Unai Emery has acknowledged fan criticism but insists the characterisation of Arsenal as tentative and unadventurous is inaccurate.

The Gunners lost 1-0 at Sheffield United on Monday, squandering a chance to go third in the Premier League.

The defeat followed an uninspiring and nervy 1-0 win over Bournemouth before the international break.

Despite spending a club-record sum on Nicolas Pepe in the close season, Arsenal have scored the fewest goals of all bar one team - Crystal Palace - in the Premier League's top seven.

Thursday's home meeting with Europa League opponents Vitoria Guimaraes presents a chance for a heavily scrutinised squad to find fluency and ease the pressure on their head coach.

"In my career, it's normal to have criticism of our work in the difficult moments, of my job, our team, the players," Emery said.

"On one hand, we have the supporters and their opinion, and we need to accept that. My focus is improving in the next match, seeing how we can improve on things.

"Also, it's how we can, little by little, get ahead, doing our steps in that way, progressing and achieving our immediate target. That's winning tomorrow [Thursday].

"We are at the beginning of this season and we have won two matches playing very well in this competition, with very good results.

"We lost a very big opportunity in the Premier League on Monday to be third in the table. We are now fifth, so we have another chance on Sunday [at home to Palace].

"We know we can improve and we need to improve, so we have to get better in our way.

"The most important thing is the team and the club, also that our objective is clear. We are at the beginning and I am very confident.

"I have belief in the players, in our work, the club's strategy, in every player and in our way with our job."

Rob Holding joined Emery at the pre-match news conference, a sign he is set to return to the starting XI after watching from the bench at Bramall Lane alongside Kieran Tierney.

Hector Bellerin was missing from the matchday squad entirely, but Emery shifted the focus away from individuals as he stressed a commitment to developing an attacking Arsenal.

"I don't want to achieve the best performance only with one system or with the same four players," he said.

"In the Europa League we are using different players and they are also improving our defensive moment. It's for all the players.

"Above all, I want to continue to be an offensive team, but improve defensively. Our mentality is to be offensive. I am going to get that balance little by little."

Unai Emery claimed Nicolas Pepe’s miss from six yards was a key moment as Arsenal’s run of eight games unbeaten in all competitions came to an end at Sheffield United.

Lys Mousset’s goal at Bramall Lane gave the Blades a 1-0 win as Arsenal’s poor run against the Blades continued, having never won against them in four Premier League attempts.

Pepe has endured a frustrating start to his career in England having moved from Lille for £72million in the summer with the forward yet to score from open play for the Gunners.  

The defeat means Arsenal miss an opportunity to go third in the league and Emery believes Pepe’s miss is part of a process with improvement and gaining confidence.

"The chance for us, for Pepe, was the key," he told reporters.

"Because if they score the first goal, defensively they’re very strong.

"Pepe is improving I think, but his way with us is little-by-little getting better, and the next step is to score.

"Tonight for example, the best chance is one he is usually going to score, but he didn’t take it with efficiency. He is improving and taking confidence, but it is one process."

Arsenal were denied a "clear penalty" in their 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United and did not deserve to lose the match, according to boss Unai Emery.

Lys Mousset scored the only goal in Monday's Premier League clash at Bramall Lane to earn the hosts a famous victory on his first league start.

The 23-year-old profited from some slack defending from a corner to punish Arsenal, who had previously gone eight matches unbeaten in all competitions.

Defeat for Arsenal cost them the chance to move up to third in the table, but Emery felt his side were denied an obvious penalty for John Egan's shirt pull on Sokratis inside the opening seven minutes.

"We did not deserve to lose and we conceded a lot of corners in the first half and they scored in one action," he told Sky Sports. "Above all, we have to improve by not allowing balls like that. 

"When we have our opportunities to attack, we created more chances than them but did not score today. 

"We deserved more from the game but they have conceded the least goals in the Premier League and it was going to be difficult if they scored first. We tried in the second half, created three good chances to score.

"There were two key moments in the match - one was their goal, and the second was a very clear penalty for us for a foul on Sokratis. It was very clear."

Bukayo Saka was later cautioned for a perceived dive inside the box under pressure from Enda Stevens, five minutes after Mousset's winning goal from close range.

