On Vorskla, Training Philosophies and More

Well, Edwin, it seems the answer is war is good for moving a football match to a more geographically convenient location. The Europa League tie in Poltava is now a Europa League tie in Kyiv which is more convenient for the squad, that’s for sure. Not for the fans out in Ukraine already but I’m sure UEFA is taking care of them…ahem.

Will the change of venue make any difference to Unai Emery’s team selection? It shouldn’t; there’s no change to the matches against Tottenham and Manchester United. Knocking four hours or whatever off travel times is great but it’s still a long trip.

We know Emery will pick a team he thinks can do the job but options are thin on the ground if he wants to rest players ahead of the weekend. Questions he must wrestle with concern Sead Kolasinac, the centre-backs, as well as key players such as Torreira.

Whichever XI he chooses, they have been “training to win”. Emery’s philosophy is clear: everything for a reason and let the reason be victory. And development, never forget development. Unai is quite hot on development:

The players that play the most are the ones that seem to have the most scope for development. But I’m convinced that they all have the ability to develop – not just because I’m saying it, it’s what any coach would say. That’s our idea. 

So, those who flit in and out of the side know why: they aren’t developing enough. Or showing the capacity to develop. It’s a broad term; Mesut Özil needs to develop his fitness I’d venture.

Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think Emery meant ‘pushy-shovey’ physicality when he spoke about the Bournemouth game. It was more hard work and tackling, neither of which are Özil’s strongest suit.

Back to Basics

That Emery chose Granit Xhaka as his example gives a fascinating insight into the thinking behind this season:

In the case of Xhaka, I knew him before. The first thing was to find his best position and characteristics, but he also wants to improve and that’s the first step – that the players want it. It’s not about training for training’s sake. It’s about training to win or to improve. Today, tomorrow and the next day.

I thought Xhaka’s improvement came from having a defensive midfielder alongside him in the centre rather than being tasked with the role himself. That chimes with finding “his best position” but the trigger was definitely Torreira coming into the XI.

Like most of the team, Xhaka’s form improved as they adapted to Emery’s tactics. While Wenger wanted “clever” players to figure out a lot of the game spontaneously, Emery wants those “clever” players to show adaptability.

The tactics to beat Bournemouth are different to the ones needed to win tomorrow and at the weekend. We”ll beat United only if we manage to stay awake; Mourinho is hell-bent on boring everyone into submission. David Moyes has a point.

Bellerin is the other player to most improve this season, I think. His defensive awareness leaves us looking at the opposite side of the pitch with furrowed brows. It’s also down to the support the Spaniard is getting from players ahead of him.

Emery and his coaches instil the need for hard work, to defend from the front which is a huge positive for Bellerin. He’s not left exposed and probably doesn’t feel like he’s the only attacking and defending outlet on the right.

The mark of his improvement came on Sunday where he had the awareness to see the danger on the left as Kolasinac didn’t trackback.

The Good and the Bad

This season remains a work-in-progress and is likely to until May. Training the bad habits out of players is as much a task as learning good ones. A willingness to learn is key for the squad which must be tough for the fringe players.

However, they can’t complain about not being given a chance to impress in training. There are no favourites under the new regime; everyone, regardless of stardom or wage packet, must work their way into Emery’s good graces.

Finally, there is an excellent piece from Ian Wright. A written version of the Rocky/Wrighty documentary some time ago. You can read it here.

’til Tomorrow.

18 thoughts on “On Vorskla, Training Philosophies and More

  1. Arsetralian says:

    It really is refreshing to just not know…
    NLD is so big but wait – one game at a time
    And only Chelski in the Europa to foil our return to CL or Spurs again should they descend…

  2. andy1886 says:

    Excellent article by Wrighty. I can also recommend his documentary ‘Out Of Their Skin’ being shown on ITV and which highlights the struggles of black footballers as they break into the game in the 70’s and 80’s. Sobering stuff.

