Emery Gets Down to Work

Twenty-four hours into the job and Unai Emery made his first major decision yesterday: get the driver to park closer to the door at London Colney.

Tactics Tim struggled through the Aston Villa door, laden with coffees, files and notepads. There were no such problems for new Arsenal head coach; it was all handled slickly over the past twenty-four hours or so. Henry Winter approved of how it was handled and that’s all Ivan needs.

He’s already down to business. A tour of the facilities preceded talks about talks about talks; Ivan talks a good game, Emery needs to walk one. Assessing the squad started for the interview, now he is down to business with the full data available. Will any of that change his mind?

It’s hard to see how. According to Gazidis, the Spaniard’s presentation contained assessments of the squad. Not the blithe bar-room stuff we engage in, but proper backed by the data type stuff. It’s pointed out how Emery promoted youth to the first team at Valencia and Sevilla which is something Arsenal valued when assessing him. More importantly, he kept them competitive while selling the best players; ‘competitive’ at their level, e.g. third place in Spain’s two-horse race.

That latter part chimes with how the club is set to work from now on. Patience is a virtue of the past manager and under-performers won’t find any favour with Emery. Over-achievers will find themselves out as well, funding future purchases.

It worked well for Emery at Sevilla under Monchi; Mislintat and Sanllehi must equal the feted director of football’s record of success. Not trying to emulate the methodology though. The man himself observed it works in one place and one place only; everywhere else finds their own variation which suits culture, business models, etc.

Jack of all Trades, Masters of None

While they do their bit, Unai Emery must work with the materials at hand. The majority of the players will get a season to prove themselves, but some positions need filling immediately.

He met Laurent Crocked-slney yesterday, an immediate reminder of the new central defender required. The defensive side of the game is the first target. Emery won’t, unless transfer business dictates otherwise, be looking for new full-backs.

In Bellerin, Monreal, and Kolasinac he has the raw materials and players with enough pace to adapt to his pressing style. Curbing the right-back’s attacking instincts and transferring that energy into defensive work will pay dividends. Or that’s the theory. The defensive side of our game regressed in Wenger’s final seasons as the focus was on the attack.

Our back four needs work and strengthening; if we as onlookers know that, so too does a highly remunerated professional. Oh.

Does that mean the goalkeepers get one more season? Both are out of contract next summer with Cech likely to retire. Ospina will hope for a good World Cup to get some interest going in the transfer market which may force the club’s hand. Neither is consistent in their delivery from feet, peppering the touchlines on an irregular basis.

In the old days, a goalkeeper could get away with poor distribution so long as he was a half-decent shot-stopper, but in the Pep Guardiola era, ball-playing goalkeepers are a must. We may have to wait 12 months for a new one unless Sven knows of a 2.Bundesliga ‘keeper going cheap.

While the goalkeeping situation is important, we can ‘make do and mend’ next season. Because of Koscielny’s injury, we can’t at centre-back nor the central midfield area. Seri is being mentioned, but is he too similar to Ramsey in terms of being box-to-box?

Trading Places

Developing young players is a recurring theme in every piece on Emery. The players who may benefit aren’t just those mentioned – Maitland-Niles, Iwobi – but more Chambers, Holding and Mavropanos. All three have critics but all three also have potential to develop into decent centre-backs with focussed defensive coaching. The hope is that the discipline a pressing game requires will embrace positional and spatial awareness as well.

Football club staffing specialisms are yet to move into the defensive / offensive split that American Football treats as the norm. There’s no reason why not beyond no-one doing it consistently yet. Every club tinkers with it – we saw the benefit in 2006 with Keown coaching the defence – but until someone wins trophies with that split, football is too reactive for it to happen.

We’re a squad where it would pay immediate dividends. Certainly for the younger players before too many bad habits become ingrained in their game. With more teams demanding defending starts with the forwards, there’s no need to split out into different sets of players, just switching focus will be enough.

It’s a new era at Arsenal but one which doesn’t get going until pre-season training begins. That and the transfer window opening will ram home change has really happened.

’til Tomorrow.

