Unbeaten in 16 but not enough

Unai Emery has rejuvenated Arsenal since taking over the reins from Arsene Wenger.
Unai Emery has rejuvenated Arsenal since taking over the reins from Arsene Wenger.PHOTO: REUTERS

Emery wants Gunners to improve more as it is tougher to qualify for Champions League

LONDON • Getting Arsenal back into the Champions League is manager Unai Emery's main goal, but the Spaniard said it is not an easy job as the competition for a top-four finish in the English Premier League is tough.

Arsenal are fifth in the standings behind Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur before yesterday's games.

The Gunners have failed to qualify for Europe's elite club competition for two seasons in a row, having finished sixth and fifth in their last two league campaigns.

"Two years we've lost (the chance) playing in the Champions League, but now the Premier League is at a big level with big teams and a big demand for us," Emery told a news conference ahead of today's Premier League trip to Bournemouth.

"Our first idea is get the position in Europe and to play in the Champions League... We want (to finish in the top four) but it's not easy.

"We are going to work in each training and each match to be closer to the top four."

Emery, who took over from Arsene Wenger in the close season, has improved Arsenal's form after a slow start, with the club now unbeaten in their last 16 matches in all competitions.



    Watford 0 Liverpool 3

    West Ham 0 Man City 4

    Man United 0 Crystal Palace 0

    Everton 1 Cardiff 0

    Brighton 1 Leicester 1

    Fulham 3 Southampton 2

    Tottenham v Chelsea

    Late kick-off


    Bournemouth v Arsenal

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    Wolves v Huddersfield

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    Burnley v Newcastle

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The manager, however, said he expected more from his team, who have drawn in their last three matches in the league.

"We need more in some things, being different tactically, individually, in the spirit, in the mentality. But we are a work in progress.

"Sunday for us is a big test," he added. "A high level test for how we can continue our progress, and it's very important to show the supporters our mentality."

The Spaniard also claimed that the club needed a breath of fresh air after 22 years under Arsene Wenger and that he took over a team in decline.

"We had to rearrange the furniture, and not because of anything bad that happened previously, but to stimulate everyone again - to shake things up, sweep under the carpets, open the windows - in a positive way," he said in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca on Thursday.

Part of his success so far was owing to him making changes defensively and deploying a higher and more aggressive pressing game that has been adopted surprisingly quickly by his players.

Bernd Leno has established himself as first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Petr Cech, while the tireless Lucas Torreira has been one of Arsenal's stand-out players in midfield.

Off the pitch, sugary juices were removed as part of some tweaks to the club canteen and Emery also said that they also moved the gym closer to the training pitch.

He is not keen, however, on talking about his reputation as a meticulous coach.

"I have said to myself it is a positive thing, but it can also be negative, that you are too heavy, want to interfere with the players a lot," the 47-year-old said.

"What I do is work. I analyse matches and then I transfer it to video and I teach the players."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 25, 2018, with the headline 'Unbeaten in 16 but not enough'. Print Edition | Subscribe