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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Emery: Ball is still firmly in our court

Gunners boss Unai remains hopeful of a top-four finish

Unai Emery will be hoping Arsenal can bounce back from Sunday’s defeat to Crystal Palace when they take on Wolves at Molineux tonight. Pic: PA
Unai Emery will be hoping Arsenal can bounce back from Sunday’s defeat to Crystal Palace when they take on Wolves at Molineux tonight. Pic: PA

Arsenal manager Unai Emery believes his team's hopes of finishing in the Premier League's top four and qualifying for the Champions League are still in their own hands.

The Gunners, who were looking to move up to third over the weekend, ended up fifth after Crystal Palace's 3-2 win at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

"We have it in our hands," Emery told reporters ahead of tonight's trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers. "At the beginning of the season, after winter, we struggled in the table. We were in a worse position than we are now.

"I'm still proud of our season, knowing that the key moments are now. Tonight is a big moment for us."

Emery brushed aside suggestions that mid-table Wolves might take their foot off the pedal. The newly-promoted side have an impressive record against the top six teams, picking up 13 points so far.

Motivation

"They're going to push a lot," Emery said. "I worked one thing here very quickly, we are playing against all of the teams and they want to battle us, fighting and playing with a big motivation.

"One is the motivation in the table for each player and one is the motivation against Arsenal. Every team wants to battle us because they respect us."

Emery also refused to comment on whether Granit Xhaka would return from a hip injury but confirmed Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and loanee Denis Suarez (groin) would not be available.

"I want to keep all the information we can have for [tonight]," he said when asked about Xhaka's possible return. "Sorry. It's because I think it's better for us. You know Aaron Ramsey cannot play, Denis Suarez cannot play."

Meanwhile, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has urged his players to go for the jugular against Arsenal.

"Every game is a new challenge, it's a new opportunity to become better as a team and as players," he said.

"That's what we tell the players, compete to the maximum of your ability and just go for it."

The Wolves boss also continued to dismiss talk about Europe with Wolves in the hunt for seventh, which would earn them a Europa League qualifying spot if Manchester City beat Watford in the FA Cup final.

"Nobody thinks about it (Europe) because we don't know what's ahead of us," he said, with Wolves 10th, one point behind Everton in seventh.

"We must focus on the present for the game and after that, we don't know. It's about keeping the same idea - don't think about anything else.

"Just prepare yourself for the competition. We are a team that likes to play - just that."

There are no fresh injury worries for Nuno, who could stick with the same side despite their frustrating stalemate with Brighton on Saturday.

"It's credit to the players and, sometimes, some luck, to avoid what happens in football - knocks, all these things, but we have been able to sustain them and keep doing it well," he added.

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