"Saka drives forward but I do not know if it was a penalty," Emery said. "It is a hard action for a yellow card. With VAR, the foul on Sokratis should have been reviewed. It was clear but we have to accept it.

"We did not deserve to lose and we will think about where we can improve. When we were losing 1-0, we controlled the game and defended well but they had a lot of players in their box so it was difficult to achieve attacks."

Arsenal are now winless in four league games away from home since the opening weekend and Emery added: "We have challenges in each match. 

"Tonight we had a big challenge to get the three points. We are playing some young players who are taking experience but the most important thing is to win. The result is one thing, but we can analyse positively."

In over a year at the club, it's difficult to see what impact Unai Emery has actually had on Arsenal.

Even before kick-off at Bramall Lane, there was a certain aura around the contest that had Arsenal's struggles on Monday looking entirely predictable.

Firstly, the Gunners' record in Sheffield – for what it matters – is woeful in the Premier League, having won just once against United or Wednesday and losing six.

While the Blades' pre-match position of 15th was hardly anything to be impressed by, they have been lauded for their defensive solidity, conceding the joint-fewest goals in the division with Liverpool.

If there was a team you could see a mentally fragile Arsenal struggling against in a game many would ordinarily expect them to win, it was the Blades.

The Gunners' display was reassuringly typical.

Much of the build-up play was easy on the eye, yet they were sorely lacking killer instinct and once again appeared feeble at the back. On top of that, it remains a mystery as to what Emery's plan is.

Nicolas Pepe's performance was his Arsenal career in a microcosm. The Ivory Coast international showed some nice flashes and, in fairness, was arguably the visitors' most creative player, delivering 12 crosses – five of them accurate – and crafting a glorious chance for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But then came the moment of horror. With Sead Kolasinac's low cross played right across the face of goal, Pepe was there to tap in from about two yards out, only he barely touched the ball and he was left with his head in his hands.

United capitalised and exploited Arsenal's defensive frailty with 30 minutes on the clock. Oliver Norwood's corner found Jack O'Connell unmarked at the back post and his header was diverted home by the similarly unattended Lys Mousset in the middle of the six-yard box.

It was the 22nd goal Arsenal have conceded from a set-piece in the Premier League since the start of last season, the third worst after Everton (24) and Watford (25).

As such, Arsenal have now kept just two clean sheets in their past 14 league games.

They were the dominant force after the interval, spending much of it in the Blades' half, but it was still unclear how they planned to find a way through.

Dani Ceballos' introduction at least saw a competent ball-player enter the fray, though he didn't offer much drive or incisiveness, rather spending most of his time spraying long-range passes out to the right flank.

It's the same old story; Arsenal possess talent but lack character.

Even in Arsene Wenger's latter days one could see an identity, but now that's less clear. Emery's general system resembles that of a counter-attacking team, though most weeks they look almost unrecognisable to the last.

Of course, part of that comes down to the players being used, but at the same time that suggests Emery regularly squeezes players into roles they aren't suitable for.

As their desperation grew on Monday, Arsenal's plan B seemed to be based on hooking hopeful balls into the penalty area and that never looked like working against this Sheffield United defence.

Arsenal's lack of inspiration and ingenuity meant defeat was entirely deserved, but most alarming is how predictable their gutless performance was. It was entirely in keeping with their away record under Emery, having won just eight of 24 Premier League games on the road since he took over, recording two clean sheets.

Until Emery fixes that spinlessness, he is doomed to leave Arsenal having changed nothing.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery is happy with the improvement he has seen with Mesut Ozil in training as the midfielder targets a future at Emirates Stadium.

Ozil has played just twice in all competitions this season, yet he insisted in a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic on Thursday that he will not be leaving Arsenal before the end of his contract in 2021.

Emery also appears open to giving Ozil another chance, revealing the factors for his limited action this term ahead of Monday's Premier League trip to Sheffield United.

They include an attempted armed robbery in London that targeted Ozil and Arsenal team-mate Sead Kolasinac.

Emery has previously suggested Ozil was not offering enough in training to warrant more regular football, but he is pleased with the player's recent response.

