Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka believes his side must develop a new mentality away from home after picking up a first clean sheet on the road against Watford.
The Gunners edged past the Hornets 1-0 on Monday night, securing their first clean sheet away from the Emirates Stadium this season as a result.
Arsenal’s away form: Five key things to know…
- Prior to the Watford win, Arsenal were the only side in the Premier League not to have kept a single away clean sheet all season.
- The Gunners have only won six of their 16 matches on the road, losing six and drawing four.
- They have also conceded more goals (28) than they have scored themselves (27).
- In the Europa League, Arsenal have also lost both away fixtures in their knockout matches to date.
- Unai Emery’s side lost 1-0 to BATE away from home and 3-1 to Rennes in France.
Maximum reward at Vicarage Road takes the club back into the top four on goal difference with Emery looking to achieve Champions League qualification in his maiden campaign in north London.
Three points against Watford, as well as a clean sheet, will come as a huge sigh of relief for Emery, but Xhaka still believes his side still lack steel when playing away from home.
He told the Evening Standard: “I think we need a different character away [from home]. It is not always easy to play away, we have to take the duels, we have to win the duels, and you can see if you do that you can win the game.
“I don’t care if we win 1-0 or 6-0 — it is the same three points. For me, it is better if you play like this and you win than when we have played away and played better games but not taken the three points.”
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‘Premier League over the Europa League’
Despite Arsenal taking a healthy 2-0 aggregate lead to the San Paolo Stadium for the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash against Napoli on Thursday, Xhaka insists the club’s primary focus is domestic affairs.
Arsenal have a realistic opportunity to win the continental competition with Emery – who is a three-time winner with Sevilla – at the helm, but the Swiss midfielder would rather finish in the top four.
“I think we want to stay in the top four — we want to be back in the Champions League,” he added.
“For me, the Premier League is first and after if you can go to the final and take the Europa League, of course, it is nice as well, but for us it is the Premier League first.
“We are now in fourth place — two points over [Manchester] United, one game less than Chelsea and one point behind Tottenham — and they play against Manchester City this weekend. This can be a big weekend for us.”