Emery: I think we’ll be more competitive

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Unai Emery says the options he has at his disposal this season should make Arsenal more competitive at key moments of the season.

Having kept his new signings on the bench for the opening game of the season at Newcastle, the Spaniard handed starts to Dani Ceballos and David Luiz against Burnley and gave 45 minutes to Nicolas Pepe as the Gunners recorded a second successive win.

After Saturday’s 2-1 win at the Emirates, the Spaniard drew attention to the depth of his squad taking a moment to name-check the players who are still working their way back from injury.

“One thing we wanted to improve is to be competitive in each position in the squad and also to take different possibilities,” he told his post-game press conference.

“For example, today Xhaka is out, also Mesut is out, Rob Holding is out and Hector Bellerin too.

“We had different options for a bigger performance. When every player is good to play, that’s perfect. But the way is long, the season is long, they are coming with different issues and different circumstances for each player, with injuries.

“Last year, for example, I think we lost some points in some moments when we didn’t have different possibilities for some matches. We lost in those moments.

“This year I prefer to have on the bench some important players but really, really with the possibility to be with a good impact after. I think the team is going to be more competitive. That’s my idea.”

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Top Gunner
Top Gunner

I am starting to like this Ozil-less Arsenal.

Robert
Robert

Willock doing well in the position

Caligunner
Caligunner

Cool

Hopefully we play burnley and Newcastle 36 more times lol

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

No easy points given to other clubs. That’s what we need.

Jai
Jai

18 shots conceded at home to Burnley. Not much change from last season in that regard- it is ridiculous how many shots we give away at home to every team that comes, be it Burnley or Man City. Is it Emery?

Jai
Jai

For comparison’s sake, Liverpool conceded 14 shots to Southampton today, higher than they did in any league game last season

There’s a reason our defence is atrocious.

Flash
Flash

Liverpool played a 120 minutes long, tough Super Cup final 3 days ago in Turkey. As they had the best defense last season – I guess that journey had a serious effect on them.
(Not to mention that Salah, Firmino and Mane also played a lot in the summer)

kaius
kaius

This is incredible. We have fans who can see all the context when Liverpool concede 14 shots – they were tired, the last game went to extra-time etc.

But when Arsenal concede 18 shots to Burnley (most of which were off-target headers from balls crossed from free-kicks on the halfway line) there’s no context. It’s just “Emery”.

Absolutely pathetic agenda.

TCGNR
TCGNR

I agree with this and am always wondering aloud why we concede so many shots, regardless of who we are playing. People will argue “they weren’t quality shots,” but even shitty deflected shots eventually bounce the right way. It’s gotta be a matter of our defenders giving attackers way too much breathing room.

ReissJoeNiles
ReissJoeNiles

We now need to be dominant that’s all, if you remember the time we had Cesc – Song – Hleb – Rosicky, all we lacked was the clinical front line. With RVP on the sidelines we only had Adebayor after Eduardo broke his leg..
That time we would create numerous chances but still lose matches.
This front line just needs supply then we’re up there coz defence still our biggest problem though we expect some improvements

Robert
Robert

Willock,ceballos should be supplying more balls to our attack.we can do better as the season goes on

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Pretty sure we lacked an amazing defence as well, more than that we lacked strength in depth.

Daniel
Daniel

You’re right that Flamini was on song that season:)
And we only lost 3 matches in the league in 07/08, it was the number of draws that cost us the title…

Chris O.
Chris O.

It’s not enough to simply count shots conceded, you have to also ask where they were taken. Some shots, especially the desperate long ones from outside the box, you WANT the opposing team to take because they’re low % shots and basically amount to a turnover of possession. There were in truth only a couple of dangerous moments created by Burnley, and even their goal relied heavily upon a deflection to come about.

Jai
Jai

They all add up. If you’re looking for reasons for Arsenal’s awful defending over the last few years (especially under Emery) then you can’t exactly ignore the fact that Arsenal give up 15/20 shots in most games. Those are laughable figures considering the squad we have and eventually they lead to defeats. It is down to the manager to reduce the number of shots we face. The best teams always face less shots because they control matches much better than Arsenal do under Emery.

iGooner
iGooner

The season is long, and our key players (Bellerin, Holding, Tierney) aren’t back yet. As long as we out score our opponents until our full team squad plays together, I’ll take it

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

How is Thierney a key player without playing one second yet? AMN has done in the first two games as well as Bellerin would have. Chambers and Luis have done what is expected from Holding.

kaius
kaius

Glad you said the season is long, because reading all this stuff about the defense I got confused thinking the season had ended already

Caligunner
Caligunner

Exactly.

