Saturday, 21 July 2018

Ramsey's new deal, the captaincy & the Ozil situation - The Arsenal issues facing Unai Emery

With Arsenal's opening game of the 2018/19 season starting to loom large, the club's pre-season preparations are about to step up a notch.
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The Gunners fly out to Singapore on Sunday and will spend the next week in southeast Asia, taking on both Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint Germain in two International Champions Cup fixtures.
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They will then return to Europe for games against Chelsea in Dublin and Lazio in Stockholm before the Manchester City clash rolls around at the Emirates on Sunday, August 12.
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So new head coach Unai Emery will be keen to see his squad really kick-on in the coming weeks, having opened up their pre-season campaign with an 8-0 win at Boreham Wood last weekend.
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Emery has been busy in the transfer market so far, bringing in five new additions - with Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi all coming in.
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But there could be more work to do for
Arsenal before the window closes, while there are also several other issues that need sorting before the Premier League opener against City.
We take a look at some of the issues that Emery still needs to solve.
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The Mesut Ozil situation
Arsenal's star playmaker returns this weekend and will jet out with the squad to Singapore to get his pre-season underway.
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Ozil has had a miserable few months, with a poor end to last season followed by Germany's awful showing at the World Cup - something he bore the brunt of the criticism for.
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The 29-year-old has been used to be given license to almost do what he wants at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, something that is going to change under Emery - who has already stated he wants to work with Ozil in a new way.
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The pair have yet to meet and when they do Emery will no doubt sit the former Real Madrid man down and discuss exactly what he wants from him this season.
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But the first thing he will need to do is try to pick Ozil up from what has been a very difficult summer. Mentally, he will not be in the best of places and coming back to a club that is very different to the one he left behind in May will not help the situation.
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So Emery and his coaching staff must work hard on Ozil over the coming weeks to get him in the best mindset possible to be ready to have a major influence on the new season.
Make sure the summer transfer business gives him the best squad possible
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Following the capture of Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, Arsenal are not expected to do any more major pieces of transfer business in terms of bringing anyone in - unless they raise extra funds by selling players.
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But with doubts continuing over Shkodran Mustafi’s long-term future following the arrival of Sokratis and the likes of Lucas Perez, Carl Jenkinson, Danny Welbeck, David Ospina and Chuba Akpom also potentially on the way out, that is not out of the equation.
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Unai Emery will have been well aware of the budget he and Sven Mislintat had to play with when he arrived and it’s clear that the club have acted swiftly in the market to strengthen priority areas in the squad.
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But there are still positions where Arsenal appear light - especially in attack where the squad appears to be lacking any natural width, especially when you consider Emery prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation.
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So Arsenal’s new head coach needs to decide whether he is happy with the business that has been done so far, or whether there is more needed in the coming weeks.
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Solve the Aaron Ramsey contract issue
Arsenal have been fairly decisive in their contract negotiations this summer, with Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Granit Xhaka and Calum Chambers all agreeing new deals.
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But they have yet to agree terms with Aaron Ramsey - and the club are determined to get things resolved one way or the other.
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Emery is a big fan of Ramsey and wants him to stay, with a new five-year deal on the table for the Wales international.
But Arsenal’s head coach is aware that the midfielder will be sold if he does’t sign the deal - so a swift resolution to the negotiations are at the top of the agenda.
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Ramsey’s agent has been away recently but has returned to the UK - with talks continuing between him and the club. Emery will be keen to see them reach as positive conclusion as soon as possible.
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Decide on the captaincy
Again, just like any further transfer business Arsenal may do, the captaincy issue could be linked directly with the Ramsey contract situation.
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Should the midfielder commit his future to the club, it would be no surprise to see him take on the armband, which has currently been vacated following Per Mertesacker’s retirement.
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Ramsey is a leading candidate and wore the armband in the second half against Boreham Wood, but there are others such as Laurent Koscielny - despite his injury, Granit Xhaka or even new signings Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis.
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Emery will be well aware that the fans will be waiting to see who gets the armband, so he will want to make a decision quickly to take away any uncertainty.
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Become totally accustomed to his squad
There are always key players in each managers’s squad, Jose Mourinho has his ‘untouchables’ for example.
So it will be interesting to see who Arsenal’s new head coach decides are his go to men going forward.
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Grant Xhaka has immediately been handed a new contact, which suggests he will be a big part of the Spaniard’s plans, while Aaron Ramsey (providing he stays) is another who will be a vital ingredient in the 2018/19 campaign.
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Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang are believed to be admired by Emery and Lucas Torreira has clearly been brought in to give Arsenal some real steel in front of the defence.
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Whether there are any of players who will guaranteed starters remain to be seen, what happens over the next month in pre-season could tell us a lot.

