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Arsenal winning all that matters to Emery

RFI 2019-02-10 00:37:28
Arsenal have yet to keep a clean sheet this season but Unai Emery is more focussed on gaining a Champions League spot AFP

Unai Emery said he is not worried Arsenal were unable to keep a first away clean sheet of the season as first half goals from Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazatte secured a 2-1 win at struggling Huddersfield.

The result keeps Arsenal in the thick of the chase for a top-four finish and Champions League football although questions remain about Arsenal’s defensive fragility.

Deep in injury-time, Adama Diakhaby broke clear on goal, lifted the ball over Bernd Leno and watched as Sead Kolasinac turned into his own goal via an unfortunate deflection.

Not that Emery was too concerned about that late blot on his team’s performance.

"Yeah but we won," said Emery.

"The clean sheet is important but our goal is to win. Maybe we can take a clean sheet and only draw.

"We spoke before with the team and said above all, we need to win.

Arsenal, preparing for Thursday's Europa League last 32 first leg trip to Belarus where they face BATE Borisov, opened the game in convincing fashion.

They broke the deadlock in the 15th minute from a free-kick taken quickly inside their own half.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan sent Kolasinac away down Arsenal's left and his hanging cross was met by Iwobi with a first-time volley which took a deflection off Terence Kongolo but should still have been kept out by Ben Hamer in the home goal.

The decisive second goal came in the final minute of the first half and was particularly welcome for Emery who punched the air in celebration as Lacazette tapped the ball into an open net.

- 'We are on our way' -

Emery had cut an increasingly animated and frustrated figure on the touchline as his team failed to kill off Huddersfield in that first period, even surviving a strong penalty appeal after Jason Puncheon’s shot struck the arm of Laurent Koscielny after 25 minutes.

"That is me," said Emery, explaining his antics.

"It is my personality. If I am here, it is because in my career I progressed like that. If for one moment I thought it’s negative, then I wouldn't do it."

If Emery had been unhappy about elements of Arsenal's first half display, he would have been even more furious as the struggling Yorkshire side showed why the Gunners have failed to keep an away clean sheet in the league since winning at the John Smith's Stadium in Arsene Wenger's last game as manager in May.

In the closing stages, Laurent Depoitre flashed a shot inches wide and Nacho Monreal was required to clear off the line from Karlan Grant before the 93rd minute consolation.

At least the victory drew Arsenal to within a point of fourth-placed Manchester United -- Chelsea are fifth with a better goal difference than the Gunners and play Manchester City on Sunday -- and means a top-four finish remains a possibility.

"We are at game number 26 and there is one point difference between Manchester United and us," said Emery.

"If we ask if it is easy or difficult for us, I think it is difficult but I think we are on our way.

"Every player's motivation is correct and we want to be consistent over 38 games."