Unai Emery says he’s pleased with the focus his players have demonstrated during this week’s warm weather training camp in Dubai as Arsenal rounded off their trip with a 3-2 win over Al-Nasr.
Without three-week fixture hiatus, a mix-and-match squad of Academy prospects and old heads jet off to the Middle East five days ago to build fitness and squad camaraderie ahead of April’s daunting run of eight competitive matches.
While the club’s players undertook sponsorship activities on behalf of Emirates, Emery says he observed positive signs that his players are eager to achieve their ambition of securing a place in next season’s Champions League.
“My objective with the players today in the first and second half was to get into their rhythm and continue with the work we’ve been doing recently,” he told press at the Al Maktoum Stadium. “I think we did that.”
He went on: “We are going step by step and also for us it is getting better. The adaptation for us first and for all the players in their work is getting better and we are keeping confidence.
“The players are also showing they wish to do something important this year. The key is now, this break is key for the next month and we are focused for this last month.”
Looking to the challenges ahead in both the Premier League and Europa League, which starts on Monday at the Emirates against Newcastle, Emery was happy to point out that the recent 2-0 win over Manchester United is now the blueprint for his players to follow.
“It’s our objective [to qualify for the Champions League] but we know that we have to wait. We are working and being competitive each match.
“Now, in these next eight matches, we need to play with a lot of personality like we did against Manchester United.
“We know it’s going to be difficult because we are surrounded by other big teams but I think we are working very well and we are taking confidence to have chances in the last matches.
“Each match is our next objective and we think game by game. The next game is at home with our supporters against Newcastle, so it’s up to us to enjoy each match with the possibility of finding the three points.
“Afterwards, the second way of [qualifying for the Champions League] is through the Europa League.
“We can play for one title and then also to take another way to reach the Champions League. We are in a good moment in good confidence, and also in a good moment physically.”