Emery’s Way Or The Highway: The Players Must Adapt To Survive

It’s not very often Gary Neville becomes a poster-boy for Arsenal fans, but he adopted that mantle on last night’s Monday Night Football.

That the exchange with Carragher came during a Liverpool match provided a nice counterpoint. Jurgen Klopp came into Liverpool with a completely different idea of football to his predecessor.  He’s now in his fourth season at the club, having overseen six transfer windows.

Only now has he a first team which is considered genuine title contenders; it’s been a long job. That gives you an idea of the size of the task facing Unai Emery.

Neville’s assertion that the Spaniard is learning about his squad is very true. The defeats in the two opening games were no surprise; the manner of those defeats is the steep learning curve. That we have no ‘untouchables’ – Ramsey dropped, Özil hooked – is part of that assessment.

However, some players will become ‘untouchable’; it’s the nature of team sports. A coach trusts some players because they assimilate to his ideas. Emery will follow that path, with Guendouzi looking to be the quickest to find his home in the Spaniard’s thinking.

Nothing is set in stone at this stage. The defensive side of our game is the immediate concern. Not just the back four, but the defensive side of the midfield and attack. The fabled high press. We’re not carrying it out consistently across each segment of the pitch.

In part, we’re still learning and adaptation in the summer friendlies was hard. The heat of Singapore and the levels of fitness; there was little chance of it being implemented immediately. There’s also the players understanding as a collective how it works. It only takes one instance of fluffed lines for the whole thing to fall apart.

Hook, Line and Stinker

The training sessions point Emery in the direction of those who are adapting quickest to his thinking, but it’s the players who aren’t adapting which are his problem.

Neville highlighted Mesut Özil but that’s the easy way out. He’s a high-profile target, easy to hit because of his salary. I’m not defending him, by the way, because he hasn’t performed so far.

However, he’s not the only one and the money a player earns isn’t the benchmark of whether he is adapting. All Özil’s salary points to is how good his agents are at negotiating or depending on your viewpoint, how bad Arsenal are/were at contract negotiations.

Hooking Özil for a poor performance is refreshing but let’s not go overboard. I will be stunned if he doesn’t become untouchable very quickly. Emery’s pressing game is similar to Joachim Löw’s Germany; it’s just a variation of something he is used to.

Özil’s substitution signalled a new approach on the sidelines, nothing more. Granit Xhaka’s substitution did the same but that has largely skated under the radar because of the German. We lost some impetus in transition when the Swiss went off but he was definitely a red card waiting to happen.

Those two changes don’t signal the failure of players to adapt. All they tell us is that at this moment in time, reputations mean nothing to Emery. It’s a new ruthlessness; paternal indulgence is gone and a younger, driven man is at the helm.

The squad are beginning to understand that as well. Neville’s point about players walking all over Emery if he chops and changes is never going to happen at Arsenal, however. It’s too much effort; we’d just slip back into our tippy-tappy ways.

Young Hearts Run Free

Each player has different things to learn. Hector Bellerin is under fire still but in the attacking sense, he grasps Emery’s ideas. You can see that already and that both our goals came from the right underline the key role the full-back plays. The signing of Roy Lichtsteiner will improve his defensive play, as will proper defensive coaching.

Wenger’s emphasis on players free-thinking within a framework is at odds with the regimented roles Emery has for the position. Bellerin is a younger squad member whose game will only improve within that structure.

In the centre, it’s hard to see Sokratis and Mustafi surviving beyond next summer. The former is too slow for the high defensive line while the latter is, well, just the latter. Koscielny’s return in November may bring some stability instead of the German but ultimately, we’ll go into the next two transfer windows looking for experienced centre-backs in their mid-twenties. Pace will be the key there.

The focus on defensive play is natural given the first two competitive matches of Emery’s reign. At Chelsea, we saw the attack come together. OK, no goals for the strikers but how often have I said we need others to find the net? For the goals to be shared around? It’s been a pet peeve for years.

I don’t doubt goals will come for Lacazette and Aubameyang. They are too good at their jobs for it not to happen. I do believe that as we get more confident and capable defensively, we’ll create more chances but that relies on players adapting to the new requirements. The quicker that happens, the better.

Adapt and Survive? Adapt and Die?

What I found baffling was Carragher’s assertion the coach must adapt to the players. As if the old way of playing saw us claim title after title. Emery’s plan took into account a paper and video-based assessment of the squad. He knew before he started where the problems lay. The question is how long will it take him to solve them?

