Emery playing to win in Europe

Arsenal boss Unai Emery says that the Europa League is important to the club this season and they have full respect for the competition.

Having missed out on the Premier League top four for a second successive season, the Gunners are once again competing in the Europa League rather than the Champions League and get their campaign underway on Thursday with a home game against Vorskla Poltava from Ukraine.

The transition to regular Thursday/Sunday football may not be ideal but it is a trophy that Arsenal will be taking seriously with Emery keen to win silverware in his first season since taking over from Arsene Wenger.

He told a press conference ahead of Thursday's game: "Every title for us is very important. In 2000, Arsenal played the final against Galatasaray but didn't win. And also, Arsenal played the final in 2006 in the Champions League and also didn't win.

"In my career, the ambition is very important for continuing to improve and continuing to achieve the objectives in my career personally and with the team. I want to play for every title going forward."

Emery added that the game represents an opportunity to keep improving after a poor start to the current season.

He said that the best available 11 will play on Thursday night as they aim to "continue to improve in our way both tactically and individually."

Arsenal are 1/8 to start off with a win with Vorskla Poltava 25/1 and the draw 9/1.

Arsenal lost their first two Premier League games to Manchester City and Chelsea but have followed that up with three consecutive wins to push them up the table.

The Gunners' next league game is on Sunday with Everton the visitors to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal are 8/1 to win the Europa League this season while they are 2/1 to finish in the top four in the Premier League.

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Belief remains in Rafa’s mind

Rafa Benitez has urged fans of Newcastle United not to lose faith that the current side can improve and move away from the wrong end of the Premier League table.

The Magpies have picked up just one point from five games so far this season, with their latest outing ending in a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Arsenal.

However, the vastly-experienced Benitez refuses to be too downbeat about the situation, having guided his side to a tenth-placed last term in their first season back in the top-flight.

The Spaniard told Sky Sports: "Obviously we are disappointed because in the first half we did really well and deserved more. We were very close so the team is doing well in terms of organisation and in terms of work-rate.

"We were much better on the ball, especially in the first half, but still we have to improve that and keep the spirit. That is the key because we had this situation last year where we are losing games in a row and we finished tenth.

"That message has to be very clear for everyone. I have confidence in this group of players and hopefully we can start winning games soon."

Next up for the Tynesiders is a visit to Crystal Palace next Saturday, with the two sides having shared the spoils from a 1-1 draw in this fixture at Selhurst Park last season.

Newcastle are currently available at 10/3 to be relegated this season, with West Ham priced at 5/2 and Burnley 7/4.

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Emery pleased with Ozil show

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery praised Mesut Ozil after he scored in the 2-1 victory at Newcastle United, whole also calling for even more from the playmaker.

The former Germany international midfielder gave the Gunners a two-goal advantage against the Magpies after Granit Xhaka had opened the scoring, with the home side replying in stoppage time through Ciaran Clark.

And Spaniard Emery was pleased with what he saw, while also making it clear that he expects Ozil to deliver on a more regular basis for his side.

He told reporters: "His quality helps the team. It is important he scored. I want not only for him to assist, we need him to go in the box and score.

"We want his performance each training day and in each match and for him to give us his quality. I want also his best performance for us and he worked well and had a good match.

"For me, every player is the same. We want to give them confidence and also push them. Today, I am happy because I want every player to have chances to score and he scored today.

"He has to continue helping with his quality and working hard to continue with the performances we want from him."

Arsenal can be backed at 2/1 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, with Manchester United available at 5/4 and Tottenham Hotspur 4/5.

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Emery keen on Europa success

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has dropped a major hint that he will give equal importance to both the Premier League and the Europa League this season.

The Gunners made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Europa League last season and came close to ensuring a return to the Champions League, having missed out on a top-four finish domestically.

And it is the place available for the Europa League winners in the Champions League which Emery has his sights set on, having won the tournament three years in a row while in charge of Sevilla.

He told reporters ahead of a Premier League trip to Newcastle United: "My idea first isn't to change 11 players for one competition and the next competition.

"Now it is very important for me to think first about the match against Newcastle, we need to win the three points and then think the same for the Europa League.

