Emery: Tie remains 50/50

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Unai Emery says Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final with Valencia remains in the balance despite his side coming from behind to record a 3-1 win in the first leg at the Emirates.

Mouctar Diakhaby’s early header stirred the Gunners into action as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka set up Alex Lacazette’s brace before the break.

The Frenchman had two chances to further extend the lead in the second half before Aubameyang added a gloss to the scoreline with a clinical back post volley in stoppage time.

Arsenal will now travel to the Mestalla in a strong position but while Emery was proud of his players he thinks it’ll be difficult at his former club.

He told BT Sport: “In the first leg we wanted to get a good result, knowing that it would be difficult. After the first goal our response was very good, with calmness and passion. We took our moments and the goals in the first half gave us confidence.

“We wanted to win and not to concede a second goal, but we also had to play. The third goal came at the end and for us it was important, but [the tie] continues to be 50-50.”

Asked for his assessment of Valencia who started brightly but then faded, Emery added: “Valencia are a good team. They played with strong players defensively and in midfield. They’re strong at set-pieces, they scored and we struggled with set-pieces.

“We’ll continue to work on what we can improve, on what we can do better, but generally in the first leg, over the 90 minutes, we can be happy and proud of the players and supporters. Now we will prepare the same for the second leg because we know it will be very difficult.”

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SB Still
SB Still

Given our away form, at 2-1 it looked advantage to Valencia. At 3-1, yes its 50-50. Happy that we scored the 3rd.

Problem is if they score first, we probably would panic about the next goal being a winner. We can’t play for a clean sheet either, as a reliable strategy either given our defensive form.

So we probably have to start fast score a goal, then try defending, I still expect a clean sheet but we can expect to go through on aggregate.

Merteslacker
Merteslacker

Good mentality. Nothing is won until it’s done.

I also like his honest assessment that we’re terrible at set pieces. There’s no way we can catch Man city or Liverpool next season but if we can learn to defend better, maybe (just maybe) opposing teams might just start to fear us

Jai
Jai

Has it ever occurred to you that certain managers just aren’t good at defending? Track records are important to look at. Emery’s Sevilla teams conceded 50+ a season in La Liga and he’s led Arsenal to their worst ever season defensively in the Premier League.

Sure, he can’t account for idiots like Mustafi, but it is his system, and his coaching which is ultimately the reason, as it can be seen from his record.

Jai
Jai

And the LAST thing Arsenal needed was a manager who doesn’t appreciate defending. The one thing Arsenal fans wanted was to see after Wenger was better defending and players and a manager who like defending rather than seeing it as an afterthought.

VAR will solve the problem
VAR will solve the problem

If you gonna win, you are gonna win with 1 -0 advantage. Oppositions will miss sitters, goalkeepers will have howlers or Mustafi will be playing like that Van Dick fella!…at this point u have to have that touch of fortune. All u can do is give your all on the pitch to leave no room for regret!

kaius
kaius

Okay, so could you suggest a hypothetical coach Arsenal should hire based on his great defensive record?

Arse-Head
Arse-Head

Simeone

Devlin
Devlin

I don’t think we can get simeone, he is at a better and currently bigger club. But there are plenty of coaches in world football who are not really appreciated by the media. The manager at Ajax was a development coach a few years ago and is now the toast of Europe.

Personally, I would like to see Marcelo Bielsa, Eddie Howe or Ralf Rangnick at Arsenal. These are club builders, as in, squad building, establishing a playing style and developing youngsters.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Surely it has to be at least 60 / 40 now

Bob
Bob

Nope. If we can win at home, so can they. Their away goal could be very important, so we will have to be switched on and do the full job.

Santori
Santori

I think if they score two goals and shut us out, we are in trouble and you know how charitable we are.

Santori
Santori

Arsenal practically the only team with 3 goals to the good and you have to wonder if its in our favour at all.

We have to go away in Spain, keep a clean sheet (cough cough) ala Napoli.

And should we score an away goal its all over for them.

BUT if we do charity and go 2 down, we are going to be in big trouble.

SO focus.

Team incredibly nervous first half (but so was Valencia)

Hopefully we can build some belief again and we need critically to keep this 3 at the back plus as stable a selection as possible.

Some issues still with set piece defending (AMN switched off for the dodgy back header, Sokratis got beat a couple of times too easily but Mustafi had a strong game covering fortunately)

BUT generally defense looked a better unit today. Back 4 has been the spanner in the works for the last 3 league meetings.

I won’t try and change too much if I was Unai for the remaining 3 matches in league and cup. Let the players build on this a bit.

TeeCee
TeeCee

“3 goals to the good”
Er, they scored one, we scored three which, by my maths, means we’re only two up.
Worse than that, theirs is away….

Hantal
Hantal

Typical manager speak. At 3-1 it’s very much advantage arsenal. If we can score early it’s probably game over.
Though he’s probably allowing for our awful away form so maybe 50-50 is accurate

Devlin
Devlin

I loved the pressing shape at the end of the second half. We were able to guide them all the way from our flanks, back to their goalkeeper. The whole worked hard and Ozil’s urgency to cover for Xhaka or Guendouzi after we lost the ball while they were in advanced positions was good to see. We actually played the best midfielder in Spain this season off the park, even though we couldn’t really get the better of Diakhaby, who isn’t normally a midfielder.

All in all, a good performance and a great result. Still seems like there is more to this side than we are seeing and maybe if there was more belief in the team to stamp their authority on the game, we would be able to play consistently, home and away, against big and small sides.

Aleksander Włodarz
Aleksander Włodarz

the best spanish midfielder this season being?

Devlin
Devlin

Dan I Parejo. He has been sensational for Valencia and so good that he is now in the Spanish national side. He has the most goals of any midfielder in the league and his passing has been very creative and influential. I really though we would struggle against him, he recently ran circles around the Real Madrid midfield and we completely negated him.

Devlin
Devlin

Dani Parejo

Kwame Ampadu Down
Kwame Ampadu Down

I love when our players support our injured players. I salute you Laca for your missed header tribute to Welbeck. Superb.

George
George

Sounds about right. Much better than the 10/90 at 2-1 that’s for sure.