Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny believes playing with “calmness and focus” will be key if they are to overturn their 1-0 deficit to BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
Unai Emery’s side fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to BATE in Belarus in last week’s first leg of their Round of 32 tie following Stanislav Dragun’s goal just before the break.
Arsenal had enjoyed 77% of the ball possession during the match but failed to convert their dominance into goals and will now have it all to do in tonight’s return leg at the Emirates Stadium.
Speaking in a pre-match conference on Wednesday, Koscielny admitted that the Gunners need to figure out a better balance between attack and defence for tonight with scoring being a must, while conceding any will put them at a dangerous disadvantage.
“We need to find a good balance between attacking and defending. I think they will play with a deep block and wait to play on the counter-attack,” said Koscielny on Arsenal.com.
“We need to be focused on our tradition when we lose the ball, to try to win back the ball as soon as possible. We don’t want to give them chances to have a free-kick or corner.
“Afterwards, it’s about us being efficient in their box to score some goals. We don’t know if we will score early in the game or later, but we need to continue to play with calmness and focus.
“We can have some chances as we had in the first leg, but we need to be more efficient in both boxes.”
Over the years, Arsenal have suffered big defeats in the knockout stages in Europe to the likes of AC Milan, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
But French centre-back Koscielny, who has been at the Emirates Stadium since 2010, denies that the Gunners suffer from a mental block during the knockout games.
“No, I think all the games I played with Arsenal have been different in every game,” he said.
“I played against big teams and it was hard and often against the winner of the Champions League, I think about Barca and Bayern, so it’s a difference. But today we are more positive about what we want to achieve together, the most important is to win.
“After we know how we want to play our game, but most important is the final result. It is difficult but we are professional and we want to go to the final.
“We know we need to play very well as we are in a bad position at this moment, but for 90 minutes we can play well and reach the next round.”
The return leg between Arsenal and BATE will begin at 6:55 PM (CET).
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 20, 2019