Arsenal’s Europa League campaign was the one constant that fans could seemingly rely on this season, but earlier this week, even that was taken away from them just a touch as they were unable to secure all three points against Vitoria SC. The first game against the Portuguese side just a few short weeks ago served as a warning sign that this game wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. On that occasion they had Nicolas Pepe to bail them out, but it soon became clear lightning wasn’t going to strike twice.
Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was one of the few members of the first team squad that can hold their head up high after the draw against Vitoria SC, and in the wake of the game, Martinez spoke to the media.
On how challenging the game was:
It was quite difficult, especially in the first half. The pitch wasn’t great and we couldn’t find many good occasions to score. They had some good shots in the first half but we handled it quite well and defended well too. We moved the ball quicker in the second half and we were unlucky to concede in the end.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery spoke to the media last night as the chaos surrounding the club in the wake of their draw to Vitoria SC in the Europa League continues.
On Arsenal’s performance:
Good evening. In this competition, our objective is to be first in the group and we have 10 points and we are first. We are going to play the next two matches to make sure of that position, and now we are going to prepare for Leicester on Saturday. It’s a new competition and it is very important. But the analysis from this match, I think we worked hard and fought against a team who were very strong defensively, and very organised. They played against us with 100 per cent motivation and also with their supporters. A little disappointed for the result because we wanted to win, but we are first in the group and we want to make sure of that position in the next matches.
On being surprised by Vitoria’s quality:
HB – No, I wasn’t surprised at all because even though they lost the first two games in the group stage, we knew they were very tight games, and that [the opposition] had to score goals at the end or that they scored through set pieces. We knew they were a team with a lot of quality and very physical players, with quick and creative players at the top. We analysed the last few games they played, and knew it wouldn’t be easy. It was harder than some people expected, but we knew it and not every game will be easy. It was a hard game, and Pepe won it at the end with the free kick. Obviously we play away from home, they will have the home crowd, so we expect it to be harder but we are ready.
There are a lot of things to talk about right now within Arsenal Football Club – from the fact that the Vitoria game today is kicking off at 3.50pm to Granit Xhaka being stripped as captain of the first team. As we look ahead to this afternoon’s game, Hector Bellerin and Unai Emery have both taken the time to address the media ahead of the encounter.
There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered when it comes to Arsenal Football Club this season, and the fans are well aware of that fact – even though, in the Europa League, they continue to be one of the favourites to win the entire thing. Such is the nature of this crazy game we call football, and such is the entertainment value to be found in the Europa League.
Today, we’re going to take a look at tomorrow night’s encounter between Arsenal and Vitoria SC as the Gunners prepare to make their way over to Portugal.
The Europa League is set to return tonight as the Gunners are given the opportunity to extend their advantage in their group and take another step towards the knockout stage of the Europa League. Over the course of the last few years it’s been pretty standard for the club to get through this portion of the Europa League test, and it’s only really from the Round of 32 onwards that they tend to have a little bit of trouble.
The expectation is that they’re going to run through Vitoria at the Emirates, but as we’ve come to learn, expecting the unexpected from Unai Emery’s men is a much smarter way to go.