Emery explains why new faces started on the bench

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Arsenal may have spent the big money on new signings but none of them made Unai Emery’s starting lineup for our opening game of the season at Newcastle. 

While Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos and Gabriel Martinelli did make their debuts in the second half, the boss was keen to explain why he felt they and David Luiz, who spent the whole game on the bench, weren’t ready to play from the off. 

Speaking after the 1-0 win at St James’ Park, Emery said: “I explained yesterday that the circumstances are different. 

“David Luiz did pre-season with another team and he is okay to play physically but he only trained completely with us yesterday. On Friday he did 30 minutes with us. 

“I was thinking to give them confidence to work together because they were working well together, Sokratis and Chambers. 

“Nicolas Pepe came one week ago and physically he needs to get his best fitness to be ready to play 100 per cent for 90 minutes. I think that today 20 minutes is good for him. 

“And Ceballos is in the middle because he came before Pepe but he got an injury and he stopped training. But he needs to know the Premier League, so today was important for him and for us. 

“I also used Reiss Nelson and Willock because they deserved to be with us and to give them confidence can help us. It’s the same with Martinelli, he played the last 10 minutes because he deserved it.”

Nelson, who started on the left flank, and Willock, who played in the centre of midfield, both acquitted themselves well on a wet and windy afternoon on Tyneside. While their respective games were far from spotless, they’ll no doubt take lots from the occasion. 

“They are young, they need to get confidence, to get experience,” said Emery. 

“But we need to be winning. We are helping them but pushing them and our demand is a very big demand. 

“They need to do one process and sometimes it’s playing like today and sometimes it’s maybe starting in the bench. But above all, they are going to be with us.” 

Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal – player ratings

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My Cousin Vinai
My Cousin Vinai

Makes sense, and the kids need time. I’m already seeing some comments on Nelson and Ceballos that was disheartening.

Wolugosi
Wolugosi

It’s balls to make such a decision.
Unai has balls.

Wikid
Wikid

Willock is a fantastic prospect, love how he glides with the ball.. Still room for improvement

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

Brave as hell to start those two. He would have known he’d be hung out to dry for his team selection if we hadn’t taken three points today and I have a lot of respect for that.

Personally I still feel giving two young lads, both midfielders, a start on the opening day was the wrong call. They both did brilliantly but if things hadn’t gone so well it would’ve immediately created a massively negative cloud over the club.

So happy with three points though. 37 more of those please.

Dave M
Dave M

“They both did brilliantly but if things hadn’t gone so well it would’ve immediately created a massively negative cloud over the club.”

Yeah, but it did…So I guess Emery has the stones for the job and probably a large reason why he has the job…Well played Gaffer!

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

Yeah. You conveniently forget that we actually played pretty bad against a Newcastle team who were absolutely horrendous. And we could’ve easily drawn. One Auba chance was all we created and luckily it was enough. If Newcastle has played even half decent we would’ve been in a lot of trouble.

It’s easy to see games in a binary way. A win – great game. A draw or defeat – terrible game. I’m just a little unsure why it felt quite so flat and I feel if we had a Torreira or a Ceballos on the field from the start we could’ve controlled the game better and not been biting our nails for the last ten minutes.

Mahir
Mahir

Fid you watch the game. In first half at least 2 clear chance. If miki knew how to shoot and the goalie saved it brilliantly second time. In second half was a professional game. It was raining cats and dogs and our passing and movement was good. There were many more chances if xhaka or miki even aubu made the right pass.

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

Mate it was bad. You just can’t see it because the result was good.

If we’d conceded late or Auba hadn’t saved us, you’d be on here berating the managers approach.

JoeGooner
JoeGooner

Helder, the amount of downvotes seems a little harsh, maybe some think you can’t enjoy and acknowledge that a risky decision paid off, whilst also stating that you think the decision was too risky. Like betting £10 on rolling a double 6, if you then roll a double six it doesn’t make the gamble a good one. I agree with you that it seemed a big risk, but then we don’t see them on the training ground. Anyways, it paid off, and I think on the balance we deserved the win, so well done Unai and well done the young guns.