This isn’t a quick job. Emery has limited funds and we aren’t going to solve our problems by hopping on a jet to Spain to slap €60m on the table to buy a centre-back. As much as the coach is in the spotlight, so too are the scouts and other back office staff. A coherent strategy, driven by the coach, is crucial to building a team which can get back to the upper echelons of the table.

It’s interesting but Neville’s timescales inadvertantly fit in with Arsenal history. 1953, 1971, 1989; 2021-22 for the title anyone?

’til Tomorrow.

41 thoughts on “Emery’s Way Or The Highway: The Players Must Adapt To Survive

  1. Gooner D says:

    Ozil is too lazy to become an untouchable.Its still amazes me how some deluded Gooners worship him like he is world class.He couldnt lace Silva and KDB’s boots

  2. I Odumbe Kute says:

    Good people. I have a favour to ask. I have a friend who I’ve known for the last 32 years. Grew up with him, went to school and were desk mates for 4 years in high school. He’s in London on holiday from Kenya and is a diehard Arsenal fan like I am. I’ve tried to get tickets for the West Ham game on Saturday but it has proved difficult. Is there anyone out there who would be willing to sell us a one time ticket so my friend can experience a game at the Emirates? I don’t have to go because I can always get one through the season, but it will mean a lot to him to attend an Arsenal game.

  3. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Carragher is an idiot sometimes… As an ex player who played under so many managers did he ever come across a manage who adapted to their players… Surely not. Why so many Chelsea managers get sacked, the players had all the power their for so many years.

    I’ve always actually liked Gary Neville as a pundit. He says what he believe and doesn’t filter which a lot of pundits do. Garth crooks etc all stealing a living at bbc etc. Pun intended.

  4. Mike says:

    Carragher shouldn’t be on TV anyway. Gobbing at someone in a car and throwing coins into the crowd shouldn’t be acceptable for a high profile media career. But as every broadcaster seems to need at least one ex Liverpool player as a pundit he gets away with it!

  5. C says:

    Morning mates and its weird agreeing wuth Neville but he’s spot on.

    Look at Klopp’s Liverpool revolution, or even Pep’s first season at Citeh….it was adapt to my style or get out. I do think that we are in the battle for top 4 and if the players can adapt, and you see it at times already defensively, then we will be better off for it. Lets see how Torriera does especially since he played in a very similar system at Sampdoria and lets see how it all shakes it.

    As far as Xhaka, he has a role to play and Emery has worked with players similar to him previously and has flourished. Xhaka has a magical left peg and in the 2nd half of last season he seemed to figure it out, but thus far positionally and playing in space has proven to be costly.

    There is work to do but I think this run of matches will allow us to pick it up and figure it out.

  6. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Gary Nev seems to have a soft spot for dear old Arsenal. Maybe it’s respect gained from those many famous battles he took part in.

    He’s certainly spot on with his comments last night. It’s a huge building job that Emery has in front of him & many of the current squad are unlikely to be around if he does succeed.

    The passion so often missing on & off the pitch during the latter Wenger years would be the first thing I would look for & the early signs mixed.

    Hooking previous undroppables sends a signal though & hopefully the message gets through.

    However, I’m not sure Bellerin will ever learn. He just doesn’t have a defensive mindset & positionally it’s ingrained that he goes walkabout.

  7. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    Eveeyone know Emry needs time. Majority of pundits know it as well but the need the ratings so they need at least one controversial pundit on who’ll get debates going on their site or Facebook.

    Interesting to see welbeck heavily linked with a move away still.

    Over next few windows i think they’ll be a significant amount of change. Welbeck, Ramsey, el Neny and may even Ozil may find the door. In all seriousness, needs to be Emry’s team as its still stinks of Wenger.

    Said it before, I’d like Zaha and T Hazard as replacements for those going out listed above. Zaha will probably now cost about 50mill with that new contact and hazard I believe has a 45mill buy out. Can’t see us spending that unless we sell someone for bucks as well.

  8. lari03 says:

    Zaha has a 70million release clause, I think the further we get away from the game the better we appreciate the effort of the coach. I pray we learn quicker!

  9. Silly Sausage says:

    Don’t know why it should be weird to agree with Gary Neville.
    I think he gets it right most of the time.

