Emery Gunning for signings

Joe Willock scoring Arsenal's and his second goal in the 3-0 FA Cup win over Blackpool on Saturday. The 19-year-old midfielder became the youngest Arsenal player to score in an FA Cup tie since Aaron Ramsey in 2010.
Joe Willock scoring Arsenal's and his second goal in the 3-0 FA Cup win over Blackpool on Saturday. The 19-year-old midfielder became the youngest Arsenal player to score in an FA Cup tie since Aaron Ramsey in 2010.PHOTO: REUTERS

Arsenal boss eyes Barcelona's Denis Suarez even as youngsters shine in 3-0 FA Cup win

LONDON • Unai Emery was pleased with the "progress and passion" of his young attackers after Arsenal's 3-0 FA Cup third-round victory against Blackpool on Saturday, but he also made no secret of his intention to bring in reinforcements during January's transfer window.

The Gunners cruised to victory with teenager Joe Willock scoring twice - becoming the youngest Arsenal player to score in an FA Cup tie since Aaron Ramsey in 2010 - before Alex Iwobi added gloss to the scoreline.

"I think the club is working on the possibility to take some players who can help us during these next four months," said Emery.

"Maybe the transfer market can help us with a centre back, but it is not easy because also (Konstantinos) Mavropanos is coming back after injury. Also a winger, right or left, one player can help us in this position."

Arsenal are reportedly in negotiations with Barcelona over the signing of 24-year-old midfielder Denis Suarez who played for Emery at Sevilla during the 2014-15 season.

Suarez, who spent two years at Manchester City as an academy player between 2011 and 2013, has played 46 league matches for Barcelona in 21/2 seasons but has never been able to hold down a regular starting place.

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Maybe the transfer market can help us with a centre back, but it is not easy because also (Konstantinos) Mavropanos is coming back after injury. Also a winger, right or left, one player can help us in this position.

UNAI EMERY, Arsenal manager, is clear which positions he wants to reinforce.

The Spaniard, who has one international cap, won in 2016, is under contract with Barcelona until 2020 and would cost around £20 million (S$34.6 million).

Asked whether he saw Suarez as a winger, Emery added: "He was playing in his career, and with me also, as a right or left winger."

Emery retained only four players in the starting line-up from the 4-1 Premier League victory over Fulham on New Year's Day, and it was the young attackers who shone, with Willock ably supported by fellow 19-year-olds Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Emery said: "We need players with commitment. We need players who are prepared when the team needs them and can step up. We mixed experienced players in the squad with some young players like Joe, Eddie and Ainsley.

"It was a good combination. They showed us they are progressing with the team and, mostly importantly, they showed their passion."

Willock's day could have been even better but a linesman's flag ruled out a hat-trick goal.

"The linesman crushed my dreams with the hat-trick, but that's football and, hopefully, I can get another opportunity soon. Hopefully, the boss keeps believing in me," said the midfielder.

Arsenal's team bus was briefly delayed on their way to the match after a Blackpool fan climbed onto its roof in protest at the Lancashire seaside club's owners.

The fan was photographed sitting on top of the coach at Arsenal's team hotel shortly before the London side were to depart for the match at Bloomfield Road.

Supporters of third-tier Blackpool have regularly protested against club owner Owen Oyston and many are boycotting home games with gates averaging only 4,129 at their 17,000-seater ground which hosted Premier League football in 2010-11.

The man was eventually arrested and the Arsenal team arrived in good time for kick-off.

Asked if the incident had affected their preparations, Emery said: "There was no change for us. We prepared as usual and I am proud of our work today.

"We had big commitment, good concentration, we were competitive and we imposed our quality little by little."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2019, with the headline 'Emery Gunning for signings'. Print Edition | Subscribe