Facing European finalists the 'best test' for Arsenal

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Unai Emery looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, England on Aug 24, 2019.
Arsenal's Spanish head coach Unai Emery looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, England on Aug 24, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Playing last season's Champions League finalists in back-to-back Premier League games is the "best test" Arsenal could have asked for, manager Unai Emery said on Thursday ahead of tomorrow's north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.

The Gunners lost 3-1 to European champions Liverpool in a top-of-the-table clash last weekend and, tomorrow, they host Spurs, who have won only once in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium.

"They are two teams who played the Champions League final. It's amazing," Emery said at a pre-match press conference. "I think it's the best test and every time is a good moment to play against them.

"Intensity is very important. They're going to try and play with identity and we need to impose our game plan against them knowing it's going to be difficult.

"We need to look at our position defensively and offensively. Above all, we need to play each ball, each metre, each minute with that intensity... we need to be clever when we have the ball and are in good situations."

He is yet to start Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and new recruit Nicolas Pepe up front together and they still might not be deployed together this time.

"My decision in each moment is thinking about how we are," Emery said. "With Lacazette, he had a problem with his ankle... He's getting better and feeling better with his ankle, it's very positive.

FIRED UP

Above all, we need to play each ball, each metre, each minute with that intensity... we need to be clever.

UNAI EMERY, Arsenal manager, demanding his team play at a high tempo against Tottenham.

"With Pepe, he came here later than the others but he is getting and feeling better in each match.

"Aubameyang is very important for us... The most important thing for me is to have chances and we can score with different players."

The Spaniard also confirmed left-back Nacho Monreal may be a late departure before the European transfer window closes on Monday but dismissed suggestions that midfielder Mesut Ozil would be sold.

"No, we are not speaking about the possibility for Mesut to leave," he said of the 30-year-old German, who has yet to feature in any of their three league matches."He's training well and progressing physically better... He's going to be available for Sunday, I think.

"We cannot sign another player but we have some players with the possibility to leave in the next four days."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2019, with the headline 'Facing European finalists the 'best test' for Arsenal'. Print Edition | Subscribe