Thursday 19 September 2019

Emery: I don't know if we're better than last season

Arsenal manager Unai Emery
Arsenal manager Unai Emery

Unai Emery admits he does not yet know whether his reshaped Arsenal squad is stronger than the one at his disposal last season, writes Ian Winrow.

The club had a busy transfer window, signing six senior players for a combined outlay of more than £130 million (€142m), including Nicolas Pepe, the winger bought from Lille for a club-record £72m.

None of the new faces featured in the starting line-up in the 1-0 win at Newcastle United last Sunday, with Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli and Dani Ceballos introduced off the bench, although Reiss Nelson, back at the club after a successful loan spell at Hoffenheim last season, did start.

It is likely there will more new faces in the side to face Burnley when Arsenal kick off their home campaign today, but Emery concedes it will take time to pass judgment on his squad.

"I don't know," he said, when asked if this group of players were stronger.

"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."

Of Emery's other signings, David Luiz, the former Chelsea centre-back, remained an unused substitute at St James' Park, left-back Kieran Tierney, signed from Celtic, is injured, and William Saliba, the teenage centre-back signed from St Etienne for £27m, immediately returned to the Ligue 1 side on loan.

The victory at Newcastle eased any pressure on Emery to rush his new signings into the team.

"David Luiz is ready to play on Saturday, Pepe is closer to playing in the first XI and really we are seeing that improvement in each training," said the Spaniard.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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