Belfast Telegraph

Emery's priority is to protect his front liners as injuries take toll

 

Horror show: Ashley Young shows his dejection during the 4-0 loss to Everton
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By Nick Purewal

Unai Emery insists he can keep rotating to "protect" his players and seal a top-four Premier League finish.

Arsenal made seven changes from Thursday's Europa League win in Napoli for Sunday's league clash with Crystal Palace, only to be beaten 3-2 by the Eagles.

The Gunners' Champions League qualification hopes took a hit in losing a game they expected to win, with Palace claiming their eighth victory on the road this term.

Granit Xhaka should recover from a hip complaint in time for tomorrow's league trip to Wolves, as manager Emery looks set to mix up selection once again.

"We have had some injuries, like with Aaron Ramsey, and we need to protect the players," said Emery.

"For example, Xhaka asked to change in the second half against Napoli and could have played (against Palace), but with some risk.

"We need to protect our players and to use other players.

"We are playing with a lot of players and they give us the performance; we lost but we could also have lost with other players on the pitch."

In his defence of Shkodran Mustafi - whose errors contributed to all three Palace goals - Emery maintained switching formation at half-time to chase victory had opened more spaces in behind.

"In the second half we changed to play with two (central defenders) and we can take more possibilities in the attacking third, in the build-up, but defensively we gave them more space to take the transitions," he explained.

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