Ozil to join Arsenal in Singapore

Mesut Ozil will join Arsenal on their pre-season tour of Singapore following Germany's World Cup exit.
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The German midfielder is one of three players returning from World Cup duty who have been named in the 25-man squad for the tour along with Mohamed Elneny (Egypt) and Alex Iwobi (Nigeria).
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New signings Bernd Leno, Sokratis and Matteo Guendouzi have also been included.
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The Gunners squad leaves London on Sunday to play two matches in Singapore as part of the International Champions Cup. They face Atletico Madrid on Thursday July 26 and Unai Emery's former club, Paris Saint-Germain on July 28.
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First-team regulars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Petr Cech, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Shkodran Mustafi and Aaron Ramsey will travel with the squad.
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However Carl Jenkinson, Chuba Akpom, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Joel Campbell and Krystian Bielik have not been included.
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Full squad:
Petr Cech, Bernd Leno, Emiliano Martinez, Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Mohamed Elneny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Matteo Guendouzi, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Aaron Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Eddie Nketiah, Lucas Perez, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Do links to Barcelona’s Andre Gomes give us some insight into the Aaron Ramsey situation?

Morning all, a very quick Saturday round-up for you.
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Arsenal announced their squad for the tour to Singapore next week when we play Atletico Madrid and PSG. There aren’t any real surprises in there. Lucas Perez is on board, and youngsters Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, Jordi Osei-Tutu and Eddie Nketiah are along too.
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However, there’s no place for The Jeff, which is a bit of a surprise as he’d scored in both our pre-season games to now (against Boreham Wood and the behind closed doors win over Crawley Town ). Is it a sign he’s not rated by Unai Emery or that he’s on his way out? Perhaps, it might also be an injury, it’s not beyond the realms possibility that he picked up a knock and can’t travel.
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Chuba Akpom, the most senior of our ‘youngsters’ isn’t going because it looks as if he’s about to be sold to Belgian side Sint-Truiden . He had a loan spell there last season and did enough to impress them into splashing some cash to make it permanent. Good luck to him.
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There’s no room at the far-east inn for Carl Jenkinson either, which is not really a surprise. It’s kind of amazing to think that he is now heading into his eighth season as an Arsenal player, but at this point he’s got to leave to play regularly somewhere else. It’s hard not to love the idea of a died in the wool Arsenal fan playing for the team, but in itself that’s not a sufficient credential for first team football.
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Joel Campbell is due back from his post-World Cup holiday, but unlike Mesut Ozil, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi who are straight back and onto the plane, he’ll be left behind to sort out his future which, undoubtedly, lies elsewhere. It’s not so much get out while you can but get out because you’re not needed anymore.
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In not particularly exciting transfer news, we’re being linked with
Barcelona midfield Andre Gomes .
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According to reports from local media, we’re talking to them about the deal but don’t seem willing to stump up the €30m they’re looking for. He’s a name that’s been doing the rounds for most of the summer, and I can’t look at these stories and not wonder if they have something to do with the Aaron Ramsey situation.
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We’re another week closer to the new season and there appears to be no progress with regards his future. That’s despite a big offer made recently which you have to imagine was close to having a take it or leave it element to it. Can Arsenal afford to let a player like Ramsey leave on a free? I don’t think so. I really want him to stay but if he’s not going to sign, we need to cash in and reinvest.
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Time is ticking on this one, and it remains the biggest decision of the summer for Ivan Gazidis, Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi. They’re rightly been given credit for the efficiency of our summer business so far, bringing in players in the positions we need in a timely manner. That’s something we can all get behind, whether you might have question marks over a couple of signings or otherwise.
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Yet we’re on the cusp of a saga here, just like the old days. A top player inside the final 12 months starts to dominate the back pages eventually, and I feel a bit like the World Cup has been something of a distraction in that regard. The IRS have built up plenty of goodwill this summer, spending money, adding players to a squad which really needed them, but how they manage the Ramsey situation is going to really shine a light on them.
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I’m not saying transfers are easy but basically every club in the world, with any kind of halfwit board, can go out and buy players. That’s not the hard part of the job. The hard part is how you cope with a player who has been made very substantial offers by the club but as yet has not put pen to paper. There comes a point where you have to make a decision, and while I truly hope the outcome is a new contract for the Welsh international, it may be a case we have to say we’ve gone as far as we can and now the only alternative is moving him on – and it might well be to a club we don’t like.
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As for Gomes, he’d be a fairly underwhelming signing, he hasn’t been great for Barcelona, but perhaps we have to face the reality that until we find ourselves back in the Champions League, both in terms of prestige and cold, hard cash, this is the level of player we’ll be after.
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Right, have yourselves a good Saturday. More from me tomorrow.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Arsenal to cool reported interest in European giants £80,000-a-week star

