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Emery sees reason to be optimistic despite Arsenal defeat to Liverpool

21:05 BST 24/08/2019
Unai Emery Arsenal 2019-20
The Spanish coach highlighted Nicolas Pepe as his side's biggest threat and praised Joe Willock for his display in midfield

Arsenal may have gone down 3-1 to Liverpool on Saturday, but coach Unai Emery saw reasons to be optimistic in his side's performance.

The Gunners suffered their first defeat of the season as Jurgen Klopp's side prevailed at Anfield to remain top of the Premier League.

Joel Matip opened the scoring for the Reds before Mohamed Salah converted a penalty in the second half, scoring again less than 10 minutes later before Lucas Torreira's late consolation for Arsenal.

Despite the loss, Arsenal's new star Nicolas Pepe looked lively throughout, while 20-year-old Joe Willock impressed in midfield once again.

Emery felt his side were hard done by regarding the penalty, but was happy with the way they responded against the Champions League holders.

"In the first half we worked together. We were doing some very good transitions and we had some chances, but in the second half the penalty was very soft," Emery told BBC Sport.

"After 2-0 our reaction was good. We needed to attack and take a different moment in the match.

"Yes we are disappointed we lost 3-1, but watching some players we can be optimistic. We need to improve in possession and countering the pressure but Liverpool is the best team with this.

"We have to be realistic but we can fight closer to them. For me today, without the result there were some good periods we showed."

He added to Sky Sports: “We were a little more deep, but we also had the positivity to try to score.

"In the first half, the best chance was for us with Pepe. The key was the second goal, it was a really soft penalty. I don’t think it was enough, but our reaction after that was good.

"The impact of Lucas [Torreira], [Alexandre] Lacazette and [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan was good. Joe Willock also made another step today.

"I am positive because we are going to improve. We can be happy with different players and how they are working."

Arsenal are in action again next Sunday when they host local rivals Tottenham, the day after Liverpool visit Burnley.