Arsenal's 2-0 loss to Leicester City could spell the end of Unai Emery's tenure.

The Gunners failed to win for the fourth Premier League match in succession on Saturday, testing the patience of club officials.

According to reports, contact has been made with Luis Enrique to assess his interest in the job.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL MAKE LUIS ENRIQUE ENQUIRY

It could be a case of one Spaniard out, another Spaniard in at Emirates Stadium.

El Confidencial's Kike Marin claims Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi has sounded out Luis Enrique about replacing Unai Emery as head coach.

The ex-Barcelona and Roma boss has been out of football since stepping down as Spain's head coach due to personal reasons in June, two months before the tragic death of his young daughter, Xana.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have joined the race for in-demand Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, according to the Mirror. The Red Devils are also rumoured to be chasing Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, their former player.

- As rumours linking Eriksen to Old Trafford re-emerge, Tottenham are preparing to move for a former United man. The Mirror say Spurs are plotting a £50million bid for Memphis Depay, who has flourished since leaving the Premier League for Ligue 1's Lyon.

- The same British tabloid believes Chelsea could splash £70million on towering Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic if their transfer ban is lifted in January.

- Olivier Giroud could be leaving Chelsea for a fee of around £5million. The Daily Express say Antonio Conte's Inter and Major League Soccer side Vancouver Whitecaps are prepared to offer the France international an escape route.

- Giroud could depart Stamford Bridge for Italy and Mario Pasalic might remain there. The Chelsea-owned midfielder is on loan at Serie A outfit Atalanta, who are considering forking out the €15million required to keep him, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Sheffield United were the recipients of a harsh VAR decision but Chris Wilder's side battled back to draw 1-1 with Tottenham after Son Heung-min's opener on Saturday.

After Son - who was initially set to be suspended for this match but had his red card for a tackle that led to Andre Gomes' ankle injury overturned in midweek - put Spurs ahead, the Blades looked to have equalised until VAR disallowed David McGoldrick's goal.

However, George Baldock earned a share of the spoils for the Blades 12 minutes from time.

While Spurs are without a win in five league matches, their London rivals Chelsea are having no such issues under Frank Lampard, as they claimed a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Elsewhere, Everton claimed a vital away win at Southampton, Newcastle United saw off Bournemouth 2-1 and Burnley returned to winning ways in style with a 3-0 triumph over struggling West Ham.

 

SON ON TARGET BUT BLADES OVERCOME VAR CONTROVERSY

Much has been made of Son's devastation after his part in Gomes' injury, but he had reason to celebrate after the forward proved his importance to Spurs in what was another impotent display from Mauricio Pochettino's side.

Tottenham successfully appealed Son's red card, and they benefitted from having the forward available when the South Korea international pounced on Enda Stevens' mistake just before the hour.

The Blades thought they had scored a swift equaliser through McGoldrick, only for VAR to come to Spurs' rescue as - after a lengthy VAR check - it was deemed John Lundstram, who also hit the post, was marginally offside.

But VAR would not deny the visitors again - George Baldock's cross-cum-shot looping in to secure a deserved share of the spoils and lift the Blades, for now, into fifth.

ABRAHAM STRIKES AGAIN AS CHELSEA MAKE IT SIX IN A ROW

Chelsea were frustrated by some stubborn Palace defending in the first half at Stamford Bridge, but Lampard's side made the breakthrough courtesy of Tammy Abraham's 10th league goal of the season.

A sublime team move culminated in Willian flicking it around the corner into Abraham, who took a superb first touch before slotting beyond Vicente Guaita.

Three deserved points were wrapped up 11 minutes from time - Christian Pulisic acrobatically firing home as Chelsea won a sixth successive league match and, temporarily at least, moved above Manchester City into second.

EVERTON CLAIM VITAL VICTORY AS BURNLEY CLATTER WEST HAM

Defeat - or even a failure to win - at St Mary's for Everton could have spelled the end for Marco Silva, but the Toffees came away with the points thanks to Richarlison's 75th-minute effort.

Danny Ings' goal five minutes into the second half had cancelled out Tom Davies' early opener, yet Southampton - who have now lost six out of their last seven league matches - could not keep up the momentum, with Richarlison having the final say as Everton held onto their first away win of the season.

Everton sit in 13th, a point behind Burnley, who ended a three-game losing streak by dismantling West Ham, whose boss Manuel Pellegrini may well be under pressure heading into the international break.

Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood - who has scored in all five of his Premier League games against the Hammers - had Burnley in control by the break, before Roberto Jimenez's calamitous own goal wrapped things up at Turf Moor. 

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard commended Reece James' handling of Wilfried Zaha on the right-back's first Premier League start in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

James, 19, spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic and gained rave reviews for his performances, earning himself a place in Chelsea's squad for Lampard's first campaign at the helm.

The full-back suffered ankle ligament damage in August that prevented him from making much of an impact during the early stages of the season.

Lampard took the opportunity to test him and rest Cesar Azpilicueta for the visit of Palace and he put in an accomplished display, coping well with Zaha and showing his ability on the ball.

The Blues boss was impressed but also stressed the importance of first-choice right-back Azpilicueta.

When asked about informing Azpilicueta of his decision to play James, Lampard told reporters: "It's part of my job.

"It would be a tougher call if I was speaking to Azpilicueta when he is having a difficult time and I am bringing a kid in to say this is a decision I am making. It is actually a decision [I've made] when Azpilicueta is playing really well for us.

"He's a leader and a driver, but Reece and the way he is playing, I thought with the opportunity to give him minutes in a game today was one I had to take. It gives me options going forward.

"Azpi is such a great personality and character that he is easy to speak to. He feels for the club and wants the best, that shows how much I value him now and going forward.

"It might give me some selection problems for sure, but I want the best for the team. It is a nice problem.

"I thought Reece was fantastic against one of the best wingers in the league one-v-one, a real threat and on the counter-attack.

"Reece dealt with most of those situations and he also joined in the attack. You can see how comfortable he is with the ball and his delivery and passing, so I was pleased.

"I trust in Reece and, out of all of the younger players who have been getting chances this year – he has had his injury earlier in the season – he has got fit that little bit later.

"But he has been training at a level and coming on at a level where he deserves his minutes today. He did brilliantly."

It was put to Roy Hodgson that Zaha was a disappointment, but the Palace boss hit back at the suggestion.

"You're asking me now to comment on individual performances, in every game of football," Hodgson said. "They have just won the game, Chelsea. So, if you want Frank to give individual assessments of players then he will probably say, 'He was fantastic, another not so good.'

"Wilf is doing what he needs for the team, he is working hard for the team. Against Arsenal he had an incredible game, and against Leicester. Perhaps today he wasn't at his very best, but that is what football is, unfortunately.

"They are human beings. You can't legislate people sometimes having a really good game the way you'd like, but what you can legislate for is the work they are putting in and adhere to the team's play and plan, and in that respect, I thought Wilf was as good as anybody out there."

Frank Lampard has called on Tammy Abraham to look up to England team-mate Harry Kane after the Chelsea striker joined Jamie Vardy at the top of the Premier League scoring charts.

Abraham opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge against Crystal Palace on Saturday, tucking home from close range to take his league tally this season to 10.

The 22-year-old's opener was followed up by a header from the in-form Christian Pulisic, as the Blues - temporarily at least - moved second with a 2-0 win.

Asked if Abraham can offer serious competition to Kane for an England starting spot, Lampard said the youngster still has a long way to go but believes the Tottenham star sets a perfect example.

"Harry Kane's an incredible player," Lampard told BBC Sport. "What he's done in recent years and his career is amazing, so Tammy needs to look up to that and if he can keep reproducing and scoring goals at that kind of level, that's the next stage for Tammy. 

"What he's shown in these first few months is that there are so many parts to his game. 

"[There was] not much space today because of how Palace play but I told him at half-time just to stick with it, it's one of those games that forwards will have where they work a lot for not much, but maybe a goal and he did that."

Lampard named Chelsea's youngest starting XI in a Premier League match for Saturday's encounter, as the Blues went on to secure a sixth successive top-flight win.

Lampard has now tasked his side with replicating their form over the course of the campaign.

"We certainly deserved to win the game. The first half was frustrating because we had all of the game, had some chances but not enough clear-cut ones, let the tempo drop slightly," he said.

"As soon as we picked it up in the second half I thought we got a deserved win with two clinical goals and a clean sheet.

"They are [consistent] because we're on a good run and with the older players the balance is pretty good, the older players help the younger ones. The young ones have to realise very quickly what this level is, and it's tough.

"But they're working very hard, improving. It's still early days in a way, so can we replicate it through a longer period is the next test."

