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Marcelino looks beyond Arsenal’s domestic struggles

Valencia boss expects a tough battle in quest to secure Europa League final appearance.

Marcelino’s Valencia take on Arsenal (Nigel French/PA)
Marcelino’s Valencia take on Arsenal (Nigel French/PA)

Valencia head coach Marcelino insists Arsenal’s current poor form will have no impact when the teams meet in their Europa League semi-final.

The Gunners host their LaLiga opponents on Thursday night in the first leg of their last-four encounter.

Unai Emery’s side go into the game having lost their last three Premier League matches as they struggle to secure a return to the top-four.

Their hopes of playing Champions League football hang in the balance, with Europa League success another way of qualifying.

But Marcelino says recent defeats to Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester are of no interest to him – instead pointing to Arsenal’s comfortable quarter-final win over Napoli as his reference point.

“They easily eliminated Napoli,” he said.

“That is the reference for us. They are a great side with huge potential and are strong at home.

“It will be tough for us and I hope it will be for them as well. We need to play each minute as (if) it was the last.

“Past results don’t matter. We know their players can adapt to these situations and they will want an advantage in the first leg. We are a tough team to play at our place – it is a tough stadium to go to.”

Valencia captain Dani Parejo was at the club during Emery’s tenure as head coach, the pair working together for two years.

The former Real Madrid youngster professed surprise at Emery chopping and changing his tactics and has targeted Arsenal’s defence – which conceded three goals in each of their last three games – ahead of the first leg.

“I worked with him for a year,” he said of Emery.

“I was young. I believe that coaches have their own playing style and always try to use that style regardless of which team they are coaching.

“I am surprised that he changed his system – they don’t use a back four example. But his team compete and play good football.

“It will be a tough one as they have a good team. They have been conceding in recent games and let’s hope we can take advantage and get a good result tomorrow.”

PA

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