Unai Emery: we ‘need to win’ at home to progress against Napoli
His Arsenal team have won only five Premier League away games all season
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to return to the Arsenal starting line-up after recovering from illness. Photograph: Reuters
Unai Emery admits Arsenal “need to win” their Europa League quarter-final first-leg meeting with Napoli at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday given their poor record away from home.
The Gunners have won five Premier League away games all season, losing 1-0 at Everton last weekend.
Emery’s side have also fallen to defeat in their last two away Europa League knockout games, having to turn around ties against BATE Borisov and Rennes to set up a last-eight meeting with Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli.
This time, Arsenal are at home first and their form at the Emirates could not be in more stark contrast to their away day blues.
A run of 14 wins from their last 15 matches at home, and just one home league defeat all season, has helped Arsenal not only reach the quarter-finals but also rebuild their challenge for a top-four Premier League finish.
Now Emery knows the pressure will be on to secure a positive result to take to Italy for the second leg next week.
“Tomorrow we are going to play at home with our supporters and we know we need to win tomorrow,” he said.
“Our first target is to win, but also we don’t want to concede chances for them to score. That’s important. We know they have good players and also have had good performances in the season.
“In the last matches there may have been some doubts, but tomorrow they will play with the best performance. I am sure.
“We need to be very competitive in the 90 minutes. We want to win and not concede goals, but we know that can come.
“We will play two matches, 90 minutes here and 90 minutes away, and we are prepared for if it’s decided on extra time or penalties.
“It’s going to be a very good game tomorrow and away between us because we have two teams of very good players.”
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in line for a recall to the Arsenal starting line-up having been used off the bench in the last two games.
Emery, who also confirmed Granit Xhaka and captain Laurent Koscielny will undergo fitness tests ahead of the game to see if they can take part, revealed why Aubameyang has been restricted to cameos in recent weeks.
“The first reason (Aubameyang has not started) is because he had a small problem and he has taken antibiotics for his illness,” explained Emery.
“That’s the main reason he didn’t start those two matches. For tomorrow, he’s getting better and can start.
“We are going to assess tomorrow Granit and Laurent, they are improving and they trained today with us, but I would rather wait for tomorrow morning to decide.”