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Unai Emery masterminded previous Europa League glories and what it means for Chelsea clash

Can the Gunners boss add another Europa League title to his collection?

Arsenal and Chelsea will head to Baku’s Olympic stadium as they contest this season Europa League title on 29th May. It will be the first major European final between two English clubs in 11 years.

For Arsenal, the competition provides a lifeline in terms of securing a major European trophy and indeed bringing Europe’s marquee football competition back to the Emirates next season.

The implications of the same could prove huge in shaping the course of Arsenal’ssummer and indeed their Premier League campaign next season, with the transfer funds available in this summers window very much dependant on if the club can secure Champions League football.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery knows what it takes to win the Europa League having previously conquered Europe’s second tier competition in three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016. He can also boast a track record in defeating English opposition in the final too.

After seeing off Benfica in 2014 and Dnipro in 2015, Emery’s Sevilla side met Liverpool in the 2016 final. Just like there is now, there was huge pressure on the Spaniard back then to deliver a third success crown and indeed Champions League football, but how did his side manage to defeat the Jurgen Klopp’s men?

In that final, his side lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, very much a blueprint of his time at Sevilla.

Emery’s side struggled to impact the opening 45 minutes and spent the bulk of the half on the back foot. His side were unable to build any momentum in their play or threaten Liverpool’s goal, in fact they managed zero shots on target.

A big issue for his team was the fact his side seemed to show too much respect to Liverpool. Without the ball, they dropped into a narrow 4-4-1-1 and although they deployed an aggressive press, it wasn’t coordinated allowing Liverpool to easily play around them and build through the wide positions.

Without the ball, Sevilla dropped into a narrow 4-4-1-1

The below demonstrates that the bulk of Liverpool's attacks in the first-half came down the wide positions.

The bulk of Liverpool's attacks in the first-half came down the wide positions

This also left a disorganisation in their own attacks. As can be seen from the below, there was no bridge between the defence or attack, leaving large areas in the middle exposed. In this example, Sevilla’s attack breaks down and Liverpool can break. There are four Sevilla players ahead of the ball with no player in the middle section of the pitch.  

Sevilla failed to utilise middle areas and there was no bridge between the defence or attack, leaving large areas in the middle exposed

It was clear Emery identified these problems and at half-time and he adjusted his sides tactical focus, ordering more intensity in attack and more width from his wide players. This cut off Liverpool's ability to build down the flanks as easily.

From the kick off, his side manufactured an attack and scored an equaliser after 17 seconds, setting the tone for the remainder of the game.

The Spanish coach also instructed his attacking players to occupy the spaces in between the lines that had previously been bypassed in the middle of the pitch. This can be seen below in the build up for the second goal. 

Sevilla midfielders occupied the spaces in between the lines that had previously been bypassed in the middle of the pitch

Sensing Liverpool were tiring, Sevilla increased their number of short smart progressive passes through the middle of the pitch and avoided playing longer direct balls. Notably, there was a 30% reduction from his side in terms of long direct passes in the second half, compared to the first.

Vitolo, Ever Banega and Coke were able to interchange positions, making it difficult for Liverpool midfielders to track and stop threatening runs in behind the defence.

In the below, that midfield three link in short sharp triangles. As they pass and move through the Liverpool midfield, the opposition midfielders struggle to track their runs.

Sevilla's midfield three link in short sharp triangles as they move through the Liverpool midfield

Sevilla’s midfielders continue smart passes and movement as they progress towards the Liverpool goal.

From the edge of the box, Coke can latch onto the short pass into his feet to fire Sevilla into the lead and complete the turnaround.

From the edge of the box, Coke can latch onto the short pass into his feet to fire Sevilla into the lead and complete the turnaround

Sevilla of course went onto grab a third a seal a famous 3-1 victory, handing Emery his third successive Europa League crown.

Following his in-game adjustments, Sevilla dominated the second half and managed 11 shots on Liverpool’s goal, four of which hit the target and bestowed an xG value of 1.38. This was much improved on their first half xG value of 0.18.

Emery’s ability to adapt his tactics in game to achieve a winning result make him invaluable in these big games in European finals. It’s why in that three-year period, his team managed to see off the tough and differing tests provided by Benfica, Dnipro and of course Liverpool.

Arsenal fans have already had glimpses of Emery’s in-game tactical adjustments in big matches, notably when he brought on Aaron Ramsey in the North London Derby in December and switched from 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2, masterminding a 4-2 victory after going down 2-1.

Setting up to exploit Chelsea’s weaknesses whilst simultaneously enhancing their own will be key, but knowing Emery has the ability to adapt should he be required too may just prove the decisive factor in Baku.


Arsene Wenger hits out at Arsenal’s Europa League final ‘nightmare’

The former Arsenal boss has voiced his displeasure with the situation in Baku (Picture: Getty)

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wengerhas hit out at the decision to stage the Europa League final in Azerbaijan following a series of controversies.

The Gunners will travel to Baku at the end of May to take on Chelsea, though the stadium is expected to be well under capacity after both teams failed to fill their allocations due to the difficulty in getting to the city.

Arsenal will also be without Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan due to political tensions between his nation and the host country, and Wenger is saddened by the situation.

