Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny said he expects BATE Borisov to play a deep block when they face the Gunners in their Europa League clash at Emirates Stadium tomorrow (Thursday).

The Frenchman was facing the media ahead of the clash and said he expected the Belarusians to play primarily on the counter-attack and look for set piece opportunities.

Here’s what he had to say:

On balancing the attack and defence in this game…
We need to find a good balance between attacking and defending. I think they will play with a deep block and wait to play on the counter-attack. We need to be focused on our tradition when we lose the ball, to try to win back the ball as soon as possible. We don’t want to give them chances to have a free-kick or corner. Afterwards, it’s about us being efficient in their box to score some goals. We don’t know if we will score early in the game or later, but we need to continue to play with calmness and focus. We can have some chances like we had in the first leg, but we need to be more efficient in both boxes.

On overturning a deficit in a European tie…
The first game was difficult because we went to BATE with ambition and wanted to win. During the game, you never know what can happen. The pitch was difficult as well. Now the reality is we are 1-0 down and we know the game we want to play tomorrow, we have the quality to qualify and go to the next round. Each player is focused and it is a very important game because it is a chance to get to a final and get into the Champions League. Everyone is together and that’s the most important thing for tomorrow.

On whether the team are missing out by not being in the CL…
No, no, the Europa League is still a big competition, it is still a European cup, but of course when you are in the Champions League you want to be in there every year and next season we want to be in the Champions League. But the Europa League this season still has a lot of big teams, it is a top-level tournament, there is Chelsea, Napoli, Valencia so it I think it is a big competition, more than last year, and every year it is more intense. Last year Atletico Madrid won the cup, so for us it is big opportunity to go in the Champions League. Now we have a game in front of us like tomorrow to get to the next rounds and try to get to the final and be in the Champions League next season.

On struggling to keep clean sheets…
In the game against BATE we knew we had the possession, after we need to be more efficient. If we scored the first opportunity against them I think the game is totally different. They just waited for a free kick or corner, and in football you can miss a duel and concede a goal. It is important that all the players on the pitch do their defensive job well. It starts with our strikers when we want to press very high, it makes it easier for our defenders to win back the ball. It is a collective job and we need to be more consistent in this and work harder.

On whether there is a mental block for knockout games…
No I think all the games I played with Arsenal have been different in every game. I played against big teams and it was hard and often against the winner of the Champions League, I think about Barca and Bayern, so it’s difference. But today we are more positive about what we want to achieve together, the most important is to win. After we know how we want to play our game, but most important is the final result. It is difficult but we are professional and we want to go to the final. We know we need to play very well tomorrow as we are in a bad position at this moment, but for 90 minutes we can play well and reach the next round.

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Written by blogonyougunners

Journalist, blogger, and long suffering Arsenal fan, bound for all time to share the pain and misery, and occasional pin-prick of joy, that comes with following North London's finest exports.

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