Under-fire Emery pleads for patience as Arsenal stumble

Wednesday March 18 2020

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Unai Emery reacts on the touchline after they go behind during their English Premier League match against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on October 21, 2019. PHOTO | OLI SCARFF |



Arsenal manager Unai Emery asked for fans to give him time as doubts grow over the Spaniard's ability to lead the Gunners back into the Champions League.

A disappointing 1-0 defeat at promoted Sheffield United on Monday left Arsenal fifth in the Premier League, after just four wins in their opening nine games.

Emery enjoyed an encouraging start as the successor to Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman's 22-year reign in charge, but Arsenal's form tailed off at the end of last season as they narrowly missed out on a top-four finish and lost to Chelsea in the final of the Europa League.

"It's normal to have in different and difficult moments criticism for our work and my job," Emery said on Wednesday ahead of his side's Europa League clash with Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes. "We need to accept that.

"My focus in the next matches is thinking about how we can improve and also we need to think how we can, little-by-little, progress and achieve our immediate targets."

The target for Emery and the club hierarchy is a return to the riches of the Champions League for the first time since the 2016/17 season.

Despite claiming to have a restricted budget for summer signings, the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss was heavily backed in the transfer market with the arrivals of Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney, David Luiz and Dani Ceballos.

"Our objective is clear on where we want to get," added Emery. "We are at the beginning. Really, I am very confident in the players, in our job, in our work, in the club strategy, in every player."

After failing to break down the Blades on Monday, Emery has been criticised for his repeated refusal to field Mesut Ozil.

The former Germany international is the highest earner at the club, but has made just two appearances this season.

Emery, though, rejected suggestions he has been overly conservative with Arsenal scoring just twice in their past three league games.

"Above all I want to continue being an offensive team, improving defensively but offensive. Our mentality is to be offensive. I am going to get that balance I am sure."