Emery savours Saka impact and offers encouragement to Smith Rowe

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Unai Emery was quick to praise the contribution of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock as three of Arsenal’s Academy graduates starred in a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany.

Man of the match Saka laid on assists for Willock and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and found the net himself with a beautiful curling effort from 25-yards as the Gunners weathered constant pressure from the home side to start their Europa League campaign in thrilling style.

After the game, the boss reflected on Saka’s eye-catching first start of the season before turning his attention to his other youngsters.

“Maybe with his goal, maybe with his performance during the match, he took confidence in his finishing and was strong physically,” he noted.

“Also, it’s the same with Emile. After his injury, tonight he played for the first time for us this season and he did well.

“Willock was aggressive in the midfield and worked well in the space. Progressively he got better throughout the game and gave a good performance.

“Some other players like Lucas Torreira and Chambers worked a lot.

“Everybody can be happy. After, it’s about continuing. This competition is a very big challenge for us and we’re excited to do something important. After tonight’s good result against a big team, I think that’s important.”

Emery went into more detail about Smith Rowe, who, due to injury and a loan move to RB Leipzig, was making his first start for Arsenal’s senior side since December last year.

“With him, we need to do more work with him on the pitch and outside,” he said.

“Last year, he started well with us and played some matches. After, he left on loan to Germany and then when he came back he was injured.

“He played some matches with the under-23s, so today was big challenge for him. It was a big opportunity but also we needed to protect him. He worked very well and I was very happy with him. I told him that.”

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lettra
lettra

I made a joke after the Watford game that Bukayo Saka would be a starter on merit in a months time if Pepe doesn’t pick up the pace.

He might have to watch his back anyway . Nelson certainly must . What a fine crop of youngsters we have. Well done!

Amusa
Amusa

Pepe beat his man 2 3 times and was fouled.
Gave an assist and made a couple of intelligent runs which if spotted would have given him a 1 on 1.
The lad is new. Can our fans not give him some space to develop without calling for him to get dropped and calling him Gervinho?
We do not want him to turn this situation into Di Maria or Depay like who were WC players but driven away due to fan pressure.
We’ve got a WC talent at our hands give him some time and patience.

lettra
lettra

I wasn’t slaughtering him as far as I’m concerned he will probably be in preseason from for anothe 3 games or so , but I definitely want more from and did not think he was good vs watford in either direction. We are allowed to criticize , nothing overtop here.

CHIBS
CHIBS

How do you think unnecessary stuff goes overtop

Amusa
Amusa

Sorry mate. Wasn’t aimed at you particularly. Just a general reply to all the people dissing Pepe so early on.

Leon
Leon

If you remember a certain Thierry Henry was just the same when he signed from Juventus. The thought of that is encouraging as is Sako, Rowe Smith, Nketiah and Willock – some good young players coming through – its Emery that concerrns me….

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Agree with that but I have to say, that was hardly an assist 😉

Also don’t think Di Maria or Depay were driven away by fan pressure but that’s another discussion entirely.

Dave M
Dave M

Saka was outstanding, especially in the 2nd half, but he also brought about Willock’s goal with a scintilating turn, drive and then perfect pass to the advanced player. He’s strong, technically brilliant and works on defense. Could be our find of the season…super excited for him! Willock was also outstanding again. Really, really impressive player. I hope Willock gets the start on the weekend. He is so well suited to the EPL too, tall, strong, fast, great turn and drive, and doesn’t over complicate his passing game. Positionally still some things to work on, but you can see he is a really smart player and is learning super fast! Fingers crossed he can be a HUGE part of our midfield and Saka in attack for a long time to come! great prospects!

Rich
Rich

Aston Villa at home seems like the perfect game to play Ozil and Ceballos together.

Saka+Willock won’t have done their chances any harm, but I’d be surprised if 2 young lads start twice in 72 hours.

We’re desperate for 3 points in the league, the pressure is on, and that surely means Emery goes with experience on Sunday…

Mesut O’Neill
Mesut O’Neill

Why does Ozil merit being anywhere near the first team?

