International Champions Cup Singapore 2018

Football: Unai Emery pleased with signings, focused on whipping Gunners into shape

The biggest crowd favourite, Arsenal player Mesut Ozil (in red) thanked fans for their "love" after a torrid week that saw him announce his retirement from the German Football Association due to perceived racism.
The biggest crowd favourite, Arsenal player Mesut Ozil (in red) thanked fans for their "love" after a torrid week that saw him announce his retirement from the German Football Association due to perceived racism.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

The best players for the club secured, Emery focuses on getting the best out of his squad

Having moved quickly in pre-season to secure their targets early, Arsenal manager Unai Emery has hinted that the Gunners are done with their transfer business and are now focused on getting the best out of his players.

The new man at the helm has brought in five new arrivals after replacing Arsene Wenger in May, namely German goalkeeper Bernd Leno, Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Swiss veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner, Uruguayan midfield dynamo Lucas Torreira and French youngster Matteo Guendouzi.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, ahead of Arsenal's second match of the 2018 International Champions Cup (ICC) against Paris Saint-Germain tonight at the National Stadium, the Spaniard said his priority was not new signings but preparing the team to the best of their ability for the new Premier League season.

Arsenal host champions Manchester City in their season's first match at the Emirates Stadium on Aug 12.

"I believe in these players," the 46-year-old said, revealing as well that midfielder Alex Iwobi was close to signing a new contract with the club.

"Now I am very happy with the players and, on Monday, other players join us after the World Cup.

"If there is a possibility to sign a player, it isn't very important now but, while the window is open, we can."

Interestingly, Wenger had similarly done early business in his first year as manager at Arsenal.

The Professor signed four players before the start of the season in Patrick Vieira, Remi Garde, John Lukic and Valur Gislason while primarily keeping faith with the bulk of the squad that he had inherited.

One player who is determined to enjoy a successful season in Emery's debut year is former Manchester United playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

"I am trying to do all I can to have a great season ahead and score as many goals and have as many assists as I can," the Armenian said yesterday.

"We are all training hard to get into good shape and trying to fulfil the demands of the new coach."

Mkhitaryan joined 23 other Arsenal players later in the afternoon for an open training session at the National Stadium.

Mesut Ozil was once again the biggest crowd favourite as fans showed their affection for the German playmaker.

The 29-year-old did not play in Arsenal's loss to Atletico Madrid on penalties in the ICC opener on Thursday, but he received the loudest cheers when his image appeared on the big screen at the National Stadium.

 

After the match, Ozil thanked fans for their "love" after a torrid week which saw him announce his retirement from international football due to perceived racism on the part of the German Football Association.

"Thanks to the Gunners in Singapore for showing so much love tonight," Ozil tweeted, with a picture of him waving to the crowd.

Ahead of tonight's clash against his former team PSG, Emery admitted that he is happy with how the pre-season tour is going and wasn't concerned about who his team are facing.

"For us, it's about continuing our preparation," he said.

"We don't lose our focus. Our focus is about giving chances to every player and working tactically with the players."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2018, with the headline 'Satisfied with early signings'. Print Edition | Subscribe