'We didn't take the position we wanted' – Emery says Arsenal are focused on Valencia following Premier League setback

The Gunners hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via the league are almost over, with the manager expecting better

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Unai Emery promised Arsenal will show more mental strength against Valencia in the Europa League than in their 1-1 Premier League draw at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League by finishing in the top four are all but over after Glenn Murray cancelled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Emery’s side are three points behind fourth-placed Spurs, who lost 1-0 at Bournemouth and had two players sent off on Saturday. Mauricio Pochettino’s side also have a far superior goal difference going into the final weekend of the Premier League season.

Arsenal could still return to the Champions League by winning the Europa League, though, and with his side leading 3-1 in their semi-final tie ahead of Thursday’s second leg against Valencia, Emery pledged there will be a response from the Gunners.

“We had the idea to continue taking chances for the opportunity against Burnley next week, but today we drew,” Emery told a news conference. “We know they [Brighton] are very organised and strong defensively so the key was scoring the second goal.

“We tried to do that and they gave us some minutes to come back, and again we tried for the second goal and made chances, but their defence did very well and their goalkeeper made some big saves.

“I think we worked and tried but didn’t get the result for taking chances next week. Now our way is to be strong in our focus for Thursday.

“We are going to be stronger in our mentality to prepare for the match on Thursday. And we are going to give the best individual and collective performances in the last matches, above all [against] Burnley.

“I think we can speak now about the different situations and issues in the season, but it’s better to take the focus for Thursday against Valencia – and we are going to do the analysis also.

“In the Premier League because it’s our first target and we didn’t take this position like we wanted, but I think we tried today for this victory.

“We were feeling very well here with our supporters but in the last two matches we haven’t been able to win against Crystal Palace [a 3-2 home loss] and Brighton. I think we deserved more from the last two matches.”

Brighton’s place in the Premier League for next season had been secured when Cardiff City were relegated on Saturday, with Chris Hughton thrilled by a battling display from his side.

“I’m delighted with the performance – we were on the back of an albeit defensive performance at Wolves and a good 88 minutes at Tottenham, against similar quality to what they’ve got here,” he told reporters.

“We wanted a reaction – in our last game we were very poor against Newcastle in the first half, but very good in the second half, and we were able to continue that today.

“The performance was certainly more like us. Even though we’ve dug out a couple of decent performances and results away from home, most people would have thought they’d get a second and third goal.

“It was tough going behind so early on, but credit to the lads for adjusting well. We had to dig deep, and I thought we thoroughly deserved the result.”

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