"With Mesut, this year started with difficulty for him," Emery told a news conference on Thursday. "In pre-season, he worked well and was playing in the matches.

"But his problem with Sead stopped his progression and then, after that problem, he was sick for one week. He lost a lot of training to continue to work and keep his fitness.

"In the last two or three weeks, his training has improved. It's good. I didn't close with him the possibility of playing. If he is okay, if he is ready, if he is available and training, gives us a good feeling every day in training, he can play.

"My idea is to use every player and he is one in the squad who can help us. He has big skills and qualities we will need in the next matches.

"I am happy now with how he is improving, how he is training every day. He's one more player in the squad.

"[Previously] in that moment, maybe physically, maybe with more rhythm, maybe depending on each match, there were other players in front of him. Now, I feel better with him."

Kieran Tierney is ready to start at Bramall Lane, while Alexandre Lacazette is back in full training, with Emery refusing to rule out the possibility of the France striker starting.

"Today was his first session with us and he's feeling well," said Emery, adding to the club's earlier update on Lacazette's fitness.

"It depends on how he feels in the next days whether he'll feature on Monday, but it's been positive. I don't know if he will play 90 minutes or start on the bench."

Mesut Ozil is adamant he will not leave Arsenal before his contract expires in 2021, insisting he is "going nowhere" despite struggling to convince Unai Emery.

Ozil joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013 and for much of that time has been one of the Premier League's best attacking midfielders.

However, he has often had to contend with criticism of his style of play, personality and perceived lack of work ethic, while he made just 20 Premier League starts last term, seemingly not fitting into Emery's system.

Although he enjoyed a positive pre-season, Ozil has played just twice this season in all competitions, his campaign disrupted by injury and when he was the target of an attempted armed robbery in London alongside team-mate Sead Kolasinac.

The combination of underwhelming form and criticism has seen transfer speculation increase, but Ozil insists he will not be forced out before his contract finishes at the end of next season.

"I have a contract until the summer of 2021, and I will be staying until then," Ozil told The Athletic.

"When I signed the new deal [in January 2018], I thought about it very carefully and said it was one of the most important decisions of my footballing career.

"I didn't want to stay for just one or two more years, I wanted to commit my future to Arsenal and the club wanted me to do the same.

"You can go through difficult times, like this, but that is no reason to run away and I'm not going to. I'm here until at least 2021.

"I said that Arsene Wenger was a big factor in me joining Arsenal – and he was – but ultimately I signed for the club. Even when Arsene announced he was leaving, I wanted to stay because I love playing for Arsenal and that's why I've been here for six years.

"When I moved from Real Madrid, it was a really tough time for Arsenal, but I always believed in what we could do and together we delivered.

"More recently things have been difficult and a lot has changed, but I'm proud to be an Arsenal player, a fan and I'm happy here.

"Whenever people see me in the street I always say, 'This is my home'. I'm going nowhere."

Some have even gone as far as suggesting Ozil gave up after signing a new contract, but such claims are baseless according to the Schalke youth product.

He said: "If that was true, why did I work so hard and positively during pre-season this year?

"And why, after the World Cup last year, did I return from holiday early for the first time in my career to start training three days before I was expected back?

"I did it for the new coach, the team and the club. Maybe people don't like that I have a good contract? I don't know or care."

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned Nicolas Pepe that he will have to fight for his place in the team if his form does not improve.

Pepe, who joined from Lille for a reported club-record fee of £72million in the transfer window, has been criticised for a sluggish start to his Gunners career.

The 24-year-old has scored once in 10 appearances in all competitions and has only completed 90 minutes in a Premier League match on four occasions.

With youngsters such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli having impressed in attacking roles this season, Wenger believes Pepe could start to come under pressure for a spot in Unai Emery's starting line-up.

"I like the player and I thought it was a good decision [to sign him]," Wenger told Omnisport. "He's not yet completely adapted and you have to give him some time. He looks a little bit to be playing not with the freedom he did in France at the moment.

"I see some characteristics of his game, especially off the ball, that don't happen at the moment. On the other hand, I must say we have good young players who can play on the flanks, [and] that he will have a fight to keep his position."

