Arsenal vs Valencia preview: We must create big Emirates atmosphere, says Unai Emery
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Last Updated: 02/05/19 7:01pm
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has urged supporters to "create a big atmosphere" as he looks to gain an advantage in the Europa League semi-final first leg against Valencia.
Emery won the competition in three consecutive seasons with Sevilla between 2014 and 2016 - and Arsenal are potentially 180 minutes away from their first European final since 2006.
Having overcome Napoli in the previous round, Emery faces his former club at the semi-final stage, but the Spaniard has refused to draw on his previous success.
"I want to create a new history with this competition," he said. "The Europa League is our way of winning one title, and it's a way for the possibility to get to the Champions League.
"It's the present [that counts]. We need to create a big atmosphere at the Emirates and be with our supporters tomorrow night against Valencia.
"Our focus is now on the first leg but also next week in the second leg. Also in the Premier League with possibilities to be in the top four. The players are very focused on that. We need to use each moment for all our possibilities."
While Francis Coquelin will miss a reunion at the Emirates through suspension after he was booked against Villarreal in the quarter-final second leg, former Gunners defender Gabriel Paulista is in line to start.
"Playing with Arsenal was an incredible experience that I will never forget," Paulista told Valencia's official website. "I want to be in the history of Valencia.
"It is the year of the Centennial and in 100 years I want you to remember that Gabriel Paulista won the Europa League with Valencia. We must go step by step.
"I like these kind of matches, this kind of pressure playing against teams like Arsenal. I'm ready to do a good job and help this club get as far as possible. We have to run, die and win to reach this final."
Emery has confirmed that Aaron Ramsey's Arsenal career is over due to a hamstring injury.
Ramsey is joined on the sidelines by Denis Suarez (groin) and long-term absentees Robert Holding, Hector Bellerin (both knee) along with Danny Welbeck (ankle).
Mesut Ozil is in the squad for Thursday's clash after missing the 3-0 weekend defeat at Leicester with a bruised foot, while Nacho Monreal also trained following a groin injury.
Valencia will be without Geoffrey Kondogbia, with the France midfielder having had an operation on the hematoma in his left thigh last month.
Coquelin is suspended, winger Denis Cheryshev has also been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury while full-back Cristiano Piccini is also out.
- Arsenal have reached the semi-final stage of European competitions in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993/94-1994/95, when they ultimately made the finals of the Cup Winners' Cup two seasons running.
- This is Valencia's first European semi-final appearance since 2013/14, when they reached the same stage of this competition before being eliminated by a Sevilla side that were managed by current Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
- Arsenal have faced Valencia on five previous occasions in all competitions, winning just once (D2 L2), in a Champions League quarter-final first leg in 2000/01 - Valencia eliminated them via away goals.
- Valencia have won two of their last three games against Arsenal (D1), winning last time out in the Champions League second group stage in 2002/03 at the Mestalla - however, they are winless in two away visits to Arsenal (D1 L1).
- Arsenal have kept nine clean sheets in their last 11 European games, conceding just four goals in total in that period.
What's happened at Arsenal of late is really troubling. They got beaten at home to Crystal Palace but what is Unai Emery's best scenario? Valencia sometimes play one up front and Goncalo Guedes is the main threat, while against Celtic, Dani Parejo was the danger man - he can pick a pass and open Arsenal up.
Emery knows Valencia aren't going to be overly physical - do Arsenal need to play with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette closer together with Mesut Ozil back in? These are the types of games which Ozil can really do something in. Thursday may, finally, just be Ozil's night.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: Arsenal 3-1 Valencia (14/1 with Sky Bet)
When is the Europa League final?
The Europa League final, the 10th in its current format and 48th overall of Europe's second-tier competition, will take place on May 29, 2019.
Kick-off is at 8pm (BST), 9pm (CEST).