Andre Gomes is improbably to join Arsenal this transfer market with suggestions that new Gunners manager Unai Emery is content with his current squad.
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Rumours over the last few days suggested the north London club were plotting an offer in the region of €25 million that would see the 24-year-old star be the final bit of business in a productive summer for the London club.
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However, according to Sport, speculation over the potential transfer of Andre has died down over the last few days after the Gunners boss claimed his transfer business is finished for the summer.
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The summer transfer window closes on August 9th and having already purchased the likes of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bernd Leno, Matteo Guendouzi, Stephan Lichsteiner and Lucas Torreira; the Arsenal squad feels revitalised ahead of a new campaign.
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The London-based outfit are not the only team who are believed to be in the race to land Gomes, with Valencia also keeping a close eye on his situation at the Camp Nou.
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However, Barcelona only appear to be keen on selling as they look to trim their wage bill this transfer market, casting doubts over a switch back to Valencia.

JACK WILSHERE : IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT IF WENGER STAYED

It still feels uncomfortable calling Jack Wilshere a ‘former’ Arsenal man, but the former Gunners’ midfielder has spoken out about leaving the club.
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Wilshere joined West Ham earlier this month after failing to sign a new contract at the Emirates.
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A three-year contract was on the table but the 26-year-old knew he would have a reduced role in the team under Emery and so instead opted to start a new chapter in his career.
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Now Wilshere has revealed that Arsene Wenger was one of the first people he spoke to after deciding to leave the Emirates.
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Wilshere says he still loves Arsenal
“He was the biggest factor in my life at Arsenal,” says the midfielder (via Evening Standard). “When he left I wanted to see if he thought I should stay or leave and we had a few conversations.
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“Obviously he did not have any loyalty to Arsenal any more and he could tell me what he thought as a football man. He said it was down to me and how I felt because only I could come to that decision. I thought it was only right that I told him first.”
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Wilshere is one of seven new summer signings at West Ham, who have spent close to £100million to bring in players including Brazilian midfielder Felipe Anderson and Ukraine striker Andriy Yarmolenko.

Unai Emery wants to make ‘priority’ Arsenal signing – report

Unai Emery has told the Arsenal board that signing a winger is his next priority in the summer transfer window, according to reports in the British media.
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Website Goal, as quoted by Metro , is reporting that Emery is keen to bring a winger to The Emirates as he prepares for his first season in charge at the north London club.
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Arsenal have already been busy in the summer transfer market so far, with the Gunners having signed Bernd Leno, Matteo Guendouzi, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Lucas Torreira and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
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However, it is being claimed that Emery still wants to bring an out and out winger to the north London club before the new Premier League season kicks off next month.
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Indeed, the same report says that Emery is keen to secure two new signings before the start of the new season.
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Emery apparently wants to bring a speedy winger to the club, and the Gunners could also move to bring in a new left-back if Nacho Monreal leaves the north London side this summer.
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The Spanish manager has been tasked with steering Arsenal back into the top four next season after having succeeded Arsene Wenger at The Emirates back in May.

ARSENAL CHIEF REJECTS OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN EUROPEAN GIANTS

Arsenal have entered a new era following the departure of long-term manager Arsene Wenger and there was a chance that further major changes could occur.
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Italian giants AC Milan were widely reported to be keen on luring Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis to the San Siro, although The Sun cites reports indicating that he has rejected the opportunity of a move.
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Milan, under new ownership, have changed owners after Yonghong Li defaulted on his debts and face a struggle to adhere to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations after being barred from European competitions this season.
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53-year-old Gazidis was identified as the ideal candidate to rejuvenate the club at boardroom level but, following a significant rise of importance in north London this summer, has elected to remain loyal to the Premier League side.
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Gazidis has enjoyed a successful few months after playing a key part in Arsenal’s recruitment in 2018, as well as securing Mesut Ozil down to a lucrative new contract.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Unai Emery Refusing to Sign 26-year-old PL Defensive Rock

Arsenal boss #UNAI EMERY has decided against continuing the Gunners pursuit of Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Lewis Dunk.
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Brighton’s star has impressed in his first full campaign in the English top-tier and has attracted interest from hosts of European clubs including Arsenal.
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The 26-year-old centre-back has been at the seaside club his entire career and now his name has been linked with a possible move to the North London club.
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The former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wanted Dunk to sign for the Gunners this summer but Unai Emery is against to get the deal done for 26-year-old Englishman despite his fine form last term.
The Spaniard has rejected the prospect of moving for Lewis Dunk.
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And instead, Emery looks to sign a world-class centre-back to pair him with Laurent Koscielny in the Gunners defensive area after Frenchman provided positive update over his injury.
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Stephan Lichsteiner has joined the Gunners as a free agent from Juventus, while Brand Leno has been the only signing this summer has been made by former PSG boss thus far.
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Dunk, meanwhile, is now due back for pre-season training with Brighton.