  10. Bill says:

    Excellent post yogi

    I agree with Neville in some respects. However I think the coach does have to adapt to some extent if he wants to get results in the short term. With regard to the long term I agree that just like with Klopp it’s going to take 5-6 several transfer windows before we are a legitimate title contender and at the end of those 6 transfer windows I suspect that none of ozil, Mustafi Kos, Cech Sokratis welbeck Elneny xhaka kolasinac etc etc will be playing regular minutes. Unfortunately PEA will be moving into the downside of his career arc by then. Emery and our brain trust in the front office have a lot of work to do

  11. C says:


    True they do need one idiot on every program, I mean Alexis Lallas still has a job FFS, but I think the problem is that while everybody understands, how much patience is actually going to be shown by Gooners instead of listening to utter shit and believing it.

    I do see a number of players being shifted out including Welbeck and Ramsey (I would have taken that 30m without hesitation) and we will know by the end of the season who else will be on the choppong block.

    Personally. i would take Bailey and Brandt of Leverkusen over both of them if I’m honest. There are a number of quality young players out there with loads of experience and Zaha will cost quite a bit now.

    Either way, the biggest thing is that there should be NO overreactions to the first two matches but the new signings should start so that Emery gets his players into the team to build his style.

  12. Ras says:

    Candi Staton YW Young Hearts Run Free ….what’s the sense in sharing….

    There were questions being thrown at Klopp and Pep when both were appointed in their respective jobs. The stick Pep G felt for not believing in J Hart, the golden boy of the England football was rampant in many quartets of the UK Press.

    Both have held their ground and continued in earnest with their respective philosophies. Both Teams are now in the ascendant.

    Unai must follow suite and be his own Man.

    I think Ramsey should be sold and shown the door at Xmas. He’ll go for free at the end of the season so we should try and cut our losses and sell.. The same for Ozil. Sell him next summer. Let’s not stand on ceremony. Hes a good player but is He what the Team needs? Is what Emery wants?

    The Club needs to move on. Need to freshen up things after so many years .

    The Salary of Ozil alone could furnish 2-3 new Players . We need new blood that is It’s out there and need our Sven and Co to find it.

    We can no longer be so useless , thrivalous with signings – Joel C, Lucas P, Karl J just 3 off the top of my head.

    We need to find a Keïta – Kante. – Fernandinho type of Player(s) to bring in. Players with good athletic ability,

    I think Iwobi is growing in stature under Emery. He had a good game on Saturday.

  13. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    Couldn’t agree more. Add welbeck into that equation. We’ve had so many players who are inconsistent and it’s what’s cost us top 4. Liverpool silently got about their business and got good players in and they’re now reaching their prime under klopp I imagine.

    Welbeck, Perez, Jenks, Campbell were probably costing us about a combined 200k a week in wages. Add into that Ramsey and wilshere who have been at best inconsistent for about 5/6 years what’s millions in wages when if we had a manager who was ruthless enough we’d have cut them and bought players in who could change things.

    Im a fan of Ozil, but thus far he’s not seeming to fit the system. Early days yet but we have to evaluate that and think hmm, can we afford 350k a week for soemoene who’s not fitting in… That’s 14.5million. A year

  14. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    It’s also shocking that Theo lasted as long as he did on the wages he was on.

  15. C says:

    If Emery is truly wanting to stamp his style on this team then Leno must start.

  16. Joel says:

    Gooner D,

    Silva’s work-rate and skill against Huddersfield illustrated your point perfectly. How on earth his agent managed to screw Arsenal down to his current wage beggars belief.Whilst afraid that he might follow Alexis out of the door.. this was dependent upon another team wanting him and being prepared to pay him the wage he was demanding. His current deal running for three years equates to over £50million and I would rather see him given a free transfer than watch Arsenal continue to flush that kind of money down the toilet.. with only the very occasional 8/10performance to show for their investment. Let him leave in January and go and play out his career in Turkey where he will more likely find his level or more to the point find the level to which he can be bothered to play.

  17. C says:

    The other thing worth noting is that Nacho, Cech, Ramsey and Welbeck can all leave on a free this summer…..

  18. YW says:

    TBH C, I won’t lose any sleep over Cech and Welbeck. Disappointed if Monreal walks but next season, I’d expect him to be the ‘reserve’ left-back due to age. Ramsey would piss me off because I think £20-30m in January is too good to turn down and Welbeck, I’m surprised we didn’t sell this summer.

    He’ll end up at Everton, Leicester or Newcastle. He’s not top four quality; 11 minutes at this summer’s World Cup sums it all up.

  19. thrillbo says:

    Morning all good discussion. The debate between ‘players adapt to manager’ or ‘manager adapt to players’ is interesting. My local NFL team (chicago bears) has a new head coach as well. All of the talk is about the same topic. This coach has a style and ideal way to play. do we want him to dictate everything to players , or does he say, alright here is what we have how do we do the best?

