Emery's New Year resolution for Gunners: Improve defensively, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Emery's New Year resolution for Gunners: Improve defensively

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has set his side a New Year's resolution, after the Gunners bounced back from their 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool to defeat Fulham 4-1 on Tuesday.

He wants his team to tighten up at the back as they move towards the business end of the season.

"Our challenge now is to improve defensively," said Emery at the post-match press conference.

"We are very happy with the attacking players and scoring a lot of goals like today. We are high in terms of scoring.

"We need defence also to take more balance and improve. We need to work. We need to prepare for the second half of the season.

"We need to do better in the second half of the season, tactically and we are going to do that."

The Gunners had been shaken by the thrashing by leaders Liverpool on Saturday that exposed their defensive frailty, and that weakness was evident again in the early stages against Fulham.

The Cottagers' highly rated youngster Ryan Sessegnon twice missed opportunities to put Fulham ahead - bursting through the Arsenal defence but firing wide, and then completely miskicking when Andre Schuerrle found him unmarked inside the box, reported Reuters.

Arsenal's nerves were eased in the 25th minute when Granit Xhaka struck after collecting a chip into the box from Alex Iwobi on his chest, turning and slotting home.

Alexandre Lacazette made it 2-0 in the 55th minute, converting after Sead Kolasinac pulled the ball back from the byeline after some excellent team passing.

Aboubakar Kamara pulled one back for Claudio Ranieri's Fulham in the 69th minute and the Cottagers could have drawn level when Aleksandar Mitrovic forced a good save out of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

But Aaron Ramsey added a third for Arsenal, finding the target after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's effort came out off the post.

Aubameyang then wrapped up the win with a diagonal shot from the right which took a slight deflection.

Chelsea sign Pulisic for $100m from Dortmund

American international Christian Pulisic, regarded as one of the hottest properties in European football, signed for English Premier League side Chelsea for a reported fee of £58 million (S$100m) from Borussia Dortmund yesterday.

The 20-year-old right winger - who has had more playing time in the Champions League this term than the Bundesliga as coach Lucien Favre generally prefers England international Jadon Sancho in that position - has been loaned back to the German league leaders until the end of the season.

"In the summer I move on to Chelsea and to a new competition, the English Premier League," Pulisic said in a statement issued by Chelsea.

"It's a privilege to have signed for such a legendary club and I look forward to working hard towards being a contributor to their team of world-class players."

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said she looked forward to Pulisic becoming a major influence at the club for years to come.

"We are delighted to have signed one of Europe's most sought-after young players," she said.

"Christian has shown his quality during a fantastic spell in Germany and, at just 20, we believe he has the potential to become an important Chelsea player for many years to come."

Michael Zorc, Dortmund's sport director, said given the size of the offer, the club would have been foolish to turn it down.

"It has always been Christian's big dream to play in the Premier League," said Zorc.

Pulisic, who had also been linked with EPL leaders Liverpool, has been at Dortmund since he was 15. At 17, he made both his Bundesliga debut and international debut for the United States, having turned down an approach from Croatia. - AFP