Unai Gets Defensive and Mr Arsenal Gets Real

Unai Emery is a quick learner if nothing else. His English is improving to the extent that he can spot a media trap a mile off. He did so with ease yesterday, stopping their attempt to drag him into a war of words with Arsene following Emery’s interview earlier this week. “on if things didn’t change whether it would’ve got worse…” was met with a straight bat.

I didn’t say that,” the football manager’s equivalent of “I didn’t do it”. 

Emery once again focused on the last three drawn games. 

We are okay, 16 matches where we haven’t lost, but also, in the last three matches we’ve drawn. This is two situations. Our ambition is to take another victory, but we know it is very difficult in each match.

Unai Emery on the unbeaten run

Of the three, it’s the last which will cause Unai the most concern. Wolves were well-organised and took points from both Manchester clubs, as well as running Tottenham close. It was never going to be easy.

However, our lethargy was a concern. Maybe it is still, especially with the international break. We’re by no means unique in being slow out of the traps every time the club season is so rudely interrupted.

That, if football’s rulers get their way, will become more intrusive. Proving FIFA isn’t the only cesspit of bad ideas, the CONMEBOL chief wants a World Cup every two years. Or to expand the Nations League to include South American nations.

Which ever way FIFA goes – Infantino will follow the votes and the money – it’s sure to impinge on club football. All the talk of FIFA looking after players welfare goes out of the window when it comes to a quick buck being made.

Cheery stuff, eh?

Defensive Holding Pattern

Emery’s focus is on the defence. His ‘rock’ at the back is out for at least three weeks. He didn’t say ‘at least’, that’s my emphasis; we all know what ‘three weeks’ means.

Laurent Koscielny is gradually being reintegrated. I’m not sure if I detected relief in Emery’s words but he was positive about the Frenchman nonetheless.

The plan is Under-23s and getting match sharp. Is the target Qarabag or the Carabowowow Cup quarter-final? What then? Is it the time when Mustafi makes way? It certainly seems unlikely to be Rob Holding. When Sokratis is fit, that is another story.

And this is where the ‘but’ comes in. Holding observed that last season we didn’t talk on the pitch. Koscielny, as captain, was there most of the time and part of that problem. A willing participant in the quietness or as bewildered as the rest? I think a hint of both; he’s a naturally quiet person and if a leader, one by example. That suited Arsene but not the team.

The question is whether partnering Koscielny and Sokratis is the right answer at any point? Plenty of experience but a very short-term outlook. Let’s not forget that Koscielny was going to leave last summer; will it be the same next summer as well?

However, the biggest aspect of this is form and Holding not only learns quickly, but also provides great defensive cover. With makeshift left-backs such as Xhaka in situ, he is their support, covering when their inexperience is found wanting.

Holding isn’t the finished article and doesn’t claim to be. However, he can become one of the best English central defenders around. That will weigh into Emery’s thinking about his best pairing. Koscielny is a better defender than Mustafi but is Sokratis the best defensive partner for Holding?

Mr Arsenal

Which leads onto one of his predecessors. Mr Arsenal. Tony Adams interview in the Times this morning is another honest delve into himself.

Adams attracts derision for his determination to become involved at the club down the years. That dream is over, he says. He saw Gazidis a couple of times before he left but if you look at the club now, who knows Adams to the extent of offering a job out of friendship? Bould may be the only one who Tone worked with previously.

If they don’t think I can contribute . . . I think I can. It doesn’t look like it’s my path. I’m not sitting here for the rest of my life, saying, ‘Oh I want to get back to Arsenal, please, please.’ I’d be in daily turmoil if I lived like that.

It’s like an ex-girlfriend: 16 years trying to get back with a girl, get the message, mate, move on. It doesn’t hurt me.

I just wish my ex-girlfriend all the luck in the world!

Tony Adams on working at Arsenal post-playing career

His would be a popular ambassadorial tour, I suspect. However, that isn’t what he wants. It’s clear from his words that he has more to offer football, in his own mind at least.

Maybe he has but I guess not at a club like Arsenal. He lays the myth about players being fans well and truly to bed.

I was never a fan, so it was different, I worked there.

Help Is At Hand

But he made an observation about the changing nature of football support

The game’s changed. A lot of fans today go to see their team win when back in the day when I played they used to go to support the team, win or lose, it didn’t matter, that’s your local team and you supported it. It’s a different animal today.

