not just yesterday but also in the past. But knowing it is difficult here, we are going to play with all our ambition, with full motivation and the preparation needs to be good for this match."
On if attack is our best form of defence…
"Our idea is to play the match, thinking to win. After, you want to win then you need to score. Also, how they consider you to do some attacks with the possibility to score because they are a very organised team and their structure is very strong defensively. But also they need to score. They have attacking players with big qualities, combinations and the possibility to score here tomorrow. Our idea is to do both: be defensively strong and offensively, take our chances. Above all, I think it depends how we are on the pitch tomorrow. The 90 minutes can be long and there can be moments for our attack and their attack. We need to be solid and most importantly control the match tomorrow."
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On if there is more pressure now it's our final chance to reach the Champions League…
"We started with two possibilities to go to the Champions League. The first is through the Premier League and the second is to go through the Europa League. We want to play for the possibility to take one title and the second is to enter the Champions League, if we win that. But we knew it was going to be difficult and we finished in the Premier League without that possibility. But we are in this competition with that opportunity tomorrow. With big ambition, a strong mentality and full motivation we can do it. I want to enjoy tomorrow, I want to play in matches like that, these moments - semi-finals against difficult teams, away - for one important target. After that, I think it is all positive for us."
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On if he feels any pressure personally…
"I don't think so. It's not a condition for me, I am one coach in my past and in my present, thinking of all I can do. Being positive and working to take our work to go ahead and move ahead for our collective and individual objectives. I worked in the past and I am working in the present with being very demanding of myself and giving my players the same mentality. It's not for feeling pressure like a negative. I think by being demanding, positively."
On if he has a point to prove here as a former Valencia manager…
"My career, first as a player, I was born in the north in San Sebastian and I played in San Sebastian, first with Real Sociedad and then in the Segunda Division in Spain. I appreciate my work here and I enjoyed it a lot here with everybody. I have a lot of friends, a lot of good memories here with all of Valencia. It's a very big team and a very big club with very good players and they now have a very good coach. The past for me is one more in my career to learn, take friends and after, I worked in other teams as a coach thinking the same. But here, for me to come to Valencia, is amazing and to play tomorrow in a semi-final is awesome. I prefer to play the final against them, but it's a semi-final and for me to play tomorrow here is to enjoy 90 minutes or more with my team, with the atmosphere and also taking another experience individually and collectively for us."
On what he feels about this stadium…
"It's very special but I come back here after training here for four years. Each match is special because I have a lot of friends here but I am professional and tomorrow I am defending the Arsenal team. We are the opposition tomorrow but I am going to give my all for my team, for Arsenal, but also knowing that here it is going to be very difficult. They have a very big history and a very big club now. The fight between us is going to be difficult. Every worker in football, every professional, wants to play matches like tomorrow to try to get to a final. I am going to try to transmit to my players to enjoy it, to be focused and to take this experience like a positive in each moment and each minute and also to be thinking that we are playing for our supporters."