Emery left unmoved by Emirates boo-boys

Unai Emery is prepared to stand up for himself against star players and even the crowd after he was booed for the first time as Arsenal manager when making a substitution.

Emery left unmoved by Emirates boo-boys

Unai Emery is prepared to stand up for himself against star players and even the crowd after he was booed for the first time as Arsenal manager when making a substitution.

The Spanish coach inspired his side to bounce back to winning ways and stay in the hunt for a top-four challenge after a humbling weekend defeat at Liverpool and an underwhelming draw at lowly Brighton.

But this victory was not as assured as the scoreline suggests and there were anxious moments on and off the pitch before goals from Granit Xhaka, Alex Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rendered an Aboubakar Kamara Fulham goal a mere consolation.

Scarred from the Anfield horror show, Arsenal could have gone behind twice before taking the lead.

Visiting Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri sensed the natives were restless.

He said: “When we created chances the Arsenal fans were not happy with their team.”

It was not until substitute Ramsey scored Arsenal’s third that the party began and players and supporters alike relaxed.

And that came just moments after Emery’s decision to withdraw Lacazette for the soon to be out-of-contract Welsh midfielder was loudly booed.

Emery stated afterwards that he was the one who had to make the tactical decisions — he had dropped Ramsey after his Liverpool showing — and he is confident he knows what he doing.

He expanded: “I understand the supporters. I need to do my work. Tactically we thought in that moment we needed to change for more balance.

"Above all we know (Jean Michael) Seri is coming on for Fulham and we need a player close to him, not to let him play easily with the ball.

"Aaron Ramsey can do that and also help us in attack and scored. The reason is this. I need to do my work.

“Maybe because every supporter can have a different opinion, but I need to do my work.”

Emery was vindicated by the outcome and added: “In my career I have different moments when I made similar decisions. We have more information to do that and need a cold mind to make the best decision.”

Arsenal supporters, however, will be hoping their new head coach makes more decisions to improve their defence after they again looked uncertain despite the Spaniard getting the first chance to start a match with his preferred back three of Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis, and Laurent Koscielny.

Emery added: “Our challenge now is to improve defensively. We are doing well in terms of scoring, but we need our defence also to be more balanced and improve.

"We need to work. We need to prepare for the second half of the season. We need to do better in the second half of the season, tactically, and we are going to do that.”

Emery was less assured about Arsenal’s prospects in the transfer market this month, but did say the club were open to making new signings but have not spoken about Chelsea’s Gary Cahill, a player they have been heavily linked with.

That means it is likely he will have to get the best out of his current squad of players and restore the form and self-belief that led to a recent 22-game unbeaten run.

At least they have started 2019 as they mean to continue and Emery’s side could have scored many more than four goals.

However, before Arsenal opened the scoring Fulham captain Tom Cairney played through Ryan Sessegnon, who left Koscielny for dead to leave him with only Bernd Leno to beat.

However, he lost his composure and shot wide.

Soon after and it was even worse when he connected with only clear fresh air as he attempted to sweep in a half volley form close range.

And how Fulham were punished when just two minutes later they showed why they have the worse away record in the Premier League this season by gifting Arsenal a 25th minute goal.

Sead Kolasinac and then Alex Iwobi were afforded too much time on the ball before he spotted Xhaka unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box from where the Swiss midfielder had an age to pick his spot.

A fragile lead — this was only the second time this season Arsenal have been ahead at half-time, but Emery reacted with characteristic decisiveness and sent on tigerish midfielder Lucas Torreira for the injured Mustafi for the start of the second half.

The change led, in part, to Lacazette scoring his ninth goal of the season following a swift passing move involving Aubameyang, Iwobi, and Kolasinac.

Fulham could not cope with the France striker, who was denied what seemed an obvious penalty when he was blocked and felled by substitute Seri with 25 minutes to go.

Ranieri had already showed his intent not to concede defeat that easily, though, by sending on striker Kamara along with Seri to try and force a change in fortune.

And the big man, dropped after his weekend penalty miss when Ranieri threatened to ‘kill him’, responded perfectly by losing Kolasinac at the far post to side foot home an inch-perfect cross from Sessegnon with just over 20 minutes to go.

Now Arsenal really were feeling the heat and Emery’s decision to withdraw Lacazette for Ramsey for the final 15 minutes was pivotal.

The jeers soon turned to cheers when the Welsh midfielder reacted well to an Aubameyang shot off a post and finished neatly for Arsenal’s third just four minutes after coming on.

And there was a standing ovation for Emery’s next switch when the impressive Iwobi gave way for Bukayo Saka to make his Premier League debut.

The teenage English forward was involved immediately and played a role in Aubameyang deservedly adding his name to the scoresheet when he struck home with the help of a deflection in the 83rd minute.

ARSENAL (3-4-2-1):

Leno 6; Sokratis 6, Koscielny 5, Mustafi 5 (Torreira 45, 6); Maitland-Niles 7, Guendouzi 6, Xhaka 6, Kolasinac 6; Iwobi 7 (Saka 83, 6), Aubameyang 7; Lacazette 7 (Ramsey 75, 6).

FULHAM (3-4-2-1):

Rico 7; Odoi 6, Le Marchand 5, Ream 5; Christie 6 (Fosu-Mensah 56, 6), Cairney 7, Cisse 6 (Seri 61, 6), Bryan 6; Schurrle 6 (Kamara 61, 7) Sessegnon 7; Mitrovic 6.

Referee: Graham Scott 5.

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