Unai Emery accepts Champions League qualification is “difficult” for Arsenal but hailed a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town as getting his side on the right track.
Saturday’s victory was Arsenal’s first away from home in the Premier League since November, although Sead Kolasinac’s late own goal stopped them recording a first clean sheet on the road in the top flight since Emery took charge.
A single point separates Manchester United in fourth and Arsenal in sixth, although fifth-placed Chelsea will go back into the top four if they avoid defeat away to Manchester City on Sunday.
And while Emery accepts his side face a challenge to leapfrog both United and Chelsea, with nearly a third of the season to go he is in confident mood.
“Day 26? We are at the moment one point off Manchester United,” Emery told a news conference when asked if Champions League qualification was realistic.
“If we ask is it easy or difficult for us, it’s difficult. But we can [finish in the top four] and day 26, we are on our way.
“Our motivation is very great and every player wants to struggle every match and be consistent in the Premier League over 38 matches. We are moving closer, with our target, to the other clubs.
“We won – the clean sheet is important but above all is to win. You can take a clean sheet and draw only. We spoke before in the dressing room with the team, above all after [the] win, after take individual targets.
“The most important thing first is to score one more goal than them and after, the clean sheet. Every player worked well and the last action, unfortunately for us, they scored and also maybe they deserved it.
“This victory was very important, three points and to be closer to the top four. And our target is this, knowing we need to take the regularity [consistency] at home and away above all.
“Today this victory can give us confidence, it can give us also the possibility to continue with our target in the Premier League.”
Another game, another goal for this guy
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 9, 2019
Bernd Leno twice had to deny Adama Diakhaby, while the goalkeeper also saved from Juninho Bacuna after Kolasinac’s 93rd-minute error gave Town their first goal in five Premier League games.
And Huddersfield coach Jan Siewert hailed his side’s showing despite another defeat leaving them 13 points adrift of safety with only 12 matches remaining.
“The first half didn’t make the situation easy, but I think everyone could see that we put up a big fight,” Siewert said.
“Mistakes happen in football, but you could really see what we were working on. I think our supporters could see that too.
“I’m proud. We played against Arsenal – a top side – and you would not know it was a team at the bottom against a team in the top part of the table.
“We still have a lot to do, but you can see that the players are willing to learn. We are working as much as we can. The players proved that. The fight comes first.
“We have some young players here and we have to accept they will make mistakes, but I think you can see that they will benefit from playing games consistently.”
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