63 thoughts on “Emery Gets Down to Work

  1. Nice stuff, YW—Emery has the look of someone who was very eager and engaged but also trying to put some distance from the shadow pursuing him everywhere, Gazidis. Give it a rest Ivan.

    I think Seri is a fine player but he isn’t the defensive midfielder we are lacking. Doucoure, Gueye are PL players who might contribute that physical, disciplined ball winning role.

  2. Limestonegunner,

    I would think that Steven Nzonzi would hit the mark as far as the pre-requisite DM is concerned. Presumably Emery knows this player’s abilities at first hand and whether he’s capable of fulfilling this particular role for Arsenal.

  3. Sorry guys I need closure

    I asked for the 8 interviewed please

    Allegri
    Enrique
    Emery
    Arteta
    Henry
    Vieira
    Hegelsmann??
    Rogers??

    Skywalker our new inside man?

  4. Joel,

    I was going to mention him, a player with PL experience as well, so I am glad you mention him. He could certainly come in and give us experience in the position for a couple years as AMN develops. AMN might end up being more attacking but he has the pace, physical strength to play deeper and defensively if he learns the position.

  5. I’m really starting to worry about our one time mate shotta!! No really I am..he has gone past wearing a tin hat and is now wearing a full tin foil suit camped in his basement….

  6. Arsetralian,

    Honestly mate, I’m not sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was part of the lisy along with the some other names just to see what they want.

    One could think that there must have been discussions between Allegri, Nagelsmann and possibly even Rodgers along with Emery given not only was their speculation but also declarations of them staying by both manager and club.

  7. Yogi, I truly think there is something to this Leno stuff from Leverkusen. With Leverkusen buying Frankfurt’s #1 Hrádecký with all reports saying he is now the #1, I think Leno could be in the works and that would be a brilliant signing and we would have our GK for the next 8-10 years who is not only a good GK but his distribution and ability to play with his feet makes it certainly work.

    Having watched Seri, I think comparing him to Ramsey is a bit wide of the mark. Seri is more Santi than Ramsey. He doesn’t really push into the box or go bombing forward but instead is that link, happy to keep things ticking in midfield and while he isn’t a tackler, he is a reader and intercepter. I know we keep discussing the CB’s but its going to be really interesting to see what happens at the pivots with Jack out of contract, Ramsey having only one year left, Elneny(think in a high pressing midfield he could be for us what Fernandinho is for Citeh) plus Maitland-Niles and Xhaka. If Seri comes then I would imagine both Jack and Ramsey go.

  8. Unai Emery has one simple philosophy. Grow. To grow daily and to keep awareness of this, gathering experience, you might not be able to grow every single day, but if you keep that focus, then you can grow with every moment.
    Paraphrasing his interview with FIFA tv. You can find it on Youtube.

  9. Interesting comments from Seri’s agent about a move made by Arsene last year:

    “Unfortunately, Arsenal aren’t the quickest when it comes to the transfer market.

    “It’s true that I met [Wenger], we spoke about it, he said it could interest him. He would have liked there to be more departures in his midfield, because he was aware of the balance of his budget.

    When I got the offer from Barcelona, I let him know about it, but that doesn’t mean they entered the fray. Unfortunately it didn’t happen with Barcelona because of an ego problem between them and Nice.”

  10. YW,

    Good pic today. I reckon it’s a really straight forward one. One that even my little pea brain can get around

  11. Afternoon,

    Unai is also going to have a good look at the loan players first, as he must be considering whether any of them has a chance of a future at Arsenal. If not, they should probably all be out of the door. I’d like to see what Unai makes of Campbell and Perez, as I think one of them could stay and become a reasonable squad member. Hopefully we will stop buying players as a marketing exercise and buy them for their playing ability.

  12. Wavey,

    Agreed on that. I was never too hot on Joel, but I thought Perez always turned in a decent performance. Solid? Always a 7, never a 5, once in a while a 9 out of 10, if you know what I mean?