When Mateo Kovacic re-joined Chelsea in a reported £45million deal after spending last season on loan at Stamford Bridge, it's fair to say the news wasn't met with much more than a shrug from most.

A tidy player, undoubtedly, but Kovacic's debut campaign at Chelsea did little to hush those who have expected more from him since moving to Real Madrid after very promising spells with Dinamo Zagreb and Inter earlier in his career.

Fading in and out of matches, struggling to dictate play and seemingly unable to completely convince Maurizio Sarri, Kovacic generally looked like a square peg in a round hole.

Although he made 21 Premier League starts, he completed 90 minutes just twice and failed to dislodge Ross Barkley, whose own tale of somewhat unfulfilled potential is perhaps comparable.

But under Frank Lampard this season, Kovacic looks to be on the right track and showed evidence he is stepping out of Jorginho's shadow in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

For all the praise Lampard's young team – which on Saturday was the youngest it, or any previous Chelsea starting XI, has been in the Premier League – has received this season, their first-half showing highlighted deficiencies.

Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal was barely worked despite Chelsea's dominance, with three of their first eight shots coming from free-kicks, while there were also a couple of long-distance efforts.

A lack of impetus in the final third was laid bare without the suspended Jorginho, as Tammy Abraham only had a solitary shot before half-time.

While Kovacic caught the eye with some powerful runs from deep and Christian Pulisic's trickery on the ball left Palace defenders in knots on a couple of occasions, their general build-up play was a little predictable and the final pass unable to cut through the visitors' packed defence.

Chelsea would have been well aware of how Palace planned to set up. They are notoriously effective away from home, with their record of 11 Premier League wins on the road since the start of last season bettered by only Liverpool, Manchester City (both 18) and Chelsea (14).

Jorginho's usual influence was particularly notable by its absence.

Having been a frequent target of Chelsea fans last season, often booed and jeered by Blues supporters, he has gone about his business very effectively this term.

No player had attempted or completed more passes (865/765) than the Italian in the Premier League in 2019-20 before Saturday, while his 125 passes into the final third was also unmatched, proving there is far more to his game than simply nudging possession on to a team-mate five yards away.

Without Jorginho's vision and incisiveness, Chelsea's attackers were already at a disadvantage.

But, while it wouldn't have been fair to expect Kovacic to fill exactly the same role, he did exhibit solid evidence of his own marked improvement and was crucial in breaking Palace down.

His unique spin on the deep-lying playmaker position ultimately proved vital as Chelsea ended Palace's resistance in the 52nd minute – he darted in off the left flank, skipped past two defenders and prodded a pass through to Willian, whose clever flick released Abraham for an easy finish.

For all Jorginho's ability, it was an action one almost certainly wouldn't have seen from the former Napoli schemer.

Kovacic's role in Chelsea's second was rather more Jorginho, however.

Receiving the ball from the back and just inside his own half, Kovacic noticed Pulisic in space on the left and drove an inch-perfect cross-field pass right to him. He cut inside and found Michy Batshuayi, whose deflected shot sat up kindly for the American, who nodded past Guaita.

Although it wasn't Kovacic's name on the scoresheet, he finished the match leaving little doubt of his growing influence.

If he continues on his current trajectory, the only shrugging from Chelsea fans will come after inspirational performances - he has the capability for such effectiveness to be his norm.

Tammy Abraham scored his 10th Premier League goal for Chelsea as they secured a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The 22-year-old striker became the youngest Blues player to reach double figures in the Premier League since Arjen Robben when he swept home following a clever Willian pass.

Chelsea had found clear-cut chances hard to come by against a stubborn Palace side, whose manager Roy Hodgson was taking charge of his 300th game in England's top flight.

Abraham's cool finish broke the deadlock, though, before a simple header from Christian Pulisic made certain of a sixth league win in a row for Frank Lampard's side.

Chelsea, whose starting line-up was their youngest in Premier League history at an average age of 24 years and 88 days, certainly started the more exuberantly of the teams and could have gone ahead when Pulisic was denied by Vicente Guaita after turning past Joel Ward.

Palace were not offering much of an attacking threat, but they did seem to have the Chelsea forward line under increasing control, although only a brilliant block from Gary Cahill stopped former team-mate Willian turning the ball in with seconds of the first half left.

Palace's resistance was broken seven minutes after the restart, though, Abraham slotting confidently past Guaita after being played through by a fine reverse pass from Willian.

Pulisic was then denied by a flying save from Guaita, but the visitors spurned a great chance to level when James Tomkins nodded wide from just seven yards out.

