Unai Emery has called for Arsenal to play with personality for the remainder of the campaign to help them secure a top four spot and a place in the Champions League for next season.
The Gunners boss made his observations after his side chalked up a 3-2 win on Tuesday over Al-Nasr Dubai SC in Dubai, the culmination of a trip which included a warm weather training camp.
Goals from defender Carl Jenkinson, striker Alex Lacazette and young attacker Tyreece John-Jules gave the visitors the win — now Emery and his squad head back to London in readiness for the Premier League encounter with Newcastle United on Monday at the Emirates Stadium.
It’s a game the Gunners must win if they are to maintain their challenge at the top of the table. And Emery wants the level of intensity to be the same as when Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 recently, in the belief that a top four spot is a credible target.
He said: “It’s our objective but we know that we have to wait. We are working and being competitive each match. Now, in these next eight matches, we need to play with a lot of personality like we did against Manchester United. We know it’s going to be difficult because we are surrounded by other big teams but I think we are working very well and we are taking confidence to have chances in the last matches.
“Each match is our next objective and we think game by game. The next game is at home with our supporters against Newcastle, so it’s up to us to enjoy each match with the possibility of finding the three points. Afterwards, the second way of qualifying for the Champions League is through the Europa League. We can play for one title and then also to take another way to reach the Champions League. We are in a good moment in good confidence, and also in a good moment physically.
“Our first objective was to prepare for our next match against Newcastle and for the other Premier League and Europa League matches coming. They’re all very important for us. Every player is an important player. Some players are away with their national teams, others are here, and we have also had two weeks without a match so it’s important to keep moving forward in our training and in our matches. Every player is different but they all have lots of responsibility and they all work very well.”
Emery explained that he was happy to fulfil the obligation of playing in Dubai in a game which served as the official opening of the 15,000-capacity Al-Maktoum Stadium.
He added: “For us, we came here because firstly we have a big responsibility with our sponsors Emirates. We wanted to be here with a different weather, a different temperature. That’s good and we also trained with good facilities. We discovered all the things that we wanted to here, and we also played a good match with our supporters here. We have a lot of supporters here in Dubai and we also brought a lot over. It’s very, very positive.”