Unai Emery has described the Europa League as an ‘attractive’ and ‘important’ title for Arsenal ahead of tonight’s semi-final second leg against Valencia.
Having fallen behind in the 11th minute to Mouctar Diakhaby last week, Arsenal quickly turned around the first leg at the Emirates thanks to a brace from Alexandre Lacazette, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted a 90th minute goal to give them some breathing space.
The away goal will give the La Liga side hope of turning it around against Arsenal, who have endured an awful away record this season.
However, having seen their hopes of finishing in the top four all-but evaporate last weekend, glory in the Europa League has taken on a new level of importance for the Gunners, with it being their last remaining hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, and the significance hasn’t been lost on Unai Emery.
“It’s an attractive title and it’s getting more attractive,” Emery in his pre-match press conference.
“I first competed for this title when it was still the Uefa Cup and was a lesser title than it is now.
“It has grown and I have seen that shift. Giving teams a Champions League place through the Europa League is a fair reward and it’s a title they all want to win.
“It’s an important title for those teams not in the Champions League – and for some who drop into it as a second chance, like Valencia did this season.”
Emery is of course no stranger to winning the Europa League, guiding Sevilla to three successive titles in Europe between 2014 and 2016.