Arsenal have won five of their past six games in all competitions, with the 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth on Sunday lifting them to third in the Premier League after eight matches.

Wenger is keen to give successor Emery his backing as he knows all too well the demands for stylish but successful football in north London.

"I'm not here to judge coaches. I am a supporter of Arsenal Football Club, so I just support him," Wenger said. "But he can win games and he plays a type of game that I like.

"A club like Arsenal is a huge responsibility and one of those responsibilities is to play attractive football. After that, I think the most important thing is to support the team and to win games."

Despite a promising start to the season, Wenger does not think Arsenal are in a position to challenge Liverpool or Manchester City for the title.

"At the moment you can't look too much at the position because the points difference is very small," he said. "You draw, you're seventh; you win a game, you're third.

"I don't think [they can challenge for the title] at the moment on what I've seen. Liverpool are too far ahead for everybody else. Manchester City looks to have the best potential to fight against Liverpool, but as long as you are not too far away, you can hope."

Unai Emery believes a well-organised Arsenal can be satisfied with achieving their objective of going third in the Premier League before the international break. 

David Luiz's first goal for the club proved all the Gunners needed for a narrow 1-0 win over Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. 

The centre-back escaped Callum Wilson's attention to head in a ninth-minute Nicolas Pepe corner and send the home side to within a point of second-placed Manchester City, who suffered a shock 2-0 loss at home to Wolves. 

Arsenal struggled to create openings after the early goal and were put under pressure by an improved Bournemouth after half-time. 

But a robust defensive display secured a fourth clean sheet from six games in all competitions and ticked a box for the head coach.

"It was our objective today," Emery said after leapfrogging Leicester City into third. "For our confidence it was important. 

"Maybe in the second half we were struggling more than we wanted and maybe in some moments we felt that pressure.

"For me it's one step more for the young players, for us. We didn't feel fear with that moment when the opposition was pushing us." 

He added: "We are very happy with that result and very proud of that result." 

David Luiz and right-back Calum Chambers were especially impressive at the back for Arsenal, who remain undefeated in all competitions since a 3-1 August loss away to league leaders Liverpool. 

Emery praised Arsenal's match-winner for having an uplifting effect on a squad that finished fifth last term. 

"He is very positive," the Gunners boss said of the former Chelsea defender.

"He is always speaking about positive things. He is helping the young players. 

"He came into the squad late but his commitment is very high." 

Though clear-cut chances were scarce, Bournemouth might have salvaged a maiden point at Emirates Stadium had striker Wilson opted to shoot rather than pass after bursting into the box shortly after the interval. 

A tentative start and inability to make more of a stronger second-half showing left Cherries manager Eddie Howe frustrated but not downbeat. 

"We were too reactive against Arsenal," he said. "You can't do that against good players. 

"When we play well we're a match for anybody. Whenever we've played near to our best we've had a chance to win the game." 

Unai Emery has called for patience with the latest crop of young Arsenal talent despite another impressive Europa League victory for his inexperienced side.

Joe Willock and Gabriel Martinelli shone for the Gunners in a 4-0 defeat of Standard Liege, which followed a 3-0 away victory against Eintracht Frankfurt in their Group F opener.

Emery has also thrust teenagers, including Bukayo Saka, into his team for Premier League action, leaving the likes of Mesut Ozil appearing increasingly marginalised.

"It can be exciting for the club with the young players, but also being calm because this process is continuing, with Bukayo, with Willock, with others," Emery said.

"But I want to improve our progress in the squad. Tonight [Thursday] we played very well and we can have confidence after that match but Sunday [against Bournemouth in the Premier League] is going to be different and difficult.

"We won here [at home to Burnley] 2-1, we drew against Tottenham, 3-2 against Aston Villa - three strong and tough matches here. We won two but we are going to be getting better, taking more confidence, taking more tactically and individually for these matches and Sunday is the first."

Emery suggested players who impressed against Standard could have forced their way into contention to play against Bournemouth.

"We made a really high intensity match tonight and some players, they rest for Sunday's match," he said.