It proved a costly miss as, with 11 minutes to go, Pulisic nodded the ball past Guaita for his first goal at Stamford Bridge after Michy Batshuayi's shot was blocked.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea up to second thanks to best form since Conte

Chelsea's victory moves them above Manchester City into second place in the table, with the champions a point behind ahead of their trip to leaders Liverpool on Sunday.

Lampard's side seem likely to stay near the top, too – they have won six league matches in a row for the first time since May 2017, when Antonio Conte guided them to the title.

Willian still holds the key for Chelsea

Much has rightly been made of youngsters Abraham, Mason Mount and latterly Pulisic, but it is hard to dispute that Willian remains Chelsea's most important attacking player.

The Brazil international, captain for the day, created four goalscoring chances – including his assist - and completed 95 per cent of his passes.

Zaha sums up toothless Palace

Palace are a disciplined side but goalscoring remains a concern. They offered almost nothing in attack against Chelsea, with Wilfried Zaha generally unable to influence matters going forward, creating one chance and having no attempts on goal.

What's next?

Chelsea return from the international break with a daunting trip to Manchester City on November 23. Palace do not have things any easier: they host Liverpool on the same day.

Frank Lampard says Chelsea will be "looking in the mirror" rather than worrying about how their potential Premier League title rivals fare this weekend.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, eight points behind leaders Liverpool but six clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.

Liverpool face champions Manchester City, who are currently in second, on Sunday, presenting the opportunity for Chelsea and Leicester City - who are third - to make up ground on the top two.

And Leicester play Arsenal, meaning four of the top five will face off.

Yet head coach Lampard is determined his team will not be concerned by results elsewhere, keen to keep their focus on improving throughout the season.

"We're looking in the mirror at ourselves," he told a news conference ahead of hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"Up and down are things you can't always control - what will be will be with those teams. They have their problems or strong points or whatever.

"What we have to do is look at ourselves week in, week out, look at Crystal Palace tomorrow, go away for the internationals, and then we come back and we play Manchester City. Every week brings the challenge of a game.

"At the moment, we're happy with what we've done but I think we can always get a lot better. That's the only way: I don't think we should look too much anywhere else, rather than within."

Chelsea are managing injury issues in the centre of midfield, with Ross Barkley out since the win over Newcastle United last month while Mason Mount hobbled off against Ajax in midweek.

Both players were named in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming international break, yet Barkley will not feature at home to Palace, and Mount is a doubt.

"Ross has an ongoing issue, so he's not in the squad for tomorrow," Lampard said.

"It's a conversation I'll have with Gareth or Steve [Holland, England assistant] with Ross and everyone to see how it pans out for him over the next 10 days. I'm not sure on that one, but he won't be in our squad.

"With Mason, he's in the squad, and we're giving him another 24 hours. We'll make a call on that one in the morning [Saturday]."

Chelsea should at least have N'Golo Kante back after he returned to the bench against Ajax and was later named in the France squad. He has not featured since an injury in the previous international break.

Raheem Sterling dreams of playing abroad and could be about to get his wish.

Real Madrid reportedly want to sign the Manchester City star after succeeding in their attempts to lure Eden Hazard from Chelsea.

To make the deal happen, the Spanish giants are ready to send Gareth Bale back to the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – SANTIAGO BERNABEU CALLING FOR STERLING

China continues to loom as the likeliest escape route for Gareth Bale, but Real Madrid might just have a different destination in mind.

According to Sky Sports, Madrid are preparing to offer the Wales winger plus £70million in a bid to prise Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.

Whether the Premier League champions have any interest in 30-year-old Bale is another matter, while the long-term contract extension Sterling signed last November gives them a strong bargaining position.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh speculation linking Kylian Mbappe to Zinedine Zidane's Madrid will prompt Paris Saint-Germain to offer the France forward an enticing new deal worth around €40million per season, Le Parisien reports. Mbappe has just over two years left on his current contract.

PSG are not just busy attempting to tie down their own players. De Telegraaf claims the Ligue 1 champions are one of three clubs expressing interest in Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. Tottenham and Manchester United have also reportedly made contact with the 23-year-old's agent.

- Chelsea have identified several big-name January targets if their transfer ban is lifted at an appeal hearing later this month. Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Lyon striker Moussa Dembele are the primary targets according to The Telegraph, which also lists Ben Chilwell and Nathan Ake among the names interesting Frank Lampard.

