Unai Emery Reflects on Gunners Defence After Emirates Cup Defeat

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At Unai Emery’s post-match press conference following the Gunners’ 2-1 Emirates Cup defeat to Lyon, Arseblog News had the opportunity to ask the Arsenal Head Coach how concerned he was about the defence. Here was his response.

“In the first half I think we defended very well. In the first half our positioning was good and offensively we created chances and we controlled the game. Sometimes we had to play without the ball in the first half and we needed to be together defensively and we were.

“But generally in the first 45 minutes the team worked like we want them to and to try to find a way to win. In the second half, we lost a little bit of rhythm maybe. We felt more comfortable on the pitch and this wasn’t a positive comfort we thought maybe because we were creating lots of chances that we were going to win.

“The first goal was a surprise to us and we lost the moment. But I really want to watch the match again and analyse the way we can improve. If I take a worry from today, maybe it is that we thought we were going to win and that can happen.

“We played with a lot of young players today and maybe, maybe we lost a bit of concentration that you need for the whole 90 minutes. But that is a lesson and now we have 90 minutes more to get information. We were in a good position and playing ver well and we lost. We had a good balance offensively in the first half and we lost that in the second half.”

Emery was then asked if he should be buying more defenders, amid rumours of a big money deal for winger Nicolas Pepe. “We are deciding on how to improve. We want to sign players, but only ones who can really, really improve us in this position.

“We wanted to buy a winger and a centre back and we are working. I want a better team than we had last year. I think we have a very good team and we will only buy players that can improve us.”

Emery also confirmed that he is still to decide on his first captain for next season, with Granit Xhaka taking the armband against Lyon. “We have Xhaka and Nacho Monreal and I want two more captains and we will decide who is the number one captain in the next few weeks.”

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Jai
Jai

Sorry Unai, you have had one year, not 90 more minutes, to do something about the defence. We still look porous as ever regardless of who plays. This year we’ll really see if it’s the players, or the manager, who need replacing. He has to perform, otherwise goodbye. Any competent manager would be rubbing their hands at managing our squad once we get Pepe and Tierney, with Saliba to come next season

Jai
Jai

This season will be good because there’s no hiding place anymore. Unai’s been backed given that we’ll have spent over £100m if we can get the last few signings in. Emery knows he has to improve and actually give Arsenal some sort of an identity, otherwise Raul will pull the trigger at the end of the season and activate the clause in his contract to release him.

Lohit Myneedu
Lohit Myneedu

‘we look porous as ever regardless of who plays’ – I personally think it is because of who plays, not regardless. We lost 2 starters in the defence in Bellerin and Holding last year. Both will be out for the start of this season. Tierney, if signed, will also likely miss a few games at the start of the season. I think this season will be an improvement on the last, but to expect Emery to have done something about the defence by now is unreasonable.

Sam
Sam

You say this but watch as Simeone makes Trippier into peak Roberto Carlos. Some managers are just that good.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Whoa whoa now, Simeone is a good manager but he’s not bloody Dumbledore! Let’s calm down here 🙂

Jai
Jai

I hear you mate but I think it’s actually more to do with Emery’s system, rather than individual players (bar Mustafi but he’s beyong saving)

Jai
Jai

beyond*

putney
putney

Why is unreasonable to expect that Emery would have done something to fix our defense? It’s not a recent problem.

IamaGoober

As much as I agree that those two players are hugely important to our defensive solidity. Even with both Holding and Bellerin when they were fit last season, during our run of unbeaten games. There were times when we were still cut open like a peach. I remember games where we did ride our luck at times and were fairly lucky not to have lost — off the top of my head the Wolves game at home springs to mind. And there were quite a few others games like that.

I think we have to really look at that right-back position in Hectors abscence as a real cause for concern. Memphis Depay had AMN on toast most for most of the afternoon. Maitland practically rolled out the red carpet for him to put that ball in the box for Dembele. And I get it, he’s not a right back, but still, I think he’s hugely out of his depth in that position. I kinda feel sorry for him. As its blatantly obvious he is a square peg in a round hole and teams target him. And Mkhitaryan did little to help him out.

And as for Mustafi… he wasn’t directly involved in any of the goals today (well at least not from what I saw) but lets be honest, with him starting games for us, we are going to drop points because of him. He always has a mistake in his locker, so there is no doubt he will cost us at least 6 – 9 points this season or maybe more.

Maybe there is a lot riding on this Tierney deal. And thats Emery’s way out of the Mustafi issue, by using Monreal and Kolasinac as makeshift centre halves with Tierney as a LWB. Or maybe Monreal in a 4 but I think he’d struggle to do that as a centre half.

So if we get that deal done are we going to be looking at a back 3 for the first few weeks until Holding is back fit and then look to move to 4 at the back which should make us a bit more agile going forward?

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Four games against weaker teams at the end of last season and we missed top four even with so many chances to redeem ourselves. Reality is the manager hasn’t done the job required. Anything else said is political correctness. Himself said it was total attacking football under Wenger and that defence was neglected but hasn’t fixed it. Is he the best protagonist of good defence?

