Belfast Telegraph

Emery maintains fixture pile-up is no excuse

Arsenal manager Unai Emery
Arsenal manager Unai Emery

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has refused to follow some of his counterparts by suggesting the Premier League should do more to help English clubs in Europe.

Both Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri have called on the league to fall in line with much of the continent and assist teams playing in European competition and the fixture congestion it causes.

The Gunners face Rennes this evening in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie.

Although the game at Roazhon Park is sandwiched between huge Premier League ties against Spurs and Manchester United as the battle for the top four hots up, Emery insists it cannot be used as a reason for any poor performances.

"It is not an excuse for us, we have the habit to play a lot of matches week by week," he said.

"We played on Saturday, rested Sunday and started to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I think we are going to be okay to play every player. For us, it is a very important match.

"I respect them, the Premier League, they decide the schedules for our matches and we adapted.

"Our adaptation is to prepare for the matches on the days we can have but, above all, our habit is to play a lot of matches during the week, so it is no excuse.

"You ask me if I prefer more time to prepare for one match then yes, but for example in this match we don't have an excuse.

"We had time to prepare for this match well, maybe we are going to play after on Sunday but we have this habit and we have the players to share and find combinations."

Arsenal will be without striker Alexandre Lacazette as he serves the second game of a three-match ban after his red card against BATE, meaning Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to lead the line.

Rennes

Arsenal

Europa League, Round of 16, First Leg

Roazhon Park, Tonight, 5.55pm

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