Tag Archives: Unai Emery

Liverpool and Tottenham show why Arsenal need to stick with Unai Emery

Tonight it is Tottenham v Liverpool in the Champions League final. I will not be watching.

There are lessons to be learn, however, from Liverpool and Tottenham for Arsenal fans in the way things need to be one in the future.

Both teams have stuck with their managers despite a lack of success, believing that they were the right men to take them forward. Tonight one of them will break their trophy duck in charge of their relative club.

Following Arsenal’s defeat to Chelsea on Wednesday, Arsenal fans overacted with many calling for Unai Emery’s head. Demanding to be sacked. Many of those doing it did so because they missed Emery off their short lists to be Arsene Wenger’s replacement. They backed Allegri or Arteta and have not been willing to give the Emery the chance.

Emery is the right manager.

Emery is already ahead of Pochettino and Klopp when it comes to win ratio in English football.

Jurgen Klopp’s first 3 seasons with Liverpool saw them finish 8th, 4th and 4th. They lost the League Cup Final, Europa League Final and Champions League Final.

Prior to tonight’s game, Pochettino had just a League Cup Final defeat on his record. Three times Tottenham were in the Europa League under him. The furthest they got was the round of 16 (once). They were knocked out in the Round of 32 twice.

Their fans stuck with the managers, giving them a chance. Realising they were taking them forward and all they were lacking was success.

Unai Emery’s Arsenal are already vastly superior to where Tottenham and Liverpool were after Klopp and Pochettino’s 1st seasons.

Emery is not going to be sacked this summer. He should not be sacked this summer.

Instead of using your time and energy trying to start a campaign against him because you did not want him in the 1st place, spend it on supporting him, supporting The Arsenal.



Unai Emery “needs to learn lessons” from tough 1st season

At least in Unai Emery we have a manager who tells us as it is

“We didn’t achieve our first target this year…[Chelsea] are now better than us”

No excuses, a simple comment that Arsenal were not good enough and this season has been a failure.

“We are really disappointed today but in general we made a new step in improving and being competitive. We made one more step than last year.”

Once the dust have settled, I imagine Arsenal fans views on the 2018/19 season will be as split as the EU referendum vote.

You have those who will see the step forward we made this year.

In the 1st season without Arsene Wenger, we finished a place higher, with more points and made a European final. We were better than last year and went on a 22 game unbeaten run.

On the other hand, we capitulated at the end of the season, finished outside of the top 4 and lost that Europa League final.

Emery is right that we have taken a step forward this season, but it is probably not a big enough step.

Some of the boo boys are already out, calling for his head and demanding the club go for Max Allegri. Emery needs to be given his 2nd year of his contract.

Manchester United have shown that chopping and changing manager following Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure does not work. Getting rid of a manager costs money and puts you back to starting again. A much better idea is to get behind Emery, for the club to support him and his vision.

If next season, we have not taken a bigger step forward, than we have a discussion.

I am sure Emery already knows he has lessons to learn from this season, but he will be defined based on whether he learns them to take us forward:

Sell Mesut Ozil

The time has come for Mesut Ozil to leave Arsenal.

It is not just about the money he is on, but also his overall attitude. The final he was the worst player on the pitch and he seems to drag everyone else down.

it is like having a moody employee in the office. When on top form, they might be your top performer, but their mood sets the mood for the office. If they are having an off day, they drag everyone else down with them. You get shot of them and the mood in the office immediately changes.

The Ozil problem needs to be solved.

Return to 4 at the back

I have never been a fan of 3 at the back.

It puts too much onus on the full backs, leaves too much space in behind them and not enough cover in front.

With Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira in the middle, it also makes Arsenal a little too defensive.

Against Chelsea, there was a huge disconnection between defence and attack.

Jose Mourinho calls it transitional players – players who can take the ball from defence into midfield, and then from midfield into attack.

When we play 3412 we lack the players in midfield who can take the ball off the defence and drive forward into attack – especially when Mesut Ozil is off form.

Returning to 4 at the back will see us return to 4231 and see us transition the ball much better

Sign genuine width

Alex Iwobi is not good enough to play week in, week out but is one of the few transitional players we have. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are not natural wide men. Arsenal need to invest in a pair of wide forwards.

In the early part of the season, we were a threat in behind the opponents fulls backs. This was due to Iwobi and Aubameyang getting in behind – or making space for Bellerin and Monreal to get in behind.

Playing 4 at the back, with Xhaka and Torreira in the middle, Arsenal have a stable base and centre. Add two wide men either side of a number 10 and the team is starting to take shape.

Decide his best striker

A tough decision needs to be made up top.

We have two top class strikers who both broke our transfer record. Unai Emery needs to decide who his first choice is; and stick to it.

