Arsenal’s European ambitions are hanging by a thread after a humiliating defeat in Belarus that ended with Alexandre Lacazette being shown a straight red card for elbowing a BATE Borisov player in the face with miuntes left in the game. Lacazette’s dismissal marked the lowest point of one of the worst nights of Unai Emery’s spell at Arsenal, with the head coach unable to change the game after his side fell behind to a first-half goal.
But Emery insisted later that he was not shocked by the defeat, saying that his team deserved more from the match and adding that he had full faith in his players to turn the tie around at the Emirates next week. But the Spaniard will have to mastermind a comeback without the suspended Lacazette, with the £50 million striker arguably being Arsenal’s most consistent attacker since the turn of the year. “I did not see the action but we need to control the frustration,” said Emery.
The Arsenal boss added: “We play another 90 minutes next week and I am sure it is going to be different. The first half was a good performance, we had chances to score. I am happy with the players’ effort. Defensively when they were 1-0 up they were organised and competitive. Our big opportunity is next week at home. I trust in our players and in our stadium with our supporters. We can win or lose but I trust in our work and preparations to make a different result.”
Emery again faced questions about the absence of Mesut Ozil, who was left at home in London despite returning to full training following a recent illness. Arsenal again lacked creativity in central areas, but Emery said the players that he selected had deserved to win the match. “Those that were here, we can win with them and we deserved that,” Emery said. “Last week we won and we played with the same players. We deserved to win but did not get the result. They were very organised. We can win with every player and lose with the same players.”
The night was made worse for Arsenal when Aleksei Baga, the BATE head coach, later said he was not surprised by how poor the visiting side had been. “It was not a surprise for us,” said Baga. “We were preparing hard tactically and there was no surprise at all to see such a game from Arsenal.”
Do you agree with Emery? What did the Arsenal coach get wrong against BATE?
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