Emery promises stronger Arsenal performance against Valencia

Arsenal's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via the Premier League are almost over, with Unai Emery expecting better.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery   -  Getty Images

Unai Emery promised Arsenal will show more mental strength against Valencia in the Europa League than in its 1-1 Premier League draw at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Arsenal's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League by finishing in the top four are all but over after Glenn Murray cancelled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's early opener at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Emery's side is three points behind fourth-placed Spurs, which lost 1-0 at Bournemouth and had two players sent off on Saturday. Mauricio Pochettino's side also has a far superior goal difference going into the final weekend of the Premier League season.

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Arsenal could still return to the Champions League by winning the Europa League, though, and with his side leading 3-1 in its semifinal tie ahead of Thursday's second leg against Valencia, Emery pledged there will be a response from the Gunners.

 

"We had the idea to continue taking chances for the opportunity against Burnley next week, but today we drew," Emery told a news conference. "We know they [Brighton] are very organised and strong defensively so the key was scoring the second goal.

"We tried to do that and they gave us some minutes to come back, and again we tried for the second goal and made chances, but their defence did very well and their goalkeeper made some big saves.

"I think we worked and tried but didn’t get the result for taking chances next week. Now our way is to be strong in our focus for Thursday.

"We are going to be stronger in our mentality to prepare for the match on Thursday. And we are going to give the best individual and collective performances in the last matches, above all [against] Burnley.

"I think we can speak now about the different situations and issues in the season, but it's better to take the focus for Thursday against Valencia - and we are going to do the analysis also.

"In the Premier League because it's our first target and we didn't take this position like we wanted, but I think we tried today for this victory.

"We were feeling very well here with our supporters but in the last two matches we haven't been able to win against Crystal Palace [a 3-2 home loss] and Brighton. I think we deserved more from the last two matches."

Bridging the gap

 

Emery concedes there is a lot of work to do for Arsenal if it is to close a giant gap to title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.

"At the moment, for us and for me, we've spoken with the players," Emery added. "The Premier League is the best competition to give us our regularity, our consistency.

"If we are 27 points behind the leaders, that's the difference. But we are going to work and build up our future. This season is also about learning and continuing to create our way. Our way is in the future to make the difference in the table less to these teams.

"We know it's going to be very difficult [to qualify for the Champions League]. There are six teams going for the top four and we fight with very big teams. Our way is to make the difference [smaller] to them. Then we have another competition, the Europa League, and we are doing our way [in that].

"On Thursday we have the second leg and have this one title to play for. It's a way to get into the Champions League. Above all, for us the Premier League is the first competition and we couldn't be in the top four.

"We are close to that, with Chelsea and Tottenham, but there's a big difference to Manchester City and Liverpool. Our work in the future is to reduce this difference."

Deserving result

Brighton's place in the Premier League for next season had been secured when Cardiff City was relegated on Saturday, with Chris Hughton thrilled by a battling display from his side.

"I'm delighted with the performance - we were on the back of an albeit defensive performance at Wolves and a good 88 minutes at Tottenham, against similar quality to what they've got here," he told reporters.

"We wanted a reaction - in our last game we were very poor against Newcastle in the first half, but very good in the second half, and we were able to continue that today.

"The performance was certainly more like us. Even though we've dug out a couple of decent performances and results away from home, most people would have thought they'd get a second and third goal.

"It was tough going behind so early on, but credit to the lads for adjusting well. We had to dig deep, and I thought we thoroughly deserved the result."

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