There is no point having two of the best strikers in the world if you do not have the players to get the ball to them.

Sacrifice one up top to add an extra man deeper. That will lead to better control of the ball, better transition through the phases and more chances created.

Sign Exciting Youth

in the last few windows, we have seen the side sign the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Sokratis and Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Arsenal need to move away from signing experienced, highly paid players and return to signing younger talents.

Spurs have got to where they are with a transfer policy of buying players under 25-years-old. They are cheaper – both in terms of salary and wages – and can be sold on for profit. This enables you to continually evolve and improve the team.

Arsenal operated like this in the 00s, but in the 2010s we have focused more on buying senior pros – from Petr Cech through to Mesut Ozil and the more recent acquisitions.

This summer, we need to focus on young, hungry players that Emery can mould into what he wants.

“Next year is a big challenge to take another step in our way, with our young players and the spirit.”


3412 or 4231: Why formation will determine Arsenal’s transfer targets

The biggest criticism of Unai Emery this season is his chopping and changing of formation.

He has switch from 4231 to 3412 on a regular basis.

This chopping and changing led to a lack of consistency and cohesion. It is very different defending in a back 3 against defending in a back 4, for example.

When Arsene Wenger was at the club, the formation was pretty much always the same.

His early teams were 442, his later 4231.

You look at every successful side in history and they usually play with the same formation throughout history.

Sir Alex Ferguson employed 442 for most of the time, later switching to 433. Jose Mourinho always 4231. This season Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have rarely strayed from their favourers 4231 formations.

Consistency in formation leads players have greater comfort and positivity in what they are doing. They do not need to think about where a player is before passing the bal. They know the player will be there when they pass it.

Next season, Emery needs to decide what formation he is going to play, and this then defines who we will sign in the summer.

Formation and team play is more important than personnel. You could acquire the best XI in the world, but if you fail to play to their strengths you will fail as a team. You need suitable players for the system you will play.

The best example of this is France at last years World Cup.

Alexandre Lacazette is clearly a superior striker to Olivier Giroud, yet it is the ex-Arsenal man who became a world champion over the current Arsenal man.

This was due to France trying to get the best out of Antoine Griezmann – and Giroud was best placed to do that. A strike force of Griezmann and Lacazette might have had better individuals but not be a better partnership.

The formation that Emery wants to play next season will govern what players we sign. The best example for this is at left back.

Sead Kolasinac is a very good attacking wing back, but not a great defensive full back. He suits playing 3412, but will struggle in a back 4.

If Emery decides to stick with 3 at the back, Kolasinac is first choice. Nacho Monreal (who it seems is going to sign a new deal) is then adequate back up.

Kolasinac will not suit a back 4, however. And the feeling is Monreal can no longer be relied upon to play a full season at left back. A back 4 would result in Arsenal needing to sign a new left back. A back 3 would mean Arsenal do not need to make a purchase.

It is a similar situation on the right hand side of defence.

Ainsley-Maitland Niles will be adequate cover for Hector Bellerin as a wing back, but not so much as a right back.

A back 4 would mean that, ideally, we would have to buy a back up for Bellerin, whilst a back 3 would mean we could stick with the young Englishman.

Regardless of formation, Arsenal need a new first choice central defender.

In a back 4, Sokratis needs a solid partner. A new central defender alongside Sokratis, Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny and Kostadinos Mavropanos would be sufficient. However a back 3 could result in the club deciding to keep hold of Calum Chambers.

Signings in the top end of the pitch will also be defined by formation.

The theory go’s that Arsenal need to sign width this summer. But this is only correct if we play 4231, not 3421.

In 3412, you rely on your strikers to “split” and create the width. Pierre-Emerick aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are both good at this. You then need a Number 10 who will get into the box between the pair to create the extra man when one is out wide. This is not one of Mesut Ozil’s strengths.

Aaron Ramsey would have been ideal to play Number 10 in 3412, but he is leaving.

If Emery does go 3412, we need to find a goal scoring midfielder like Aaron Ramsey. A Frank Lampard type player. This could result in Ozil leaving.

Instead of spending money on width, it would also see us invest in another top class striker.

As it stands we have Aubameyang, Lacazette and young Eddie Nketiah.

Playing Aubameyang and Lacazette up top would leave us with Nketiah as the striker option on the bench, and an injury to any of the 3 would leave us with no striker on the bench.

An option here could be we buy a winger who can play upfront, or a striker who can play on the wing. Someone like Anthony Martial.

If Emery went for 4231, Ozil would be more than suitable and Arsenal would not need to invest in a 4th striker – instead going for at least one winger; maybe 2.

Ultimately our summer transfer plans need to be defined by how Emery wants to play next season.