"Sunday is going to be very difficult for us, it's very important for us to get the three points. We need the players to be rested, some players played tonight and we could use them Sunday as well. 

"We need to achieve that confidence and the players need these results. But each match is a challenge, to have that opportunity to show everybody how we can respond each moment.

"On Sunday it is going to be a very difficult match, we've played here in the Premier League three matches at home and I think really we need to improve. We need to take more confidence, the players getting better each match and Sunday is another challenge for us."

Ozil was left out of the Arsenal squad for the second game in a row despite being named among the club's group of captains.

The 30-year-old has played only 71 minutes in the Premier League this term and is yet to feature in the Europa League, but Emery dodged a question about whether the former Germany international is unfit.

"We are now being competitive in each position on the pitch," he said when asked about Ozil's fitness. "Really, they are deserving to help and to play.

"Now every player for me is the same and I want to try, to be pushing to achieve one position in the squad and in the first XI. We will be competitive and progressively we are getting better."

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has told Mesut Ozil he faces a fight to regain his place in the team after being left out of Thursday's Europa League win over Standard Liege.

Ozil was not in the squad as the Gunners cruised to a 4-0 win at Emirates Stadium, with Gabriel Martinelli scoring twice before further goals from Joe Willock and Dani Ceballos.

The 30-year-old has only played twice this season, in the 2-2 Premier League draw at Watford and last week's 5-0 EFL Cup defeat of Nottingham Forest, in which he was captain.

Emery has told the playmaker to work hard to win back a spot for Sunday's league game at home to Bournemouth.

When asked why Ozil was not involved against Standard, he told a news conference: "I am thinking every time to decide the best players for each match, and the best players in the squad to play and to help us. If I decided he is not in the squad, it's because I think another player deserved it more."

Pressed on what Ozil must do to regain his place, Emery replied: "Continue working. Tomorrow [Friday], we have training, and Sunday we have another match and we are going to decide the same: the best team possible to achieve our target, which is to win on Sunday and adapt to the difficulty of Bournemouth."

Emery was delighted with the performance of Martinelli, who also scored twice in the win over Forest, although he does not believe the teenager's best position is as a central striker.

"He played in pre-season with us and in every training session he showed he is hungry to be with us," said Emery.

"His pace is amazing and, in pre-season, he played in different positions. He preferred to play left wing but he played as a right-winger as well. He played as a striker in Brazil; it's not the best position for him.

"The first thing in his mind is to help us. His performance tonight and his attitude was amazing. In pre-season he was perfect with us all the time in training, playing, and I spoke with him to be calm because if he continues with training and with this hunger, he is going to do well.

"Our targets for the season are very important to achieve, but each match for the young players, when they have chances to play, if they play like some did tonight then they deserve to be with us. Matches like tonight I think are good because it is an important competition after the Premier League and they are deserving of being in the next matches with us."

Emery was also pleased with the performance of Kieran Tierney, who set up Martinelli for the opening goal.

"After his injury, he's coming back with a good attitude, he played last week against Nottingham Forest for 80 minutes," he said of the left-back.

"It was a good performance and tonight was a good performance. We are a better, competitive team with him and Sead Kolasinac at left-back. We are very happy with him."

Unai Emery remains convinced Nicolas Pepe will build a "big career" at Arsenal despite a string of indifferent performances in the Premier League.

French forward Pepe scored his first goal for the club in last month's win over Aston Villa, a second-half penalty at Emirates Stadium, but failed to impress in the drab 1-1 draw at Manchester United.

The 24-year-old old joined Arsenal from Lille for a reported £72million fee in August following two prolific Ligue 1 campaigns.

That form he showed in France is yet to translate to London but Emery remains firmly behind the club-record signing.

"I am sure that Pepe is an amazing player," the Gunners boss said. "I am sure he is going to have a big career here.

"He needs time but a lot of players when they came here, the first month, the first year is not easy for them.

"But I am going to work with him, to make the adaptation easier for Pepe and Dani Ceballos and other players."

Emery denied the added pressure of being the most expensive player in Arsenal's history has adversely affected the Ivory Coast international.

"The players are not thinking about the salary or what one club paid to use him," he said.

