Arsenal manager Unai Emery has confirmed that midfielder Aaron Ramsey will not travel with the side to play Qarabag in their second Europa League group match on Thursday, as he and his wife await the arrival of their second child.
Ramsey’s contract expires at the end of the season and renewal talks have broken down, with the club considering selling him in January as their last chance to cash in on the player they acquired from Cardiff in 2008.
Emery also confirmed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unwell and joined Henrikh Mkhitaryan in not travelling to Azerbaijan. Mkhitaryan’s Armenian nationality means that he is not permitted to enter Azerbaijan because of the tensions between the two countries, although exceptions have been made for professional athletes in the past.
“Mkhitaryan can’t play tomorrow. Aubameyang is sick, he can’t play,” explained the Arsenal manager. “Aaron asked me if he could stay in London because his wife is pregnant and they are waiting.
“We are here with the players with the best preparation to play them tomorrow,” said Emery, who refused to delve into the restraints that prevent Mkhitaryan playing. “My work is football. I respect each person, each culture, each country, but I don’t know each situation in every country. For me, he can’t play tomorrow and I have respect for Mkhi.”
The Europa League final will be held in Azerbaijan, and Emery declined to speculate whether Arsenal would try and get Mkhitaryan special permission to play should they reach it. “It’s a long way away. We are thinking only about tomorrow and to work for the next matches.”
With Arsenal missing some key players and faced with a 5,000 mile round trip before returning to face Fulham at 12:00 on Sunday, Emery could be prepared to rotate his side, but says that does not mean he’s taking the competition lightly.
“It’s very important for us this competition. We are giving each competition our best preparation and performance. Even last year I would like to believe we take every competition seriously. Emile Smith Rowe has been involved so we still have youth players involved – but we are taking the competition very seriously.
“We have a lot of respect for Qarabag – They started with a good performance against Sporting. They lost 2-0 but it was a good performance.
“They have good players, good spirit and with a good tactual input on the game. I remember last season Atletico Madrid couldn’t win two games against them last season, That is two very good examples why we have respect for them.”
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