SciGunner
SciGunner

#EmeryOut…. Glad we started this already 😉

Martin
Martin

Who started it. Only toxic idiots like you believe that

Norfolk lad
Norfolk lad

I cannot believe a professional manager needs more than a few matches watching the gunners to se 1 we are good going forward but 2 are disorganise in defence when the opposition attacks….so why keep looking at strikers wingers etc when our priority should be a world class centre back and left back….until this is resolved we will not be a team capable of improving our performances.j

putney
putney

” I want a better team than we had last year.”

Assuming that Lolo leaves, our defense is worse today than it was at the start of last season. Pepe looks amazing and Ceballos might be the real deal but if we don’t drastically improve our defense then none of that matters.

Man Manny
Man Manny

I believe we’ll get a CB in before the window closes.
I might get lots of thumbs down for this, but I think working on our attack is equally as important as the defence. If we had another player in double figures in the goals last season, we’d be firmly in the CL places.
If the Pepe deal crosses the line, I’ll tip us to finish top 4 if all we do after that is sign Tierney and replace Koscielny.

Pau
Pau

How did you manage to do that last sentence? Says everything.

Gordy
Gordy

I thought it was wrong to boo Mustafi. Yes he’s not good enough but it’s the club’s fault, they bought him, Wenger made lots of mistakes with centre backs, they haven’t been able to move him on or replace him. If he comes on the field as an arsenal player he should be supported.

Matt Watkins
Matt Watkins

yea I agree.

It also makes the player play worse, and the general atmosphere worse. And for what, just caus you feel bad that he’s playing.

Piss poor to not be able to control your emotions to help the team.

Samgunz
Samgunz

Also, the dude clearly loves Arsenal, despite being constantly blamed for every goal we concede he’s always got a smile on his face and is a good character for the dressing room. If Jenko played week in week out and undoubtably made some mistakes, would he be booed? Nope, because I’m pretty sure, correct me if I’m wrong here, we like him cos he loves Arsenal. Cut some slack angry fans and try to not care too much about who starts and who doesn’t etc etc, sure banter about it with your mates and so on, but don’t bring that school playground meathead shit to the club or the game. It’s actually sad and depressing to witness, makes me question why I support a football team when I see the company it draws in. Victory through harmony, not through Fandumb.

henry
henry

He says we are in the market for a CB. Fingers crossed, we get one. A good one.

Timsh
Timsh

Yes, encouraging since it’s the first time I heard him saying anything about a new CB.
Fingers crossed!

Richie

Yes I’m certain he was talking about Saliba. I don’t expect another centre back to be signed unless both Koscielny and Mustafi are sold.

Arsenio
Arsenio

Probably talking about Saliba haha

Arturo
Arturo

With the wages Mustafi is on, we can not shift him. We have a few others we can not shift as well unfortunately. I like the rumour of Rugani on a 2 year loan deal with option to buy.

Denny
Denny

We need central midfielder and a dirty CB. We are not win 50 :50. And second ball from our midfielder s.

Henkamp
Henkamp

I am.afraid there’s more to our defensive issues than just chucking in more centre backs. It’s defo true that we need upgrades on current options, but then, here are some other things to consider:

1. When Le Coq and Santi Cazorla played in front of our defence in 2015 we conceded lesser goals than usual. Meaning that the midfield pairing in front of the defense is very crucial. We currently miss this.

2. The coaches don’t seem to have any inkling on how to get the team to defend better.

I think if we can fix the above two, we would have solved a major part of our defensive problem.

putney
putney

Midfield is important but it goes both ways, the midfield needs to be able to trust the CBs and they currently can’t.

Rob67
Rob67

Agreed. The constant chopping and changing doesn’t help. He needs to decide a preferred system and get the players to stick with it.

As it is, he’s carrying on doing what we were for Wenger’s last three or four years and shuffling the pack, because he’s not sure what the right cast is.

Timsh
Timsh

I would add a winning/not losing mentality.
Both goals were due to a lag of focus/determination.
How often do we see our full backs being slow or uninterested to close the opposition wingers down and preventing them from putting in crosses?
I will simply never understand it..

Cultured Determination
Cultured Determination

yup. we need 1 destroyer in front of the defence, which is torrreira, AND 1 more in CM who is interested and competent in defending, and who can also pass the ball well with speed and creativity. hopefully we loaned that solution, because Xhaka sure as hell is not the answer because he takes too long on the ball before playing those hollywood passes, and he cant defend for shit. oh, and he’s slow as tortoise.

Gasmeta

Most defensive errors are from tiredness or lack of concentration
Sadly some players today are not committed enough to the cause
Money has ruined the game and fans who expect 100% from players today are deluded.
So sit back,watch the game,cheer on your team
AND PRAY

AL-Bang
AL-Bang

Mustafi needs to go, now. I’ll chip in for his fee if that’s what it takes.

Dastardlydick
Dastardlydick

Yup and send Xhaka with him

PAL
PAL

Xhaka is as bad as mustafi

Rob67
Rob67

OK – try wearing my ‘wild optimists’ Hat.

Tierney signs ; Holding returns ; and we start to form a defensive Unit…..maybe ?

