Unai Emery stresses prestige of silverware over potential Champions League place as Arsenal boss bids to make another Europa League final upon return to Valencia
- Arsenal head to Valencia with a 3-1 lead in the Europa League semi-final stage
- Unai Emery is bidding to win the competition for the fourth time in his career
- The Gunners will return to the Champions League should they win the trophy
- Emery has stressed the importance of the silverware over the implications
Unai Emery can boast more European titles in his managerial career than Arsenal in their illustrious history and, as he closed in on another final, he was keen to stress the prestige of silverware as well as the obvious lure of the Champions League.
Emery has conceded his team cannot finish in the top four of the Premier League but returns to Valencia with a 3-1 lead from the first leg and an eye on glory in Baku.
‘Arsenal only have two European titles in their history and neither of them exist anymore,’ said the 47-year-old Spaniard, with a nod towards the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994 and the old Fairs Cup in 1970.
Unai Emery has stressed the prestige of the Europa League for Arsenal and their trophy hunt
‘So I have a lot of ambition to win a title. It is an attractive title – and it is getting more attractive. It has grown.
‘We have seen Manchester United and Atletico de Madrid win it and a final with Sevilla against Liverpool. It is a title they all want to win.’
Emery won a hat-trick of Europa Leagues as manager of Sevilla and, on his way to his first in 2014, won a dramatic semi-final in Valencia.
The Spaniard will return to Valencia, with a spot in the Europa League final on the line
VALENCIA (4-4-2): Neto; Piccini, Gabriel, Garay, Gaya; Soler, Coquelin, Parejo, Guedes; Rodrigo, Gameiro.
ARSENAL (3-4-3): Cech; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
REF: Danny Makkelie (Holland)
Sevilla won the first leg 2-0 but trailed 3-0 in the Mestalla until they snatched a 94th-minute goal by Stephane Mbia which secured their progress on away goals.
Emery’s touchline celebrations did not endear him to fans of Valencia where he was in charge for four years – and they have never quite forgiven him.
‘When I was here at Valencia the primary objective was to get a Champions League place,’ said the Arsenal boss. ‘But when I went to Sevilla, the president José María Del Nido said: ‘Have you been in a final?’ I said no. He said: ‘You will see what that is like’.
‘At Sevilla, that was what motivated us; what mobilised the people. That feeling of being about to play in a final. For Sevilla, that was bigger than getting a Champions League place.
‘I feel pleased to have achieved the objective at Valencia – a Champions league place – and at Sevilla – which was to win titles. I feel privileged to have done both, and to have that experience, and at Arsenal I want to bring all of that.
‘I give this title a huge value, as a title. At any club like Arsenal or Valencia titles have to be objectives.’
When Emery steps back into the Mestalla Stadium on Thursday he will be braced for a fierce contest against a team which warmed up by smashing six past Heusca on Sunday.
Emery is an expert when it comes to the competition and flourished with Sevilla
Marcelino Garcia Toral has restored stability to Valencia and brought success with a commitment to fast, attacking football and they will recall Arsenal’s last visit in 2001 when Arsene Wenger’s team blew a first-leg lead to lose a Champions League quarter final on away goals.
‘I have good memories here,’ said Emery. ‘It is awesome to return with the chance to reach the final – although I would prefer to play the final against Valencia.
‘The fight will be difficult but we want to play in matches like this and I will transmit this feeling to my players. Enjoy, be focused, be positive and remember we are playing for our supporters.
‘We are finished in the Premier League but we have a possibility in this competition.’