We played 2 of the worse attacking teams in the league. We are excited about how great hey looked.

Nordin
Nordin

Tierney is definitely NOT a key player yet.

Santori
Santori

Completely right.

No one thing is the reason we are poor in defense.

Getting rid of Mustafi does not make us any stronger just as when we replaced Flamini with Coquelin and still leaked 14 goals in 7 matches.

We still have to work on many persistant issues both systemic and individually.

Midfield is key as much as defensive errors and positioning, decision making.

Chambers made some errors pre-season but hopefully he has ironed it out.

Midfield needs to provide energy to sustain through 90 minutes but also protect the ball better and work it out of midfield through congestion with more authority/hold the ball better.

Even attack is culpable. We need to press in concert and unison but over 90 minutes but even when we have scored a heap of goals, we also miss plenty and fail to establish dominance in a game thereby letting in the opponents and creating pressure on the backline in many games last season.

Attackling fluidity still needs work but we are no where near there yet with the defense.

It is illusionary to be celebrating at this point with 6 points even if yes, we can take plenty of positives.

A lot of work needs to be done still and still plenty of problems.

Santori
Santori

…not yet. Monreal had a very decent game.

Kolasinac may have something to say.

I suspect with iwobi gone, we could use Kolasinac in a more advance role at least till January window when if Monreal is sold, we could then have Tierny and Kolasinac rotating with Tierny more bias to a back 4 and Kola more wingback.

Or keep Monreal as well till next summer.

Caligunner
Caligunner

Like it or not holding doesn’t make a difference as out defense was shitty last season with him along with bellerin. Just comparatively looked better having on the pitch than having mustafi.

There is no telling what tierney can do.

Futsboller
Futsboller

I think you might be taking this a little far — conceding many shots is not advisable, but I’m sure Emery and every other coach out there aims to reduce those shots/chances. But the PL is competitive and every team creates chances — and every team gives up chances, too. And you can’t control a dingbat ref like Dean, for example, who’ll want to give Burnley every chance possible to get a good crack at our net. Moreover, City took 30 on Spurs today, and conceded 3 shots on their own net– the score ended 2-2. I personally don’t mind giving up chances so long as we are taking the attack to the other team and minimizing the risk of those shots being quality chances.

Santori
Santori

There will be shots conceded by any team.

I think our issue is more organizational when we transition from attack back to defense. There is some improvement in cover this season with Guendouzi and Nelson particularly last match giving good effort.

Other aspect like aerial cover may be more personnel related. We are not winning enough of the second ball.

Also still positional issues particularly with the ball coming straight in over the top, the goal by Barnes also could be avoided.

Closing down the crosses before they come in too another thing to continue to improve (there is some improvement)

So work in progress.

SantiComeHome
SantiComeHome

You can make a case for 1-3 first-choice defenders missing (Holding, Tierney, Bellerin)

1 of the defenders we did have was on debut (Luiz)

Our midfield was 1 debutant (Ceballos) and 2 x 19-year-olds (one of those, Willock on home debut, 2nd pl start ever)

I haven’t heard a single person arguing that this is the finished article and comparisons (based on 1 statistic) with last seasons European champions are unhelpful and short-sighted.

Santori
Santori

Yes, still work in progress.

Ozenal
Ozenal

One stat doesn’t give the whole picture.

Bielsa and Pep allow shots from certain areas. Some teams funnel shots into congested areas. I think the key to defence is the organisation of the two in front of the defence. That has been our soft spot for a while.

With Luiz bring experienced you would hope he will pull those infront of him into shape.

Especially Guendouzi who switches off to those running in behind him.

Hopefully the hairstyles allow some telepathic communication.

Okechukwu Jude
Okechukwu Jude

Great. I expect that Ceballos and Willock will bring the best out of Ozil cos he knows he is replaceable. A competitive environment with players breathing down your neck to take your place is best for us.

Mesut O’Neill
Mesut O’Neill

You think Ozil makes the starting 11 😂😂

The oxygen thief will finally be frozen out of the squad.

canadrian
canadrian

Anyone who knows football knows that Mesut Ozil doesn’t not get into the Arsenal team. He’s going to play even more than last season, get your biases out of the way please. No matter how much you dislike him doesn’t take away from the fact that at this stage of his career he’s not sitting on the bench anywhere yet.