    He seemed to have something about his all round game for me. Not just an out an out goal scorer. I was disappointed he didn’t get more of a chance to play wide left forward and put a bit of a run together. We’ll see, in due course

  13. Great post Yogi

    I am excited for change. One thing that will help us to succeed is a much stronger sense of pragmatism compared with the Wenger era. Every manager has a certain tactical style that he likes and without exception every big team wants to give its youth a chance and build its own superstars. Those are noble goals. However, the single biggest problem for Arsenal during the Emirates era was Arsene’s desire to do things the “Arsene way” become a higher priority then getting results. I understand the club is going to say the manager has a mandate to play attacking football and give youth a chance and clearly everyone will be happier if we can meet those idealistic goals and still get results which meet reasonable expectations. However, the rest of the worlds big teams recognize that results and idealism are often competing goals. Hopefully we will prioritize results during the upcoming Emery era

  14. Wavey,

    I read on 7 am kickoff, that Lucas Perez was asked to resume pre season on July 2 in London. There was also a quote that Emery wanted him at PSG, when he just took up the job as manager in 2016.

    So, if that’s true, we may see a bigger squad with side wingers in Perez and Mikhitaryan.

    Jeorge Bird was also reporting that Zelalem was working on his fitness and is ready for preseason and his game has matured, with more defensive awareness as part of his improved qualities.

    For the first team in a very long while, preseason is going to be competitive. The best learners and executors will obviously have a say this season.

    It feels good knowing tactics will have its way rather than talent or favoritism. This was the reason behind Jack’s injuries. A big failure of the previous pattern of placing the responsibility of making the team play well on 1 player, and watching the team crumble in the absence of such a player.

    Now we can look forward to seeing a system and tactical switches by the coach to win matches.

  15. Damon,

    Tend to agree with you and Wavey on Perez, but our mate Bill would say otherwise.

    I will say, I think overall Perez would offer us more consistency and overall as opposed to say Welbeck.

  16. C,

    Very interesting. The part about indecision and slowness to act rings all too true. I like the player and agree he is more Santi replacement in mode of play. I’d like to have him on the team but this in no way substitutes for the more crucial dm need. We would have to see Jack leaving however or selling Xhaka/Ramsey. Hasn’t Seri made mention however of suffering chilblains—is England the right destination?

  17. Damon,

    Rumours are that he was interested in Perez in 2016, so I think Emery will give him a chance in preseason.

  18. dukey,
    why bother being bothered ? we all knew it was the man more than the club with some.

  19. Limestonegunner,

    Yea I think he is more of a replacement for Jack and Ramsey but I do think he is more of the player that we have missed without Santi. Your spot on, he isn’t a true DM like most want but I do think he offers that fight and sort of player that Emery likes who is both quality in the pass to play his quick possession game but also defensively with high pressure, interceptions and nicking the ball away. But it does make you wonder, there has been little talk of Jack and Ramsey contract wise, so if Seri comes in along with his clear fascination of Maitland-Niles, does that mean both of the former are leaving?

  20. Maitland Niles might be converted to becoming our defacto DM and second choice RB. My assumption is based on the fact that while we have the need for a sitting DM, he must be mobile, with enough pace to snuff out attacks by sliding into the FB position when the FB goes forward, he is a good passer of the ball and he is confident, and so he can sit, while Xhaka is the second pivot and Ozil settles in the CAM position.

  21. If the defense is a priority and a goal keeper is next. We don’t have much funds left in the touted 50m pounds for extra purchases.

    We do have Elneny, Bielik, Jeff, and AMN. In between them, we might find a tough tackling DM.

  22. lari03,

    Morning all.

    Lari03 — it might be the stereotype but are we sure we want the string-bean Maitland Niles as our defensive mid? I know size isnt’ everything but my version of a solid DM has some strength and muscle. AMN looks like he would fall over if gave him a love tap and i dont see him striking ‘fear’ in any opposition players.

  23. the DM is a dying breed in todays game with all the yellow cards being dished out.
    the money the game makes these days demands a fast tempo free flowing game and the rules have evolved to try and enable this.
    the days of a tough tackling 8f 25stone midfielder are gone – he;ll just get sent off all the time.

    its all about counter pressing and forcing your opponent into bad passes.

    it depends how many people are midfield – if we play with a 3 then its a safety in numbers thing and if they all press like a pack of wolves it will get the job done.

    if they all stand around scratching there arses waiting for the other team to give them the ball back then weve got a problem – it was a massive one in the wenger era

    we just need to get the players to play together as a team without the ball – then the midfield hole will close.

    but even then – that still doesnt solve the individual errors the defenders make – like being constantly out of position or it wont solve bellerin being skinned like a banana every time someone takes him on.

    its mostly training ground stuff but yes we need some additions and the criteria should be 90f monsters – its guys who are willing to roll there sleeves up and do plenty of work without the ball.

    kante at chelsea is an example – hes brilliant at what he does and hes built like mo farah.

