Unai Emery is convinced his Arsenal players can put the brakes on a “very motivated” Wilfried Zaha ahead of Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace.
Zaha will meet Arsenal for the first time since his summer move fell through after Emery opted for Nicolas Pepe instead. Therefore, the lethal Crystal Palace winger has a point to prove at the Emirates Stadium.
And the Gunners do have every reason to be worried considering Zaha’s starring role in Palace’s shock 3-2 win in north London last season.
But Emery is adamant the Ivory Coast international won’t have it easy against his defence.
“He is a very good player and he has been the difference in a lot of matches against us and against other teams,” said Emery, according to The Telegraph.
“But we have players also to stop him and also to impose our capacity. For us it is about our players, our players, our capacity and at the Emirates we need also to feel strong and this Sunday one team is coming, Crystal Palace, usually they are feeling good.
“One player is coming here in Zaha – a very good player – and he is coming for sure very motivated but our challenge is how we can stop him but above all how we can battle then and use our own capacity and individual quality.”
Pepe, meanwhile, scored two brilliant free-kicks in a 15-minute cameo during Arsenal’s 3-2 Europa League win over Vitoria SC on Thursday.
It was a welcome boost for the 24-year-old, who has struggled to live up to his club-record €80m price tag. However, Emery has urged supporters to remain patient as he gets to grips with life in England.
The Arsenal boss added: “We signed Pepe not for two months, six months, one year or two years but for one process with us and the process is coming I think little by little.
“This club is following a lot of players in the world and here in England and in other countries because we have very good scouting to achieve players and we are very happy with Pepe and we know we are waiting for more but it is one process and we need patience and to be calm with him.
“We will help him and protect him because also sometimes he can think he is playing under pressure but for us and me when we are ready to play under pressure is when we can be better.”
The Arsenal and Palace match starts at 17:30 (CET).