Arsenal head coach, Unai Emery, has backed his side to book a place in the UEFA Europa League round-of-16 despite succumbing to a shock defeat in Belarus on Thursday night.
The Premier League outfit were dealt an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at BATE Borisov in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie, with Stanislaw Drahun heading home just moments before the half time whistle to secure a historic win for the hosts.
Unai Emery’s side, as expected, were the outright favorites going into the match. However, the picture, in the end, turned out to be quite different than anticipated. Arsenal dominated possession (77%) and sprayed the ball around comfortably, but BATE’s low block made sure to keep them out of threatening areas. With Mesut Ozil left out of the squad, Arsenal struggled to play between BATE’s defensive lines and cut a frustrating figure.
👥 Whole squad cost £200k.
💰 £11.5m spent in the entire club’s history.
📅 2 months since their last competitive match.
❌ Never won a European knock-out match in their history.
👏 Incredible moment for the club. pic.twitter.com/lET3yGNw4y
— SPORF (@Sporf) February 14, 2019
Drahun’s thumping header on the stroke of half time took the wind out of Arsenal’s sails. They tried to get back into the game but lacked the intensity to make the hosts suffer. Finally, to make matters worse, Alexandre Lacazette was given marching orders in the dying minutes of the match for a blatant elbow on BATE’s Aleksandar Filipovic.
With the return leg set to be played in one week’s time, Arsenal need some major improvements to turn the tie around, and Emery remains confident his side have enough quality to book their place in the last-16.
“We play another 90 minutes next week and I’m sure it’s going to be different. We worked. I am happy with players’ effort. Our big opportunity is next week at home.” Unai Emery said, as quoted by Daily Mail.
“Today is not the result we wanted. We deserved more but they worked for this. Next week is going to be different. I trust in our players and in our stadium with our supporters. We can win or lose but we play the second match and I trust in our work and preparations to make a different result.”
3 – Arsenal have lost three of their last four away games in all competitions (W1), as many as they had in their first 14 combined under Unai Emery (W8 D3 L3). Stutter. pic.twitter.com/iUEUrbnttv
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 14, 2019
“I am not shocked. I knew before the match it would be two games. We wanted to get best result. I respect them and watched matches they played. They are defensively well organised. We worked to stop them but they scored one. In attacking moments we had more chances than them but the last action was not efficient.”
“We did all to win. It’s the first 90 minutes. But we know it’s more difficult, we prefer a better result.”
On Lacazette’s dismissal, the Emery added:
“I didn’t see the action but we need to control the frustration. It’s bad news. Next week we won’t have him but there is a chance for another player.”
The decision to leave Ozil out of the squad probably didn’t bode well for Emery’s side, but the former Paris Saint-Germain refused to concede.
He said: “Today those that were here, we can win with them and we deserved that.”
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) February 14, 2019
“Last week we won (against Huddersfield) and we played with the same players. It’s not for one player or another player. We can win with every player and lose with the same players.”
Also Read: Mou explained how to use Ozil