Unai Emery says he’s urged his players to keep moving forward as they look to maintain the momentum that has squeezed them into the Premier League top four with eight matches remaining.
The Gunners jet off to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp and low key friendly during the international break with the Spaniard eager to maintain focus within the camp ahead of a hectic schedule that includes eight games in April.
Ahead of Monday’s showdown with Newcastle United at the Emirates, the Spaniard explained how his players have coped with their break from competitive action.
“We have the habit to play three matches in a week and when we are doing that, the players are very focused to prepare, to rest, to play three matches consecutively,” he told his pre-game press conference.
“When we are taking, also, the international break, we can rest other players.
“In this international break, we decided to go away to train for four days and play a match in Dubai. But it’s the same idea, the same spirit.
“Don’t stop, keep moving forward to train with the players, with the young players with us in Dubai and today we meet, everybody, to focus on Monday.
“But I think for the players and for me, we have this habit to play a lot of matches in one week. To keep moving forward in the training session and waiting for the competition to come back.”
After nearly nine months at the Emirates, Emery has had plenty of time to tinker with his squad combinations and tactics. By and large, he’s pleased with his work so far, although the experimentation continues.
“We are in our process but our process is giving us, all the time, better combinations with the players and better combinations tactically,” he reflected.
“We are playing different systems with different players and we are taking a big performance with them. I have a lot of confidence in us and our players, but I know Monday’s game is giving us a big challenge against them.
“I know we are strong at home but we need to continue working like we are doing and also keep moving forward with a big ambition and big atmosphere in our stadium.
“I want to create each match with this atmosphere to show them our best performance with our system and tactical plan. Every match is a big challenge for us.”
The omens are good ahead of Monday’s match. We’ve won our last six home Premier League games against Newcastle United, scoring 18 goals and conceding just five.
We’ve also won nine Premier League games on the bounce at home and could equal our record of ten, achieved in 1997-18, with a victory against the Magpies.