Written by By Sian Norris, CNN
Arsenal manager Unai Emery is in no mood to approach the UEFA Champions League playoffs with a fear of failure. The team, who finished outside the top four in the Premier League, is having trouble passing the ball at the moment, and the fact that they’re not only playing under pressure, but short of match practice, only compounds matters.
But Emery says his players are still on the right track.
“Our performance is not far from winning,” he said after the Arsenal squad had their first training session this week.
“Sometimes I have doubts, and I work to improve them; work to be better.
“I don’t have a game plan; no problem to speak. To do what needs to do.
The Old Trafalgar: An architectural tribute to the club’s late ‘keeper
“It’s difficult (to prepare for a game) with two weeks training: the moment I’m thinking with one or two players who want to come (onto the team), to do what needs to be done.”
But the standard of the players is enough to calm the nerves, the Spaniard says.
“We are competing against the best teams in Europe in this moment,” he said. “What I’m sure about is that we have a good team.”
One player who is certain to be on the bench for Thursday’s game is Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, who revealed he is suffering from a knee injury, which is set to keep him out of action for up to a month.
And the team’s plans to bring in 33-year-old former Manchester City player David Ospina, who is currently playing for Sampdoria in Serie A, might not necessarily have been popular with their supporters.
“The critics are right. We are putting the goalkeeper on an off [list]. But I am never going to sit here and deny to give Petr the opportunity to show he’s good,” Emery said.