  24. Lari03

    “I read on 7 am kickoff, that Lucas Perez was asked to resume pre season on July 2 in London. There was also a quote that Emery wanted him at PSG, when he just took up the job as manager in 2016.”

    If Emery was interested in Perez why didn’t he buy him? He had plenty of money at PSG. He could have bought for almost nothing last season. The only reason he will be coming back this year is because there won’t be any other team who want him.

    Lucas is 30 year old lifelong journeyman who had one decent season in his entire career and he returned to his career long baseline poor form last season and didn’t score for 5 months despite playing regularly and his team was relegated. There is not another big team in the world that will want him and we probably won’t be able to find a little team that will be interested unless we subsidize his entire wage and yet we want him at Arsenal? Is that really the level of our ambition? May be you could help me and explain why anyone would be interested in him.

  25. JonJon,

    Agree about that and its why I think Seri is a good option.

    I mean FFS, if Klopp can get Henderson and Cann to do it who have no situational awareness .

  26. ainsley harriot giles could potentially be the answer.
    he showed enough last season to show hes versitile enough to play an all round midfield role and his performance at OT was exceptional.
    if emery can get him to play like that 4 games out of 5 then we are onto a winner.

    a GKs a priority. then a couple of CB’s because mustafis shit and koz is a crock – id hang onto chambers, holding, and stavros because they are young enough to be moulded so we dont need to spend millions here.

    im not worried about the 50mil thing.

    weve got enough in the bank to do a job with transfers and wenger spent multi millions last few years and made us look worse for it.

    emery needs time this season to work out the wheat from the chaff – so next summers window id be expecting fireworks – but this summer im not too bothered what we do as long as we sort out the obvious problems the training ground cant fix.

  27. Exactley mr C
    seri looks an exciting player from the little ive seen – and reports are suggesting hes got a 35mil release clause so hes an achieveable target.

    but even so – i feel the focus shouldnt be on individual players – if emery can get the current lot playing as a single unit then we’ll see a improvement

    buying players should only really be considered if we are losing players.

    i’d like to lose xhaka but it depends on the contract situations with jack and rambo.

    its going to be interesting what happens this summer

    for once not one of us has a scooby whats going to happen – and im looking forward to it.

  28. Lari03

    The other thing I don’t understand is you suggest we should use players like Jeff and Nelson and Zalelem. However, if we have players like Perez or Joel Campbell on the squad there are no minutes left over for players like Nelson or Iwobe unless we want to leave our best players on the bench and start giving Lucas, Joel Campbell, Nelson or Iwobe high leverage minutes. Unfortunately if we do that there is no way we can climb back into 4th place. The devil is in the details and you have to think about all of implications of the stuff you want. We can’t have it both ways.

  29. bill

    i think you are half right.
    its a new era so every player should be given a chance to show what they can do under a new coach, top fours achieveable, if spurs can get in with that team we can with this one.

    players who want to leave are more than welcome to pack their bags and fuck off but anyone whos willing to play for the new guy should be given a chance.

    saying that – i wish for certain players not to be given a chance and immediately sold off because they bore the bollox off me with their repetitive shitness

  30. Joel Campbell is not good enough to play regularly for a Europa league level team in Portugal. I guess the one advantage he is a cheap alternative to hold down squad spot 25 and play in some of the league cup and early round FA cup games.

  31. C,

    Maybe. If we can sell Ramsey for a good fee and he isn’t willing to commit this summer to an extension, we will have to. If we get Seri and a real DM, we will have Xhaka and Elneny as well. Those 4 would be ok if Mkhi and Iwobi sometimes play deeper in a midfield three. I think Mkhi can play deeper and carry the ball and frankly that might be Iwobi’s best position right now, especially if he can add some defensive energy to his game too.