  3. ferkov says:

    Thanks Yogi. Worried that you’d been seized in the Ukraine.
    The Wrighty piece is a typically chippy read. Yet warming rather than blustery. I’ve fallen into a trap of colouring all I see or hear from him in recent years as full of bluster and self promotion. My head has turned this year. Thanks, I can watch MOTD with a little less nausea now.

  4. C says:

    Tomorrow’s match will be interesting, surely Nketiah gets his chance at CF and more than likely Ramsey behind him.

    Your right though, we will continue to see the sqyad learn and develop no matter the player in both directions. I do think Xhaka’s biggest problem is that Arsene thought he was a DM in the Busquets (who even now is the best DM in world futbol full stop and rhat includes Kante) mold but in reality Xhaka is much more a deep lying playmaker and he is more of reader of the game and works best when paired with a DM.

  5. C says:

    Arsenal aside, the AEK Athens supporters and club should face a ban after what took place yesterday and the fact that a AEK Athens supporter threw a petrol bomb at the Ajax supporter in the stadium is absolutely ridoculous.

  6. Pete the Thirst says:

    Is that Pascal Cygan in the picture?

  7. Thrillbo says:

    Wow that is really a good read from Ian Wright, thanks for sharing. Shows you how easy kids have it these days compared to just 20/30 years ago! I wish our lads had the same determination to get better. Could you imagine Xhaka with some semblance of a right foot? Or Iwobi with a left? It’s not like these guys arent skilled enough they just need to practice and have someone call them out on their weakness. Show up early and take 500 shots before practice, 500 more after. Some of the best three point shooters in the NBA would show up before games and shoot 1000 3-pointers, BEFORE THE GAME. This is so to get comfortable and find your rhythm so when the opportunity comes in the game, you dont f**king shin it up into row Z when you are 10 yards from goal.

    However I am happy with where we are are and believe in Unai. He is saying the right things to media and doing the right things as a coach. Adjusting, making changes when necessary. It’s refreshing to see him in training videos drilling the players hard, getting out there and running with them showing them the required intensity! Just need more time for players to sort themselves out. Let the duds sink while the core players of team find their places and start gel’ling.

  8. lari03 says:

    Vorskla seems to be having issues with tomorrow’s game.

  9. C says:


    Yup, was just reading they haven’t received confirmation and the game could be off

  10. C says:

    Squad for the Europa League tie

    Petr Cech
    Emi Martinez
    Dejan Iliev
    Stephan Lichtsteiner
    Jordi Osei-Tutu
    Rob Holding
    Carl Jenkinson
    Dominic Thompson
    Zech Medley
    Mohamed Elneny
    Ainsley Maitland-Niles
    Aaron Ramsey
    Emile Smith Rowe
    Joe Willock
    Matteo Guendouzi
    Henrikh Mkhitaryan
    Charlie Gilmour
    Tyreece John-Jules
    Bukayo Saka
    Eddie Nketiah

  11. YW says:

    Well I’m buggered if I’m trying to work out an XI from that lot 🙂

  12. C says:


    No worries, I can work it out and say it was your idea 😉

  13. Mongolian Gooner says:

    Good morning all

    How difficult is it to get a ticket for the away section of an away match. There is a slight possibility of me being in Brighton during Christmas. Coincidentally, Arsenal is visiting Brighton on a Boxing Day fixture. Wouldn’t hurt to try and get in the match.

  14. Pete the Thirst says:

    Very difficult.

    It will be much easier getting a ticket in the Brighton section. There will be plenty of ticket touts (as usual).

    Mongolian Gooner:
    Good morning all

    How difficult is it to get a ticket for the away section of an away match. There is a slight possibility of me being in Brighton during Christmas. Coincidentally, Arsenal is visiting Brighton on a Boxing Day fixture. Wouldn’t hurt to try and get in the match.

  15. Mongolian Gooner says:

    Will it be safe for foreign away fan among the home fans?

  16. ferkov says:

    So long as you don’t have any petrol bombers. …
    Brighton is pretty safe .

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