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Unai Emery fires back at Arsenal critics as boss pleads for patience towards young Gunners | Football | Sport

Unai Emery was steaming. He was riled. He was jabbing-his-finger-in-the-air fuming.

Arsenal’s manager reckons people have short memories. The Spaniard has been stung by criticism of his side after Monday’s 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United, where former Manchester United defender Patrice Evra labelled them “babies”.

Others have wondered whether the Gunners have made any progress since Emery took over from Arsene Wenger 18 months ago.

Emery admitted he was hurt by the barbs, and on Wednesday night the normally mild-mannered manager launched an impassioned defence of his methods, ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Vitoria Guimaraes at the Emirates.

The 47-year-old has been hit with criticism this season that his team are boring, and that a lack of creativity is being shown, especially with a player like Mesut Ozil clearly out of favour.

But a visibly angry Emery, whose team can establish a firm grip on Group F if they register their third successive win on Thursday night, fumed: “Sometimes we need to remember.

“When I arrived here, this team needed to be more competitive. The creativity was more or less good, but the competitiveness was not enough.

“Then we were winning 1-0 and being competitive, but it wasn’t enough. So you have to be competitive – but with creativity.

“I improved the team’s competitiveness, and the creativity. We are in still in that process. But we have to show patience, because we have brought in young players.

“Yes, the criticism hurt. Maybe we have lost some creativity, but I know we are going to recover that.

“I want to show our supporters our energy, our intensity. That we have improved. Supporters have different opinions. Some want more creativity, some want more intensity. I want both.”

Emery, set to make several changes against Vitoria on Thursday night, insisted: “We have exciting young players. They need to be consistent, but we need to show patience.

“We are going to continue and be strong, with the same strategy. OK we lost on Monday and it was a bad moment.

“I have struggled with my feelings, but that is my life. A friend said to me: ‘Go back and train your hometown team Hondarribia and you don’t have that problem.’ But this is my work.”

Emery also revealed he wanted to sign Brazilian Fabinho in 2018, but was beaten to the £40million punch by Liverpool: “I love Fabinho.

“His name was on the table, but he signed for Liverpool. The first six months he didn’t play, he was adapting – but now he is amazing. I want the same patience with Dani Ceballos, with Nicolas Pepe.”

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