(Reuters) – Arsenal manager Unai Emery has said he does not believe the week’s rest afforded to their Europa League last-16 opponents Rennes by the French league governing body will be a deciding factor in the first leg on Thursday.
Rennes had their Ligue 1 game at Nimes rescheduled from Saturday by the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) to allow them more time to prepare for Arsenal’s visit while the Premier League side played rivals Tottenham Hotspur in a 1-1 draw.
“It’s not an excuse for us. We have the habit to play a lot of matches week-by-week,” Emery told reporters on Wednesday.
“We rested on Sunday. We’re starting to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Tomorrow we will be ok to play, every player.
“The Premier League decided the schedule for our matches. I respect them. We adapted, our adaptation is preparing (for) the matches with the days we can have.”
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a late spot kick in the North London derby that could have lifted Arsenal to fourth place within a point of Spurs, who are third, but Emery said he still had belief in the striker to take penalties.
“I was positive before and I’m positive today. If he’s going to shoot a penalty again I have very big confidence he can score,” the Spaniard added.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)