More To Be Cast Adrift: Emery

Shkodran Mustafi's (left) future at the Emirates has been thrown into doubt with Arsenal's capture of David Luiz, a direct competitor to the German's position at the heart of defence. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Shkodran Mustafi's future at the Emirates has been thrown into doubt with Arsenal's capture of David Luiz, a direct competitor to the German's position at the heart of defence. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Arsenal manager hints at further departures in major squad overhaul; targets top-four finish

LONDON • Manager Unai Emery says Arsenal can challenge for a top-four place in the Premier League despite admitting more players could leave before the European transfer deadlines.

Among those whose futures at the Emirates Stadium are doubtful include Shkodran Mustafi, Arsenal's most expensive defender at £35 million (S$58.3 million).

Emery made six signings during the English transfer window that closed on Thursday, including Chelsea defender David Luiz and Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney.

But Alex Iwobi left for Everton, Carl Jenkinson moved to Nottingham Forest and former captain Laurent Koscielny departed acrimoniously for Bordeaux in recent days. Midfielder Mohamed Elneny is also linked with a move out.

"The club did everything to get the best players to to make our squad stronger," Emery said on Friday. "But now in the next 25 days we could lose some players."

He said of Mustafi: "I don't have doubts if he needs to play because he is a good player.

"Maybe we decided to be more competitive in each position, at centre-back with David Luiz, with another player in the middle with (Dani) Ceballos, with Kieran Tierney, with (Nicolas) Pepe."

Arsenal start their Premier League campaign at Newcastle today, with the distinct possibility none of their six new players will be in the starting line-up.

Tierney (groin) and Real Madrid loanee Ceballos (ankle) are doubtful while Luiz and club-record signing Pepe are short of full fitness.

Also, Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac will miss the match "following further security incidents, which are being investigated by the police", the club said on Friday.

The duo were caught in an attempted car-jacking in London last month, with Kolasinac leaping from the vehicle to confront the knife-wielding raiders while Ozil sped off to safety.Neither featured in the pre-season defeat by Lyon just days after, but both played in their final friendly at Barcelona.

Arsenal are believed to have increased security around the duo after the incident, with Ozil also hiring minders to protect his property.

Despite the missing players, Emery believes Arsenal, who finished fifth last season, can do better this season, saying: "We are going to work and be with a big challenge to compete in this competition to find the top four...

"We are going to start on Sunday and... it's the first way for us to achieve our targets and objectives to be in the top four, but we know it's going to be difficult."

AGENCE-FRANCE PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 11, 2019, with the headline 'More To Be Cast Adrift: Emery'. Print Edition | Subscribe