Unai Emery refused to give up on Arsenal’s Champions League hopes after seeing his side embarrassed by Wolves in a 3-1 defeat at Molineux on Wednesday.
Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty and the outstanding Diogo Jota scored the goals that condemned Emery’s side to a third defeat in four Premier League games, severely denting their hopes of a top-four finish with just three games to go.
The Arsenal manager admitted his team were outplayed by Wolves, who scored three goals in the first half to give the visitors a mountain to climb.
Despite the chastening defeat the Spaniard said his side will keep striving for Champions League football, which they can achieve either through a top-four finish in the Premier League or by winning the Europa League.
Defeat in the Midlands left Emery’s men a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
“I usually am very critical with myself and I am angry with myself that we didn’t do the gameplan we wanted — not with the players,” said Emery when asked if he was angry with his team.
“First it is with me and after that my style and idea is to look in front and find a solution, not who is the player who is worst.
“First I am thinking about the solution and the solution for me is to take the possibility on Sunday at Leicester and get our best performance and the best possibility to take the three points.”
Neves’s superb free-kick, Doherty’s header and Jota’s weaving run and shot did the damage for Wolves before Sokratis pulled a goal back late on for the visitors.
– Below-par Arsenal –
But for all of Wolves’ clinical preying on Emery’s men, Arsenal left Molineux licking wounds that were, to a large extent, self-inflicted, thanks to careless passing, brittle defending and an erratic display of goalkeeping from Bernd Leno.
Having looked comfortable in the early exchanges, the Gunners simply wilted once Wolves piled on pressure at the end of the opening half and a catalogue of errors left the visitors 3-0 down at half-time with no way back.
Emery, however, refused to criticise his goalkeeper.
“I don’t want to speak individually about the players,” he said. “We need to continue together and not look at one player or the defensive or attacking players. We need to recover our confidence.”
Emery admitted, however, that his side had lost discipline as Wolves ran riot at the end of the opening period.
Sokratis scored a late header for the visitors but they never threatened a genuine fightback.
“It was a good performance against a tough team,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo. “First-half was very good, second-half not so good, but very well played. If we look at all the game I think the boys worked very hard.”
“I’m very proud of the way we work, the way the players engage themselves and commit themselves to an idea because we give everything that we have each game, it’s a commitment to try to do everything you can to perform well,” he added. “That’s what makes me proud, the belief of us in ourselves.”