Multiple problems for Emery as EPL looms

LONDON • They were beaten in their own Cup final on Sunday but the more significant events were happening off the pitch for Arsenal as the English Premier League kick-off looms ever closer.

Alexandre Lacazette will be manager Unai Emery's primary concern after the striker left the stadium in a protective boot following their 2-1 defeat by Lyon in the Emirates Cup, after suffering what is hoped to be a minor ankle sprain.

Then there is the welfare of Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac, who were deemed not ready to play after being involved in a carjacking incident last week.

Finally, there is the potential record signing of the Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, with a £70 million (S$118 million) deal rumoured to be nearing completion.

After that, the fact of a Moussa Dembele double cancelling out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's opener seemed insignificant.

"We are thinking the Lacazette injury is not serious," Emery said after the match in London.

"He decided with the doctor and with me not to take a risk. It's in his ankle, it's a sprain. He will be assessed but it is not serious."

On Ozil and Kolasinac, Emery said: "It's not a good moment to play because their mind is not 100 per cent here. The most important thing is that they now feel safe and feel calm with their family. After a couple of days they can start properly with the squad again."

As for Pepe, the 24-year-old is expected to undergo a medical test this week before his move. Emery refused to provide more information when asked about the transfer.

The match was a familiar story. Arsenal, who will travel to Newcastle on Aug 11 for their first Premier League match, dominated the first half but were undone by lapses of concentration in the second.

One upside was the performance of the young Gunners. Reiss Nelson replaced the injured Lacazette after 15 minutes and he joined another 19-year-old, Joe Willock, in the attack.

Both acquitted themselves well, both on the ball and in finding space, albeit lacking a clinical touch in their finishing.

Meanwhile, Arsenal's London rivals Chelsea struggled to beat Reading 4-3 at the Madejski Stadium.

While Blues manager Frank Lampard was delighted to see two-goal hero Mason Mount push his claim for regular involvement this season, he will be concerned by another erratic display from Tiemoue Bakayoko and the sloppiness that left his side conceding three goals to the second-tier side.

Chelsea will know they cannot afford to defend this generously when they visit Manchester United on Aug 11.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2019, with the headline 'Multiple problems for Emery as EPL looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe