Unai Emery has challenged Denis Suarez to finally make an impact as Arsenal bid to climb back into the Premier League’s top four against Newcastle on Monday.
Suarez has struggled since his January loan move from Barcelona and the Spanish midfielder is yet to make a competitive start for the Gunners.
But a series of impressive displays at Arsenal’s recent training camp in Dubai could have earned the 25-year-old a chance to shine when Newcastle visit the Emirates Stadium.
Suarez played the full 90 minutes and created a goal for Carl Jenkinson in Arsenal 3-2 friendly victory over Al Nasr.
With Granit Xhaka facing a late fitness test and Lucas Torreira suspended, Arsenal boss Emery is encouraged by Suarez’s timely improvement.
“He is okay for starting in the first XI, to give us this impact,” Emery said.
“We are going to need everybody, every player for the next matches.
“We decided to go away to train for four days and play a match in Dubai. But it’s the same idea, the same spirit.”
Emery was keen to work with Suarez again after signing on loan at Sevilla in 2014-15.
Asked about the time it had taken Suarez to settle in north London, Emery added: “It’s normal. Now we have a lot of players ready, with a big mentality and with a big performance to play and help us.”
Beating Newcastle would give Arsenal a 10th successive home league win, equalling a run they last enjoyed in the 1997-98 season in Arsene Wenger’s first full campaign as manager.
A victory is essential after Arsenal dropped to fifth place on Saturday as a result of Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Watford.
– ‘Take nothing for granted’ –
Emery’s men are one point behind United and can’t afford to drop points as they battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish or winning the Europa League.
With so much at stake, Emery is nervously monitoring Arsenal’s fitness updates.
“We trained on Friday morning and some players were rested to give them one day more before training with us on Saturday,” Emery said.
“That’s Aaron Ramsey, Dinos Mavropanos. But they can be okay and ready for Monday.
“Xhaka also rested and we are going to wait for Saturday and Sunday. But the first previews from the doctor’s analysis is that they can be okay to play on Monday.”
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has warned his players not to ease up as the inch closer to guaranteeing their safety.
The Magpies are seven points above the bottom three and their 35-point total is just three short of the number Benitez believes will be enough to stay up.
Newcastle have lost only one of their last six league games, but Benitez is taking nothing for granted.
“If you see what Arsenal are doing, they are doing really well, so we cannot expect that it will be an easy game,” he said.
“If we can do what we have to do and can get three points, then it depends on the others. But some of the other teams have got some points, so it’s not that you can say, ‘Now 37 is guaranteed’, it depends what they do.
“We have now 35 and we are fine, but still we have to win. For me, one game could be enough, but you never know, it depends on the other teams.
“The next game is the most important for us, it’s like a final for us and don’t think about what the others will do.”