Unai Emery says Arsenal need to start games better despite eleventh straight win

  • PA Sport
Sporting CP v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League - Group E

Unai Emery admits Arsenal need to start games with more urgency – even after seeing his side win an 11th consecutive game with victory at Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.

Danny Welbeck scored the only goal of a forgettable Europa League tie as he turned home a 77th-minute winner for the visitors.

Both sides started the game slowly and the first half was largely bereft of quality – with Arsenal gradually improving after the interval as Welbeck secured the 1-0 win.

The result means Emery has not tasted defeat since August 18, but one criticism has been their slow start to matches – which was evident again at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Head coach Emery concedes it is an issue that needs addressing and has made his players aware of it.

“Each match is a very big opportunity to improve things and one thing is this,” he replied when asked about starting matches too slowly.

“We spoke in the dressing room before the start of the match today about our objectives. And one objective is this.

"But the most important thing is that when we were in the dressing room at half-time, we spoke and said ‘OK today also, we cannot impose our game in first 45 minutes, but the second half we have the opportunity to change the result and continue in our way, thinking only of winning this match and improving things in the second half.'

“But we need to continue finding the solution for us to be better in the first halves.”

Sporting CP v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League - Group E

Sporting boss Jose Peseiro felt his team were on the receiving end of some poor officiating, but spoke with pride at how his players prevented Arsenal playing the sort of free-flowing football that has been associated with them in recent weeks.

“Nobody has been able to do what we did in that first half against Arsenal,” he said.

“I’m not sure whether it was lack of aggression or fear, but they came back into the game. We were playing one of the best sides in Europe, who play very well vertically and with great depth. I cannot blame my team for doing what they did.

“We did not let our opponent do what they are usually able to do in England, and in the Europa League this season.

Sporting CP v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League - Group E

“We did well. But we did not take advantage of certain balls that we gained close to their box, where we might have scored.

“In the second half we were not able to keep the pressure, and Arsenal were able to get in space behind. We feared that and retreated.”

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