"For us, it's not thinking about pressure or no pressure. We are playing every time, as a coach or a player, under pressure. Being under pressure is because we are at a big club with a very demanding objective.

"Every player has been selected to be here and it's a privilege to be here.

"That privilege brings pressure, of course. But it’s positive. Not for the salary, not for how much the club paid for him. No, no, no."

Arsenal entertain Standard Liege in the Europa League on Thursday, ahead of Sunday's home meeting with Bournemouth in the Premier League.

Kieran Tierney is set to make his second Arsenal appearance when Standard Liege visit Emirates Stadium in the Europa League on Thursday.

The 22-year-old debuted in last week's EFL Cup thrashing of Nottingham Forest then missed the 1-1 draw at Manchester United in the Premier League.

Signed from Celtic on deadline day, left-back Tierney sat out the opening weeks of the new season because of a groin injury.

He pulled out of the Scotland squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Russia and San Marino but Unai Emery will involve him against Belgian side Standard.

"After his injuries, each step is important to be consistent," Emery said.

"He didn't play in Manchester because he had some more problems. Not important, but the doctor told us it's better to be here working alone and preparing for the match tomorrow.

"If we are taking precaution with him it's also important that, with the national team, we are thinking it's not the moment to go with them.

"For the next matches I think he's going to be ready to play with us and to play with them.

"Now he's going to play tomorrow and also hopefully he can be complete physically, complete tactically, with the performance we need."

Hector Bellerin also skipped the trip to Old Trafford following his return from a long-term knee injury but is expected to gain more minutes on Thursday if he gets through the club's final training session.

Victory over Standard would see Arsenal take control of Group F, having started the competition with a convincing 3-0 win away to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Gunners lost to Chelsea in the final last season and three-time Europa League winner Emery hopes supporters will get behind the club's bid to go one better.

"I want to feel that it's not only me that loves this competition, that everybody loves it," he said.

"We want to do something important. It's one title, one way to the Champions League."

Emery declined to confirm whether Mesut Ozil would be utilised in the wake of his omission from the squad that took on United, while Emile Smith Rowe and Alexandre Lacazette remain unavailable.

Unai Emery defended Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka, praising his commitment against Manchester United in Monday's Premier League draw.

Xhaka, who Emery has confirmed as club captain, was strongly criticised on social media following United's opening goal at Old Trafford, where Arsenal held the Red Devils to a 1-1 draw.

The Switzerland midfielder appeared to duck out of the way of Scott McTominay's rasping 20-yard drive, although some replays indicated the ball took a small deflection to divert it away from his head.

Arsenal head coach Emery, though, gave Xhaka his full backing after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's seventh Premier League goal of the season earned the Gunners a point.

"He worked with a big commitment," Emery told a news conference after Arsenal moved back into the table's top four.

"He ran back, maybe the first run back in this action. I didn't see that action [the apparent duck].

"I watched when he was running back and really he did perfect with that run."

With Alexandre Lacazette again ruled out by injury, teenager Bukayo Saka took his chance to shine by setting up Aubameyang for an that was equaliser initially disallowed for offside, then given by VAR.

"He is working and improving, being mature and playing matches," Emery, who left Mesut Ozil out of his squad, said of the 18-year-old.

"With his work it's natural. He's improving, he’s helping us now as an important player.

"We are going to go with him with calm and patience but also if he deserves to take minutes to have that confidence to help us, it's fantastic for us."

Arsenal came from behind for the second Premier League game in a row after a 3-2 home defeat of Aston Villa last time out and Emery hailed his team's fitness levels.

"Football is changing. Physically it's very important. Every team physically is very strong," Emery added.

"You need to play with quality, you need to play with quality of course and be able to use the space on the pitch for 90 minutes.

"Every player in each team is very, very fit. We both have very quality players. We need to improve our mental work, tactically to achieve the best performance."

Unai Emery was willing to take some positives from Arsenal's stalemate with Manchester United at Old Trafford, but insists the Gunners must offer more.

In a clash lacking quality, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cancelled out Scott McTominay's first-half strike to secure a 1-1 draw.

The point takes Arsenal up into the Premier League's top four, though Emery conceded his side have to improve if they are to challenge for a Champions League place.

