Unai Emery says his team need to learn how to play with 10 men better than they did tonight in the 3-1 defeat to Rennes in the Europa League.
The Gunners went ahead through Alex Iwobi, but after Sokratis picked up his second yellow card in the 40th minute, it was one way traffic. Fifteen of the home side’s attempts on goal came after the sending off and the Spaniard spoke afterwards about the need to be able to cope with situations like this.
“A red card can come,” he said. “Two yellow cards and it’s the referee’s decision.
“After, I think we must learn to play – when it’s coming like today – with one less player on the pitch.
“Not a good experience today, because we couldn’t do our work in difficult moments, in difficult minutes, with one less player, like we wanted.”
The fact that Emery didn’t make a half-time defensive change raised eyebrows. He could have brought on Sead Kolasinac and moved Nacho Monreal to centre-half, instead he used Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a right-back, and despite the Armenian’s best efforts, it’s far from his natural position.
Quizzed about that, and in particular why he didn’t use Ainsley Maitland-Niles in that position, Emery said, “We only had three changes and we needed to decide what were these changes.
“Micki, I think, is playing well. If he was not playing well then maybe we could think to do this change.
“After this red card, first I wanted to keep the positioning with the players because in the second half we needed fresh players to help more in offensive moments, to take chances, to take options.
“We really didn’t create a lot of chances to score the second goal, but I think Micki worked very well and with a good performance.
“I think there is no problem with Micki, and for example, his 40 or 50 minutes playing like a right-back, he played well.”
So, there you go, a lot to do next week and the manager has to get his team lifted before Sunday’s crunch showdown with Man Utd at the Emirates.