Unai Emery sat down with the media in his pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League last-32 first leg against BATE Borisov in Belarus.
After claiming a vital away win at Huddersfield in the league on Saturday, the Gunners would be going into this game aiming to get another win away from The Emirates.
This is the only trophy hope for them this season, after crashing out early in FA Cup and Carabao Cup to Manchester United and Tottenham respectively.
For what its worth, Emery has a terrific record in this competition. He won it three times in a row with Sevilla, before moving to manage Paris Saint-Germain. In the 2016 final, his Sevilla got the better of Liverpool.
Coming back to the presser, Emery updated us with players who will be available for this game. He also talked about Denis Suarez and his progress towards earning that regular spot in the team and much more.
Here’s what the gaffer had to say:
On Sokratis and other team news
Arsenal had few players out ill before the Huddersfield game, while Sokratis and Ramsey have been nursing injuries. Here’s what Emery has had to update:
“We are here with the players who I think are OK to play. The players not in the squad is because Ramsey has not trained with us, Sokratis has started to train but not enough, Mesut is the same.
“Aubameyang started Monday and I think he is OK for the match.”
About tomorrow's opponents BATE and tricky conditions
Arsenal faced them in the Europa League group-stage last season and were comfortable in both games.
“Last year Arsenal won here 4-2. This year when they played in the groups, for example against Chelsea, they lost 1-0 but had chances to score and draw.
“Now they are not in competition in the league, but they prepared in pre-season. It’s a very organised team. Their motivation I think is going to be very high.
“I respect them.”
Talking about conditions:
“It’s not an excuse for us. The weather or the pitch.
“It’s the same for them and for us.”
On the prospect of winning this trophy and qualify for Champions League
As we all know, if Arsenal do fail to qualify for the Champions League by not finishing in the top-four, they will have a chance to do so by winning the Europa League.
“Every match is a big challenge. Our target is clear, it’s to play in the Champions League but we know it’s not easy.
“We have two ways. The Europa League, but winning that is very difficult.
“In the Premier League we also have the possibility. We know we need to work hard, to be together in two competitions.”
On Denis Suarez
Since arriving from Barcelona in the January deadline day move, Suarez is yet to start a game. The manager had his say on it:
“I am thinking about the best performance for tomorrow. I think his adaptation is good, but he needs time.
“He is OK to start, but he can also be on the bench.
“He needs to earn, little by little. To get minutes.”