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Robert Pires urges Arsenal manager Unai Emery to sign more English players

Unai Emery

Arsenal legend Robert Pires has called on his former club to sign more English players.

The Gunners have had a stuttering start to the season, with a 2-0 loss to Leicester earlier this month seeing them fall nine points adrift of the top four in the Premier League.

Arsenal are therefore facing up to the prospect of  out of the Champions League, a tournament they previously qualified for year in, year out.

Pires, who won two Premier League titles during his six years at the club, believes there is plenty of room for improvement at the Emirates Stadium.

And he thinks bringing in more homegrown players would serve Arsenal well as they attempt to contend at the top of the division once more.

“The team needs so many ingredients in the squad. Physical, technical, some players with intelligence, of course we need leadership, and we need English players,” he told The Athletic.  

“We need English players because we are in England and nobody else has grown up with this mentality.

“You need to be born here. It’s very nice when you get to discover new countries but for me when you play in England you need English players.

“It’s a different time. But I used to play with David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Ashley Cole, Ray Parlour… We’re talking about six English players in the team. We need similar players.

“Of course I respect the Arsenal philosophy but we are in the Premier League and it’s so tough every weekend.”

Unai Emery has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with his side having won just two of their last 10 top-flight outings, but Pires has leapt to the defence of the Spaniard.

“My problem is I am always confident and optimistic when I talk about Arsenal,” he added. “This team has such quality. The squad can improve this situation.

“The most important thing now is that Unai Emery needs to talk to the group to try to find a solution together. I hope they can, for the players, for the club, for the manager.

“I know he is having trouble. Unai is a good guy. He is a nice person. He is a good manager.

“He is under pressure unfortunately. Fans can’t always appreciate the details of the situation but to be a manager is very difficult, especially when you work in the Premier League.

“You can be a manager in Spain, France or Italy but when you come to England the intensity is totally different. It is about the fight, the spirit. The intensity is extremely difficult.”

Emery will be looking to relieve some of the pressure on his shoulders when Arsenal host Southampton on Saturday.


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