Arsenal can cope with ‘very motivated’ Wilfried Zaha – Unai Emery
The Ivory Coast international was heavily linked with the Gunners in the summer, but signed Nicolas Pepe for a club-record fee instead.
Unai Emery insists he has the players to cope with Wilfried Zaha as the Crystal Palace winger heads to Arsenal this weekend for the first time since a move to north London failed to materialise.
The Ivory Coast international was heavily linked with the Gunners for much of the summer, only for compatriot Nicolas Pepe to join for a club-record £72million instead.
Zaha impressed Emery last season, scoring in the surprise 3-2 Palace win at the Emirates Stadium in April.
He was then listed as a player who could be recruited to push Arsenal forward this campaign but he ultimately stayed put as Pepe was signed from Lille.
With the Eagles heading to Arsenal on Sunday, Zaha will no doubt want to show the home fans what they are missing – but Emery feels his defence can cope with the threat.
“He is a very good player and he has been the difference in a lot of matches against us and against other teams,” he said.
“But we have players also to stop him and also to impose our capacity. For us it is about our players, our players, our capacity and at the Emirates we need also to feel strong and this Sunday one team is coming, Crystal Palace, usually they are feeling good.
“One player is coming here in Zaha – a very good player – and he is coming for sure very motivated but our challenge is how we can stop him but above all how we can battle then and use our own capacity and individual quality.”
Pepe has struggled to adjust to life in England but came off the bench to score two fabulous free-kicks in Thursday’s Europa League win over Vitoria – with Emery insisting he has no regrets in landing him over Zaha.
“We signed Pepe not for two months, six months, one year or two years but for one process with us and the process is coming I think little by little,” he added.
“This club is following a lot of players in the world and here in England and in other countries because we have very good scouting to achieve players and we are very happy with Pepe and we know we are waiting for more but it is one process and we need patience and to be calm with him.
“We will help him and protect him because also sometimes he can think he is playing under pressure but for us and me when we are ready to play under pressure is when we can be better.”