Arsenal boss Unai Emery refused to discuss Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence ahead of this evening’s Europa League game with Qarabag in Azerbaijan
Due to a long-standing diplomatic conflict between Mkhitaryan’s native Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, Arsenal will have to make do without their midfielder.
This ongoing feud caused Mkhitaryan to not travel to Azerbaijan in 2015 when Borussia Dortmund played Gabala.
Speaking on the matter for the first time at Baku, Emery refused to discuss it in depth.
“He cannot travel here,” said Emery on the club website.
“We are here, the players with the best mentality and preparation and possibility to play tomorrow.”
Pushed for further details by journalists at the press conference, Emery attempted to keep things football-related.
“My work is football,” he added.
“I respect each person, I respect each people, I respect each culture, I respect each country. But I don’t know each situation in every country. For me, he cannot play tomorrow.
“There is respect for ‘Mkhi’ and respect for you. Today we are here with the opportunity to play well.”
Emery also refused to discuss the prospect of Mkhitaryan missing this season’s Europa League final, which will also be held at Baku.
The Spanish coach has brought a 21-man squad with him to Azerbaijan for Arsenal’s second game of Group E, although both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey are absent.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) October 3, 2018