Emery proud his players kept their head

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Unai Emery says Arsenal, led by goal scorers Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, delivered a ‘good performance’ as we secured a 3-1 win against Valencia in our Europa League semi-final first leg at the Emirates.

The visitors took advantage of a nervy start by the home side to open the scoring with just 11 minutes on the clock but the Gunners responded to the willing support of the crowd to reach the break in front courtesy of Lacazette’s brace.

Despite a dominant performance, it looked as though we’d be settling for a one-goal advantage heading into next week’s return fixture before Aubameyang converted in stoppage time to put us in an even stronger position.

In his post-game press conference, Emery was in buoyant mood, although he did warn the tie is still in the balance.

“We can be happy today,” he said. “Also, we can be proud of our supporters because here in Emirates we found this support for us in the 90 minutes.

“I’m also proud of the players because after 1-0 it’s not easy to be calm and come back with the result against this team.

“It’s not normal that Valencia concede three goals, especially after starting at 1-0 because they are a very, very good team on the transition.

“That’s the reason I am proud of our work today. But the second leg is going to be very difficult.”

On the contribution of his strikers, he said, “Yes, a very good performance from them both. But every player on the team, I am very proud of the players.

“I am very proud of the supporters and very proud of our work. Today, we can be happy. But I told them: it’s the first leg. The second leg will be very difficult.

“When you can enjoy this performance with the supporters, I think every supporter of Arsenal is happy as well. But with calmness we will prepare for the second leg.”

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C.B.
C.B.

Let’s hope we don’t keep up our recent record of conceding three goals away from home.

We are better than Valencia, let’s step up and show it.

Usmanov
Usmanov

Such a relief! Hope this brings confidence back because we (team and supporters) sure need it.

Usmanov
Usmanov

Don’t want to count the chicks before they hatch, but, at this rate by next week weekend we could still be fighting for the top 4 going INTO THE LAST GAME OF THE SEASON, while also preparing for the EUROPA CUP FINAL.

By all accounts definitely not a disastrous first season for Emery, as some may lead you to think.

Futsboller
Futsboller

Definitely not a disastrous first season for Emery, but if you consider that on April 1 we had 63 points and on May 3 we have 66 points and have lost 4 of our last 5 PL matches while trying to make the top four (allowing Spurs to leave us in the dust and Chelsea to overtake us), he’s not guided the ship as well as some might lead you to think. Yesterday’s win is fantastic, but we can thank Auba and Laca for their efforts more than we can point to a system that is keeping the goals out or creating more chances (as our stats interpreters on By the Numbers and Tim’s column suggest). Last season we managed 63 points, made it to a League Cup final, managed a 19 game unbeaten streak at the start of the season, and made it to the Europa semis, and it was the most disastrous season any of us have witnessed in decades. Emery is making improvements, and hopefully they can knit together into a formidable Arsenal next season that does not continue the same failings while also producing some more offensive chances, but everyone has his work cut out for him, especially Emery. If he round out this season with 3-4 more wins, building on last night, then I think we can be really excited for what comes next.

Alex
Alex

Let’s not forget Özil with Laca and Auba… he worked his socks off… more than Auba who wasn’t providing enough mouvement at times…

Runzac
Runzac

Well, going into this season most experts predicted 6th and the optimists 5th in the PL. Taking into consideration that this is the first season with a new manager that is getting to know his players, finding the right team and tactics based on what he inherited. Everything must be set in the big context if sensible arguments are to be made.

Laca-Sead
Laca-Sead
Santori
Santori

I’m glad the gaffer went back to a back 3.

We still leaked a goal (from set piece) but that was more a systemic issue although we did have Diakhaby covered. I just think our strict zonal marking sometimes does not leave us enough on field leeway to make adjustments to unexpected issues.

In this case, Diakhaby represented an awkward challenge at back post with his height. Thought Cech could have come out to deal with the ball more aggressively but obviously we want the best header of the ball (Mustafi) closer to Diakhaby not Granit.

There was similar issue aganst Wolves when Torreira ended up defending the first ball into the box from the corner. The dimunitive mid should be on the line defending not going up for headers.

Otherwise back 3 represents a far more solid foundation for current line up and unleashes our flanks better.

We saw in last 3 (disastrous) league matches back 4 regardless of personnel (Vaunted Sokratis-Kosicelny partnership) bore similar results.

Unai was over extrapolating perhaps with fear of wear and tear in squad leading to dip in energy levels.

BUT frankly we are so near the finish line we just need to plough through and have the mental temerity to perform with the least amount of change at this point.

NO Jenkinson, Elneny Lichsteiner.

Defense should rotate between sheperding Koscielny with Sokratis and either of Monreal or Mustafi. Maybe a role for Mavropanos as Mustafi may have to cover for Rback absence of AMN.

Throwing in Jenkinson or indeed (the waste of 90K a week) Lichsteiner at this late stage of campaign is risky.

In midfield we should rotate through 2 out of Guendouzi, Granit and Torreira.

Up top it is prob good to start positive with paired strikers and Ozil supporting and then when some semblance of psychological control is establish we can sit back a little and have one of the strikers supported by Iwobi and Mhkitaryan in a triangle.

That’s it. No more tinkering beyond this. We need players who are most familiar with each other to gain some fluency/intuition as we close the season.