My players did not care about playing in the Europa League, admits Emery

By Clinton Nyabuto: Sunday, May 26th 2019 at 15:11 GMT +3 | Football
Unai Emery arrive in Azerbaijan [Photo, Courtesy]

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has admitted that his players did not consider the Europa League an important competition at the beginning of the season despite the team making it to the finals in Baku.

The Spanish said that his squad preferred the Premier League and he had to talk to the players to focus on the European competition.

“When we started playing in the first matches, some players preferred to play Premier League. Okay. I explained then to every player that we needed the focus on every competition,” Emery said.

“The first idea was to transmit to the players this season is that we go for every competition. Now we are in the Europa League. We needed to feel this competition was an important competition.” The Spanish added.

Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac arrives in Azerbaijan [Photo, Courtesy]

Being the second-most prestigious trophy in Europe, Emery values the competition as no manager in history has won the competition more than the Spanish.

Arsenal stand a chance to claim their first European silverware in 25 years and a return to the Champions League if they beat Chelsea in Baku on Wednesday 29.

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Victory over the Blues will also mean that Emery will set a record of lifting the trophy four times but has pointed out that his previous title are no guarantee for triumph in Baku.

“My titles in this competition are no guarantee,” said Emery. “Each match, each year is different.”

Emery lifted the Europa League trophy three times consecutively with Sevilla in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan did not travel to Baku due to safety concerns [Photo, Courtesy]

Despite the players’ mentality, Arsenal have no choice now but to focus on the final to squeeze a slot in the Champions League as their rivals have already qualified after finishing third in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos has urged his teammates to win the Europa League for Henrikh Mkhitaryan who will not feature in Baku.

The Armenian stayed behind due to safety fears that stem from the political dispute between his country and Azerbaijan where the final will be held.

“We're sad for him but now we have to play for him,” said Sokratis.

'Henrikh knows already that we will play also for him and for the other players who were injured and I hope we give them happiness.' He added.