Unai Emery urges Arsenal to seize Europa League trophy chance

• Competition should be relished for its own sake, manager says
• Emery sees clash with old club Valencia as ‘my final’

Beating Valencia offers Arsenal a route to the Champions League place they were unable to clinch via the Premier League but Unai Emery said his players must look beyond that and be motivated more by the chance to secure the club’s third European trophy.

The Arsenal manager, who won this competition three times in a row at Sevilla, also insisted the match with his former club Valencia is “my final” – a game he wished could have been left until Baku on 29 May.

A draw with Brighton left Arsenal needing a win, a Tottenham defeat and an eight-goal swing on the final day to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four place, and Emery effectively admitted defeat on doing so.

But while the Europa League, in which Arsenal lead Valencia 3-1 after the first leg, represents a second chance he rejected the idea that the competition is primarily a gateway to the Champions League. He also insisted the semi-final remains “50-50” and that Arsenal would seek to score, not just defend.

“We started with two possibilities: one is through the Premier League and the second is through the Europa League,” Emery said. “We have finished in the Premier League and it is not a possibility for us now but we are in this competition and we will see tomorrow. We want to play the Europa League because it is a title first and secondly because of the Champions League [place].”

“I first competed for this title here at Valencia when it was still the Uefa Cup and was a lesser title than I think it is now. It has grown. It’s an important title for all those teams not in the Champions League, one they all want to win.

“Getting a Champions League place through the Europa League is a fair reward, I think. It’s an attractive title and it’s getting more attractive: we’ve seen Manchester United, Atlético, Sevilla against Liverpool. The demands are high and everyone wants it, as a title, not just a way in [to the Champions League].

“At any club like Arsenal or Valencia, titles have to be objectives [in themselves]. Arsenal only have two European titles in their history: the Fairs Cup [in 1970] and the Cup Winners’ Cup [in 1994], neither of which exist any more, so I have a lot of ambition to win a title.”

Emery added: “At Sevilla, that was what motivated us, what got the fans going: that feeling of playing a final. For Sevilla, that was bigger than a Champions League place. I feel pleased to have achieved the objective at both – a Champions league place at Valencia and titles with Sevilla. I want to bring all of that to Arsenal. This competition has huge importance – as a title.”

Valencia (4-4-2, probable): Neto; Piccini, Gabriel, Garay, Gayà; Soler, Coquelin, Parejo, Guedes; Rodrigo, Gameiro.

Arsenal (3-5-2, probable): Cech; Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Özil, Kolasinac; Lacazette, Aubameyang.