- Rade Krunic, one of AC Milan's better performers in the weekend loss to Lazio, will not be allowed to leave the club on loan, despite Bosnia and Herzegovina boss Robert Prosinecki advising him to seek more playing time. Calciomercato say the recent Rossoneri signing is part of Stefano Pioli's plans and will be staying put at San Siro.

Leicester City moved back to third in the Premier League table with a hard-fought 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The Foxes entered the fixture having scored 12 times in their last two away matches in all competitions but two goals - from defender Caglar Soyuncu and the Premier League's top scorer Jamie Vardy - were enough for all three points at Selhurst Park.

After a cagey first half, Soyuncu gave Leicester the lead in the 57th minute, making the most of some slack marking to nod in James Maddison's corner unopposed.

Vardy wrapped up the win two minutes from time, finishing a brilliant team move that involved Youri Tielemans and Demarai Gray with a clever left-foot finish that gave him his 10th league goal of the season.

Hector Bellerin has called for unity at Arsenal in the wake of Sunday's confrontation between Granit Xhaka and Gunners fans during the draw with Crystal Palace.

Unai Emery's side surrendered a 2-0 lead to tie 2-2 with Palace at Emirates Stadium to fall four points adrift of the Premier League top four.

The match was controversial due to the use of VAR to award the visitors a penalty after Wilfried Zaha had initially been booked for diving, and then to disallow a potential late winner from Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

It was Xhaka's substitution that proved to be the main talking point, though, with the Arsenal captain withdrawn 61 minutes in to ironic cheers and then boos from sections of the home fans.

Xhaka responded by appearing to mockingly encourage the supporters to boo more loudly before pulling his shirt off as he reached the dugout, having sworn while making his way from the pitch.

The Switzerland international was deeply upset by the incident, according to a report in The Athletic, while head coach Emery said the club will consider taking action after describing his player's actions as "wrong".

Bellerin has since issued something of a rallying cry by calling for Arsenal fans on social media to show some understanding towards Xhaka and get behind the team.

"We are all humans, we all have emotions, and sometimes it's not easy dealing with them," he wrote. "It's time to lift each other up, not to push each other away. We only win when we are together."

Aside from the Xhaka controversy, the match placed Emery's position under further scrutiny, with the Gunners having won only two of their past eight league matches.

They head to Liverpool in the EFL Cup on Wednesday before hosting Wolves in their next league fixture on Saturday.

Unai Emery says Granit Xhaka was wrong to react to Arsenal supporters' boos in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The Gunners captain cupped his ears to the fans who appeared to ironically cheer him as he was substituted on the hour mark, before removing his shirt and walking straight down the tunnel.

Arsenal had earlier thrown away a two-goal lead given to them by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz, with Luka Milivojevic and Jordan Ayew ensuring a point for Palace.

Speaking about Xhaka's reaction, Emery told BBC's Match of the Day: "He's wrong. He's wrong, but we are going to speak inside about that situation. I want first to listen to him and to be calm but, really, he was wrong in this action."

He later told a media conference: "We are here because we have supporters. We work for them and need to have respect for them when they are applauding us and criticising us."

When asked if Xhaka will remain as captain, Emery said: "Now is not the time to talk about that."

Sokratis thought he had snatched all three points for the Gunners when he slammed home with six minutes remaining, but a VAR review deemed Calum Chambers had committed a foul in the build-up.

Emery was not happy with the decision and feels his side were hard done by.

"For me there is no confusion; it is not a good decision," he said. "We deserved to win. We had a good reaction after they equalised. We scored but then they didn't count it.

"We didn't concede many chances apart from the penalty. Our reaction was very good. The supporters tried to help us in the last minutes to score the third goal and win the match but it didn't happen."

Granit Xhaka reacted furiously to home supporters booing him as Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners captain cupped his ears to the fans who appeared to ironically cheer him as he left the pitch on the hour mark, before removing his shirt and walking straight down the tunnel.

That is one more headache for manager Unai Emery to contend with after his side threw away a golden opportunity to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League after the defeat to Sheffield United on Monday.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz put them 2-0 up after just nine minutes, but Palace ensured a share of the spoils with a Luka Milivojevic penalty and Jordan Ayew header either side of half-time. Sokratis had a late effort ruled out after a VAR review, as Arsenal's afternoon ended in misery.

David Luiz believes Arsenal are performing well in many respects and must not dwell on the recent Premier League defeat to Sheffield United.

