UNAI EMERY is demanding a defensive improvement from Arsenal – from front to back – after a backlash from players and fans to last week’s collapse at Watford,
Two-goal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang accused the Gunners of “literally giving away goals” in the 2-2 draw, while Granit Xhaka said Arsenal were “scared” and Ainsley Maitland-Niles felt they over-played from the back.
Now boss Emery has admitted the seventh-placed Gunners must be more “compact” at home to fourth-bottom Aston Villa on Sunday, despite strolled to a 3-0 Europa League win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
The ex-PSG chief told Sky Sports: “We need to be competitive and we need to improve defensively.
“But it is not only for defensive players, it is for all the team. We need to be more compact.”
And Emery dissected the lessons from a Vicarage Road slump that handed bottom side Watford only their second point of the season.
The Spaniard said: “We are defending sometimes deep, more deep than we wanted.
“A lot of shots were not dangerous for us really but we don’t want to defend in that situation – deep a lot of the times
“We need to start our pressing a little more ahead – don’t let the opposition get in our boxes so quickly.
“And on Sunday we are going to try to do better.”
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But earlier this week wideman Maitland-Niles claimed the main problem was Arsenal sticking too long to pure passing principles.
Denying team-mate Xhaka’s claim the Gunners had become too nervous at 2-0 up, Maitland-Niles said: “We should have changed it instead of being so persistent and trying to play out from the back.
“We’ve spoken to each other as a team and the manager has also spoken to us. We know we’ve done wrong.”