Unai Emery said Arsenal will do everything possible to allow Henrikh Mkhitaryan to play a part in the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku later this month.
The playmaker missed an earlier match in the Azerbaijani capital in the competition this season because of fears for his safety amid ongoing political tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, whose national team he captains.
Speaking after Arsenal ended the Premier League season with a 3-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor, Emery said: “I don’t know really how is the solution but we want to play with every player, with Mkhitaryan.
“Today he worked very well and we are going to do all possible to play with him.”
Emery was speaking for the first time since it was revealed Arsenal and Chelsea supporters will only be given 6,000 tickets each for the match at the 68,000-capacity stadium.
Comparing the situation to his experiences with Sevilla, Emery said: “I played one final with Barcelona in the Super Cup in Georgia three years ago and it was the same, two teams from Spain travelling to Tbilisi. And the problem was for the supporters.
“I prefer to play closer to England. Three years ago we played in Switzerland against Liverpool and the stadium was full with our supporters and Liverpool supporters and it was amazing.
“It’s going to be only 6,000 supporters for us, for Chelsea, but the stadium has a capacity of 70,000. I think it’s going to be full but not with our supporters and Chelsea supporters.”
Arsenal went into the game at Turf Moor with a very outside chance of finishing fourth but Tottenham’s draw with Everton snuffed that out.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s two goals meant he shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane while Ashley Barnes pulled one back before Eddie Nketiah’s very late third.
Emery ended the domestic season with mixed feelings, saying: “These three points give us 70 points. It’s not enough to be in the top four but I think we were progressing and we were being consistent.
“We can be not 100 per cent happy but the players, like today, worked all the season for progress and to be closer to the top four. We finished a very big distance with Liverpool and City but closer to Tottenham and Chelsea.”
Burnley’s main target of safety had already been achieved, with Sean Dyche’s side ending the campaign in 15th a year after celebrating seventh place and European qualification.
“We’ve had a lot going on this season,” said Dyche. “It’s been a big challenge and I think from where we were at Christmas to where we are now, it’s fantastic.
“We’ve all seen sides that have starts like that who disappear. Every season’s a tough season and this one definitely has been but it’s been strangely enjoyable.”
Dyche confirmed 33-year-old left-back Stephen Ward will be leaving the club at the end of his contract this summer after five years at Turf Moor.
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After Ruben Loftus-Cheek put the hosts ahead, Luka Jovic equalised for the German visitors early in the second half, and they looked the more likely to grab a winner in a scrappy game.
After two European ties of outstanding action earlier this week, we were perhaps due a game that was a little more ragged. But it led to a no less absorbing tie at Stamford Bridge as both teams threw themselves into the action.
It was more grit and guts on show than guile and great action with two sides desperate to get to the Europa League final.
Chelsea took the lead through a fine finish from rising England star Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has matured immeasurably after going to the World Cup with England last summer.
Luka Jovic, oddly kept quiet in the first half, was not to stay silent though – dragging Frankfurt level early in the second period with an effortlessly calm strike. He was a handful from then on, and here, we take a closer look at his performance.
Goals – 1
Shots – 4
On target – 2
Touches – 51
Passes – 26
Pass accuracy – 80.8%
Aerials won – 2
Dribbles – 4
GOT RIGHT – COMETH THE HOUR
A 27th goal of a decorative season for the young Serb. Coming in his 45th game, that is a ridiculously good record for a player who only turned 21 two days before Christmas.
Real Madrid have reportedly tied up a €60m deal with Frankfurt and Benfica and what a gift to give a side desperately in need of goals.
He wasn’t having a highlight reel kind of game up until his goal, but when the chance came he was ready. The ice cold composure of a deadly striker, he finished with aplomb.
GOT RIGHT – HUNGER
What someone like Manchester United would give for a star striker with the appetite for working off the ball that Jovic has. Even with things not going his way, he kept up the pace, closing Chelsea players for his team’s cause.
With the goals he’s plundered this season he could be forgiven for acting like the star who deserves all the praise. He made three tackles against Chelsea – only David Abraham and Mijat Gacinovic made more.
GOT WRONG – TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
As terrific as he is and has been, he’s not the smoothest of operators with the ball when not shooting. He’s a deadly finisher, of that there is no doubt, and he possesses a superb work ethic and seemingly boundless energy. But if he’s going to Madrid, that won’t be enough. He’ll have to improve technically.
On a rainy night in west London he was by no means the sole player to struggle to hold onto the ball, it was a sloppy game in that way. But of his four dribbles, he was dispossessed twice and made four unskilled touches.
The hallmark of all good strikers? They can find the net even when they’re not really having their best game. While Chelsea counterpart Olivier Giroud drifted in and out of the game and left no telling impression, it wasn’t happening at all in attack for Jovic, and yet he still made the difference.
A similar player to the Frenchman in that he’s a handful and is an aerial presence. But his ground game is superb and he’s deadly in front of goal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal strike partner Alexandre Lacazette were hailed as “amazing” by head coach Unai Emery after their goals steered the Gunners to a Europa League final date with rivals Chelsea.
Having led 3-1 from the first-leg against Valencia, Emery’s side were favourites to advance and Aubameyang’s hat-trick eased them into the final as they won 4-2 on the night and secured a 7-3 aggregate success.
Lacazette also got his name on the scoresheet to ensure the pair have scored all of Arsenal’s last eight Europa League goals between them – with a total of 48 goals shared across the campaign.
In a week of English comebacks in the Champions League, Aubameyang’s goals made sure Arsenal were not on the receiving end of another.
Despite falling behind to Kevin Gameiro’s 11th-minute effort, the Gunners rallied as Aubameyang equalised and Alexandre Lacazette struck to put them ahead on the night and in control of the tie.
Gameiro, who was part of Emery’s Sevilla side which won three successive Europa League titles, continued his fine scoring run in the competition with another – only for Aubameyang to add the gloss with two more efforts.
“I am proud of them,” Emery replied when asked about the impact of Aubameyang and Lacazette.
“Big players can be good strikers but when their commitment is like today, defensively also, to work to help us, it is amazing.
“Each match is different and I think today we showed everybody our character, and also our capacity to be together and struggle in some moments defensively, but also having good moments in attack.
“Against Valencia, not one team this year has scored four goals against them. Only one time, against Atletico Madrid, have they conceded three goals and we did that last week. It’s a very good team, a difficult team, and today we showed we can do that.”
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