Emery urges fans to trust in ‘process’
Unai Emery has launched the first impassioned defence of his Arsenal tenure, accusing his critics of having short memories and insisting that he has made the team more competitive since his arrival.
Emery was in animated mood following Arsenal’s defeat by Sheffield United on Monday as he called for patience from fans after a summer of upheaval in which 11 senior players departed. The Spaniard also reiterated his belief that record signing Nicolas Pepe needs time to hit top form, citing the example of Fabinho at Liverpool – a player Emery wanted to sign for Arsenal – as proof that a bedding-in process is required in the Premier League.
Emery also said the development of Matteo Guendouzi this season was evidence of the faith Arsenal were placing in young players.
“Sometimes we forget the memory and we need to remember,” Emery said. “When I arrived, this team needed to be more competitive. The creativity was more or less good, but being competitive was worse. I think last year I started to improve being competitive, also playing with creativity. This year we are in that process, but also with patience because our strategy as a club is [using] some new players and young players.
“I want to show our supporters our energy and our intensity because I think that is something we improved last year and this year.
“There are a lot of supporters with different opinions. Some want more creativity, some want maybe more intensity, more energy. I want both. My way is both.”
Arsenal face Portuguese side Vitoria in the Europa League tonight having scored 12 goals and conceded none in cup competitions. Emery said the energy and their pressing in these matches was the blueprint for the first team.
Pepe’s inconsistency following his £72 million move from Lille continued with a mixed performance against Sheffield United, when the striker missed a crucial chance when the game was goalless. “Pepe needs time to adapt,” Emery said. “For example, in France I loved Fabinho a lot. He was at Monaco and I wanted to sign him for Paris St-germain.
“When I arrived here, his name was on the table to sign him, but he signed for Liverpool. The first six months he did not play. It was adaptation. But now he is amazing and I want the same with [Dani] Ceballos, with Pepe.”
Emery pointed to his use of players such as Guendouzi, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka as proof of his commitment to youth at Arsenal, saying these youngsters also required patience from supporters.
“We are in a process, we changed players and we are giving young players chances,” Emery said. “Last year Matteo arrived from the second division in France, but we used him all season. Not on the bench, not in the under-23s, but playing. This year the supporters are happy with him. It’s because last year we worked and used him on the pitch, not on the bench.”
Arsenal (probable 4-3-3): Martinez; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney; Ceballos, Torreira, Willock; Smith Rowe, Lacazette, Martinelli.
Vitoria SC (probable 4-3-3): Silva; Sacko, Tapsoba, Henrique, Hanin; Poha, Agu, Evangelista; Edwards, Bonatini, Davidson.
Referee Serdar Gozubuyuk (Holland).