Unai Emery says Arsenal must focus on Thursday’s game with Valencia after they squandered their chances of finishing in the Premier League’s top four by surrendering a half time lead to draw 1-1 with Brighton at the Emirates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted from the spot inside 10 minutes to put the Gunners ahead but we were made to pay for our profligacy in front of goal when Anthony Taylor awarded the visitors a penalty, converted by Glenn Murray, on the hour mark.
Chances came and went in the closing stages as we desperately tried to bag a winner but it wasn’t to be on a bitterly disappointing evening that further highlights the damage of recent defeats to Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester.
“We knew it was going to be difficult, but at 1-0 we needed to get the second goal,” Emery told the BBC.
“We tried in the first half. Also, they had some situations where they could score. In the 90 minutes we controlled the match and after the first goal we tried to get the second.
“After their goal, we created more chances to score but they defended very well, they are an organised team and very strong defensively and they showed us that today.”
He added: “We tried to win, we tried also today to do a complete match. There was still time after their goal to come back and we created chances but we can say also that they defended very well and they didn’t concede in the last situations, in the box and their goalkeeper saved a lot of shots also.
“They worked well defensively and didn’t give us chances to win the match.”
Arsenal’s hopes of playing Champions League football now rest on us coming through Thursday’s semi-final with Valencia and then a potential showdown with Chelsea in Baku.
“We knew it is going to be difficult but our focus is now the Europa League,” said Emery.
“We have the opportunity in the Europa League to do something important and we will try and do that.”
In his post-match press conference, the Spaniard further hammered home the importance of regrouping ahead of the trip to his former club. “I think we need to be strong and be together for next Thursday,” he said, “it will be a big challenge for us in another competition in which we can do something important. We are going to try to do something.
“We are very, very disappointed. We spoke [before] the game to finish about our ambition and motivation to finish here with a victory and also to take our chances [to try] and finish fourth. But really, today, Brighton worked very well defensively. They deserved this point [because of their work]. But also I think we tired and [missed] chances to score the second.”