Sam
Sam

Good Ebenin our defence is still shit

Ilari
Ilari

I just want Pepe, I’m overly anxious about that, let myself to get too excited on seeing the Pepe, laca, auba trio. If that doesn’t happen I will lose my faith on Orny, the prophet that caused this anxiousness.

But good that Emery said something about signing a center back.

Leemillion
Leemillion

Result aside, I think the younger guys were really impressive. I think Nketiah needs a loan and regular football – he’s done well but he’s just missing some match smartness that Nelson has.

Joe Willock being an anomaly, he is going to have a very interesting season.

TCGNR
TCGNR

Yep – loan out Nketiah and ESM and Saka, and play Nelson and Willock now.

henry
henry

Agree on Nelson. He needs to be a regular now. Very alert, speed and making great moves.

Cultured Determination
Cultured Determination

“We are deciding on how to improve. We want to sign players, but only ones who can really, really improve us in this position.”
Sounds familiar. like ‘top top quality’

Uhtred
Uhtred

Emery needs better defenders to coach so I dont fully blame him for our poor defence. We’ve been rubbish in defence for God knows how long so the board to step up to the plate and back Emery. I’m not gonna get frustrated until the window closes because who knows what’s going to happen

Richie

Just looking at our August fixtures, it’s interesting that we play Liverpool 4 weeks today. They lost 0-3 today with their first choice defence, and have conceded 9 goals in their last 4 games, so it seems ideal that we play them so early in the season. Could be a useful early gauge to see where we’re at. They don’t have Salah, Mane, Firmino back in training yet either, so how fresh will they be in 4 weeks.

Dingle goonie
Dingle goonie

Great to see so many of our young players getting game time and the new players looking good to. I felt like there is hope and hunger within the squad.
we have the defence to work on but will be easier with the injured on their way back and maybe another signing added. For me it’s way to early to dam the manager and the squad, I’m looking forward to seeing the young and new players develop. I guess we can’t all be moody gunners.

I AM ARSENAL
I AM ARSENAL

Our defending is bad but i think our midfielders are just as bad if not worse and its been like that since we sold Gilberto/vieira. Fbs get no protection. Torreira is our only truly combative cm but he is tiny and can be bullied at times. Ozil, mHki and Iwobi and man others are not only clueless defensively but just generally dont seem to have it in them to do that gritty stuff. Other than Guendouzi and Willock who even attempts to tackle and harass. Our invincibles were amazing because of guys like Gilberto, Parlour,Edu Ljungberg. Not the flashiest or most skillful on the team but got stuck in, relished the battle and the tackle. We no longer have these characters.

santori
santori

Winger – Pepe. Keep Nelson in first team.

Cback – Raul work your charm with footballing relations at your old club…get us Umtiti please.

Then there’s systemic issues to sort out too.

Every niggly defeat, some people prefer to do the lazy thing and blame Mustafi. It ignores our real issues.

As I have always mentioned, he isn’t the only one to lose the ball in critical areas or lose concentration. You can easily see Torreira also has made a heap of mistakes leading to goals against us. If you want to blame Mustafi for the season, you could just as easily make a case for Torreira.

This doesn’t excuse Mustafi for a good defender but clearly we have issues over and above him.

Just saying Koscielny-Sokratis let in 3 goals against Wolves and 4 against Chelsea in the finals. Inconvenient truth for some.

Shmokin'em
Shmokin'em

hahaha shawcross broke his ankle i think… every dog an all that

My Cousin Vinai (Formerly Faisal Narrage)
My Cousin Vinai (Formerly Faisal Narrage)

“We played with a lot of young players today and maybe, maybe we lost a bit of concentration that you need for the whole 90 minutes”

Seemed more of the fault of the experienced players, so a little concerning he went with pointing at the youth.

Lanre
Lanre

Random question. Whose idea is it to make Xhaka our designated corner kick taker? I don’t understand it and that does my head in. He is so poor at it yet he keeps taking it. All season last season. No other club wastes set pieces like ours.

Iyke
Iyke

I don’t think Arsenal management really wants to spend big money
For an example look at Liverpool last two seasons
They lacked DEFENSE and want for the best not left over.
Arsenal need good CB than any other team in top6 .

Goonereality
Goonereality

You can’t compare our financial position to Liverpool’s. The Arsenal management don’t have big money to spend, and the Kroenke’s certainly aren’t going to chip in. We’re losing between £25 million and £35 million a season by just not being in the early CL rounds. Liverpool have got to two CL finals recently, winning one. The money is pouring into Anfield. They also have a much better commercial set up than we do – despite our recent kit deal. Read The Arsenal Supporter’s Trust report on the club’s finances and you’ll get a better view of our position.

Der Kaiser
Der Kaiser

Is Krystian Bielik that poor in training etc that he is not worth an opportunity? Seems bizarre

Der Kaiser
Der Kaiser

Is Krystian Bielik so bad in training etc that he is not even considered? Seems bizarre that he has not been given an opportunity

Goonereality
Goonereality

Don’t know – it’s all very odd. I think he’s on his way though, whatever the reason.