Emery: ‘Arsenal are working on new signings’
Arsenal's 22-match unbeaten run ended at Southampton after suspensions and injuries force Gunners to play a makeshift back-three at St Mary's
16 December, 2018 — By Steve Barnett
Unai Emery ready to turn to Arsenal’s youth players in 2019
SOUTHAMPTON 3 (Ings 20, 44 Austin 85)
ARSENAL 2 (Mkhitaryan 28, 53)
ARSENAL head coach Unai Emery says that he is ready to “give youth players a chance” if he can’t find any worthy signings during the January transfer window.
With Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos injured and Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos suspended, Emery was forced into playing a makeshift back three at Southampton on Sunday – with fit-again Laurent Koscielny, who was featuring in his first Premier League game for over seven months, paired with midfielder Granit Xhaka and 34-year-old Stephan Lichtsteiner.
It proved costly with the Gunners conceding three avoidable goals, losing 3-2 at St Mary’s to bring an end to their 22-match unbeaten run. To make matters worse, right-back Hector Bellerin is now out for “some weeks” after being substituted at half-time with a calf injury.
Quizzed on whether the growing injury list meant spending in January, Emery said: “I don’t know, because we don’t have a lot of possibility in January but if we can we will find someone to help us. But only if we think they are the player than can help us with good performance.
“January is not good for this reason, but we are going to look and the club is working for this in January. Our progress is also with young players and we need to give them more chances to play and show us their progress.”
If Sunday was anything to go by, the quicker Emery can bring in some solid defenders the better. Danny Ings comfortably headed home the opening goal from 10 yards after a pinpoint cross from the left by Matt Targett.
Arsenal managed to reply just before the half hour mark when Nacho Monreal’s cross was guided home by Henrik Mkhitaryan.
But on the stroke of half time the visitors again failed to deal with a ball into the box – this time from Nathan Redmond – and Ings was on hand to head a looping effort into the top corner.
Emery sent on Alexandre Lacazette in place of the injured Bellerin at half-time and switched to a back four. The changes sparked an almost instant response as Arsenal restored parity when Mkhitaryan’s shot deflected in off Jannik Vestergaard.
It should have spurred the Gunners on to collecting all three points. But instead it was Southampton who were left celebrating after Shane Long, who had a goal rightly ruled offside, provided a teasing cross deceiving Bernd Leno, allowing Charlie Austin to head home into an empty net.
SOUTHAMPTON: McCarthy, Yoshida, Valery, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Targett, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Armstrong (Johnson, 90+4), Redmond (Long, 63), Ings (Austin, 71)
Substitutes not used: Gunn, Hoedt, Davis, Ward-Prowse
ARSENAL: Leno, Bellerin (Lacazette, 45), Koscielny, Lichtsteiner (Maitland-Niles, 74), Monreal, Xhaka, Iwobi (Ozil, 70), Guendouzi, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang
Substitutes not used: Cech, Elneny, Ramsey, Nketiah