Mkhitaryan made the decision not to travel to Azerbaijan (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s a little bit of a nightmare [for the fans],’ the 69-year-old – who will not be travelling to Baku to see the game either – told reporters on Thursday.

‘The teams have no problem. They live in ideal conditions – they have their private jet, nice business seats. But it’s the fans.

‘That [Mkhitaryan’s situation] is something that should not happen in football.

‘I feel it’s not normal that in 2019 – inside Europe, with very sophisticated democracies – that you cannot play for political reasons.’

The veteran Frenchman has hinted he may not return to football in a coaching capacity (Getty)

Wenger has been linked with a host of top jobs since leaving Arsenal a year ago and says he is now ready to return to football, though not necessarily as a manager.

He added: ‘I thought I would come back into management very quickly, but I enjoyed taking a little distance. Now I’m at a crossroads. You will see me again in football. As a manager? I don’t know.’


Ian Wright talks about the best signing for Arsenal.

Arsenal should move to sign Nicolas Pepe, Youri Tielemans and Ben Chilwell this summer, says Ian Wright

Arsenal legend Ian Wright (Photo: BT Sport)

Ian Wright wants Arsenal to sign Nicolas Pepe, Youri Tielemans and Ben Chilwell this summer as the Gunners look to revamp their squad.

Arsenal are likely to be linked with a number of players in the coming weeks and months as Unai Emery looks to strengthen his side ahead of his second campaign in charge at The Emirates.

The transfer budget available to the Gunners boss could be dependent on whether the north London side win the Europa League final against Chelsea FC next week to seal their spot in the Champions League for next season.

Former Arsenal striker Wright has now given his take on the type of signings that the Gunners need to make this summer.

He feels that they should be moving to land the likes of Lille forward Pepe, Monaco midfielder Tielemans and Leicester City defender Chilwell.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Mirror, Wright said: “[Arsenal should sign] someone like Ben Chilwell. He is the kind of left-back who is getting better with every game.

“He’s an England international now. Somebody that I’m sure is going to be sought after.

“Then there is Youri Tielemans. He came over from Monaco. He’s on loan at Leicester City and he’s someone that, well there are loads of teams linked with him, but he’s someone that you’d want to have.

“And Nicolas Pepe at Lille. That kind of winger with his intensity, pace and skill.

“Those are the kind of players that are definitely going to improve any team, if I’m totally honest.

“And they’re at the age where they are going to be there for a few years. So that’s a dream list if I’m being totally honest.”

Arsenal are currently preparing for their Europa League final showdown with Chelsea FC in Baku on 29 May after having finished in fifth place in the Premier League table.

The Gunners ended last season without a trophy in what was Arsene Wenger’s final campaign in charge of the north London club.


Arsenal chief reacts to potential changes to the Champions League

UEFA have outlined proposals to alter the current format of the competition, which could benefit elite clubs

UEFA's proposed changes to the Champions League have been blasted by Arsenalmanaging director Vinai Venkatesham.

The Gunners chief labelled reports that European football's governing body are considering alterations to the competition as "concerning".

Draft plans drawn up by UEFA and members of the European Club Association (ECA) have outlined an overhaul of the current format.

It would see the competition incorporate a league system, with promotion and relegation set to be included.

In addition, elite clubs could see their position in the Champions League protected, regardless of their domestic form - but Venkatesham is worried how this could affect the Premier League .

Arsenal's managing director Vinai Venkatesham has questioned UEFA's plans

Speaking to the Financial Times, via Football London , Venkatesham said: "We play in the world’s number one league and the world’s number one sport.

"If there are changes to European football that could damage that position and weaken the Premier League; obviously that’s concerning to us.

“The Premier League is the thing that really draws the commercial partners in.

"Of course, all our commercial partners want us to be in the Champions League as well, but I think that the Premier League piece is just as, if not more, important than that.”

Gunners boss Unai Emery is hopeful of qualifying for next season's competition

Venkatesham's stance is intriguing, particularly as suggestions put forward by UEFA could actually help the Gunners, rather than hinder.

Arsenal have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the past two seasons, having been involved in every previous season since 1997.

They also face the prospect of another year outside of the competition, unless they win next week's Europa League final.

However despite his views on the suggested changes, Venkatesham stated it was still a priority for the Gunners to be back among Europe's elite.

Arsenal have been training ahead of their Europa League final with Chelsea next week

He added "“Arsenal is clearly a top European club so we want to be playing in the top European competition.

“It’s important to our fans, it’s important to our current players.

"It’s also important to the types of players that we want and need to attract to the club and it’s also really important to maximise our revenues so that we can invest on the football side against our ambition.”


This is why Atletico Madrid and Barcelona want Alexandre Lacazette

This is why Atletico Madrid and Barcelona want Alexandre Lacazette

It should not have come as a surprise to anyone that Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette would find himself the subject of transfer speculation following a brilliant season for the Gunners.

Spanish giants Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have been linked with a move for the Arsenal player of the year following a stellar campaign that saw him bag 18 goals in all competitions.

Big goals against Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Napoli and Valencia, to name just a few, show how important the Frenchman has been to us this season, without him who knows how much poorer things would have been.

It would be easy to write about how good Laca has been for us, what he brings to the team and how he offers much more than just goals but sometimes a video can be much more rewarding.

There are some videos on youtube of Lacazette this season from Score 90 and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.


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