  32. lari03,

    Looks like Lichtsteiner might come on a free and be backup RB or spot central defender and right sided midfielder. That would let AMM concentrate more on his central midfield development. If he does well, I think we would be ok letting Jack go, selling Rambo and buying Seri and a genuine DM.

  33. JonJon,

    The classic DM was Makelele. He wasn’t big. The role has always been about positioning, dynamism, defensive discipline and aggressive ball winning. We need that in whatever physical form it takes. We have been dying for a player like Kante.

  34. AMN is fast and plenty strong. The reason he might not be the answer at DM, apart from the usual problems of youthful inconsistency and the unpredictability of player development, is that he needs to learn the position and have the attitude of defensive discipline. He likes to range forward and playing him as a fullback and wingback increased that tendency to drive forward. I would rather at this point get an established DM and start playing AMN in midfield in a box to box role at first. He is athletic and can dribble so we might use him that way before giving him the responsibility to shield the back line.

  35. Jon Jon

    If you want to keep some like Perez or Campbell around to make up numbers and fill the back end of the squad then so be it. However, we can’t afford to give every player a chance. The competition for those top 4 spots in England is far stronger now then any time in this century There are only so many high leverage minutes and we have to use our best players in those minutes if we hope to climb back into 4th place. . I guess anything is possible but if we have a large sample size of data that shows us that a player has been a low level journeyman for 10 years it’s not very likely that he is going to morph into someone who is good enough to play on a top of the table team in England in his age 30 season.

  36. makelele changed the blueprint, limey
    he was years ahead of his time.

    i personally thought flamini did a terrific job for us in the 08 campaign.

  37. personally bill i dont think perez nor campbell are good enough

    but other than greizemann i dont rate any of the the athletico players either but under simeone they regularly make life hard in a two horse title race and they regularly pick up silverware

    so we’ll have to wait and see what emery does with what he has at his disposal.

    we just dont know whats going to happen

    exciting isnt it?

  38. Jon Jon

    I think Deportivo was relegated and I assume they will want to move a different direction and we probably won’t be able offload Perez again so for better or worse we may not have any options other then put him at the back of the squad and use him in league cup games but means less minutes for players like Iwobe or Jeff or nelson. . I don’t have any problem with sending our u21’s on loan but there are 2 sides to every coin.

  39. Bill,

    I’m speaking with the optimism of someone who watched Anelka hit it off at an early age. Real Madrid is about to purchase an 18 year old Vinicius jnr from Brazil because he has been scoring goals regularly.

    Unai Emery has a system and I believe in systems. Lo Celso in PSG achieved consistency under his system; Roberto Soldado achieved consistency under Emery, only to be sold to Tottenham and he delivered underwhelming performances. Unai Emery has consistently improved players under him, because they work hard and they stick to the system.

    I would put it to you that young men develop better under conditions of hardwork, firm expectations and confidence in their ability.

    Football is a game of tactical expression and when a trick is drilled into you and it sticks, it becomes a conditioned reflex, you’re a able to repeat it over and over again. That’s how Emery won 3 Europa leagues in succession. That level of consistency and the ability to raise such a squad inspires belief in my mind, that some hardworking academy graduates with the right attitude and energy can help define our progress.

    The reason why most academy graduates fail is the entitled feeling they have, and this new structure would do well to show our Arsenal youth, that you either play with zeal or you get lost.

    Hard work, talent, humility and luck will always help a young player. If this qualities are available, Emery has taken punts on young men with these attributes in the past, and he has been successful. There’s no reason why this approach will fail at Arsenal.

  40. Kante isn’t a large bully, but he does the DM job well. Three things work for him, stamina, aggression and intelligent play.

  41. Joel Campbell is a decent player, he might not be a fantastic flair player but he had some incisive natural skill and he was told not to rely on his dribbles alone by Arsene Wenger.

    He’s a good player in the final third. You don’t create a hat trick of assists in 1 game by being poor. He’s on the payroll and we have a system he can fit into. Why not give him a try ? Like the new gaffer says, clean slate for everyone. If he fits, we get our money’s worth.

