Unai Emery has described Arsenal’s defeat to Southampton as a ‘reality check’ but thinks his players can turn the end of their 22-game unbeaten run into a positive by doubling down on their efforts to improve.
When a side goes so long without defeat – in our case 121 days – there’s always a worry that an unexpected result can kill confidence and disrupt a side’s rhythm.
Emery knows, that the Gunners can ill-afford for that to happen at this point of the season; not only is the next game a north London derby in the Carabao Cup, there’s also a three-point gap to close on the top four in the Premier League.
“Sunday for us is a big reality check in our way,” said Emery ahead of the quarter-final showdown with Sp*rs.
“We need to improve and also we need to continue doing our way in our process.
“It’s not a good result but this reality gives us more motivation to continue to work hard, finding a new thing to work on each day, and also it makes us demand a lot from ourselves in the way we work on this way.”
Having had a chance to review the action at Saint Mary’s the Spaniard was keen to point out that it wasn’t the Gunners worst performance this season but that his players still need to tighten up defensively, whether they’re short of numbers or not.
“We can win, we can lose,” Emery reflected. “We’ve won matches playing worse than we did on Sunday. Football is like that.
“We need to continue improving. Our analysis shows us it’s the first time we’ve conceded three goals in this process.
“There are no excuses because we don’t have a lot of centre backs. I think it’s a little bit for all the players, all the positions on the pitch.
“It’s also because they [Southampton] did their actions against us well. We need to improve by not conceding as many chances to the opposition. A clean sheet is very important in each match. Tomorrow is the next.
“A scoring moment is very important and we are second for that in the Premier League. But we need to do better in our balance defensively, and our hard work now is this.”