    I think the latter idea (coach adapt to players) fits well for teams fighting for survival. If you have a big war chest with a lot of 000,000,000 in the bank, you (the coach) should get the assets you need to bring YOUR vision to life. Agree with yall we need to give some time to truly bring this thing to life.

    How many times did we laugh at manure and chelski when they hired a new coach , lost a few games early season? We need to be patient, sure let others laugh but in the coming future we will hopefully have a hard working, dedicated , defensively sound team that strikes fear into opponents. We are still waning off the ‘playing arsenal is like playing little boys’ era. I remember when Patrice Evra said that, it stings but is so true. With some of these players you dont have confidence for defensive solidity, and know we are a comedy of errors waiting to happen

  20. C says:


    Yup, thats about how I would feel. Personally I think Leno should be starting and Cech being phased out so off he goes. I’m REALLY surprised that Welbeck is still at the club, anything north of £10-15m at this point I would do.

    Ramsey, if Chelsea really did offer £30m, we should have taken it because based on his agents chatter, reports of him turning down contract offers and the need for more funds. £30m could certainly have helped bring in another defender or help bring in a winger. But come January, if he hasn’t signed then out he goes.

    Nacho is difficult because he really should be staying as the Lichtstiener-esque LB but not sure how Sead will return and the talks we almost signed that Hamza Mendyl except we couldn’t get a work permit(strange since he was Morroco’s starting LB at the World Cup), says a new LB will be brought.

  21. philmar says:

    I can’t see anyone taking on Ozil’s contract until he turns in a few shifts that would justify such an outlay. We are saddled with him for the foreseeable future – Emery needs to find a way to make him love football again. Ozil’s national team experience has also soured. His head/heart will need major readjustment. I hope Emery is the charismatic Svengali that would be required for Ozil (and his languid style of play) to love football again….do they even speak a common language?

  22. lari03 says:

    While someone noted Iwobi’s improved, he still gets tired by the 60th minute or so. So we either use him as a sub or have a utility player come on as a replacement for him.

    I like Ozil, but I mentioned a few weeks ago that China should be his destination now. The squad we have now needs a serious makeover because of the obvious lack of competitive players.

    If on the basis of form Elneny, Xhaka and Ramsey cannot start ahead of Guendouzi in an ideal situation based on the new system, then we are really in a fix.

  23. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    We’ve now got a run of 8 games to try and hammer out good results and implement the new style.

    Let’s be honest…. The club is probably willing to take a hit on welbeck and Ramsey…. Both wenger signings and both would free up abiut 200k of wages. Ideally I wanted Everton to try and buy Welbeck and Ramsey will probably go to Chelsea or someone on a free in summer…. But I can’t see where he fits into most top 6 teams.

  24. Alex Ice Cream says:

    Disagree about Welbeck – who else is going to put a shift in on the flanks especially away from home?

    Emery agrees with you but who else is there? We are so weak defensively on the flanks. 3 at the back is another possibility but Emery doesn’t like that either.

    It will be interesting to see what the solution will be.

  25. Alex Ice Cream says:

    Agree about Ozil – how many offers did we get for him? How many others were willing to pay those wages?

    Let’s not make the same mistake with Ramsey – sell him before the window shuts – if we can. Ozil can wait until the end of the season – and we will take a hit on that as well. Assuming we can shift him.

  26. Alex Ice Cream says:


    I followed the Bears for years through the 80s and 90s. I stayed up all night to watch them win the Superbowl in 1986. I went to school having had nearly zero sleep.

  27. potter says:

    All the talk of trasnsfer windows and buying this one and how to fund it. We should take a look at the academy team and realise the potential that we have there. in that group we have 10 players that could potentially fill the spaces we need to replace , they just need time and sending them out on loan is not always the answer . Freddie and Per are their coaches and no doubt they are coming through the Emery system right now.
    We might be lucky and 2 or 3 might get all the way to the first team. They are all accomplished with the ball at their feet and young enough to accept the new ways of our manager.
    Sometimes it is better to have the steak at home rather than go out for a McDonalds.

  28. nicky says:

    You make a very valid point. Unai Emery has a blank canvas on which to create his plan.
    He has an opportunity to promote the brightest which shouldn’t be missed. 😉

  29. Chrisss says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    It’s Stokholm Syndrome from when Bobby, Thierry and Ashley terrorised his flank. 😀

  30. lari03 says:

    I agree with you. But I feel the coach is giving the current players the grace to perform. I think we saw that Nelson and ESR can hold their own in the team, and so they could be used as subs, but from the preseason game against Chelsea, it was obvious that ESR needs to bulk up and this may take some time.