Mintoes
Mintoes

So uhm, not watched the team much last 5 seasons then? I’m constantly astounded by the Ozil fanboys…come on DC utd…

Alex
Alex

Haven’t watched the pre season?

Wilsheres Middle Finger
Wilsheres Middle Finger

‘Fanboy’….. honestly, grow up mate.

Combined with the fact that they weren’t even saying positive things about him. Laughable.

Mintoes
Mintoes

Dude says Ozil “no way he doesn’t not get in the team”…quite a positive outlook, no? Hardly laughable.

Dan dan
Dan dan

Listen. … we have know about our defence for nearly 11 years… it is improving. We have spoken about our 3rd product in the attacking half… it has improved… you lot are just fans from the outside to be truthful because if you knew the impact we have had since 2008 you would understand why we are in the situation today. We are progressing… we are moving compared to other times eg… two years ago… we are showing strength and positivity so instead of compaining get behind the fucking team… be a supporter and not act like anyone hear ownes 30 percent of Arsenal… young players now are showing signs of development… let’s be proud we ain’t under management the same as 6 years ago and start looking forward… Emrey has done a good job right now picking up from others mistakes and is doing what he knows best. Let’s wait till January to talk shit or whatever.

Mesut O’Neill
Mesut O’Neill

So who does he replace 🤣😂🤣😅?

Boo
Boo

I dont understand all this ceballos-ozil arguement, the last time we played fluid entertaining sexy football was with the midfield trio of cazorla, ozil and coquelin, now we have that combination again in ceballos, ozil and toreira/xhaka/guendozi

I miss the good old sexy football..

Kampala goober 🤣
Kampala goober 🤣

Just like Justin Timberlake we bringing sexy back 😘

Nordin
Nordin

I wish I can down vote your “oxygen thief” comment a million times over. Its just plain disgusting, insulting and full of hatred. He doesnt deserve people like you as an Arsenal fan.

Benriz
Benriz

Go away

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

I mean, if you say so but I feel that Ceballos and Willock simply have qualities that Emery likes and that Ozil lacks. Emery’s focus will be on getting the best out of those players, not shoehorning in Ozil if/when it’s not actually warranted. And it’s not as if, say, the manager’s clear preference for Ramsey last season brought the best out of Ozil either for the same reasons.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

Ozil will have to play well or he is on the bench. Same for Mkhi and everybody else.

This is what you want.

Let’s just wait and see how they all do.

Santori
Santori

Absolutely right.

We use Ozil to our benefit as and when.

AND no one has a right to be first choice. Performance is everything and competition is key.

The only area where I prefer a bit more stability in choice will prob be in the Cbacks just so we have a bit more of an intuitive level of understanding.

Rosicky7
Rosicky7

I’ll probably get crucified for this, but Ceballos is a major upgrade on Ramsey. Also, I loved Iwobi, but I’m ready to redirect that love into our myriad other up and coming talents. And Pepe is going to make some opponents look really dumb. Excited for the new campaign. Could see 3rd place, good FA cup run, and hoping to see the kids do well in the EL. Let’s go boys!

ViennaGooner
ViennaGooner

I thought exactly the same. Energetic like Rambo but more composed.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Like Ramsey and Santi combined (or like Wilshere at his absolute best?). Still early days of course but looks like one hell of a player.

David
David

Sad thing is… He isn’t ours, he’s just here on loan

Santori
Santori

Agree.

he is not as nimble as Santi but he has that quick and tidy Spanish feet.

he has Ramsey’s energy level but he can dribble and he has an appreciation for half spaces.

canadrian
canadrian

People forget how often he made substitutions at half-time last season. And he was doing it from the start, consistently all year. Look for even more early substitutions this season as e have even more options to impact the game

Thierry Bergkamp
Thierry Bergkamp

Be competitive….that’s all we ask for

Chiza
Chiza

Good morning gunners
My last night was ceballous!

Gooner49
Gooner49

Match

Gooner49
Gooner49

Match of the day?

Robert
Robert

I will be happy to see Emerick,lacazete & Pepe start against Liverpool come next week

Santori
Santori

That’s a given.

Would be more interesting to see if we stick to a back 4 or go back 3 to contain them.

Z Gooner
Z Gooner

First time to win the first two league games in 10 years,thank you very much.

