Arsenal coach, Unai Emery, has fired back at critics of the club following heavy criticism of him and his players in the aftermath of their defeat to Everton.
The Londoners saw their top four hopes suffer a huge setback when they lost 1-0 to Everton at the Goodison Park which saw them miss out on the opportunity to move above Spurs and eventually dropping to fifth position following Chelsea's 2-0 win over West Ham.
Emery's men were criticized not just for the result but also for the disappointing performance they put in against Marco Silva's side.
But ahead of their Europa League first leg quarter-final game against Napoli at the Emirates, the Spaniard has jumped to the defence of his players and promised to do that till the end of the season.
“On Sunday we lost and after the match, we were very disappointed,” Emery said.
“But after the first [training] session on Tuesday, everybody was positive because we remembered the bad moments in the Premier League when we were last in the table and when we were ten points behind Tottenham and Chelsea.
“Now we are with them because we are being consistent. We are in fifth but with one game in hand over Chelsea.
“It is in our hands to finish in the top four. And we are in the quarter-final of the Europa League with the possibility of [winning] a title and getting into the Champions League by winning the competition.
“I know the Premier League and the Europa League is going to be very difficult but we are going to be strong with good spirit.
“We are going to protect the players who are having big criticism. I also receive criticism but I don’t play the games and I can get over my criticism. But we protect the players because we need them all.
"I trust in all the players. I think every player has helped us in the season."
Arsenal has failed to win a game away from home in all competitions this year and had to come from behind in the last two Europa League rounds against BATE and Rennes.
And based on that poor run of away from, it's been suggested that the Gunners might need to win convincingly at home to put them in a good position.
Emery, however, does not think they have to do it all at the Emirates.
“The idea is to be competitive in two matches,” said Arsenal’s head coach. “Thursday we are going to play knowing we need to win, but we have confidence that when we can go away if we need more we can do it.
“There is respect because Napoli won away three weeks ago 4-1 at Roma, they played very good matches away against PSG and against Liverpool in the Champions League and Thursday will give us a lot of demands to be the best possible on the pitch.
“Tactically they are a very organized team, they have the possibility to play with combinations and transition very quickly. They have very fast players. We need a complete match.”
Granit Xhaka and Laurent Koscielny could both return for Arsenal after missing the defeat to Everton. Aaron Ramsey is also fit to start, having managed only a substitute role in that game.