  31. YW says:


    You don’t win anything with kids is a truism we know well. There’s no way our Academy team is going to produce a group of players in the next three seasons which will win the league.

    We’ve got to buy our way back into the top four, into becoming title challengers and develop young players along the way. I’d hazard a guess that 90% of the academy team won’t make the grade at Arsenal.

  32. Alex Ice Cream says:


    Do you really think that $tan will provide enough funds for us to purely buy our way back into the top 4?

    Really? We might get the odd “big” signing but nowhere near enough. We will need some Guendouzis and or players from the academy. I can’t see who but its just as unlikely that $tan will give Emery a ton of cash.

    Look at how much Lpool and Citeh have spent. We will never match that.

  33. skywalker says:

    @Alex Looking from here at Highbury, you are right. Stan Kroeke is happy if we end up outside 6 in the Pl table, even further down, as long as we are in the PL and not destined for relegation. He has no ambition for any silverware. I cannot see any more money coming from him in the January window. He sees the Club as an asset, unlike the vision of Roman of Chelsea or fellow American John Henry of Liverpool who want the CL and silverware.

  34. lari03 says:

    This has been Kroenke’s style for a while and now that he has full ownership of the club, we should expect less. He could offer to pay off Usmanov but offered 70m for transfers this season. I think it’s an indication of where his priorities lie.

  35. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    No post today YW?

    Unfortunately, top four will be beyond us this season. But I wasn’t deluded enough to think this was a possibility. (Unlike some I could mention!).

    It was interesting that he hooked Ozil and Xhaka, but I can guarantee that both will start against WH. So am guessing it was more saving face than any genuine assessment of the players.

    I think we can all agree that Bellerin has mastered the attacking side of UE’s philosophy and some mentioned on here that it might be an idea to start the Lich at RB and Bellerin as a winger. UE should definitely experiment with this on the training ground as it would give us that much needed width and a winger that should (finger’s crossed) do the tracking back/pressing defensive side of the game as well as being a key to our attacks.

    Cech’s a good goal keeper in my opinion, in the twilight of his career. He should realistically be a second choice keeper, who plays the occasional cup game but UE probably doesn’t think Leno is ready to be thrown in the deep end. And rightly so, anyone with half a brain knew we were going to get nothing from our opening two fixtures and it would only dent a new keepers confidence to have goals scored past them for fun. There are those on here that seem to think the keeper is our achilles heel due to his lack of quality distribution! Deluded fools, our problems stem as a collective and it’s in every area of the pitch. Striker’s missing chances, midfielders not committing to the press or tracking back. Defender’s who can’t do the basics of defending.

    The EPL is unforgiving in that respect, for new player’s and coaches a like.

    Side show Bob continued to impress. But if he continues as he’s going at the moment and the manager due to lack of personnel will continue to play him, he will be one burnt out 19 year old come November.

    I’m going to stick my neck on the line and say we are going to lose to WH. In the vein of “it’s going to get worse before it gets better”! I’m hoping UE does get the required 6-8 transfer windows he needs to rebuild this squad.

  36. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    I would have to concur’s Alex’s sentiment’s Yogi. Silent Stan doesn’t buy his way to anything! However I would like to affirm to the Arsenal board and Silent Stan that business’s with a strong brand culture/identity, who are competing in an overpopulated market, tend to be more financially viable than those that don’t. And in the world of football, being successful and winning silverware is what grows your brand identity. For those of you who can remember, back in the 70’s and 80’s there were only the scouser and Manure who were recognised outside of the U.K. Now you have fans in Asia eulogising at what attractive football Man City play or how Chelsea are the only team from London to have won the CL on social media. I’ve seen many a business fall by the way side because they have old men running them, with their old mentality. Who can’t adapt to change and their businesses aren’t agile. A clear out at the top is what we needed and not just the manager. However, I don’t expect us to drop out of the top 6. Stan might be silent, but he’s not stupid. Europe is in our budgetary plans. I’m pretty certain our 5 year forecast to Stan showed figures based on us being in the Europa/CL.

  37. Damon says:


    I don’t hate the idea of playing Bellering and Lichsteiner together.

    From what I’ve seen he’d be really vocal at where he wants Hector and when and nothing can beat in-game experience of watching and being tutored by a team mate to learn a position.

Comments are closed.

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: