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Unai Emery calls on Arsenal to improve defensively

Unai Emery, Arsenal
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Unai Emery is well aware that Arsenal must quickly improve at the back if they are to be a competitive outfit during the season.

Arsenal’s defensive woes from last season have been carried over to the new one, with Emery’s men conceding eight goals in their last three Premier League games.

The last one was at Watford, where Arsenal blew a two-goal lead to finish 2-2 in Vicarage Road. Although they were, perhaps, fortunate to even leave with a point after that shambolic second-half display.

Another noteworthy fact from the game was that Watford made 31 shots compared to Arsenal’s seven. Therefore, they’ve now got the worst record of any team among Europe’s top five leagues in terms of shots conceded.

And Emery is aware that his team will have to up their game in that respect ahead of Sunday’s league clash at home to Aston Villa.

“Two things. First, we need to be competitive and we need to improve defensively, but it’s not all down to the defensive players, the goalkeeper, the midfield – it’s for all the team,” said Emery.

“Secondly, sometimes we are defending deep, more deep than we want to. Our block is more deep than we want usually. We don’t want to defend in that situation, too deep, many times.

“A lot of shots? They are shots. It’s not that important. They’re not a danger for us, really.

“We need to improve and also need, as a team, to be more compact. We need to start our pressing a little more ahead.

“We could do that work better and, on Sunday at home against Aston Villa, we are going to try to do better.”

On the bright side, though, Emery announced that Rob Holding is ready to return for Arsenal.

The 24-year-old defender has finally recovered from a cruciate ligament rupture, which kept him sidelined since last December.

However, Hector Bellerin and new signing Kieran Tierney will have to wait a little longer to return while they recover from their respective injuries.

Rob Holding, Arsenal
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 20: Rob Holding of Arsenal acknowledges the fans after the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Arsenal and Vorskla Poltava at Emirates Stadium on September 20, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)