Goonereality
Goonereality

We should all hope he’s right. Arsenal have invested heavily in the Summer transfer market – net spend was almost £120 million, albeit most deals are on instalments. Emery and the management team know that we can’t afford another season out of the CL, and the money that brings, without consequences for the club so a top four finish is the priority.

It’s really far too early yet to draw any conclusions one way or another. Some Gooners are getting a little carried away on the basis of a couple of games (which happened to be against two of our “favourite” teams, results-wise). We’ll all get a better idea of how successful Emery’s been in making the team more competitive around New Year.

Nick
Nick

Doesn’t hurt for the supporters to have positive vibes about the team as they transfer during matches to the team. Too often, last season, groans from the crowd would reinforce a negative vibe that became somewhat self fulfilling . Yesterday, from where I was sitting, the vibe was generally good and the team responded well. So different to the Crystal Palace match last season.

Goonereality
Goonereality

I agree entirely – but I wasn’t talking about the vibes at the ground (where I was, also). I was referring to some comments on this site where a few Gooners are taking two (narrow) wins against teams we usually beat as “proof” that we’re going to do well this season. A comparison to prove how daft that is at this point is to look at the opening two games last season. These were against teams we don’t often do well against – City and Chelsea. The result: nil points.

We all hope the new look Arsenal will do well, and there were some very good performances yesterday as you and I saw, but there’s just not enough evidence to suggest what will happen across a season. We’ll have to wait and see – a better pointer (but still not conclusive either way) will be how we do against Liverpool and Spu*s in the next games.

Santori
Santori

Net spend is not as high but back loaded as you mention bc of installments.

I think we’ve spent 64m and sold 62m so its even without touching 40m earmarked at start from transfer kitty. Arguably whether we should have to bring a better solution for Cback in first place is a key question.

Of course we will be hoping to sell Mustafi and Elneny to generate more money to cover for subsequent 21m per next 4 summers for Saliba and Pepe.

We haven’t been that different in terms of spending practise.

We have still made band aid signings at Cback rather than tackle issue full on. That signing as some would prefer not to mention went to the wire as we prob dissipated effort on Cback having put money in Saliba. When we could not get Upamecano, money was available to go back in for Tierney.

Where we have been bolder (than when Mslintat was around and without being encumbered by him) has been Raul and installment plans (has some risk)

BUT it freed up more money for more investments in positions and of course the other thing is the willingness to go big with Pepe. We could just as well had been more frugal with Fekir or Ziyech with close to equal results but some intangibles in convincing key players of our ambition plus the intsallment plan weighed in.

BUT also I felt to Raul’s credit, he had a closer ear to Unai (even with SSBob) then with Mslintat who did not cover either Wenger or Unai well enough and bought to his own convenience.

There is some of that with us as well with the more pliant Edu’s influence strictly Brazilian at the moment and limited but you can see the additions have more or less been what we needed for a while now.

As I mention a summer ago, unai needed a winger, a CM who can hold the ball and of course a strong Cback. The third requirement has yet to be fully met, the second is temporary. But we are getting there.

Guendoezit!
Guendoezit!

I’m glad we won but this home game doesn’t fill me with confidence. Luiz was ball watching the goal we conceded, Burnley with little to no counter attack skills cut right through us too easily. I watched our lilly chicken neighbours play manshity after and i would be lying if I said I didn’t admire their play from the back. That’s not on the players, it’s the coach. He’s good but not great, perhaps with time.

Emyrates
Emyrates

This awful kind of negativity. Luiz was brilliant, strong and composed. Ball watching? It was a random deflection. He was on his man. We did good. We won against a brutish side with a new squad. Get your head out your arse because clearly the sun doesn’t shine there.

Goonereality
Goonereality

Yes, I think Luiz was good for a first appearance but, overall, we still mustn’t get too carried away. We’re two games in and have won against teams we almost always beat anyway. Let’s see how we do against Liverpool and Spu*s. It won’t be conclusive, either way, but it’s a better pointer than our first two games.

Alex
Alex

Mr Emery, I support your idea.

Santori
Santori

I’m not sure we will be more competitive.

Defense still looks shaky.

BUT further up the field, we have more tools at the gaffers disposal.

Where Mslintat failed to deliver, Raul has had at very least closer ear to Unai’s requirements and has added for most parts what we needed for several seasons now in Cmidfield and wide area.

