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The Europa League has become an “attractive” tournament everyone wants to win, says Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
Emery’s side hold a 3-1 advantage over Valencia after the first leg of their semi-final with the second leg taking place in Spain on Thursday.
The Spaniard won the trophy three times as Sevilla boss and says the incentive of a Champions League spot for the winners has improved the tournament.
“It’s an attractive title and it’s getting more attractive,” said Emery.
“I first competed for this title when it was still the Uefa Cup and was a lesser title than it is now.
“It has grown and I have seen that shift. Giving teams a Champions League place through the Europa League is a fair reward and it’s a title they all want to win.
“It’s an important title for those teams not in the Champions League – and for some who drop into it as a second chance, like Valencia did this season.”
Emery managed Valencia from 2008 to 2012 and then won the Europa League in 2014, 2015 and 2016 while in charge of Sevilla.
“The first time I won it with Sevilla, we didn’t get Champions League access; the second time, we did,” said the 47-year-old in his first season as Arsenal boss.
“The demands are high and everyone wants it, as a title, not just a way in [to the Champions League]. At any club like Arsenal or Valencia, titles have to be the objectives.
“Arsenal only have two European titles in their history: the old Fairs Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup, neither of which [still] exist, so I have a lot of ambition to win a title.”
Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at home against Brighton on Sunday all but ended their hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four.
“We started with two possible routes to the Champions League, one through the Premier League and the second through the Europa League,” added Emery.
“We’re finished in the Premier League, no possibility, but we have a possibility in this competition.
“With big ambition, full motivation, strong mentality, I want to enjoy this game. Games like this, away, difficult team, for an important target is all positive for us.”
Marcelino aims to take inspiration from Liverpool
Like Arsenal, Valencia are fifth in their domestic league with the Europa League representing their best chance of securing Champions League football.
Mouctar Diakhaby gave the Spanish side an early lead in London but two goals from Alexandre Lacazette and an injury-time third from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal a healthy advantage.
Valencia coach Marcelino says his side can take inspiration from Liverpool – who overturned a three-goal first-leg deficit by beating Barcelona 4-0 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League final.
“That game demonstrates that anything can happen,” said Marcelino.
“It’s a lesson that tells us if we play to our maximum we’ll have the chance to make it to the final.
“Every game is different and just because Liverpool beat Barcelona it doesn’t mean we have to knock out Arsenal, but if we do pull it off it’s because we believed we could be in the final.”
- No team has lost the first leg of a Uefa Cup/Europa League semi-final by two or more goals and gone through since Espanyol did it against Club Brugge in 1988.
- In total, five of the previous 28 teams to lose the first leg of a Uefa Cup/Europa League semi-final by two or more goals have ended up progressing.
- Including finals, Arsenal manager Unai Emery has won his past 18 Europa League knockout ties, last being eliminated from the competition in the 2011-12 semi-finals -with Valencia.
- Arsenal have never lost a European tie in which they won the first leg by two or more goals, progressing from all 27 previously.
- Valencia are looking to reach their first major European final since the 2004 Uefa Cup, when they beat Marseille 2-0 under Rafael Benitez.
- Arsenal’s last appearances in a European final was in 2006, losing the Champions League showpiece against Barcelona. They have lost their past three major European finals (1995 Cup Winners Cup, 2000 UEFA Cup, 2006 Champions League).
- Valencia have won both of their two previous home games against Arsenal, beating them 1-0 in the 2000-01 Champions League quarter-final and 2-1 in the 2002-03 Champions League second group stage.
- Valencia were unbeaten in 20 home games in all competitions (won 15, drew five) – but then lost their most recent match at Mestalla Stadium, 1-0 to Eibar in La Liga on 28 April.
- Valencia’s Kevin Gameiro has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 11 starts in home Europa League games, scoring nine and assisting one.
- Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette has scored eight goals in his last 10 Europa League knockout stage games.
A man arrested over the abduction and rape of three women in and around London is being investigated for other attacks involving nine further victims.
Joseph McCann, 34, was arrested in Congleton, Cheshire, after two girls, aged 14, were abducted in the town.
He is being investigated over attacks in Cheshire, Manchester and Lancashire, on victims aged between 11 and 71.
Det Ch Insp Katherine Goodwin, of the Metropolitan Police, said the attacks were “grotesque and horrifying”.
The officer urged other victims to come forward and said police wanted to hear from anyone who had been approached by Mr McCann or in contact with him between February and May.
Mr McCann was found in a tree in Smithy Lane on Sunday evening and arrested after a stand-off with police negotiators.
He had been spotted in the town after two girls were forced into a car that afternoon.
Met detectives are now investigating him in connection with a number of other attacks earlier that day.
These include the false imprisonment of a woman in Haslingden, Lancashire, in which a teenage girl and a boy, 11, were raped and the abduction and rape of a 71-year-old in Bury, Manchester.
The suspect is also being investigated over the abduction of two 13-year-old boys and the abduction and sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in Heywood, Manchester, at about 15:30 BST on Sunday.
Det Ch Insp Goodwin said the attacks were believed to have taken place between 21 April and 5 May.
“Detectives from the Met continue to lead on this investigation and are working very closely with policing counterparts where he is suspected to have carried out further offences,” she said.
Mr McCann was also wanted for questioning over the abduction and rape of a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint in Watford, Hertfordshire, in the early hours of 21 April.
The Met Police launched an appeal to find Mr McCann after two women in their 20s were snatched off streets in London and raped in a car in London on 25 April.
AFC Wimbledon guaranteed another season of League One football after a goalless draw at bottom side Bradford City.
Bradford’s Kelvin Mellor and Anthony O’Connor had the best chances of a quiet first half as Dons keeper Aaron Ramsdale made some smart saves.
Wimbledon came to life after the break as Joe Pigott had an effort cleared off the line and Mitch Pinnock shot wide from the edge of the box.
The Dons’ run of just one loss in their final 12 games ensured a fourth successive season in the third tier as they avoided relegation by virtue of goal difference from Plymouth Argyle.
It is a remarkable escape for the club who were 10 points from safety fewer than three months ago – but just two defeats in that time saw them climb the table and move out of the bottom four last week after a 2-1 win over Wycombe.
Meanwhile, Bradford’s disastrous season came to an end having gone through three managers and won just 11 of their 46 matches to conclude the campaign nine points from safety.
A boy who flicked a piece of cheese at a teenager with a dairy allergy who later died did not mean to harm him, an inquest has heard.
Karanbir Cheema, 13, who also had other allergies and asthma, suffered from a severe reaction at his school in west London on 28 June 2017.
He was taken to hospital in a life-threatening condition and died two weeks later.
An inquest into Karanbir’s death heard a piece of cheese landed on his neck.
A boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Poplar Coroner’s Court he did not know why he threw the cheese, describing it as “immature behaviour.”
The court heard he was given it by a friend during break time at William Perkin Church of England High School in Ealing.
He then threw the piece of cheese at Karanbir – but said he was not specifically his target.
“After that he just said ‘I am allergic to cheese’,” the boy said.
“I apologised and went to class after.”
The boy admitted he did not know how serious allergies could be and thought they could simply cause a rash or fever.
“I didn’t mean to hurt him and obviously I feel bad now”, the boy said.
In a statement, Karanbir’s mother Rina said her son was “extremely diligent” at managing his allergies.
Informed that cheese had been put down his neck, she said a consultant at the hospital questioned this because contact through the skin would not cause such a bad reaction.
Giving evidence, Rajvnder Saini who worked at the school, said an Epipen kept in the school for Karanbir had expired in July 2016.
An email was sent to the boy’s mother in February 2017 to inform her, the court heard.
The inquest continues.
Detectives investigating the abduction and rape of two women in linked attacks have released an image of a suspect.
The first victim was taken in Chingford, north London, at about 00:30 BST on Thursday, while the second was targeted 12 hours later in Edgware.
Both women, in their 20s, escaped following a struggle in Osborne Road, Watford, at about 14:30.
A man, 33, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape. The hunt for the rapist continues.
The Met Police has released images of a suspect attempting to book a hotel room in the Watford area at about 13:00 on Thursday. When one was unavailable, he left the premises.
The suspect is described as white, of muscular build, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, with a bald head or shaved blond hair and a light-coloured short beard.
He is described as having a distinctive tattoo of the word “bobbie” on his stomach.
He was believed to have been driving a silver or grey-coloured Ford S-Max people carrier, with false registration plates.
Det Ch Insp Katherine Goodwin urged the public to come forward and report any unfamiliar parked cars matching its description.
