Europa League very important for three-time winner Emery

Having won the Europa League three years in a row with Sevilla, Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has hailed the tournament’s importance.

Unai Emery hailed the importance of the Europa League to Arsenal as his side seek an 11th straight win in all competitions.

Arsenal travel to Sporting CP on Thursday with both teams having taken maximum points from Group E matches against Vorskla and Qarabag.

A 3-1 comeback win at home to Leicester City in the Premier League on Monday maintained Arsenal’s momentum under new coach Emery, who succeeded Arsene Wenger.

And Emery, a three-time winner of the Europa League during his time in charge of Sevilla, is keen for Arsenal to make the competition a priority.

“I grew up a lot individually in this competition,” Emery told a news conference.

“I think this competition is very important because it’s one title and also you go into the Champions League next year.

“For us, for Arsenal and the supporters I am telling them it is very important.

“Sporting are a very good team, with big experience and good players.

“In this moment we are two teams both in first position. In our mind we want to be first in this group.

“[It] is a very big match and very important for our confidence.”

Arsenal have defensive injuries going into the clash, with Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac and Petr Cech all deemed unfit.

Stephan Lichtsteiner filled in at left-back against Leicester while Carl Jenkinson, yet to feature under Emery, has travelled to Lisbon.

Emery, though, rejected suggestions he could switch to a back three to face Sporting, who are fifth in the Primeira Liga having lost two of their last three league games.

“Now we are finding the best combination,” Emery added. “Some matches are good moments to try different options. Tomorrow is not the best because of our composition with the players. I think we will continue tactically with what we are doing.”

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