Adams honesty and willingness to take a very public journey through his addiction and return commands respect. He talks about the work of Sporting Chance and that which he carries out on their behalf. Nobody has the right to knock that.

But there’s a wider aspect to it. By putting his problems out in the open, by talking about them, Adams helped chip away at the macho facade society demands on men. No longer is it a shameful act to ask for help. It’s no tawdry secret to keep in the attic.

‘Man up’ is one of the worst phrases ever conceived; if you need help, please seek it. People are willing to listen and to help you. That first step is one of the hardest to make but taking it is a life-changer.

’til Tomorrow.

15 thoughts on “Unai Gets Defensive and Mr Arsenal Gets Real

  1. Top stuff Yogi and always a thank you from me for being such a dedicated writer.

    For me, Kos should play the Mert role at this point because Emery should focus on Mustafi, Holding, Sokaritis and Mavrapanos once fit. For all the flack Mustafi gets, he and Holding have formed quite a partnership and Mustafi has looked a better player under Emery and I would imagine he will be a better and most importantly, a more consistent player come the end of the end of the season. Kos, even before his latest injury has been in clear decline the past 2 season.

  2. And having moaned like a stuck pig, straight after I post its back to the friendly format.

    Unless I’m losing it of course…….

  3. Watching thw Fulham match and Chambers just looks so much more comfortable as a DM, wonder if Raneiri has had a chat with Emery about where he wants to see Chambers. If I was English, I would much rather Chambers play in that DM role with his athleticism, being comfortable on the ball and futboling brain as opposed to Dier.

  4. Have to say about Emery, he has never shied away from speakin English, even in his opening presser he spoke English. Saw an article where our management team was glowing and a bit surprised about Emery’s work rate and ability to learn and adapt.

  5. C,

    So far I’d say that it looks like the selection team have made a good choice.

    It’s a long way to go, and things can always go pear shaped, but at least he has passion and works hard at coaching the players.

    If nothing else, I think we should start seeing the team playing to the sum of its parts, which hadn’t happened for years.

    Btw, aren’t you busy with this whole thanksgiving thing?

    Two of the projects I’m currently managing involve resources and stakeholders from the US and we were told in no uncertain terms that from COB last Wednesday till Monday morning we had zero chance of getting anything done on that side.

  6. C

    CC isn’t good enough as a CB; DM is his future, although I’m not sure at Arsenal. AMN is, at the moment, ahead of him.

  7. YW,

    Exactly, thats why I think DM suits him perfectly. Maitland-Niles is ahead of him but Chambers would certainly be a good squad option as an option. A midfield of Xhaka, Torriera, Maitland-Niles and a new by with Chambers as a versatile option would be good. Though, I would also take 10-15m from Fulham for him.

  8. MikeSA,

    Spot on and it also feels like Emery’s hard work and his passion are rubbing off on the players as much as his tactics are. I do think we will start seeing the sum show much more and that will then allow for the individuals to sprinkle in their brilliance.

    We have the players and more imprtantly, the manager who has the tactical knowhow to put them all together.

    So the Thanksgiving thing, well COB Wednesday is when it kicks off then Thursday is the family and eating day. Friday nothing gets done because of the whole Black Friday thing(which I will NEVER go out shopping on) but trust mate, I spent most of yesterday relaxing, drinking and sending off my family. Monday business will start again, but thay only lasts about 10-14 days before the Christmas holiday.

    I prefer to sit at home with some good food, drinks and edibles as opposed to being out at the stores with those loonies!

  9. Its amazing how many fouls the Spuds get away with and then when they do get a foul, its amazing how the ref never show yellow no matter how many warnings or how clear and/or cynical it was.

    I don’t care for either side but how the ref is staring at Hazard get tackled and the Spud player not close at all to the ball in the box is beyond me.

  10. C,

    We seem to have adopted the whole Black Friday thing here as well unfortunately.

    Sheer idiocy, people go berserk for one or two bargains and a whole bunch of bs where the prices are exactly what they were already.

    We see clips of people barging down shop doors, it’s insane, and streaming into stores you struggle to imagine have enough actual floor space to accommodate them.

    In my dotage 🙂 , I’m really not fond of crowds (I will reluctantly take my wife and kids to concerts etc because it’s my duty to do so), but to voluntarily enter that mealeui?

    There are many things my country could usefully adopt from other nations, including the US.

    Black Friday is not one of them.

Comments are closed.