Arsenal manager Unai Emery has come out to defend his team selection after losing to BATE Borisov 1-0 in Europa League play on Thursday in Belarus.
Emery dropped playmaker Mesut Ozil in his ongoing feud with the German international, saying before the match that Ozil was a healthy scratch. After the loss, Emery was quick to defend his team selection, going so far as to say his team should have won despite the final scoreline.
“Last week we won and we played with the same players,” Emery said after the game. “For me today there was no difference to the performance. We deserved to win but didn’t get the result.”
“They were very organized defensively and they found the moment in the game. It’s not for one player or another. We can win with every player and lose with the same players.”
Arsenal held 77% possession and out-shot BATE 16-6, but each side picked out just three on target. Emery preached patience on multiple levels, saying his players need to control their emotions, and the fans need to understand that there is still a second leg to go.
“It’s the first match,” said Emery of the situation, with the second leg coming from the Emirates next Thursday. “We are going to play another 90 minutes next week and I’m sure it’s going to be different.
“Our big opportunity is next week at home. Today is not the result we wanted. We deserved more but they worked for this. Next week is going to be different with our supporters.”
Emery continued to talk about his players keeping their cool, and said he spoke with Alexandre Lacazette, who was sent off for a late elbow. “I didn’t see the action [Lacazette’s foul] but we need to control the frustration,” Emery said. “It’s bad news, this red card. Next week we won’t play with [Lacazette]. But it gives chances for another player.”
Ozil could be in contention to come back into the team in Lacazette’s absence, or Emery could turn to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a lone striker up front with a number of changes behind him, potentially including a return for Aaron Ramsey who missed the first leg with a knee problem.