On the Differences Between the Old and the New

Sometimes you see something which makes you sit back and admire the passage of play. It’s helped by the Irish sitting back and steadfastly refusing to tackle, but the range of passing and control is admirable in its’ quality. The biggest impact is that this is Wales, for god’s sake.

It’s the stuff Unai Emery dreams of seeing Arsenal play. At the moment, we’re so skitterish and jittery that we’d have probably lost overhit a pass or miscontrolled the ball.

Emery’s arrival was touched on by Hector Bellerin in his Times interview:

“It feels like a new club.

“We have so many new staff. It’s a shame for those who have gone, and I am grateful to them all. Some had been at the club for many years. But you can understand why a new person would like to put their own stamp on the club.”

One who remains is Steve Bould and despite the centre-backs diminished standing in supporters’ eyes after his spell as Arsène’s sidekick, Bellerin is full of praise for him.

“I learnt a huge amount from Steve Bould about positioning and tactics. He is a great coach.”

It’s interesting that Bellerin describes Arsenal under Emery as being a “new club”. Life, by inference, became too familiar for the players; too comfortable, and like an old pair of slippers, undemanding. A new head coach and staff bring a freshness which was not evident beforehand.

Had Arsène refreshed his staff on a regular basis, results might have been different. One of Alex Ferguson’s strengths was the arrival of new staff – either Nº 2 or coaches – to keep ideas fresh. Would things have turned out differently for Wenger? There’s no guarantee.

Carry on Regardless

Football is divided on this one. Some like Ferguson find it to be part and parcel of success but equally others, such as Guardiola, bring their staff with them wherever they lay their hats. Arsène’s loyalty to the coaches can’t be questioned but the relationship, on whether views are listened to and taken on-board, is another matter.

There are distinct changes according to the Spaniard.

“With Arsène, he wanted us to play in the same way regardless of the opponents. The idea was that we could play in our way and beat anyone.

“But Emery is very focused on preparing a plan for our next opponents, whoever they may be. It is very detailed and very professional. The next few months are going to be very exciting for all of us. We will reach a higher level.”

That school of thought suited Arsène when he had the players to bulldoze through opponents but once we found ourselves fielding mere mortals, we needed more subtlety and tactical nous. We didn’t show that hence the repetition of the same mistakes individually and in the manner of defeat.

Now we’re in a different era and with an alternative outlook on football, how it should be played, and which type of player best suits it. Bellerin’s take on the current situation is probably the widely-held view within the squad:

“I am impressed with Emery. We lost our first two games but we were very close both times. After the match, the players could feel that things were coming together.”

There are still decisions to be taken on some of the players. Those whose contracts expire next summer naturally merit the more immediate attention. Aaron Ramsey’s situation is well-discussed but Danny Welbeck is largely skidding below the radar.

Sometimes Hard Work Isn’t Enough

It’s hard to see Welbz claiming a starting line-up place on merit. That’s not to say he doesn’t work hard, simply that compared to Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, for example, he’s not going to be pencilled in on the left. Nor in the centre ahead of Lacazette.

The only reason to be irked is his contract. Welbz could fetch £10-15m in a normal summer which we know is a valuable sum for the transfer budget. The prospects of us realising that sum dim in every passing month.

He’s laid-back about his situation:

“Obviously, I started a bit late, coming back from the World Cup and then getting back to pre-season a bit later than others. But a lot of people have been through that.

“Whenever I get on the pitch, I’ve trained hard, I’m just going to give it my all and try to stake a place.”

Indeed. No mention of winning a new deal or wanting one either. I’d guess we’ll try and cash in during the January window if not renewing his contract is the endgame. Something is better than nothing.

’til Tomorrow.

11 thoughts on “On the Differences Between the Old and the New

  1. A world class goal from Wales until you add the context: Uefa Friendly League; no challenges; getting beaten next game. All very familiar to fans of Wenger teams of the last 10 years.

    We’ll find out more about Arsenal at the weekend. Benitez always seemed to have the upper hand over Wenger. If we get a decent result Emery will be on a roll, a bad result and he’s back to square one.

  2. That’s true re Saturday, Pete.

    Mind you, Newcastle’s win last season stopped a run of ten consecutive Arsenal wins so it was a blip, I thnk. Be surprised if they took anything off us this time around.

  3. Everything does feel new and different, but it will take time.

    Newcastle will be a test, only cause of Benetiz, I’m excited to see how we push on. Sure some of the players are off (fingers crossed on Torriera), but quite a few stayed back which bodes well as they can continue to learn under Emery.

  4. Pete the Thirst,

    Hmmm. But is that correct? Wenger All Time Record v Benitez
    P W D L GF GA Win %
    20 8 6 6 36 31 40

    I recall wins versus Liverpool (2-1; 3-6; 1-3 and that 4-4 draw at Anfield). Benitez’ wins against Wenger were mainly at Chelsea and Valencia, plus a couple with Liverpool.

  5. It is not uncommon to find players talk up current bosses; so Bellerin, who is Spanish now feels Wenger’s (and his staff) methods were stale, but praises Bould, who is still on Emery’s backroom staff cast. Playing the game, he is; who is to know what he may have said about how his defensive game hasn’t been helped by Bould, had Bouldie left to take up that offer at Villa?

    A new man always brings freshness, no doubt. But talk of some landslide changes won’t be happening in a hurry because the EPL is just what it is; a difficult league for a new manager. For now, the clearest change I have seen is our keeper being made to play out from the back; Arsenal under Wenger, had always passed it out (by the defenders -Per, Kos, Holding & Chambers are adept at this) or lump it forward when pressed and we had Giroud to win the headers. We are still working hard to match the fluidity of our forward play, but I see Emery cracking that one easily, after a few wins.

  6. Maybe I am being selective but Benitiez’s defensive set up seemed to fox Wenger on a number of occasions. The ones that come to the front of my memory are:
    – Last season at Newcastle when we let that journeyman get the winner
    – 2008 CL when we threw away the game at Anfield. Leading on away goals with 5 minutes to go we somehow lost 4-2

    Pete the Thirst,

    Hmmm. But is that correct? Wenger All Time Record v Benitez

    I recall wins versus Liverpool (2-1; 3-6; 1-3 and that 4-4 draw at Anfield). Benitez’ wins against Wenger were mainly at Chelsea and Valencia, plus a couple with Liverpool.

  7. The one thing with Emery that I hope will ensue is setting up strategy based on each particular opponent. Under Wenger, that hardly ever happened and Arsenal performed poorly on the road, particularly up north. Consequently, sides that performed aggressively or put up a wall usually came off best, leaving Wenger to wring his hands and moan that they could have won if this or that had or hadn’t happened.
    That’s why this season is so interesting: not just whether they win but what sort of a game they play. Looking forward to the Newcastle game as a result.

  8. Blue Yonder,

    To be fair, last season was the only season under the previous manager, in memory, that we were generally poor Away from home. If anything, Arsenal was usually strong away, even “up north”. Arsenal has had seasons where we didn’t lose any game away from home. Just saying we need to slow down with the general statements that aren’t necessarily backed by the records, even as we all want the best for the club and new manager.

  9. We hope Emery’s preparation for opponents pays dividends. Of course you have still to get the tactical plan correct and the players have to be adept at implementing it. Still, having a plan is a first step.

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