Arsenal manager Unai Emery has insisted that he and the club trust UEFA that the Europa League clash with Vorskla can safely go ahead without security concerns after the decision was made to move the game from Poltava to Kyiv after martial law was declared in parts of Ukraine.
The change of venue came at short notice, with media personnel and Gunners fans already making the difficult trip to Poltava in the east of central Ukraine.
“We need to respect UEFA’s decision because it’s not easy for Vorskla. It’s not an easy decision for UEFA to make either. For us, we were preparing for our trip to Poltava and then awaiting the final decision in the evening,” Emery said, via Arsenal.com.
“When UEFA said to us we can play here safely we decided to come and respect the UEFA decision.”
The Arsenal boss insists there is not a lot of difference between playing in Poltava and playing in Kyiv in terms of preparation for his team, with the biggest onus on travelling supporters.
“It doesn’t change a lot for us to play here, only that we had to move to Kiev like the journalists and the Arsenal supporters who travelled. They travelled to Poltava and then had to come here,” he said.
“In 90 minutes, it’s not a very big change. It’s clear they are playing [elsewhere] in Ukraine and not in their town, but here in Kiev they can also move their supporters. In the 90 minutes, we want to do our work here. We want to prepare for Poltava with the respect to them.
“UEFA found the best decision to make us able to play, and also to protect everybody. They’re protecting us and they’re protecting them. We were waiting for this decision but we knew that we had to respect it. The most important change is that it affects the supporters.
“It’s very cold here like it is in Poltava but we’re going to play with this weather. We prepared for the match in this context with our players and also with the respect for Vorskla. We only want to play the match, to win and to show every supporter that we can do well.”
Arsenal have already secured safe passage to the Europa League knockout rounds but a win in Ukraine would also guarantee top spot in the group with a game to spare and a seeded place in the Last 32 draw.