Emery defends Xhaka and talks defensive options

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Unai Emery thinks Sead Kolasinac will be available for tomorrow’s game with Burnley but has hinted that Laurent Koscielny could be given a breather after three appearances in quick succession.

Kolasinac has recovered from the thigh problem he picked up in a training a week ago and could be charged with playing the left wing-back role, freeing up Nacho Monreal to play as part of a three-man defence.

Kos, who has only just returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, racked up minutes against Qarabag, Southampton and Sp*rs in the space of six days; arguably more than we’d ideally have given him, but necessary in light of the absence of others.

Asked for an update on the state of his squad, Emery told his pre-game press conference, “We know today, the latest news, and for example Mkhitaryan is out. Koscielny is okay but he played two matches this week and tomorrow will be a lot for him.

“We also need to be calm with him, to take time for a lot of matches before he continues playing.

“Sead Kolasinac, I think for tomorrow is okay. Players are continuing to recover with Sead. I don’t remember now. Mkhitaryan is out. Mustafi is also, for tomorrow, out too.”

Emery went on to outline his admiration for Koscielny and took the time to praise Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner for their willingness to play out of position in recent games.

“I trust him [Koscielny] and we have solutions for who can play in this position,” said the boss.

“For example, I read a little criticism for our midfielders like Xhaka playing centre back, but I am very happy with him because his mentality is a very big mentality.

“He helped us, and he played left back too sometimes and I think he played well. This reason, for me, is that I trust in another player and tomorrow we are going to play with the first 11 and other players in the bench with our performance.

“I think we’re in a good position to play against Burnley. With respect, but with believing in our work, in our possibilities in other players to play, like a centre back or a midfielder.

“Above all, I think the mentality is a very big mentality to help us. We have the players and they are playing out of position, like Xhaka and Lichtsteiner last week at Southampton.”

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Roof-attack
Roof-attack

Classic “internal solutions” bantz

seriously, he has had very little option n recent week other than to play people outside of their normal positions , but i am surprised, especially midweek or against Quarabag, that Elneny didn’t get a run out in the back 3. another one who may go in 2019 ?

Hantal
Hantal

I don’t think there’s been any criticism of Xhaka at centre back, just that we’ve missed him in midfield

Hantal
Hantal

Xhakas performance I mean

Richie

Oh Kolasanic is back? Very good news, thought he was excellent attacking on the left wing in recent weeks.

Gordy
Gordy

Who is that bloke beginning with O?

Richie

Obameyang or Owobi?

Deep

Osei-Tutu?

Damo Dinkum
Damo Dinkum

Obelix? Would be a solid presence at CB

dudu
dudu

Difficult to defend his use of Xhaka as CB when Elnenny is wasting away. Elnenny is certainly not less competent than Xhaka as a CB, plus he has previous in that role – last season and I believe with Egypt – so he may even be better suited in a crisis as this to play the CB role.

What Emery has done is weaken 2 positions in the past 2 games, when he could have maintained an effective midfield and giving Elnenny a chance to cover at CB.

A Different George
A Different George

I don’t understand Emery’s complete lack of trust in Elneny. Without exaggerating his quality, he works very hard off the ball, has good pace, seems able to anticipate play, is generally safe (if not creative) on the ball. It’s possible that Xhaka is better as a centre half–but not by so much that it’s worth losing Xhaka in the midfield.

Matt Watkins
Matt Watkins

Yea this seems obvious to me too, so I think its gotta be something else we just don’t see. Elneny does most of what xhaka does from cb fine, mostly the long balls xhaka provides are way better

afan
afan

no kneed to defend em, we are all behind you, we know the situation

Artetasilkybush
Artetasilkybush

I agree with Blogs on this one, we’ve really missed him in middle of the park. While he hasn’t played badly at CB, he also hasn’t played well. For me he’s just not aggressive enough in the air and his recovery pace is not up to scratch for this position. He’s also risky with his passing, which is less of a liability in the middle of the park. I’d be tempted to play Monreal there alongside Sokratis seeing as Kolasinac is back, or shift AMN to LB and have Lichtshitkicker at RB… no great options whichever way you slice it.

Pradeep Kachhala
Pradeep Kachhala

I think this will be the first game this season where we will be ahead at halftime

Mpls
Mpls

What about Hector??? We could really use him back too, esp. with Mustafi still out. We’re still down to just 1 starting CB with Kos being rested (which is totally understandable).

Mpls
Mpls

Let’s hope Hector’s back and we can go with Kolasinac, Monreal, Sokratis, Lichty, and Hector, and get Xhakeira back into the midfield.

Irrational Gunner

Looks like Bellerin is still going to be out. Like someone pointed out last week after Southampton, we need to stop Burnley’s crosses before they get into the box.

Richie

We should beat Burnley without Bellerin but pray he’s back for Liverpool on the 29th.