Emery admits stopping Hazard is key to Europa League glory

Arsenal boss Unai Emery says stopping Eden Hazard will be vital if his side are to beat Chelsea and win the Europa League on May 29.
The Gunners coach is wary of the threat the Belgian poses ahead of an all-English final against The Blues on Wednesday
The two sides will meet in Baku for the final of this year’s competition, in the first of two huge all-English European ties this week.

The Gunners must beat the Blues in order to qualify for next season’s Champions League, having missed out on a top-four Premier League finish.

A major trophy triumph would also heap extra pressure on arch-rivals Tottenham, who are aiming to become only the second London club in history to win the European Cup when they take on Liverpool in Madrid this Saturday.

One man who could ruin Arsenal’s plans is Chelsea winger Hazard, who has enjoyed his most impressive campaign yet at Stamford Bridge.

The 28-year-old contributed 16 goals and 15 assists in 37 Premier League appearances for Maurizio Sarri’s side and as he closes in on a summer transfer to Real Madrid, he will be looking to end his time in west London on a high note.

Speaking to El Mundo, Emery acknowledged the threat Hazard poses his team, naming him as one of the five best players in the world.

“We know Chelsea well, a team with quality and a high physical level,” he began.

“Hazard is a player of moments, but decisive moments. It is what we have to avoid. Chelsea is capable of winning thanks to him, and that ability I have only seen in [Lionel] Messi, Cristiano [Ronaldo], Neymar or [Mohamed] Salah.

“For me, he is in the quintet of the best in the world. City, for example, has won its second Premier League but has done so more as a collective. It is a more complete team, like Tottenham, despite the contribution of Harry Kane and Son.”

Arsenal have not won any silverware since lifting the 2017 FA Cup and have not tasted Premier League success since 2004 when Arsene Wenger masterminded an unbeaten season.

The Frenchman was unable to oversee European glory during his 22-year tenure and by the time he left the club last summer, the Gunners were no longer a major force.

Emery says he was brought in to help the team compete at the elite level once again, but insists winning trophies was not a requirement when he took the role.

“I did not promise titles, I promised to compete,” he added. “What Wenger did in this club was very big. He managed to give a touch of quality to make the game more fluid and colourful, but little by little he lost the competitive gene.

“That is what was transmitted to me and what I was hired for when I interviewed Raul Sanllehi and the owners.

“The economic potential of United, City or Liverpool is greater than ours, but by history and structure, Arsenal is among the top 10 clubs in Europe, and we have to place there again.”

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