Some of the best moments during the Arsenal visit to Stamford Bridge were Unai Emery’s reactions on two unbelievable misses made by Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan. He has applauded his players despite that they have missed incredible opportunities to score and encouraged his team to go forward at a moment when Chelsea have been leading 2:0 and two of his best players have been failing to deliver.
Emery obviously knows where he stands with the Arsenal’s development and knows what his players are capable to achieve. During the Arsenal game against Chelsea he has simply ignored the wasted chances and the poor decisions made by his players on the pitch and continued managing the game. His attitude and his efforts paid off and Arsenal have equalized before half time.
Pundits say Arsenal do not have the rich players to play out from the back!?
After the Arsenal opening game against Manchester City and Emirates that Gunners lost 0:2 former managers, players and football pundits started discussing the Unai Emery’s playing style. In a game, which wasn’t hard to predict that Arsenal would probably loose against a much better prepared Man City, Emery has directed his team to play out from the back.
The first to put heat on Emery was Sam Allardyce who blamed on the Spaniard and said “It is the manager’s fault. You shouldn’t play out like that against Man City”. The former England manager who’s highest profile club in his managerial career was Everton said:
“What do Manchester City do? Press press press. So why do you try and play out when they press press press? Even the Arsenal crowd cheered when they dropped one in the opposition half. You cannot just force ‘the only way to play is this way’ in this country. We are getting obsessed with this stupid ‘let’s play out from the back, split the centre halfs, either side of the 18-yard box and go and play from there’… (it’s) utter rubbish to play like that all of the time.”
Allardyce’s words provoked reaction among other pundits and football analysts and Gary Neville commented that he has listened to his comments, defended the Spaniard by pointing attention to the fact that Unai Emery has been working at Arsenal for “five to six weeks in”
“He’s not trying to avoid relegation, he’s trying to build a team and with a style to win the title, not lump it long and get in behind.”
Another football analyst, the Arsenal’s ex player Paul Merson has also been critical on Emery. Merson said that he does not have the players he needs to open a 20-yard gap between defence and attack. Merson told SkySports that “Ozil and Mkhitaryan are not those type of players”. However, Merson has also said that players like Ozil and Mkhitaryan are not the right ones to use for playing a high pressing game “work as a team” and “not to have gaps between the lines”.
“If you go the Arsene Wenger way, wanting to play entertaining, free-flowing, great football, then Ozil and Mkhitaryan will walk in any team in the world. But they will not get in teams that want to press!”, said also Merson.
Can Emery’s Arsenal success paying with high press and out from the back?
It looks to me that everyone has been impatient with their criticism on the way Arsenal play under Unai Emery. The Spaniard has not been given enough transfer budget to buy the players he would need in the first place. Even if he would have brought the players he wanted to Emirates, he would still needed few months to develop the team.
Another important fact which more or less cancels the criticism against Emery is that his Arsenal has had to play two of the best teams in the league in their two opening fixtures. It is hard to imagine any first two fixtures of the season worst than an opening game against Manchester City at home and then a visit to Stamford Bridge. Any team would have lost those two.
Emery cannot play the same way as Arsene Wenger did with this team, simply because Wenger didn’t make it in the Premier League within the last two seasons with the current Arsenal team. Emery has only two options if he wants to chance change anything for good at Emirates – to buy new players and to chance the way Gunners play.
He has brought a good players with the limits transfer budget he has been given and started to change the Arsenal’s approach to the game. The Gunner’s have been slow within the last two seasons. They have played a possession game, but every time Arsenal played against teams like Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea or Tottenham who were faster than them, they experienced a lot of problems when their players lost the ball. This is something that Unai Emery is chasing at the moment and it looks to me that he is on the right direction.
If Arsenal win their next four games against West Ham, Cardiff City, Newcastle, Everton and Watford, playing the same way they played against Man City and Chelsea, now one would question the way Emery’s Gunners play. So, it is much more about who Arsenal play against and what kind of results do they get.