"The last year for Arsenal it was very, very important. We lost in the semi-finals to Atletico Madrid. The Europa League can help a lot. After the Champions League, the Europa League is the most important competition.

"When we opened this possibility that, when you win the Europa League, you play in the Champions League, this I think is the key to improve the interest in this competition."

Arsenal are available at 8/1 to win the Europa League this season, with Chelsea priced at 11/2 and Sevilla 12/1.

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Key duo back for Newcastle

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is relieved that Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are available for Saturday's home match against Arsenal.

They key duo had missed the last two matches with thigh and knee problems respectively but are in contention to feature against the Gunners, 9/4 to finish in the top four this season.

"These kinds of weeks are very difficult, because we have players coming back (from international duty) so you have to check everyone and how they feel," said Benitez.

"We have Shelvey and Ritchie training, so no big issue – everyone was training. We have to decide now who can play and who cannot. But both Ritchie and Shelvey are in the squad."

The Magpies beat Arsenal 2-1 at St James' Park in April and are 14/1 to repeat that scoreline on Saturday and record a first Premier League victory of the campaign.

Benitez added: "Every game is different. We will try to set up a team that can win, with the tactics and everything we can do.

"We will decide before the game – we have been talking, we have been working on that, but we will try to do something that will be enough to win the game."

Gunners stay would suit Monreal

Spain international Nacho Monreal, who is in the last 12 months of his current Arsenal deal, is keen to sign a new contract with the club.

The 32-year-old, who moved to the Gunners from Malaga in January 2013, has featured in more than 150 Premier League matches for the club, finding the net on seven occasions.

Monreal, who scored for Unai Emery's team in last month's 3-1 victory against West Ham United, has revealed that new deal talks have started.

Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing Monreal on a free transfer, but the former Osasuna star said: "At the moment we are talking with the club.

"I've always said I am really happy, I feel very happy playing for Arsenal. I came [almost] six years ago. I have a good relationship with them.

"We are in contact in any moment so don't worry about that. I am happy here. That is the most important thing.

"My idea is to play in football until my body says 'Nacho, so sorry but that's the end. But I think it is far [away]. I hope so."

Arsenal lost their first two Premier League matches of the campaign but followed up their victory against the Hammers by winning 3-2 at Cardiff City last time out.

Emery's side are 9/4 to clinch a top-four spot this term and 17/20 to beat Newcastle United on Saturday with Monreal 5/1 to score at any time in the encounter.

Ramsey: Gunners getting stronger

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey says that Arsenal are adapting well to the changes of the summer and go into the international break with confidence growing.

After starting the new Premier League season with two defeats, they now have two weeks off on the back of successive victories.

Their latest was a 3-2 thriller away at Cardiff to leave Neil Warnock's side still searching for their first win back in the top flight.

Arsenal went ahead on 11 minutes, Granit Xhaka's corner being met perfectly by the head of Shkodran Mustafi and it powered into the net giving Neil Etheridge no chance in the Cardiff goal.

However the home side were level just before the break with their first goal of the new Premier League season, though Arsenal contributed with defensive mistakes, Xhaka losing possession and Victor Camarasa got the better of Nacho Monreal to fire home and send the home crowd into half-time on a high.

Buoyed by that equaliser Neil Warnock's side began the second half brightly but the Gunners began to step up the pressure and were rewarded by another goal just after the hour mark, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring with an excellent finish but again the Bluebirds responded.

Little more than five minutes later they were level again with a ball into the Arsenal box again asking questions of the Gunners' defence and Danny Ward headed home.

There was though time for Arsenal to score a third, decisive goal, Alexandre Lacazette finding space in the penalty area to turn and shoot past Etheridge.

There was no time for Cardiff to respond and Arsenal leave with the three points although questions remain over their defensive strength.

However, Ramsey was confident the squad will grow stronger as the season continues as they come to terms with the new management approach of Unai Emery.

He said: "We know it is a process and every game we improve that little bit and get stronger and stronger. Hopefully can come back from International break and really kick on."

Arsenal are back in action on 15th September with a trip to Tyneside to take on a Newcastle side still searching for their first win of the season.

