Football: Arsenal boss Emery laments dropping points

Brighton's Jurgen Locadia taking the ball past Bernd Leno to score his first goal of the season as his team drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the Premier League on Wednesday. The forward had a free run on goal after a long ball was headed into his path by Ars
Brighton's Jurgen Locadia taking the ball past Bernd Leno to score his first goal of the season as his team drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the Premier League on Wednesday. The forward had a free run on goal after a long ball was headed into his path by Arsenal's Stephan Lichtsteiner.PHOTO: REUTERS

Arsenal boss frustrated by Brighton draw as just two wins in four games dent top-4 chase

LONDON • Unai Emery's patience snapped towards the end of Arsenal's 1-1 Premier League draw at Brighton on Wednesday.

Frustrated by his side's failure to capitalise on a positive start and then his own inability to influence the game, he kicked out at a water bottle, inadvertently sending it in the direction of a fan.

An apology was immediately offered, and then again at the final whistle.

"I said to them apologies because I kicked the bottle after a disappointing action for us in the last minutes," the Arsenal manager said. "It wasn't hard, but it touched one supporter for them. I said to them I'm sorry."

According to multiple British media reports yesterday, the Football Association is looking into the incident and Emery could face retrospective action.

The Gunners fell short in their bid to strengthen their top-four ambitions as they failed to keep a clean sheet for a ninth away game. They have won two of four league games and only once in their last four in all competitions, a frustrating sequence that started when their 22-match unbeaten run ended at Southampton on Dec 16.

The defensive lapses that contributed to that loss were again evident at the Amex Stadium, when Stephan Lichtsteiner's headed clearance from a long ball fell right into the path of Jurgen Locadia.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

In the second half, we couldn't impose our game plan. We didn't make more clear chances to win the match.

UNAI EMERY, Arsenal manager, admitting his team were good for only half the match against a mid-table side.

The Brighton forward then took the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper Bernd Leno before tapping home for his first goal of the season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had earlier moved one clear at the top of the league's scoring chart with his 13th goal of the season for Arsenal, and Emery was left a little disappointed by the equaliser.

The Spaniard said: "The first half was key in the match. We started winning and had another two chances, but they equalised.

"In the second half, we couldn't impose our game plan. We didn't make more clear chances to win the match."

He made a half-time change, bringing on Alex Iwobi for Mesut Ozil, increasing the feeling that the German is on borrowed time at Arsenal, where he is their highest-paid player on £350,000 a week (S$608,300).

It was the midfielder's first away league start since the match against Crystal Palace on Oct 28, but he again failed to impress his boss, who revealed the substitution was "tactical".

The 47-year-old said: "It's the same every match. Sometimes, I change it tactically when I need something to change."

However, the switch failed to pay off as Iwobi looked just as lost.

Equally puzzling was Emery's second-half decision to remove Alexandre Lacazette, who had set up Aubameyang's opener. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey was introduced despite their pressing need to score.

Forward Lacazette reacted angrily by throwing his gloves to the floor and Arsenal's disjointed display after the break did little to vindicate the manager's decision.

But Emery also defended his change afterwards, insisting Ramsey "deserved to play and take the responsibility because he wants to help us".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2018, with the headline 'Emery laments dropped points'. Print Edition | Subscribe