  42. JonJon,

    The DM point you touch on is right, but with a twist in my opinion. Yes, we don’t have giant bruisers anymore. Kanye is the epitomy of this. It comes from the press. The likes of Sanchez etc are he first wave and then it’s the second wave hat intercept without tackling. The ball goes half loose under pressure and the next lot get it

    I’m totally simplifying it but it’s an art. Knowing where the ball spits out and being there. We just haven’t seen it under Arsene. You don’t need physic and speed any more. You nee game reading and that can be taight

  43. JonJon,

    Spot on my friend and its great to have a sense of fresh and exciting times ahead.

    Seri would be quality and I would gladly have him and I think if he comes then one or both of Jack and Ramsey will be off.

    I agree, we have a group of players that need to be taught and given a structure of how to play. Think the thing working against somr, namely Jack and Ramsey, is their contract situations.

    Emery, based on his CV will get the best of them.

  44. Limestonegunner,

    Thats what I am thinking too. I do think the Ramsey situation might be linked to that of Seri which is interesting. I do think a player like Elneny who does a lot of pressing and quick passing will benefit as well.

    Leichsteiner would be a really good mentor for Bellerin.

  45. will_the_thrill,

    No, I was trying to wrap my head around what Gazidis must have heard from Emery about AMN. But Kante does play a similar position and he isn’t that large you know.

    I watched a tactics video on how PSG set up under Unai Emery, and I realised that AMN could be our version of Veratti or Rabiot. Though specific requirements of the midfield 3 was about 1 sitter (Rabiot) while Thiago and Veratti were very mobile and they were always popping up as passing options.

  46. Lari03

    “He’s on the payroll and we have a system he can fit into. Why not give him a try ? Like the new gaffer says, clean slate for everyone. If he fits, we get our money’s worth.”

    Our accountants would love you. The bean counters would be ecstatic if we could take some youth players, Joel Campbell and Lucas Perez and somehow climb back into the top 4. At Sevilla Emery was able to finish 5th, 5th and 7th and win the Europa league which was truly more anyone expected However, I really hope our objectives and our level of ambition is much higher. I hope we want to become one of the top 10 teams in Europe. If you look around Europe its very difficult for teams to be anywhere close to that level if they have to build there own stars and fill the squad with players like Joel Campbell or Lucas Perez.

  47. Lari03

    We are not a little team and over the next couple of seasons we need to stop thinking like Arsene. His objective was to build a squad which was good enough to make it to the top 4. I have no doubt that Emery can take this years squad and improve the defense and get everyone working hard and start to rebuild the clubs culture and I think we can compete for the top 4 next season. However, aiming for the top 4 is what we were doing for the last 10 years and we complained about that endlessly. Moving to the next step and challenging for the title and getting into the last 8 or last 4 in the CL is another huge step and requires a whole different mindset.

  48. This year Sevilla made it to the final 8 in the CL which is probably their best finish ever. Of the 26 players listed on their roster only Sergio Rico who I think is a back up GK was home grown form their academy. I suspect the results would be similar if you looked at all of the top 8 of the CL in most of the last several years.

  49. The CL final should be a good game tomorrow. I would like to see us use Liverpool as an example of how to build an effective and exciting attacking team without spending unreasonable amounts of money. If Emery could couple that sort of dynamic fast paced, high energy, high tempo attack with a solid defense then we could really have something.

  50. bill theres nothing wrong with top 4 finishes if we are winning trophies at the same time.
    the CL is the one we want and we kept on getting knocked out in last 16.

    other than 2006 weve never challenged for it.

    if emery can get us back in top 4 and win a CL its job done.

  51. dont be expecting fireworks straight away.

    the mentality of this squad is weak – it will take time to change it and for emery to work out who he does and doesnt want.

    im expecting a lot of trial and error this season with another 5th or 6th place finish. maybe a cup run.

    thats to be expected from a new manager trying new ideas – a manager who been doing it 22 years had no more excuses.

  52. I like the look of the players we are being linked with. I know it’s only rumours but I get a sense that Emery will bring in the tough no nonsense players we so desperately need and he will bring balance back to the squad.

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