The Gunners are 4/5, Rafa Benitez's side are 15/4 with the draw 12/5. Arsenal are 9/1 to win the game 2-0.

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Warnock desperate to break duck

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock is hoping his side's problems in front of goal will come to an end on Sunday when the Bluebirds take on Arsenal.

Cardiff have failed to score in their first three Premier League games of the campaign, although they have got two points after goalless draws against Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United.

Warnock's team, who lost 2-0 at Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season, were also knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday when they were beaten 3-1 at home by Championship side Norwich City.

The veteran Cardiff manager insists he has been happy with his team's displays in the first three weeks of the season though, saying: "I think the lads have given everything they can and I've been quite pleased with the performances. In every game, we could have got something.

"But as you go higher up the leagues you've got to take your chances. I want to enjoy the games against the big boys, if that's possible. My tactics have got to reflect that, and that's by giving us a chance to score goals."

Cardiff, who are 12/1 to draw 0-0 against the Gunners, can be backed at 18/1 to beat Unai Emery's side 1-0.

London sides handed kind draws

Arsenal and Chelsea have been handed kind draws in the group stage of the Europa League but Rangers and Celtic have tougher tasks.

The Gunners will be confident about their chances of qualifying from Group E which also includes Sporting Lisbon, Qarabag from Azerbaijan and the Ukrainian team Vorskla.

Chelsea have been placed in Group L alongside the Greek outfit PAOK, Belarus' BATE Borisov and Vidi from Hungary, who were knocked out of the Champions League by AEK Athens on Tuesday.

Celtic, who beat Suduva to reach this stage of the Europa League after AEK Athens had also ended their Champions League campaign, face a tricky time against Salzburg, who reached the semi-finals last term, Bundesliga side RB Leipzig and Rosenborg.

Brendan Rodgers' side beat the Norwegians 1-0 on aggregate earlier this season in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Steven Gerrard has guided Rangers past Shkupi, Osijek, Maribor and FC Ufa to reach the group stage. They face matches against Villarreal, Rapid Vienna and Spartak Moscow in the next three months.

Arsenal are 8/1 to win the Europa League outright, while Chelsea can be backed at 11/2, Celtic at 80/1 and AC Milan at 25/1.

Full Europa League draw:

Group A: Bayer Leverkusen, Ludogorets, Zurich, AEK Larnaca
Group B: Salzburg, Celtic, RB Leipzig, Rosenborg
Group C: Zenit St Petersburg, Copenhagen, Bordeaux, Slavia Prague
Group D: Anderlecht, Fenerbahce, Dinamo Zagreb, Spartak Trnava
Group E: Arsenal, Sporting Lisbon, Qarabag, Vorskla Poltava
Group F: Olympiakos, AC Milan, Real Betis, Dudelange
Group G: Villarreal, Rapid Vienna, Spartak Moskva, Rangers
Group H: Lazio, Marseille, Eintracht Frankfurt, Apollon
Group I: Besiktas, Genk, Malmo, Sarpsborg
Group J: Sevilla, Krasnodar, Standard Liege, Akhisar Belediyespor
Group K: Dynamo Kiev, Astana, Rennes, Jablone
Group L: Chelsea, PAOK, BATE Borisov, Vidi

Pellegrini confident of upturn

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini remains confident that his side are showing signs of improvement, despite three successive defeats.

The Irons were thumped 4-0 at Liverpool on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season, before their suffered a 2-1 reverse at home to Bournemouth.

On Saturday their losing run extended to three games as they were beaten 3-1 at Arsenal, with the Hammers failing to make the most of a number of chances, having taken the lead through Marko Arnautovic.

However, Pellegrini felt that his team had played better overall than they had in their opening two games, telling Sky Sports: "I always try and analyse the game and we improved on what we did in the first two games so I am absolutely sure that we are (playing) in the correct way.

"Of course, we need to add points, but we are going to continue searching with the style we played here.

"In the first three games, we haven't had the results that we wanted, but in every game we are improving.

"I'm absolutely sure that in December, when we finish the first half (of the season), this team will at least be in the middle of the table."

The Irons are priced at 5/2 to finish in the top half of the table come the end of the season, with Bournemouth available at 7/4 and Wolves 6/5.

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