Unai Emery believes a well-organised Arsenal can be satisfied with achieving their objective of going third in the Premier League before the international break.
David Luiz’s first goal for the club proved all the Gunners needed for a narrow 1-0 win over Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The centre-back escaped Callum Wilson’s attention to head in a ninth-minute Nicolas Pepe corner and send the home side to within a point of second-placed Manchester City, who suffered a shock 2-0 loss at home to Wolves.
Arsenal struggled to create openings after the early goal and were put under pressure by an improved Bournemouth after half-time.
But a robust defensive display secured a fourth clean sheet from six games in all competitions and ticked a box for the head coach.
“It was our objective today,” Emery said after leapfrogging Leicester City into third. “For our confidence it was important.
“Maybe in the second half we were struggling more than we wanted and maybe in some moments we felt that pressure.
“For me it’s one step more for the young players, for us. We didn’t feel fear with that moment when the opposition was pushing us.”
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He added: “We are very happy with that result and very proud of that result.”
David Luiz and right-back Calum Chambers were especially impressive at the back for Arsenal, who remain undefeated in all competitions since a 3-1 August loss away to league leaders Liverpool.
Emery praised Arsenal’s match-winner for having an uplifting effect on a squad that finished fifth last term.
“He is very positive,” the Gunners boss said of the former Chelsea defender.
“He is always speaking about positive things. He is helping the young players.
“He came into the squad late but his commitment is very high.”
Though clear-cut chances were scarce, Bournemouth might have salvaged a maiden point at Emirates Stadium had striker Wilson opted to shoot rather than pass after bursting into the box shortly after the interval.
A tentative start and inability to make more of a stronger second-half showing left Cherries manager Eddie Howe frustrated but not downbeat.
“We were too reactive against Arsenal,” he said. “You can’t do that against good players.
“When we play well we’re a match for anybody. Whenever we’ve played near to our best we’ve had a chance to win the game.”