Unai Emery Talks Playing 'Under Pressure,' Mesut Ozil Before Arsenal vs. Napoli

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal walks past Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal after being substituted off during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on March 10, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has said he is used to his teams playing "under pressure" as they gear up for their UEFA Europa League quarter-final with Napoli. 

The Gunners face the Serie A side on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium in what is arguably the standout tie of the last eight. The matches are crucial for Arsenal in what is poised to be a gripping end to the season, as they are chasing Europa League glory and a top-four finish in the Premier League.

With two clear targets, there will be a lot of tense encounters to come for Arsenal. Speaking ahead of Thursday's match, Emery said that doesn't bother him, per Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail:

"We are always demanding of ourselves. For me, playing under pressure is normal. We are being consistent a lot at the moment. This match is a big-level match, and the level we want to play. It's a very big test for us in this competition.

"We want to play the best teams, and Napoli now is one of the best teams, with the best players and also a very experienced coach."

Being involved in different battles during the run-in means Arsenal have two chances to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League: succeed in the Europa League or finish in the Premier League's top four.

The Europa League has been a tournament of highs and lows for the Gunners. In the previous round they produced a brilliant performance in the second leg to overturn a 3-1 deficit against Rennes (U.S. only):

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Everything about this Arsenal W was GLORIOUS 🙌 They advance to the Quarterfinals on aggregate 🔥 https://t.co/hhodRZMksl

The Gunners don't come into the game on the back of a strong showing, though, as they were far from their best when they were beaten 1-0 by Everton in the Premier League on Sunday.

Mesut Ozil started that encounter but was brought off after struggling to make an impact. When he was on the bench, the German was captured throwing his coat in the direction of Toffees boss Marco Silva during a flashpoint in the game.

"This is happening all the season [being asked about Ozil]," Emery said when quizzed on whether the player has an issue with discipline. "When I decided he's going to play, some journalists asked me 'why?' And when I sometimes decide he's not playing, they ask me 'why is he not playing?'"

Per Squawka Football, after his display against Everton, Ozil could have few complaints if he is left out against Napoli:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Mesut Özil failed to created a chance, produce a shot, win a foul or complete a take-on during his time on the pitch against Everton. Not an enjoyable afternoon at Goodison Park. https://t.co/9YwYW6nAiC

While Arsenal have had their issues away from home this season, on they have been strong on home soil, recently notching their 10th successive win at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League.

The Stadio San Paolo will be a tough place to go in the second leg, as Napoli have high-class players and a raucous crowd behind them. With that in mind, it feels imperative the Gunners are in front at the halfway point of what should be a gripping tie.