Football: Improved Denis Suarez ready to make impact, say Unai Emery

Denis Suarez has struggled since his January loan move from Barcelona.
Denis Suarez has struggled since his January loan move from Barcelona.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • With Granit Xhaka facing a late fitness test and Lucas Torreira suspended, Unai Emery has challenged Denis Suarez to finally make an impact in Arsenal's bid to climb back into the Premier League's top four.

Suarez has struggled since his January loan move from Barcelona and the Spanish midfielder is yet to make a competitive start for the Gunners.

But a series of impressive displays at Arsenal's recent training camp in Dubai could earn the 25-year-old a place in the starting line-up against Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).

Suarez played the full 90 minutes and created a goal for Carl Jenkinson in Arsenal 3-2 friendly victory over Al Nasr.

Arsenal boss Emery is encouraged by Suarez's timely improvement, saying: "He is okay for starting in the first XI, to give us this impact. We are going to need everybody, every player for the next matches.

"We decided to go away to train for four days and play a match in Dubai. But it's the same idea, the same spirit."

Emery was keen to work with Suarez again after signing him on loan at Sevilla in 2014-15.

Asked about the time it had taken Suarez to settle in north London, Emery added: "It's normal. Now we have a lot of players ready, with a big mentality and with a big performance to play and help us."

Beating Newcastle would give Arsenal a 10th successive home league win, equalling a run they last enjoyed in the 1997-98 season in Arsene Wenger's first full campaign as manager.

A victory is essential after Arsenal dropped to fifth place on Saturday as a result of Manchester United's 2-1 win over Watford.

Emery's men are one point behind United and can't afford to drop points as they battle to qualify for next season's Champions League via a top-four finish or winning the Europa League.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has warned his players not to ease up as they inch closer to guaranteeing their safety.

The Magpies are seven points above the bottom three and their 35-point total is just three short of the number Benitez believes will be enough to stay up.

Newcastle have lost only one of their last six league games, but Benitez is taking nothing for granted.

"If you see what Arsenal are doing, they are doing really well, so we cannot expect that it will be an easy game," the Spaniard said.

"We have now 35 and we are fine, but still we have to win. The next game is the most important for us, it's like a final for us and I don't think about what the others will do."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2019, with the headline 'Improved Suarez ready to make impact: Emery'. Print Edition | Subscribe