She warned people not to approach the suspect and to call 999.
“Our investigation into these appalling crimes is making good process but we urgently need the help of the public to identify and trace this man.
“It is vitally important we catch this man, and while stranger attacks of this nature are thankfully rare, we would urge people to remain vigilant.”
Climate activists gathered to mark the end of protests that caused 11 days of disruption across London.
More than 1,100 people have been arrested since campaigners from Extinction Rebellion first blocked traffic in the capital on 15 April.
On the final day of action, protesters blocked roads, climbed on a train and glued themselves together in London’s financial district.
Hundreds of people met in Hyde Park for a “closing ceremony”.
Campaigners sat on the grass next to Speaker’s Corner – widely considered London’s home of free speech – singing and listening to musicians.
Transport for London said all roads are open around Marble Arch.
Skeena Rathor, of Extinction Rebellion, welcomed the “rebels” to the ceremony and described the crowd as “beautiful beings”, adding: “This is our pause ceremony.
“Welcome to the beginning of our pause.”
She invited the crowd to “begin a process of reflection”, adding: “Thank you for what you have done this week. It is enormous. It is beyond words.”
The crowd cheered and clapped when a speaker said “the police were amazing” during the days of blockades.
“We will leave the physical locations but a space for truth-telling has been opened up in the world,” event organisers said on their Facebook page.
“We would like to thank Londoners for opening their hearts and demonstrating their willingness to act on that truth.
“We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.”
Extinction Rebellion is urging the government to “tell the truth” about the scale of the climate crisis. It wants the UK to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and a Citizens’ Assembly set up to oversee the changes needed to achieve this.
On Thursday, 26 people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass outside the Stock Exchange and on Fleet Street, bringing the total number of arrests up to 1,130 since the protests began on 15 April, the Met Police said.
Four people stood on top of a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train while another glued herself to a train.
Five people were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway, the British Transport Police said.
Meanwhile, Dame Emma Thompson, who joined the activists on Saturday, has defended flying from Los Angeles to London to take part.
The actress said it was “very difficult to do my job without occasionally flying” but she was “in the very fortunate position of being able to offset my carbon footprint”.
More than 10,000 police officers have been deployed during the action.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the protests had been a “huge challenge for our over-stretched and under-resourced Metropolitan Police”.
The Met said on Wednesday it had imposed new conditions under the Public Order Act on the protest area in Marble Arch, making it a criminal offence to protest outside a designated area or incite others to protest outside of it.
The conditions will remain in force until Saturday.
Extinction Rebellion activists have marched on Parliament to invite MPs to discuss climate change policies.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began in central London a week ago.
Police said a “robust” plan was in place and protesters must leave Parliament Square by midnight.
A total of 71 people have so far been charged in connection with the protest. Makeshift camps at Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge have now been cleared.
Protesters left Marble Arch, which had been occupied since 15 April, carrying flags and banners and marching to drums shortly after 10:00 BST.
Demonstrators have previously suggested temporarily ending disruptive tactics to focus on political negotiations, as the campaign entered a second week.
Jay Monk, 49, who is taking part in the march, said it was a signal of a “renewed push” to have politicians answer the group’s demands.
Campaigners have three core demands: for the government to “tell the truth about climate change”; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.
The Met Police said anyone failing to comply with its condition to leave Parliament Square by 23:59 would be “committing an offence and will be liable to arrest”.
The oldest person to be charged over the protest is 74 years old, while the youngest is 19.
The vast majority of those charged will appear in court between 14 May and 31 May, police said.
Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg met with party leaders at the House of Commons, including Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats, but not Prime Minister Theresa May, who was chairing a cabinet meeting.
A seat was left empty for Mrs May at the meeting, which was also attended by Green MP Caroline Lucas and the Westminster leaders of the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru – Ian Blackford and Liz Saville Roberts.
The 16-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee told the politicians, who are returning to Parliament after a week-long recess: “We just want people to listen to the science”.
She is expected to give a speech at a meeting in Portcullis House at 14:00.
Protester Steve Jones, 53, suggested some of the disruption might be relaxed if the group was granted “meaningful discussions” with the government.
On Monday, at least 100 protesters laid down under the blue whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum in a coordinated “die in”.
Most of the demonstrators finished their lie-down protest after about half an hour.