Kingsley
Kingsley

The whole point is that it wasn’t a risk for the sake of it, he started Joe and Reiss because he felt they were ready for it and they were the better options.

What if he started an unfit Pepe or Ceballos and they looked out of their depth or even got injured because they weren’t fully fit? That would be worse wouldn’t it? People would be saying that they were bad signings.

He played the team that made the most sense in terms of knowing his system and match fitness.

DB’s first touch
DB’s first touch

But you’re ignoring the fact that Willock performed better than Ceballos. Based on their respective performances against Newcastle (and in pre season) it was the right call. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on who should have started in place of Nelson as well. Risk Laca? Martinelli impulse have been even more of a gamble and Pepe is clearly not yet match fit having only trained for a week since coming back from his off season.

Daz
Daz

Unfortunately it was the experienced Mhki and Xhaka who didn’t perform today. I thought the youngsters all played well in what is always a tricky place to go.

Rich
Rich

Other than two very casual passes, I thought Xhaka had a good game overall.

Mkhitaryan didn’t look fit, which is a bit of a worry…..

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

Contentious I know, but Xhaka did a lot of good stuff today that went un noticed.

Spanish Gooner
Spanish Gooner

Yeah Xhaka was really good imo, especially second half

North London is Redder
North London is Redder

Clearly not that unnoticed!

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

Sometimes un noticed things need to be spoken about to become noticed. 🙂

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

Mikki had me pulling my hair out but he was involved A LOT which makes his mistakes stand out more.
Glass brimming over…COYG!

Mpls
Mpls

Yeah, he had a lot of runs turning the ball upfield and driving us forward, leading to clear opportunities to create chances, which is what we needed at some points. But when he did that and the pass didn’t come off, it just glares that much more than a garden variety pass.

I really think if his passing had seen a little higher success rate, and one of those final balls had been good, it would have seemed like a pretty solid match from him.

But it wasn’t and they didn’t, so it was a performance that needed improving.

Chidi

Mhki improved in 2HT
Xhaka did well too
3points in the bag… Long may it continue😊

Liam
Liam

Clean sheet with a back four. Thought Chambers did well also

Number one penny
Number one penny

Willock seems to have tons of grit. Hope he learns the technical side and reading the pace of moments within the game.

assistantref
assistantref

Don’t think he really needed to explain…it was obvious when they came on that they weren’t on the same wavelength with the rest of the team yet.

I wondered about the lineup when it was announced but based on how the game went it was clearly the right decision.

Oluwole Esan
Oluwole Esan

I think we defended better as a team. But as usual, we left the opponent on the ball with too much room in attack. Also we did not show that we knew what to do before possession in defence and attack. So we were hesitant with the ball. We gave the opponent a half second to track all players before we made it the transition to attack. But overall a better team game defensively

Mark
Mark

Glad that it looks like Emery will have confidence to go with Willock and Nelson this year when needed. Going to to be tough for them to get consistent minutes early, but definitely see a big role for both throughout the year.

TorontoGunner
TorontoGunner

Y’all so insensitive to Mustafi! He’s not the best alright but put some respect on his name. Mans not hot

Goonereality
Goonereality

There were no major defensive errors against Newcastle – and Mustafi didn’t play. Is there a connection? The bottom line is that we’re no worse off without Mustafi, so why keep him a moment longer than necessary?

Santori
Santori

I think this was the right thing to do.

The new players when they came on showed some obvious signs they are not entirely in sync. Wayward passes, unnecessary back heels, ghost passes.

BUT its to be expected. They need time to bed in.

Goonereality
Goonereality

Yes, against the likes of Newcastle (no offence to them, but they are one of our “favourite” venues on results) it’s certainly worth taking the chance for the reasons Emery outlines. That said, the new players will have to get in sync asap as we play Liverpool and Spu*s soon. Emery will have to play his strongest available side then, regardless, or we risk being thumped.

Frank
Frank

Perfectly reasonable but I’m sure the usual suspects will still complain