When was the last time you thought “wow what a player” when watching him? It was October 2018 against Leicester.

Ozil is a washed up chump who has had less then 10 good games in his 6 years with the club.

Makalla Mbura
Makalla Mbura

Blame tactics and formation. He has proven an assist king several times and years. What has gone wrong is tactics and game plan

Michael Bolton Wanderers
Michael Bolton Wanderers

He’s had more than 10 good games for sure. But you’re probably right that the last really good game was against Leicester. Almost a year ago

Mintoes
Mintoes

Ozil gives what experience exactly? That wastrel has been a total disaster last 3 seasons and can’t even be relied upon to play 2 games in one week! 350k/wk for absolutely fuck all. Disgraceful.

Reality check
Reality check

Personal hate coming through, don’t let any objectivity get in the way..

Berlingoon
Berlingoon

Really liked the kids performances today but I have to say the way we were playing was far from convincing. Frankfurt had 24 shots on our goal again and we were lucky not to concede first. Still see no signs of a game plan or a functioning system. Let’s see what we get on Sunday but we really have to sort out our defensive problems.

HelderHughes
HelderHughes

Maybe the game plan is there is no game plan…

Cacho
Cacho

Why is it that Wenger, the “free jazz” manager, oversaw far more coherent tactics than Emery, the supposedly clever tactical manager?

Lobster
Lobster

*free jazz version of the x-files theme begins to play

Santori
Santori

Not in the game today Smith-Rowe. Surprise Unai was so charitable and didn’t haul him off start of second.

Chambers had a tough time first half.

Saka also showed a bit of inexperienced first half but he kept at it. Robbed the ball once to set up a very good opportunity squandered. But second half he grabbed the bull by the horns as the game opened up following the fortuitous red and struck home beautifully (decent assist from Pepe but started with Martinez rolling the ball early to Granit and the Swiss playing the ball quickly from deep). Then a superb assist for Auba following good hard work winning the ball back.

Smith-Rowe just back from injury so he will get more chances and yes he should take a page from Saka.

Willock also did decent with a lucky goal, plenty of energy.

BUT if you read some of the commentaries, they will pin fault at Granit or the defense which IMO was surprisingly decent today.

In fact, the issues we have are higher up. Defending starts from the attack when the ball gets turned over.

1) Auba does not retain the ball well (Remember how Henry use to hold the ball for us, ditto RVP and Giroud) As a result, we are right back under the cosh. BUT today we were carrying two younger players as well so a bit more credit to Kolasinac in particular and Chambers

2) The relation between the forward line and the midfield also needs work on. Somehow we are still not pressing as a unit. Granit and Kolasinac tried to show the younger players how its done early second half with a couple of aggressive checks higher up. Its work in progress but if we are tighter higher up when the ball gets turned over, we will have better control of the game.

3) Encouragingly, we have taken lessons onboard from Watford and Martinez did very well playing the ball long quickly and many times accurately. As I mentioned, IMO the natural outlets would be Kolasinac and Pepe both wide and with good physique to compete for the ball plus tidy feet to work it out of contention.

I think its important not to get too carried away with the youngsters as some were prepared to do with suggestions Guendouzi should replace granit not too long abgo.

Well done to the young lads and lets build on the clean sheet (even if it was delivered ironically by Mustafi-Luiz of all people) and keep working on improving our control of the game (Some better finishing from Auba to assert psychological control will also help)

On to the weekend.

Hopefulgooner
Hopefulgooner

Well analysed! I am surprised by all the down votes. I guess its just the happiness of victory making people look over the details.

GraeB
GraeB

I think it’s just that Santi likes his comment to always be longer than the original article!

Dave M
Dave M

I don’t always agree with him, but at least he discusses some tactics and styles and posits means for which we might improve.

