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'I accept all the criticism, they stuck to the gameplan' - Emery defends Arsenal stars after defeat at Leicester

20:46 GMT 09/11/2019
Unai Emery Arsenal 2019-20
The Spaniard is happy to take the blame for a damaging loss at the King Power Stadium, with it his belief that his side performed well defensively

Unai Emery praised his Arsenal players for "sticking to the gameplan" after a 2-0 defeat at Leicester on Saturday, insisting any criticism for the team's performance should be directed at him.

The Foxes moved back into third in the Premier League standings thanks to second-half goals from Jamie Vardy and James Maddison, extending their winning run to four matches in the process.

The Gunners, meanwhile, slipped to sixth, with nine points now separating them and fourth-place Chelsea in the race for the final Champions League spot.

Arsenal struggled to create any clear-cut openings at the King Power Stadium and seemed content to invite Leicester onto them, which ultimately proved to be their undoing.

Vardy broke the deadlock in the 68th minute when he finished off a slick passing move involving Youri Tielemans and Maddison, which marked his 11th goal of the season.

Maddison made sure of the victory seven minutes later, rifling the ball into the bottom corner after being teed up on the edge of the box by Vardy.

Arsenal are now without a win in six matches across all competitions, heaping more pressure on their under-fire manager, but Emery refused to point the finger of blame at his players after their latest setback.

“I am speaking with the club to stay strong and recover," he told a post-match press conference. "We also have young players who are growing up with us.

“I know we are receiving criticism but I have done before and I have recovered. I accept all the criticism. It is normal. Today we did one step ahead being better defensively.

"We can be disappointed but not with the attitude of the players, they did the gameplan. In the second half, we created some chances and when they scored we lost that opportunity.”

When pressed on why he opted for a defensive-minded 3-4-1-2 formation against Leicester, Emery added: "I think the players felt good in that system.

“Last year we used it and we did well. It depends on how we can get our best qualities and we used that system last year with a lot of good results.”

Emery went on to express his belief that the top four is still a realistic target for Arsenal, insisting there is still plenty of time for the gap to be closed while taking heart from the fact that Manchester United and Tottenham are even further behind.

"We are distant from Leicester now but we will take time to prepare and improve and take the balance in the team," he said.

“Manchester United and Spurs are also behind us so it is an equal competition but we have time to reduce the gap on Leicester.”

Arsenal resume their Premier League campaign after the international break, with Southampton due to arrive at Emirates Stadium on November 23.