The Gunners slumped to a lacklustre 1-0 loss away from home on Monday, giving rise to criticism of the team's character.

Nicolas Pepe's late intervention helped Unai Emery dodge further embarrassment in the Europa League as his side snatched an unconvincing 3-2 victory over Portuguese visitors Vitoria SC.

Emery acknowledged the dissatisfaction of fans following the Bramall Lane loss, but the experienced David Luiz wants his team-mates to remain true to their highly scrutinised playing style.

"We have to be honest about what went wrong, but we also have to be calm," the centre-back told Sky Sports.

"It's only our second defeat this season. We are doing many things well. We have to keep believing in our philosophy, we have to keep believing in our team, which is the best way for us to improve.

"Football is about the end, not the beginning, so let's see how we finish at the end of the season in May."

Arsenal's next assignment is a home game against Roy Hodgson's impressive Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The teams are separated in fifth and sixth by a single point and David Luiz insists nothing less than a win will do.

"If you want to achieve big goals, you have to think about winning, winning, winning," he said.

"It'll be tough against Crystal Palace, but we want the three points. I want to win titles with Arsenal – that's why I'm here."

Wilfried Zaha will be motivated to do damage against Arsenal on Sunday, Unai Emery has warned his players.

Crystal Palace winger Zaha was heavily linked with a move to Emirates Stadium during the close season but a reported £100million price tag ultimately saw the Gunners turn their attentions towards signing Nicolas Pepe from Lille.

Palace make the short trip to north London this weekend, seeking to pile further domestic misery on Emery's men at the end of a week they began with a 1-0 loss at Sheffield United.

And the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss has little doubt over where the main danger lies, despite Zaha – a goalscorer in Palace's 3-2 win in last season's corresponding fixture – failing to find the net so far this term.

"He's a very good player and he has made the difference in a lot of matches – against us, against other teams. And this year the same," Emery said of Zaha.

"For us it is [about] our players – our capacity, here at the Emirates. On Sunday, Crystal Palace are coming here feeling good. Zaha is a very good player and is coming here very motivated.

"Our challenge is how we can stop him but, above all, how we can battle them using our whole capacity."

Pepe's form has been patchy since becoming Arsenal's record signing but he was one of the few visiting players to emerge from Bramall Lane with some credit, before netting twice to seal Thursday's dramatic Europa League comeback win over Vitoria Guimaraes.

"We signed Pepe, not for two months or six months, or one year or two years. [We signed him] for a process with us," said Emery, whose side lie fifth in the Premier League – a point and a place above Palace.

"The process is coming, little by little, better for his performance and to help us with his quality.

"I don’t know if he is going to play or not on Sunday but he is going to be ready and also he is going to be more confident after the [Guimaraes] match."

Emery added: "We are very happy with Pepe and we know we are wanting more. But it is a process and I know we need patience and to be calm with him, help him and protect him because sometimes he can feel he is playing under pressure.

"For us and for me, when we are ready to play under pressure is when we can be better."

Arsenal did not come close to signing Wilfried Zaha during the transfer window as their offer was "way below" Crystal Palace's valuation, Eagles boss Roy Hodgson has said.

Zaha was strongly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium during the close season, with reports at the time suggesting Arsenal had made a bid in the region of £40million.

There is also believed to have been interest from Everton, but the Ivory Coast international remained at Selhurst Park.

Palace travel to Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday and Hodgson was asked how close Zaha was to switching clubs.

"Not very close at all as far as I know," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference. "I believe that the money that was offered which was widely reported was reasonably accurate, and of course that was way below our valuation."

Arsenal turned focus to Nicolas Pepe in the closing stages of the transfer window and agreed a club-record fee of around £72m for Zaha's international team-mate.

"Time passed, so maybe their situation changed," Hodgson said. 

"Maybe when they made the offer for Wilf their situation was x, and then possibly things happened during a period of time and their situation changed and maybe more money became available. 

"I have no idea. I can't speak for Arsenal, for their intentions. If you really wanted to know how serious, how anxious they were to sign one of our players, they will have to answer the question."

Zaha has failed to score in nine Premier League appearances this term and has registered only one assist.

"I thought he got over his disappointment very, very quickly and he has been good in both training and matches," Hodgson said.

"I don't think the fact it is Arsenal will change his performance enormously - I would hope not, because I'm expecting his performance to be very good against all the teams we play."

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