Dave M
Dave M

Xhaka had a great game, his best in a long time for Arsenal. Problem is why are his great games so few and far between in the EPL. The pace of the EPL is much faster and the opposition players faster and more clinical (not necessarily always more technical). That is why Granit struggles in the EPL. I have been very critical of his game – but that critique stems from his lack of fit with the pace of EPL games. He’s much more suited to European style games and it showed here. I would love to see him bring this form to the EPL, but he has been there for over two years now and the same mistakes and weaknesses keep showing up with Xhaka and a lot has to do with him being slow (and also making silly mistakes and then rushing to make ammends instead of being tactically astute and staying discplined when they happen).

Mintoes
Mintoes

Saka – outstanding.

Willock – fantastic.

Martinez – commanding.

All 3 should start at the weekend.

Well played lads – kids team tonight and they did us proud.

Some positivity on here for a change would be fucking welcome. Emery haters can fuck off.

Nketibag
Nketibag

Talk about result dictating the analysis. They could have easily won 3-0 instead. At no time did we control the game and Torreira was playing false 9 again.

SB Still
SB Still

Agree, our defence and midfield aren’t cohesive.

However, I hope Saka, Willock, Martinez get starts in the Carabao cup next week, along with Chambers in the CB role. For the weekend though, hope Holding gets some minutes.

assistantref
assistantref

Starting Martinez at the weekend would be absolutely mental and insulting to Leno, who has been great for us since signing and not really put a foot wrong this season.

Martinez will play the cup and EL games, and that’s just fine.

Mintoes
Mintoes

Leno is massively over-rated on here…why? Suspect at corners and set pieces and dreadful with the ball at his feet. Martinez in one game tonight looked 3 times the keeper than Leno. Should start immediately and give us some stability between the sticks.

Tim
Tim

Stability between the sticks? Weak with the ball at his feet?

Sometimes I wonder if we watch the same games. Leno has been one of our outstanding players in 2018 and 2019. The only player in the current back 5 I’d keep long term. Please just go watch the double save at Spurs last season. Leno isn’t the problem, our shit system that let’s crazy amounts of shots to the opposition is the problem.

Mintoes
Mintoes

Absolutely weak with the ball at his feet. Did you even watch the Watford game? “Outstanding player”?!! How about the shit save at Spurs 3 weeks ago? How about his utter inability to command the box at set pieces and corners?

There’s a reason he didn’t get called up by Germany for the last World Cup…he’s not even top 5 in Germany.

Mpls
Mpls

“Some positivity on here for a change would be fucking welcome.”

*Leno* haters can fuck off.

Mintoes
Mintoes

@mpls…touché…ha ha

Dave M
Dave M

If it wasn’t for Leno we would have lost against Watford. He made some Brilliant late saves. Again, are you watching the games?

IAmGooner
IAmGooner

Aside from the spilled shot straight into Erickson in the Spurs game, I agree with you.

My Cousin Vinai
My Cousin Vinai

Still don’t quite understand why Emery prefers Xhaka over Torreira deeper in midfield.

ResoluteGunner
ResoluteGunner

Right. That’s the role Torreira excels in for his national team, and where he has been brightest for Arsenal.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

I think it’s the same reason Sarri prefered Kante at 8 and Jorginho as the “regista”. Emery wants Torreira to use his athleticism to press high up the pitch, force turnovers, and make late runs into the box, while also not being stuck up the pitch when we get countered. Torreira also slyly has some goal scoring ability. Meanwhile Xhaka plays the “Jorginho” role, the deep lying distributer that dictates play.

Various problems with having them in those positions, but I reckon that is Emery’s thinking at least.

Dave M
Dave M

…and you only brushed on it, but Torreira’s ability to recover is brilliant. he does get forward quite a bit, but he is super fast and super fit. He ALWAYS sprints back to get involved in defense too.

It’s interesting watching him for Uruguay though. he plays almost entirely as a pure DM, always there to break up attacks, and play simple passes to bring it forward, but he never makes the attacking runs and it’s a completely different role to what he plays at Arsenal. It’s a conundrum because we need that traditional DM role in our team – but he is also nice at getting forward into the attacking box…still really shows we trying to find balance in midfield.

