Emery unsure over Arsenal squad
Unai Emery admits he is unsure if his current Arsenal squad is better than what he had at his disposal last season
Arsenal smashed their transfer record in the window just closed in which Nicolas Pepe was the star buy of a busy summer, the 23-year-old joining from Lille for a fee which could eventually top £70million.
Experienced defender David Luiz came in from Chelsea on deadline day along with Scotland left-back Kieran Tierney, who arrived from Scottish Champions Celtic after a long chase.
The Gunners – who host Burnley in Saturday’s early kick-off – had already landed Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos on loan with youngsters Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba, both 18, coming in as highly-rated prospects.
Arsenal perhaps needed to take action having seen Aaron Ramsey join Juventus on a free transfer after his contract had run out while Petr Cech decided to hang up his gloves, and Laurent Koscielny got his wish of a move back to France, albeit by playing hardball by refusing to travel on the club’s pre-season tour.
And that means Emery, who saw his side win 1-0 at Newcastle last time out in the season’s opener, is in doubt as to whether he has an improved squad from his first full campaign in charge.
“I don’t know,” he replied when asked if his squad is better than a year ago.
“Our idea is to improve on last year, to improve our work, improve our players, improve our challenge, to improve in achieving our target but I don’t know if we are better or not.
“I’m not more confident but I have more options in some positions in the team to decide the first XI and the players on the bench.”
Emery took over the reins at the Emirates last summer and has overseen a fair number of new signings, although he is not necessarily one to throw them straight into the deep end of the Premier League.
None of the summer arrivals started the game at Newcastle on the opening day, although there are extenuating circumstances in some cases.
Tierney is not yet fit as he is sidelined by a groin injury while Saliba was returned to St Etienne on a season-long loan.
However, Emery appears to be confident in the depth of his current squad, particularly with rising stars Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock pushing for starting places, and feels he can give his summer signings more time to settle into their new surroundings.
Asked if the win gives him time to ease in his recent acquisitions, the Spaniard replied: “Yes.
“Pepe is closer to play in the first XI and really we are seeing that improvement in each training.
“Ceballos can be with more minutes if we need him and also training with us are Mesut (Ozil) and Sead (Kolasinac), it is more important to have more options and be competitive in the first XI and on the bench.”