Santi Cazorla plays again, but is still in pain….

The Arsenal legend Santi Cazorla was released by the Gunners last month after missing out on two whole seasons of football while his ankle was reconstructed. But he did return to Arsenal for the last couple of months of last season and we all hoped he could get to play a few minutes before he left but he wasn’t quite ready...
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But now he has returned to his old club Villarreal and he has been training with the team, and has actually returned to the pitch in a friendly against Hercules on Tuesday, and although it was great to be playing again, he admits he still has a long way to go. He said: ‘People tell me that I have to assess where I am now and where I was 20 months ago and to think about what I have gone through.
‘I am only thinking about getting rid of the pain as soon as possible because I am not enjoying what I am doing.
‘I want to train with my colleagues again and to feel like a footballer.
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‘It is hard to express what it feels like to be out on the pitch after so much time.
‘To feel like a footballer again, to feel the love of the people and the reception they gave me.’
‘They have treated me very well from my first day here,’
‘It is like I had never left.
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‘The treatment from my teammates and me feeling comfortable is so important for my progression.
‘I cannot really repay or reward what Villarreal have done for me.
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‘Not only when I was 18, but because they opened their doors after two years out and gave me their facilities without putting pressure on me.
‘It is something that only this club can give me.’
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It remains to be seen whether he can get back to a fitness level without pain so that he could play a full 90 minutes, but he will definitely have the support of all Arsenal fans on his journey. You will be sorely missed Santi….

13 quotes to explain the philosophy of Unai Emery: ‘Extraordinary motivator’

