Arsenal manager Unai Emery revealed that motivating his players for the Europa League this season has been a problem.
Emery is hoping to cap off his first season in charge of Arsenal by winning the Europa League for the fourth time. Should they succeed, it will guarantee the club a spot in next season’s Champions League.
The Gunners will meet Chelsea in an all-London final in Baku next Wednesday.
Unlike their rivals, though, the pressure will be on Arsenal to win following their failure to claim a Premier League top-four finish.
But even a three-time winning coach hasn’t always been enough to get the players interested in the Europa League.
“My titles in this competition are no guarantee [of success]. Each match, each year is different,” said Emery, according to OneFootball.
“The first idea was to transmit to the players this season to go for every competition. Now we are in the Europa League. We needed to feel this competition was an important competition.
“When we started playing in the first matches, some players preferred to play Premier League. Okay. I explained then to every player that we needed the focus on every competition.
“I am going to decide when you are going to rest or not. I don’t want you to think you might not play in the early rounds and yet when we arrive at the semi-final or the final you say to me: I am here to play.
“No. I want you here, I want you ready to play, and you will be ready to play throughout.”
Emery added: “Of course, some injuries can stop you playing.
“But the focus all the season is in this competition with a big focus and a big ambition to do something important. And to feel this competition like we want it.”