Emery: Arsenal’s away form key to top four finish

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Arsenal have improved under Unai Emery this season, but the Spanish coach wants them to improve their away form drastically if they’re going to call the 2018-19 campaign a success.

The Gunners haven’t won any of their last six Premier League away games, losing four of those, but they still sit in sixth place and just three points off the top four. That is largely due to their impressive home form, as they’re now 12 PL games unbeaten at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal head to bottom side Huddersfield Town this Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com), so this seems like a perfect opportunity for Emery’s men to get a road win to keep their top four hopes on track.

He agreed when asked if the game at Huddersfield was a ‘must-win’ in their battle for UEFA Champions League qualification.

“My first critic is myself. We can make the top four, but we know it’s not easy,” Emery said. “We are strong at home, but I think we need to do better away. We started very well, changing our mentality to get more points away. But now we need to recover our confidence and performance. Also we know defensively we need to do better. We tried to play with three and two centre-backs. Be passionate, be calm but above all work.”

Emery revealed that Arsenal have been working on how to play against teams who will press them high up the pitch, and he believes Huddersfield will do just that this weekend as they have nothing to lose under new manager Jan Siewert.

“I think they are going to push and they are going to do a lot of duels on the pitch against us,” Emery said. “We are working on that and we also need to improve on our away form, how we can do better playing against teams who press high against us.”

When you look at Arsenal’s remaining schedule, their toughest test will come at home (where they’ve only lost once all season) as they play Manchester United.

Away from home their toughest test remaining is against Tottenham at Wembley in the north London derby, and the Gunners do have a favorable schedule compared to the rest of their top six rivals.

The two keys to them getting into the top four are as follows, 1) stay fit defensively. 2) beat the likes of Huddersfield, Burnley, Watford, Everton and Leicester away from home.

If Emery’s men can do that, they will be right in the mix for the top four as teams around them have plenty of games left against one another in the final months of the campaign.

Watford chasing Rennes, Senegal star Sarr

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Watford may capture one of the rising stars of the game.

Ismaila Sarr would cost the Hornets a club transfer record fee, and Sky Sports says that Watford and Rennes are about $10 million apart.

The Ligue 1 side reportedly wants $34 million for the Senegal national team right wing.

[ VIDEO: Nketiah leads Arsenal win ]

Sarr, 21, scored a goal and an assist in Senegal’s run to the Africa Cup of Nations final, playing opposite Sadio Mane of Liverpool.

He posted 13 goals with 14 assists last season between Ligue 1, the French Cup, and the Europa League. He was the lone Rennes player to score against Arsenal in the UEL Round of 16.

Watford has held onto Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dodi Lukebakio this offseason. Lukebakio is also a 21-year-old right wing, and had a sensational loan season with Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2019-20.

Nketiah leads Arsenal past Fiorentina (video)

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Eddie Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal beat Fiorentina 3-0 in Charlotte on Saturday.

Joe Willock also scored for the Gunners, which beat Colorado Rapids and Bayern Munich in their first two matches of the preseason and meet Real Madrid in Maryland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Fiorentina took 18 of the match’s 30 shots, though Arsenal had nearly 60 percent of the ball.

Nketiah, 20, scored against Burnley in last season’s Premier League finale and then late against Bayern Munich earlier this week.

He was deft in a high-pressure spot for this one.

Premier League friendlies: Watford beats Bayer, Man Utd over Inter

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Arsenal and Fiorentina are set to kickoff in Charlotte tonight, with the Gunners the last of a bevy of Premier League sides to engage in preseason friendlies this muggy Saturday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]


Girona 1-2 Bournemouth

Juanpe’s late header pushed La Liga’s hosts past Eddie Howe and his 10-man Cherries, playing down after VAR deemed Jack Simpson‘s foul worthy of a sending off. Ryan Fraser scored Bournemouth’s goal, assisted by Jordon Ibe.

Northampton Town 0-4 Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood converted two penalties in an easy win for Chris Wilder in his return to a club he played for and managed.

Fulham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Pascal Gross scored with an early free kick — a Megan Rapinoe special — but Tom Cairney scored twice after halftime for the Championship side.

Cheltenham Town 1-2 Leicester City

The Foxes collected a second win over a lower league side this week, with Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton on the board.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United (Shanghai)

New manager Steve Bruce watched from the crowd as the Magpies made amends for a 4-0 loss to Wolves by blanking West Ham. Jamie Sterry‘s cross for Yoshinori Muto was delightful, and the Japanese striker’s finish was well-taken.

Port Vale 1-3 Burnley; Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Burnley

Chris Wood, Matej Vydra and Robbie Brady scored as the Clarets overcame an early Nick Pope goal to beat Port Vale, but the Premier League side couldn’t do much in a simultaneous friendly at Crewe.

Inter Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Singapore)

Substitute forward Mason Greenwood, just 17, scored the late goal in a match United controlled, outshooting Inter 21-8.

Preston North End 1-3 Southampton

Brace-bagging Danny Ings doesn’t usually have a problem with finish, so passing the ball directly to him is not something we’d recommend to goalkeepers. Jake Vokins also scored for Saints at Deepdale.

Watford 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored as the Hornets collected a win over Champions League competition.

Man City (0-0, 2-3 pens) Wolves (Shanghai)

Rui Patricio was very good over 90 minutes, and stopped City’s first two penalty attempts as Wolves continue to perplex the PL champions.

WATCH: Marco Fabian smashes set piece goal

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Marco Fabian sent a missile toward goal, and perhaps it’s good the goalkeeper didn’t get to the hand-breaking shot.

Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead over Chicago on Saturday in Chester, Pennsylvania, thanks to the Mexican midfielder.

[ REPORT: Man Utd locks up De Gea ]

It was a pretty set piece from Jim Curtin’s men, a backwards played free kick was laid off to Fabian for his audacious rip.

Fabian hasn’t had a wonderful 2019 season, but his fourth goal of the season will give Union supporters hope that he’ll pick up his form and make the already East-leading side all the more dangerous.