Speaking to the press after the 3-2 defeat away to Chelsea on Saturday, Arsenal manager Unai Emery revealed some thoughts of his on what he has seen so far, as well as some thoughts behind some decisions he made in the game.
About the result
Emery says he had spoken with the players beforehand about the need for improvement and the need to be more competitive in this game than the previous one. Having gone two goals down rather early, he was happy with the way the team responded and deservedly leveled the score.
He bemoaned the lack of good moments in the second half and believes that’s what led to conceding the third goal late on, adding that the aim is to improve further and achieve better balance between defence and attack.
He expressed his dedication to the future of the team by pointing out that two very young midfielders, 22-year-old Lucas Torreira and 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi, finished the game on the pitch.
The manager also expressed understanding for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s lack of sharpness in front of goal. He understands and considers it normal for a striker to have moments when he doesn’t score from clear-cut chances, but he added that the Gabonese was a player who would, on another day, score three goals from less favorable situations.
It’s hard to argue with that.
Support for Ozil
The manager said he was happy with the contribution of Mesut Ozil in this game. He added that his decision to replace him in the second half was purely tactical as the aim was to defend deeper and not allow Chelsea easy passage through the middle of the park.
In all honesty, it’s hard to see any reason to be happy with what the German attacking midfielder showed at Stamford Bridge. For a player whose influence on the pitch should be crucial, he was on the ball far too rarely, creating nothing of note. There’s very little reason for Emery’s apparent satisfaction to be understood as anything else than giving his full support to a troubled player, which is commendable in itself.
It’s only logical to do so, as long as he feels any hope that Ozil might at some point snap out of the stupor that’s been darkening his performances lately and lead the team forward on a path of success once more. Let’s hope his support is not in vain.
Emery wasn’t, however, as determined in defending the other player that went missing against Chelsea. Granit Xhaka played a very poor game and was seen even less than Ozil, apart from a reckless late tackle which saw him rightfully booked.
However, the manager explained that it was actually the booking which got the Swiss international subbed off at halftime. He did though add that he wasn’t prepared to risk another yellow card and a sending off, and decided to give another player (Torreira) a chance.
Reaction on two defeats
The boss says he’s calm after his team suffered defeats in both league games so far, and given the quality of the opposition faced and the obvious transition phase at Arsenal there’s really no need to panic at this point. He realizes the team needs to improve and is keen on working hard on that, believing the players will eventually respond in the way he desires them to.