Interview

‘I don’t agree with insults… let’s be together’

Emery

Unai Emery has asked our fans to get behind our players in the crucial final weeks of the season.

Sunday’s defeat against Crystal Palace dented our hopes of a top-four finish and, understandably, there was disappointment inside the ground and throughout our global fanbase.

Shkodran Mustafi was on the receiving end of some of that criticism and Unai was quick to defend him ahead of the Wolves game.

“I want to protect the players,” said our head coach, “and I protect Mustafi because I believe in him.

“He is a very good centre back, he has the habit of doing the sliding tackle and using anticipation against the opposition. He can win one, win two, win three, win four - but if he loses one he is in the picture and if he concedes a goal he is the big picture. Sunday was like that.

“I have spoken to him. I told him ‘You are young, you can improve and you need to work hard because you have a big quality for a centre back.'

“For example, at Watford, he was the best of the 28 players, the best, and he won all of the balls in the air with his head, that is a very good statistic for him. On Sunday against Benteke it's more difficult to win every ball in the air but it was 50:50.

“He needs to improve things tactically, his decision-making, but he has good quality and my work is to help him.”

What would also help him, according to Unai, is encouragement instead of insults.

“I say to our supporters, 'Help our players.' Because I want every player to have big confidence,” he said.

“I know there are reactions, and the first reaction is strong. First, when we win they are telling us we are the best, we have a record, we have a possibility to be third in the table - that is good.

“But we should take the balance in the middle, because when we aren't in this position in the table or aren't individually also putting in good performances and the criticism is coming at us, it is time to find the balance.

“I am going to protect the players and help the players. And all the supporters who love Arsenal, I prefer them to do that.

“I know it is not easy and they are going to criticise when they are in the stadium and also when they are watching on TV. But personal insults I don’t agree with. Insults I don’t want. I think it is not necessary to be insulting.

“If I protect the players, first it is for the confidence. I do criticise them - but only inside when I am working and we are speaking. I use my conversations with them individually and collectively and sometimes I criticise them. But outside I want to protect them. I prefer that as I think we need to be together.”

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