Emery urges side to play with freedom

Arsenal's fortunes this season will depend heavily on the partnership of strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Arsenal's fortunes this season will depend heavily on the partnership of strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.PHOTO: REUTERS

Arsenal boss wants to see more 'personality', looks set to unleash Lacazette, Aubameyang

LONDON • Arsenal manager Unai Emery has urged his players to express themselves on the pitch and play with personality as they prepare for today's Premier League trip to Newcastle United.

After losses to champions Manchester City and Chelsea at the start of the league campaign, Arsenal have recovered well to beat West Ham and Cardiff City.

Emery believes the next step for his players is to forge a new tactical identity on the pitch.

"First, we need to win and I think it is very important that in the last match we won," the Spaniard said on Thursday.

"Our aim away at Newcastle on Saturday now is to keep improving things and continue to create our idea, build up our spirit on the pitch, individually and collectively.

"Saturday is another step we can do, it will be difficult but I want to continue (to show) our personality on the pitch and impose this personality on the opposition and to find the win."

He is set to unleash strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at St James' Park as he looks to maintain his side's free-scoring revival.

The first two fixtures saw him begin with Gabon star Aubameyang as his starting striker and French forward Lacazette come on in the second half, at the expense of a midfielder.

It was a similar story against West Ham in Arsenal's third match. Lacazette came on for Alex Iwobi at half-time but with a much more tangible result: Arsenal looked far more potent with the Frenchman on the pitch and went on to seal a 3-1 victory - Emery's first as Gunners boss.

Both forwards started in the 3-2 win at Cardiff before the international break, forming a lively double act to grab their first goals of the season.

Emery, who played Lacazette as the main striker and pushed Aubameyang to the left at Cardiff, is unlikely to go fully retro with a 4-4-2 formation but gave no indication that he intended to bench one of his superstar forwards.

"I am very happy with the last two victories in the Premier League and also with the performances," he said when asked if both might start.

"I want to push every player to be OK to help the team (whether it is) for one minute, 30 minutes or half-time or 90 minutes."

The Arsenal boss, however, was not too happy with Mesut Ozil and has urged the German playmaker to be more "decisive".

"I want to find with him the possibility to do the best, to make decisive passes, to do more near and in the box to score," the manager said.

"He can improve, he can do more. We will work, we will help him, give him the possibility on the pitch to find his qualities for us."

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has rather different problems going into the Arsenal match, but insists there is no need to panic despite a winless start that has deposited the Magpies in the relegation zone.

Just a single point has been garnered from four Premier League games in addition to a League Cup exit against second-tier Nottingham Forest, but the Spaniard is remaining calm.

"When the fixtures came out the reality was that we knew they were very difficult and that our start could be something like this," he said.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline 'Emery urges side to play with freedom'. Print Edition | Subscribe