Emery focused on consistency after key win against United
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Emery focused on consistency after key win against United

Gunners landed significant blow in top-four battle with 2-0 victory against rivals

dave-comerford
David Comerford

Unai Emery has warned that Arsenal must remain consistent if they are to secure a top-four spot after they recorded one of their most important victories of the season against Manchester United

The Gunners turned in an impressively assured performance against an in-form United, with goals from Granit Xhaka and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang securing the three points.

The victory has seen them move back into the Champions League qualification places, two points ahead of United and just one shy of local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who lost at Southampton on Saturday.

It was a fine show of character from Emery's side, who had missed out on a North London derby win in agonising circumstances before a shock Europa League defeat at Stade Rennais.

"I think we’re improving and also I think we’re being competitive in different matches, away from home and against different teams," Emery said.

"We responded and sometimes you’ve seen different systems and different players, but above all we can feel today very proud of every player.

"Above all I want to say thank you to our supporters because they helped us a lot and we can create a big atmosphere like today for the next matches and for Thursday.

"I think it’s very important. The players did very well with a very big spirit and big commitment for the work we’ve done."

Aubameyang makes amends

Aubameyang cut a forlorn figure after faltering from the spot at Wembley but was presented with an opportunity for redemption when Alexandre Lacazette was fouled just before the 70th minute.

The prolific Gabonese forward this time converted from 18 yards, giving Arsenal some much-needed breathing space as United pushed for a route back into the game.

Emery insists his confidence in his star striker did not dip after his Wembley woes. 

"He has experience and he’s taken a lot of penalties. Sometimes scoring and sometimes missing, but the most important thing is that it’s one action on the pitch.

"He has personality and confidence and I had the same confidence today like last week. For me it’s not one mistake when he didn’t score, it’s one action. The goalkeeper can save it also."
 

He did, however, concede that Arsenal were perhaps a touch fortunate to be awarded the spot-kick.

"Soft, it was like last week. Against Tottenham they gave a penalty against us and today they gave a penalty against Manchester [United] for us. I think we can be happy."

A rare clean sheet

United had won each of their six Premier League away games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but a determined Arsenal were able to keep them out.

It was just their sixth clean sheet of a season in which Emery has consistently changed his defensive shape and personnel. 

"Yes, keeping clean sheets is very important. And also it’s very important to use different systems and different players so we can take the same performance and same victory.

"Not always a victory like against Tottenham last week, but with the good feeling and good combinations with the players on the pitch over 90 minutes.

"We are improving and we are feeling better with big confidence, but we need each match to push and work for continuing to feel this confidence with victories."

'We need to keep consistency in our mind'

With Spurs, Chelsea and United also vying for top-four spots in an immensely competitive race, Emery says Arsenal cannot afford to let their level drop between now and the end of the season.

The Spaniard says it will also be crucial to successfully balance their domestic ambitions with their hopes of going all the way in the Europa League.

Those hopes hinge on turning their tie against Stade Rennais around on Thursday night.

"We were positive when we were struggling in the table and we took balance in our mind when we were worse - and now after these victories we can be positive, but it won’t change our idea.

"We need to continue and it will be difficult, and our style and way and thinking will be game by game.

"We’re in two competitions now, the Premier League and also the Europa League. We are going to play the next match here against Newcastle in three weeks and that’s a lot. Our focus now is Thursday.

"We are happy today, we are going to analyse the match and also in the table we are better, but Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham are with us.

"We are going to play some difficult matches and being consistent is very important. At the moment I think we are playing consistent in each match and today we showed everybody that.

"We were calm, showed passion and continued improving. We know that for example on Thursday one match can change a lot with one red card or goal, so controlling our emotions is very important. We need to keep this consistency in our mind."

'Fans aren't in my control'

Emery was asked to comment on an incident which saw an Arsenal fan run onto the pitch and shove United defender Chris Smalling.

It followed a similar incident at St Andrew's in the Championship, when a Birmingham City fan targeted Aston Villa's Jack Grealish

With a discussion about preventative measures bound to follow, Emery has called for all spectators to show 'respect'. 
 
"I don’t want that, but it’s not in my control. I think we can enjoy this with every supporter and today I’m very proud of every supporter who helped us, but I think we need to do this with respect."

The club have vowed to ban the supporter from future matches.

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