IMO Xhaka should be mostly a Euro league and Cup guy – he is suited to the slower pace of European games (best game Xhaka has played in a long time last night), while Ceballos, Torreira, Willock and Guendouzi have the pace and stamina suited more to the EPL.

Martin
Martin

He doesn’t as they play totally different positions. Torreira is a DM and Xhaka a deep lying midfielder. They have formed a great partnership which certainly worked tonight

Mintoes
Mintoes

Exactly. Torreira makes Xhaka better. Torreira should always start if Xhaka is starting.

Tony Adams Nose
Tony Adams Nose

That was a tricky tie. Frankfurt haven’t lost a home game in Europe since 2006! Yes they had a load of shots (mostly way off target or easy for Martinez) because they never found that killer pass so they were shooting more out of frustration. (Like Watford).
The first half we were a bit nervy mainly due to playing like a team that doesn’t know each other, (true).
In the second half we got our game together and Frankfurt just collapsed. We could have scored 6 or 7. In fact every time we went forward they shit themselves. Auba basically walked his goal in. It was nothing to do with how many men they had on the field, they reminded me of playing a decent championship side in the FA cup away in the frozen north. They start out guns blazing and half way through the second half they just fade away. No wonder BM win the Bundesliga every year.
Don’t get me wrong there is still a lot that isn’t right about this Arsenal team but the forward line isn’t one of them. When we are running at a defense it causes blind panic and when Lacca gets back and Pepe is more match fit and used to the speed of the premiership it’s going to be even more exciting.
Saka had his coming of age moment and Willock looks like the real deal. ESR was not fit enough but never hid and should have scored.
I’m very excited about our group of academy players and look forward seeing more of them at the Nottingham Forest game.
As for Sunday, I doubt any of the young ones we saw tonight will be playing.
Great start to the EL, onwards and upwards.

Mintoes
Mintoes

Why not start them?!! If you’re good enough you’re old enough…and god knows they looked better tonight than some of the usual suspects…

Tony Adams Nose
Tony Adams Nose

They don’t have the fitness at 18/19 years old. When they are playing week in and week out this will come. The trick is not to let let them push too hard and get hurt. I think that’s what happened to Smith-Rowe last season. Willock needs to be handled with kid gloves, he’s going to be our main man in a few seasons.
I read yesterday that he was 4 years old when he started at the academy. Tonight he scores for the first team. Dreams are made of this stuff. Same for Saka 18 years old and nets his first for the big boys let alone getting MOTM.
Bring on Freddie’s boys!

Mintoes
Mintoes

I have to disagree on that…willock is a fantastic talent and he needs to be starting every game because he gives the midfield that dynamic edge Ramsey gave us at his best. He’s the same age as guendouzi (I think?) but imo is already ahead of him in development. He’s totally ready to play every week. Future arsenal and England captain no doubt.

Dave M
Dave M

You had me until the future arsenal and england captain part…do don’t it too him mate! Same rubbish people threw at Jack when he was this age and it went straight to his head. Willock is awesome (so is Guendouzi mind you), lets let him develop and not burden him with that sort of rubbish already.

Cultured determination
Cultured determination

We need to stick torreira in front of the defence to block out shots and snuff out attacks instead of ‘the better passer’ xhaka there.

Dave M
Dave M

Yeah and save Xhaka for these Euro games. He is a perfect Euro player when the game slows down. He struggles with the pace of the EPL, but he was brilliant against Eintracht and he’s always pretty good for Swiss too when games aren’t as open.

Tony Adams Nose
Tony Adams Nose

That’s unavoidable Dave, it’s in a footballer’s DNA that when your country comes calling you can’t say no. The difference (I believe) in what I’ve read about Willock is his attitude is right. Jack was a bit of a lad, remember “what d’you think of Tottenham” on the bus? Joe’s not that kind of kid so hopefully he can handle it.

Comedian
Comedian

We might have won the game 3-0 but i really am starting to doubt Emery. You have one of the best DM in your side and you play him as attacking midfielder, ESR is making his comeback from injury and is being played on the wings when he should have been in CAM position. Auba was spent, you have to protect your main asset but he made him play the whole 90.