In both cases, we have lacked technical ability rather than the media touted bottle.

And we now have Cebellos who has those Spanish quick and tidy feet (I don’t think he is Santi level yet) but also the energy and adventure of Ramsey. He has the ability to find half spaces and retain the ball for us with more composure in contested midfield.

Pepe we have added with both pace, finishing ability but also critically dribbling skills to take on players one on one and create space/pull defenses out of position.

This allows as well the forward line to have the fluid 3 whether its Pepe, Auba and Laca or with Nelson in the mix.

BUT midfield looks like it has a better balance in a rotating 3.

AND we should not diminish as well the emergence of Willock in that set up with his equally impressive dribbling ability but also competitive nature.

Together with Guendouzi, Torreira, it will provide an ability to have a rotating 3 in midfield or at very least two players taking turns to make space ahead of Granit and the 2 Cbacks.

Which means options for the gaffer. Options as well to prosecute better in either a back 3 (with AMN and Kolasinac wide) or a formal four (with Bellerin and Tierney or Monreal)

The one area I am a bit more worried about will be Cback where we have applied panic buy band aid in SSbob.

That goal let in to Burnley, had it been Mustafi, the same people praising SSbob would have been livid and foaming at the mouth claiming he was attracted to the ball and lost his man etc.

Hopefully he is a sufficient band aid till next summer. Otherwise he is an older version of Mustafi.

But Holding is due back, Chambers should have some utility and has looked decent (albeit with still positional problems). BC we struggled against aerial threat without Grani as an extra defending set pieces.

So work in progress, looks more competitive but have to watch the defense as per usual. Jury still out.

Santori
Santori

4-3-3 with fluid front 3 and rotating midfield triangle –

………………………….Laca………………………………..
Auba……………………………………………………..Pepe
…………………………Cebellos…………………………….
………………Willock……………Guendouzi……………….
Tierny………………………………………………….Bellerin
……………….holding………..Sokratis……………………..
………………………….Leno………………………………….

3-4-1-2 with playmaker releasing counter-attacking duo –

………………Auba………………..Pepe……………………..
………………………….Ozil…………………………………..
Kolasinac…………………………………………………AMN
………………….Granit………Torreira……………………..
…………..SSbob……………………….Chambers…………
…………………………Sokratis………………………………
………………………….Leno………………………………….

Traditional 4-2-3-1 with rotating triangle in midfield making 4-1-4-1
(Guenoudzi and Cebellos takes turn to sit and hold with Granit or push higher up together)-

……………………………..Laca………………………………..
Nelson…………………….Cebellos……………………..Pepe
………………..Guendouzi………….Granit………………….
Tierny……………………………………………………Bellerin
…………………Sokratis…………..Chambers……………….
……………………………Martinez…………………………….

Can’t wait for everyone to be fit.

Ozenal
Ozenal

I am really loving the balance in this formation process of the squad. It really does seem like we have some idea behind the squad which works well with our coach.

From the outset we knew that Unai was into pressing teams and that he loves to work on individual improvements which work into his team based attacking patterns.

What we didn’t know was his tactical flexibility. When he first started Pep said arsenal under Unai would 100% be 4231

But he has proved people he can do other systems when necessary and if not for some individual catastrophic errors we would have made top 4 with a patched up team who scored team goals even when they hadn’t trained together much. He had answers whenever the questions were asked.

So this summer the transfers have really helped to support these positive characteristics.

Back to the main point… That we now have a SQUAD. Even taking into account the younger players. Everyone brings something different to the team. And Unai is proud to say he can show off his tactical flexibility and show good man management to ensure all squad players know this is the case and everyone will get a share.

Top top management and squad building. Good work to all those involved 👏

Ozenal
Ozenal

Ceballos is a good case in point. Worked hard to bring him in. And not just because he is a quality player.

The main thing is that he FITS into the system and is a good alternative to Ozil who cant play away games.

Ceballos allows us to press, just as we did with Ramsey.

Although a different player to Ramsey, he arguably gives us greater squad depth, as Ramsey as an 8 isn’t able to break a press as effectively. Ceballos is our answer to the Santi and also a brilliant number 10 when pressing teams high away from home.

TR7
TR7

Depth is good for any ambitious team, it’s healthy if all players fight for a starting place. If all our players are fit only Leno n Auba have a guaranteed starting berth. Prove yourself take your chances and you get on the pitch,,, tell them Emery