Emery admits Arsenal confidence is low and Emirates has lost fear factor
‘Teams are coming here and playing fearless against us. That is the first thing we need to change’
Unai Emery believes the Emirates stadium has lost its fear factor for visiting teams. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Unai Emery admits that the Emirates stadium has lost its fear factor as away teams scent blood against an Arsenal side that the head coach accepts is low on confidence.
Arsenal host Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday on the back of six winless games and three consecutive home draws, with Wolves and Southampton comprehensively outshooting them in the most recent two.
It is a far cry from last season, when their home form effectively offset a mediocre away record, and has contributed greatly to the growing pressure on Emery – who strongly hinted that Granit Xhaka will return to the side on Thursday.
“Our confidence depends on how we can feel in our stadium with our supporters,” Emery said. “Teams are coming here and playing fearless against us. That is the first thing we need to change.
“I know we need to show our supporters our capacity and our skills. I know we’re not really showing that skill and performance 100 per cent with the players, but tomorrow we have a very good opportunity and we are going to try to change that.”
The embattled Emery said some of his players “aren’t feeling confident 100 per cent and that is the target we need”. He looked weary and repeated several times the now-familiar line that Arsenal need to “connect” with the home fans, while offering little comment about speculation that the club are searching for his successor.
Nuno Espírito Santo and Mikel Arteta are among those believed to be under serious consideration should a change be made, but Emery simply stated: “My future is today and tomorrow.” Asked if he believed Arsenal’s players believed in his tactics, he responded: “Yes, of course, they’ve showed that.”
He was more expansive on the topic of the recently deposed captain Xhaka, who has missed the five games since his fallout with sections of the Emirates support during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on October 27th.
Before the international break it was conceivable that Xhaka would not play for Arsenal again, but Emery opened the door last week and any recall may in part be born of necessity given Arsenal’s glaring lack of midfield control in recent weeks.
“He’s in the group and has the possibility to play tomorrow,” Emery said. “I hope every supporter supports the team. Xhaka’s comeback is going to be important to us.”
For the first part of his press conference Emery was joined by Shkodran Mustafi, a player he tried to move on during the summer but has leaned on heavily in cup competitions this season. Asked whether the Arsenal squad felt it was important to get a result that might take the heat off their head coach, the centre back appeared to choose his words diplomatically.
“First of all we play for the club,” Mustafi said. “If you play for Arsenal, you play for a big club and you have to know you have to give everything to win. We play for each other because we are a team; the boys in the dressingroom and the coaching staff are all in the same boat. If the coach is under pressure, the players are too.” - Guardian