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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has called for a positive approach from his players as they gear up to face Manchester United on Sunday in the Premier League.
While the Red Devils go into the game having enjoyed a historic comeback success against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, the Gunners suffered a shock 3-1 loss away at Stade Rennais in the UEFA Europa League a day later.
Despite the disappointing result, Emery said he’s demanded an upbeat attitude from his players as they get set to face an in-form Red Devils team, per Amy Lawrence of the Guardian.
“I want the players to help me with big positive energy,” said Emery. “One player was worse than me, more down than me, and I said to him: ‘Let’s speak tomorrow as you are more sad than me.’ I want to listen to players with positive energy. I want to hear them say: ‘We can do it on Sunday’.”
Following a decent run of form, the Gunners have endured a week to forget in the buildup to the showdown with United.
Having performed well in the north London derby with Tottenham Hotspur, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw as last-gasp penalty saved by Hugo Lloris when the score was 1-1. Arsenal were then nowhere near their best as they slumped to a loss in France.
James Benge of Football.London said he doesn’t expect the Gunners to recover from their two-goal deficit when they face the Ligue 1 outfit again on Thursday:
James Benge @jamesbenge
I'm not saying they definitely won't but I'd be really very surprised if Arsenal get through now. That third goal a killer and classic Arsenal – why on earth did they have so few players back?
Football.London’s Charles Watts was critical of the manner in which Emery sought to manage the match after Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ first-half red card:
Charles Watts @charles_watts
Reaction to the red card was shocking. Arsenal in complete control then totally lost their heads. Don't think Emery's subs helped either.
The loss was a low point in what has been a season of transition for Arsenal under Emery.
Following Arsene Wenger’s 22-year tenure, adapting to a new manager was always going to be a challenge for the Gunners. The fact that they remain in the Europa League and a just a point behind United in fourth going into Sunday’s game is testament to his managerial skill.
Even so, there is a sense that there’s more to come from Arsenal, and as of yet, Emery hasn’t been able to instil a specific identity into the side. Going into the game against United, it’s not easy to anticipate the personnel or the system the Gunners will field.
James McNicholas of Gunnerblog said the upcoming matches will define Arsenal’s season:
Honestly? I still think we can win both those games, and I still think we can qualify. But we've made it very hard for ourselves indeed. #arsenal #thisishowwedo
Getting a win against the Red Devils will not be straightforward. Under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United have excelled and have won all nine away games since he took charge in mid-December.
Following on from Thursday’s poor outing, Emery will be desperate to see a response from his players and will be hopeful the positive outlook he’s been espousing will manifest as a much-improved display.
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