However, the performance of Bukayo Saka - who teed up Aubameyang's equaliser - provided Emery with a major plus point, while the former Paris Saint-Germain coach also believes his side are showing clear progression.

"I want more - more in the result and in the performance but we are progressing," Emery told BBC Sport.

"We were competitive but we can do better. We can control moments with the ball better and take more chances in the box.

"We have young players who can take confidence. Bukayo is progressing well but we need other players too. This is not the best in terms of points but one point can be good if we win next Sunday against Bournemouth."

Aubameyang's equaliser made the Gabon forward the first Arsenal player since Dennis Bergkamp in 1997-98 to score seven goals in the Gunners' first seven Premier League matches of a season.

But Emery acknowledged Arsenal need others to step up in support of Aubameyang, who is shouldering the responsibility of two strikers with Alexandre Lacazette out injured.

"[Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang is very important for us. He is very committed with his work," Emery added.

"He is happy and we are happy. We need more players with the ability to score."

Roy Keane's tunnel spat with Patrick Vieira, Ryan Giggs' stunning solo strike, Martin Keown going head-to-head with Ruud van Nistelrooy. For so long, Manchester United versus Arsenal was a highlight of the Premier League season.

It is fair to say those days are over, with Monday's drab 1-1 draw adding further proof, as if it was needed, of just how far these once-mighty sides have fallen.

Scott McTominay's effort lit up a mediocre encounter in which, for long periods in the teeming Manchester rain, the quality on offer proved every bit as abysmal as the weather.

McTominay - helped by an ill-timed duck from Arsenal's newly elected captain Granit Xhaka - punctured the mundanity but United, who have made their worst start to a Premier League season, showed little ability to push on before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck back.

Indeed, Arsenal were no better, but in Aubameyang, who became the first Arsenal player to score seven goals in the first seven league games of a season since Dennis Bergkamp 22 years ago, they at least have the world-class finisher United lack. How is Romelu Lukaku getting on at Inter?

While Arsenal moved into the top four, a fact that reflects poorly on the other would-be Champions League contenders, United remain entrenched in mid-table - it is hard to argue they deserve any better.

Where has it all gone wrong, and did anything from Monday's meeting at least hint of a brighter future on the horizon?


THE MANAGERS

United earned a 3-1 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup in January, when it seemed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could do no wrong after replacing Jose Mourinho. 

But since Solskjaer took permanent charge, United have spiralled back down to the standard of play that cost Mourinho his job. The argument could be made they have been even worse than in the final days of the Portuguese's tenure. With two wins, two defeats and three draws, Solskjaer has managed even fewer points than David Moyes (10) did in his first seven games in charge.

Injuries to Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford - though the latter two did feature on Monday - and the sales of Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, have left the United attack looking threadbare.

Arsenal, meanwhile, appear a side without an identity. Unai Emery wants his side playing out from the back, yet at no time did the Gunners threaten through this approach, relying on an Axel Tuanzebe error, the quick-thinking of Bukayo Saka and the expert finishing of Aubameyang to pull level.

THE TRANSFERS

United's three signings have arguably bought Solskjaer more time. The arrivals of Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka suggest a plan is in place, though the failures to add a creative midfielder to supplement Pogba and a striker to replace Lukaku are proving more costly by the game.

Nicolas Pepe was Arsenal's record signing, but is still in search of his first goal. The former Lille winger no doubt has quality, but is struggling to find his feet, while David Luiz has so far failed to offer any solidity to Emery's defence.

THE BRIGHT SPOTS

In a United team crying out for effort and intensity, McTominay has shown the attributes required to, at the very least, get the fans onside.

Arsenal can point to the introduction of Saka who, since capping off an impressive debut with a goal and two assists in the Europa League victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, has been rewarded with a starting berth in the Gunners' last two league matches. 

The 18-year-old made his mark, pouncing on Tuanzebe's error to feed the ever-clinical Aubameyang. Matteo Guendouzi showed the maturity Xhaka lacked in midfield, but more convincing collective performances will be required from both sides if they are to seriously challenge for a return to the Champions League.

Page 1 of 6
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.