Unai Emery says he’s happy to get a first win of the season under his belt but he admits that Arsenal still need to find a better balance between attack and defence.
After defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea, expectations were high that hard work on the training ground would result in a fluid performance from the Gunners. Unfortunately, that was far from the case although they still edged out a 3-1 win against West Ham at the Emirates.
Nacho Monreal cancelled out Marko Arnautovic’s smart finish to ensure parity at the break before subtitute Alex Lacazette’s cross was turned into his own net by Issa Diop with 20 minutes remaining. The visitors had enough chances on the break to grab a point but finally surrendered when Danny Welbeck, on as a late replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangm converted Hector Bellerin’s pull-back in stoppage time.
“We are happy because it is the first three points after two defeats,” Emery told the BBC after his first win as head coach.
“It was very important to win, and we showed in the match that in difficult periods we can win, after 1-0 in the first half.
“We suffered with the transition in the first half, but we improved in the second half and controlled more like we want. In the second half we wanted to find more balance on the pitch and we did.
“After the substitutes, they made the difference in the second half. Today I am happy and for the confidence it is good, for the consistency it is good also.
“We need to improve. To improve in this transition to get the balance, to get more control with the ball but also, West Ham are a good team, it was a difficult match, for that we are happy but there are things to improve.”
Mesut Ozil’s absence was a talking point on the terraces before the game. News broke this morning that the Germany international was likely to be ruled out due to illness, however, before the 90 minutes were up there were whispers, emanating from ESPN, of an angry training ground showdown with Emery that led to him being dropped.
Emery was quick to deny the story. “Yeah, he was ill and yesterday we decided with the doctor and with him that he would not play,” he explained.
“Today he is here and with the team also because he feels better today but he is not here now because he was sick yesterday.”
He added: “The information isn’t true. I don’t know who started telling people this information. He was sick yesterday. And decided not to play today.”