Arsenal must work to 'shorten the difference' with Man City - Unai Emery
LONDON -- Arsenal head coach Unai Emery said the loss to Manchester City on Sunday made it clear that his team still needs more time to work on his tactics, but he insisted there were some positive signs in the 2-0 defeat.
Arsenal were soundly outplayed at the Emirates in Emery's first Premier League game in charge as City opened their title defence in a manner that underlined the difference in class between the two sides.
However, Emery said his players grew into the game and had chances after the break to equalise.
"I think they deserved this result, but we were improving during the 90 minutes like I think we need for next week and the next match," Emery said at a news conference. "And the second half is the moment we had chances for doing a better result.
"It's clear today Manchester City was demanding our best performance, and today we [can see] we have to continue working, but I am happy with the players because they run, they fight. And also, we need to continue to work tactically with defensive options and to shorten the difference today between Manchester City and us."
Raheem Sterling scored the opening goal in the first half after easily going past Hector Bellerin and the debuting Matteo Guendouzi before curling a shot past Petr Cech, and Bernardo Silva doubled the lead after the break.
Arsenal, meanwhile, lacked sharpness in the final third and rarely managed to maintain possession, with Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan struggling to impact the game while playing out wide in a 4-3-3 system.
It was a game that showed Arsenal are very much a work in progress under Emery, who took over from Arsene Wenger this summer, but Emery was confident they are heading in the right direction.
"We know this [new] way is starting and we need also to do one process one way," Emery said. "And today is the first step in that. Manchester City are working in their third year with Guardiola. Also, they are building one team with security, with good players, with great stability, playing like they want, and we are starting.
"We finished with the spirit I want. And the team for 90 minutes, they ran, they tried, they pushed, but I think we need to improve [everything], collectively and also individually. But I think this process today is normal, especially against a team like Manchester City."
Emery opted to start Cech in goal despite bringing in Bernd Leno in the summer and stood by his decision afterward.
Cech made several saves to keep Arsenal in the game but also seemed to struggle a bit when playing with his feet, nearly scoring an own goal in the first half when he mishit a back pass from Guendouzi.
"Petr Cech had a very good preseason and today he played well also. He has this experience for continuing to defend our goal," Emery said. "Also, Leno is starting with us. He's working very well. He played also good in the preseason, but he can wait for his moment to arrive."
Another worry for Arsenal is that their left-back situation worsened when Ainsley Maitland-Niles hobbled off in the first half with a leg injury.
The midfielder started at left-back with Sead Kolasinac injured and Nacho Monreal returning from a knee problem, and he was replaced by right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner, who made his Arsenal debut.
Emery said he did not know the status of Maitland-Niles' injury, but said Monreal could be ready to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
"Nacho started working with the group yesterday, and maybe he can arrive for the next match," Emery said.