Unai Emery says the prospect of lifting a trophy, as well as securing Champions League qualification, is fuelling his excitement about Arsenal’s participation in the Europa League, a competition he’s won three times with Sevilla.
The Gunners secured their place in the competition’s quarter-finals with a 3-0 win against Rennes last night ensuring they will continue to fight the season on two fronts when competitive football resumes in April.
With all of the Premier League’s top six clubs still harbouring European ambitions at this stage, Emery was asked about the strength of English football at the moment.
“I knew in the Champions League and the Europa League, in different moments it is sometimes Spanish clubs, other times English clubs or Italian or German clubs,” he told his post-game press conference.
“But it is one thing. Champions League is very important but the Europa League grew up a lot and now is giving every team the possibility to play in the Champions League. In the domestic league, like here, we have six teams playing to be in the top four.
“Two teams are going out and the Europa League is giving us a big opportunity also to take one way to go to the Champions League. And also, it’s one title.
“I said to the players today, I am excited about this competition. It’s not just because you can get to the Champions League through this competition.
It’s also because it’s one title and I think we can feel the possibility to win one title, doing this way with a difficult moment like today and playing also against big teams.
“But I think we can feel this competition like in the Premier League, to do a good way and create, with our supporters, a big atmosphere and a big feeling together to do this way in the Premier League and also here in the Europa League. Together and stronger.”
Having watched his side come through a big couple of weeks with a point at Sp*rs, a win against Manchester United and a hard-fought aggregate victory over Rennes, the boss highlighted how his players are starting to thrive when the pressure is on. He thinks it bodes well for the future.
“It’s giving us very big confidence on Sunday against Manchester United and the same with this performance and this victory.
“This comeback was very difficult but I think our reaction was a very good reaction from every player.
“Playing under pressure is good. Growing up under pressure, every player, like a team. And to feel difficult moments to give us our best performances in these moments. For us, today and Sunday, we were playing and being competitive. I think it’s good confidence for us to feel that.
“After, if I am very demanding of myself, I want to take the best confidence with the ball, with the control with the ball with the possession, because I think against Manchester United and today, we lost a little bit these moments with the ball to give us the confidence with the ball and to control the match with the ball.”