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Emery hopeful that Arsenal will bring in January reinforcements

Youngster Joe Willock scored twice in a 3-0 victory for Arsenal.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is hoping for some fresh faces this transfer window (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Arsenal manager Unai Emery is hoping for some fresh faces this transfer window (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Unai Emery is hopeful Arsenal will bring in reinforcements during the January transfer window – but declined to say whether Denis Suarez will be one of them.

The Barcelona midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates to reunite with Emery, who he worked with at Sevilla.

After the 3-0 FA Cup third-round win over Blackpool, Emery said: “I  think the club is working for the possibility to take some players who can help us during these next four months.

“Maybe the transfer market can help us with a centre-back, but it is not easy because also (Konstantinos) Mavropanos is coming back after injury. Also a winger, right or left, one player can help us in this position.”

Asked whether he saw Suarez as a winger, the Gunners boss added: “He was playing in his career, and with me also, as a right or left winger.”

Emery suffered another defensive headache in the warm-up at Bloomfield Road when Lauren Koscielny felt his back tighten and was replaced in the starting line-up by Carl Jenkinson.

The Arsenal manager is optimistic it is not a big issue, though, saying: “I hope he’s going to be OK for the next matches.”

It was a routine outing on the pitch, with 19-year-old Joe Willock scoring his second and third senior goals in the first half before Alex Iwobi rounded off a 3-0 victory late on.

The biggest drama occurred two and a half hours before the game, when a Blackpool supporter protesting about Owen Oyston’s ownership of the club climbed on top of the Arsenal bus and refused to move.

A man was eventually arrested but Arsenal arrived at the ground, via a back entrance, more or less on time having prepared for such an eventuality by bringing a back-up vehicle.

Asked if it had affected their preparations, Emery said: “There was no change for us. We know there are some problems here with the supporters and the team. We have respect for them – the supporters, the club, the team – and we prepared for the match with respect also for this competition.”

Only four players remained in the starting line-up from the Premier League victory over Fulham, and it was the young attackers who shone, with Willock ably supported by fellow 19-year-old Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Emery said: “We need players with commitment. We need players who are prepared for when the team needs them and they can step up.

“Opportunities are coming in matches like today. We mixed experienced players in the squad with some young players like Joe, Eddie and Ainsley.

“It was a good combination. They can show us they are progressing with the team and, mostly importantly, they showed their passion.”

Blackpool boss Terry McPhillips was unaware of the bus protest until after the game, saying at his post-match press conference: “I’ve just been told now. We just focus on the football. We knew there were going to be protests, we didn’t know what was going to happen.”

A large number of supporters continued their boycott of games at Bloomfield Road – of the crowd of 8,995, more than 5,000 were from Arsenal.

“It’s like the Sunderland game,” said McPhillips. “They brought 8,000 and made a lot of noise. Not quite as many tonight but it was a cracking atmosphere. We had a few more than we normally have so that was good as well.”

It was Blackpool’s second crack at Arsenal this season after a 2-1 defeat at the Emirates in the Carabao Cup in October, and McPhillips said: “We probably played a bit more expansive tonight being at home. It didn’t quite work out for us. I’m proud of the lads in both the games, the effort and the football.”

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