Arsenal fans are preparing for a season under the management of someone other than Arsene Wenger for the first time in over two decades.
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Wenger stepped down at the end of last season and was replaced by former PSG and Sevilla boss Unai Emery.
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We’ve taken a look at what those who have worked closely with Emery have said about the Spaniard to try explain his philosophy.
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Anonymous Almeria player
Arsenal players will have to get used to Emery’s meticulous attention to detail in preparation for every game. Former Spain international Joaquin famously quipped: “Emery put on so many videos I ran out of popcorn.”
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But an anoymous Almeria player went to even greater lengths to describe Emery’s exhaustive methods in an interview with The Guardian.
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“Emery is a colossal pesado (pain in the arse),” he said. “The players hate him.
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“Training sessions are long and unbelievably boring. Team talks go on forever – he makes you watch videos for hours, with endless replays of corners and free kicks, even goal kicks. It’s so dull I’ve seen people fall asleep.
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“He tells you the same things every week, like you’re a little kid, ramming home his point – like the one about an open hand only delivering a slap but a fist, with everyone tightly packed together, being capable of doing real damage.
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“He goes on forever, you get bored stiff, you think it’s all bollocks … but it works. It’s so relentless that in the end every single player knows exactly what he wants.”
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Marco Andreolli
Much has been said about Emery’s video sessions, which are largely presented as detailed tactical breakdowns of the opposition.
However, Andreolli, who played under the manager at Sevilla, lifted the lid on how they are also used as motivational tools.
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“Emery has one great quality: he is an extraordinary motivator,” the Italian defender told The Observer. “His speciality is preparing for matches, speaking at great length to his players.
“I remember when I was at Sevilla we had long squad meetings where he would first show various tactical videos and then motivational films.
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“He wanted to really get us going, to light a fire inside us. More than once we stayed literally for hours in a room watching motivational videos, so when we got to the game we were really hungry for success.”
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Unai Emery
Arsenal often deployed a back three last season and there has been a lot of speculation about how the Gunners will line up under Emery.
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Speaking about his favoured formation, Emery said: “We are prepared to work with different systems. The 4-3-3 is the main system we use, it is a great for keeping possession and applying pressure. But after that we need to have another system for different matches.
“Most importantly, it’s getting the balance and positioning on the pitch with and without the ball.”
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Thiago Silva
PSG rocked up 8-0, 7-0, 7-1, 6-1 and 5-0 scorelines under Emery in the last two seasons, and captain Silva suggests that is down to the manager’s ruthlessness.
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“We are more aggressive on the pitch, we try to score more goals. Last season with Blanc we scored a lot of goals, but we did not really try to score the second, the third every game.
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“Now with Emery we want to score more goals and respect our opponent. I think we are better now.”
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Marquinhos
While PSG were eager to score as many goals as possible, Marquinhos suggests there was no recklessness from Emery, who instead helped instill an air of caution in their play.
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“Emery has had a big hand in this title. He made us very careful and gave us a good philosophy. It’s always beautiful to be champions, it’s part of the story.”
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Marco Andreolli
Reinforcing this point, Emery is said to be particularly focussed on the defensive side of the game, which will be music to the ears of many Arsenal fans.
“From a tactical perspective, he is perhaps better suited to Italian football than the Spanish game,” Andreolli told The Observer.
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“On the training pitch he works hard on defensive phases and how to counter particular opponents.
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“Obviously, he doesn’t have exactly the same tactical priorities that we have in Italy, but he works particularly hard on this aspect of the game, more than many other Spanish coaches.
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Carlos Bacca
Bacca thrived at Sevilla under Emery, scoring 49 goals in two seasons, but was still not allowed to ignore his role when his team were out of possession.
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“There are qualities I’ve now added to my game, like defending more and helping the team. At previous clubs my role was more about scoring, but at Sevilla I also have defensive duties.
“Sometimes other teams can get on top of you, but by defending you can get better opportunities in attack, and Emery has showed us that.
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“I’m more involved in the game now. I play further back, find space better and get more chances in front of goal.”
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Unai Emery
Arsenal have been criticised for celebrating fourth place in the past, but Emery – who won three Europa League titles in a row at Sevilla – understands that fans remember trophies most fondly, even if they generate less of an income than Champions League football.
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“Fans want their emotions to come to the surface and the only to way to make that happen is to give them a team that transmits emotion: intensity, attacking, scoring goals, competing, fighting. That awakens them. The fans want emotions.
“The Champions League generates more money and allows you to buy better players but what fans really want is to enjoy their team, to win things. If you have money but you don’t generate feeling and emotion, it’s worthless.
“You can be in the Champions League and generate money but if you get knocked out in the group it means nothing to the fans. Sure, you’ve made £20million, but what does that mean to them?”
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Adrien Rabiot
Despite demanding a lot of his squad on and off the pitch, Emery is not one to give his players the cold shoulder and is happy to take on board their opinions of his methods.
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“Blanc had certain things going for him, but I think Emery is a little closer to the players,” Rabiot said. “This is a coach who really communicates with everyone.
“He is asking us our opinion after the sessions, what we liked, what we didn’t like. He asks if you are not too tired after training.
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“This is really important for the staff to know as they can then adapt [the training sessions]. They need to know if we can withstand the workload being asked of us.
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“Communication is essential, not only in football but in all sports. This is what I find really good about Emery.”
Julien Laurens
French football writer Julien Laurens, however, suggests Emery took too much credence from what his PSG players told him.
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Laurens told the BBC: “His first game at PSG was the 2016 Trophee des Champions – the French Community Shield – against Lyon and they won 4-1.
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PSG played with an intensity like they never had before. It looked like his philosophy – pressing high, running a lot, attacking a lot, defending a lot, full backs bombing forward.
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“But then the players said they should go back to what they know because they were used to tiki-taka football where they took their time.
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“Emery had to evolve a bit to accommodate his players, when it shouldn’t have been like that – it should’ve been the players accommodating his philosophy.”
Fernando Llorente
That personable side to Emery helped convince Llorente to sign a new contract at Sevilla.
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“The important thing is that I’m at Sevilla, that both the club and the fans, and especially Unai Emery, have loved me so much, and there is no doubt this was the best option for me.”
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Ever Banega
Even if you aren’t in his team, Emery has high standards for those outside his starting XI.
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Speaking after winning the Europa League in 2015, Benega said: “We have a great coach and he is getting the very best out of us – we don’t relax whether we are on the pitch or on the bench. We have really healthy competition for places here.
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“[Emery] supported me, pushed me and helped me develop. Winning this final and going straight into the Champions League – what more can you ask for?”
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Unai Emery
The man himself has spoken about how he hopes to evolve Arsenal’s philosophy from the foundations left by Arsene Wenger.
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“Arsenal play possession football and throughout my career, I’ve always been a coach who wants possession.
“There is something I would like to add to my philosophy, that I like to win the ball back as quickly as possible.
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“So it’s about two things: possession and pressing. What I want is for Arsenal to transmit energy and emotion to the fans.”