Emery: The first thing I learned at Arsenal was the importance of the Academy

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Unai Emery says the first thing he learned when he came to Arsenal was how important the Academy was, and historically how it had produced young players for the club.

The manager seems keen to harness the talent coming through this season, with the likes of Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe clearly in his plans.

Speaking after the 4-0 win over Standard Liege, Emery told the Evening Standard, “The very first thing I learnt when I came here was how historically important the academy and young players are to this club,” he said.

“It is my responsibility to carry on that work from the academy and progress those players for when they arrive to the first-team, help them in training every day.

“It is a process that takes time, the progress needs time but also needs a lot of support from the coach, the club and the supporters outside.”

And on Willock, who grabbed his third goal of the season and continued an impressive campaign so far, the manager outlined the progress he felt the 20 year old has made.

“Willock started the pre-season with us last year, I didn’t give him more minutes but he was with us in every game, working in training, playing matches in the cup and at the end of the season,” said Emery.

“He deserved to start this season with the first-team and with us. My decision was after I saw him the last two months of last season working with us, his really big challenge was that Jack Wilshere left here, Aaron Ramsey left and he had to take that opportunity to be with us.

“The last months of last year was the moment I spoke with him and said: ‘For you it is a big challenge in the new season to do differently and really show us you can take their position in this squad’.

“I told him he is improving but he needs to not stop that improvement, we are working with him to improve even more.

?But, if his progression keeps going the way it is going right now, I don’t know when he will stop and how far he can go.”

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Xzibit
Xzibit

Who’s got the mojoe?

Post January Blip
Post January Blip

Mojoe Willock?

Jarghs
Jarghs

A lot has been written in the past about ‘Barca DNA’ but I think we’ve got a group of guys who are Arsenal through and through. Not just those who grew up here, but even Matteo, who’s only been here a year and a bit, seems so passionate about the club. As a fan, it’s hard not to invest in these players when you see their ‘Arsenal DNA’ on display. Sure, it’s been a bit of a topsy turvy start to the season and there are question marks around the manager and a few of the more expensive players, but the young players that have shone in recent weeks has been a massive boost and I’m excited for the future with these lads.

George
George

Hopefully they can convince Ceballos this is the place for him!

AussieGooner
AussieGooner

No idea why this was downvoted. Lol. Odd place this at the moment. I think Ozil clearly has some committed fans to be honest. Maybe they will be let out soon…

The Far Post
The Far Post

Maybe some people don’t rate Ceballos?

Martinaldo
Martinaldo

Jury’s still out on him. But he’s got the quality and potential to be the main creator for this team.

Prince Gunneralaysia
Prince Gunneralaysia

Willock performs better than Ceballos in overall..

A P
A P

Let out? So long as you are locked up, I Guess.

And yes, Ceballos hasn’t proved to be very special yet.

canadrian
canadrian

Ceballos is great, but in referencing this exact article it’s pretty clear that he would be competing with Joe to start, so can’t you see any other reasons why people would downvote?
Also it’s perfectly valid not to rate him, he hasn’t exceeded expectations or anything crazy. I am on the fence, to be honest.

sAMa
sAMa

Think all you want but Ceballos is not a natural CAM, put him there and you will see him almost playing deep and centrally and moving forwards occasionally which is not supposed to be so. He(Ceballos) also needs a lot of space and time to turn around with the ball before having a go at the opponent and he also likes to hang with the ball far too long thereby delaying goal scoring opportunities. Finally, he lacks that killer pass technique like Ozil but that’s not to say he can’t be a good player but for now he hasn’t convinced me he deserves to start ahead of Ozil in CAM position but he can be a good CM/CML.

Mesut O’Neill
Mesut O’Neill

you’re saying Ceballos shouldn’t start over Ozil based on performances, on what performances should Ozil be even named in the squad?

Ozil is a petulant, lazy, half hearted, arrogant person who is 5 years past his best.

The Far Post
The Far Post

I understand hyperbole, but just in case memory plays tricks… a bit more than three years ago, at the end of the 2015-2016 season, Ozil was the EPL top assist maker and was voted as Arsenal Player of the Season.

James
James

Sadly The Far Post that 2015 season was a long time ago. Worrying you have to go that far back to find a decent season from our top earner.

Pearson
Pearson

Hector Bellerin, he came through the Arsenal age group as well.

PEA14
PEA14

And how could anyone forget Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Dave M
Dave M

Willock has a big future ahead of him. He has literally EVERY attribute needed of a world class midfielder. He also looks level headed and dedicated. Super excited for this guy and he’s fast becoming a favourite of mine. More EPL game time please!

Prince Gunneralaysia
Prince Gunneralaysia

He’s our next Vieira

Hi-Jay
Hi-Jay

He’s our first Willock!

Seriously though, expect him to be Vieira and you’ll be disappointed.

Kostas
Kostas

Actually he is our second Willock

AussieGooner
AussieGooner

An aspect of Emery’s work this past few months that has not been given enough recognition.

He has allowed players on the fringe of the squad, those who would usually be playing in the Europa and cup games those who would get 30mins in the Premier League once the fixtures start piling up, to be sold or given away. He took that risk knowing that we had the youth to make the step up and he put us in a position where we literally have no choice but to play them and they had no choice but to step-up.

He has the makings of a great manager if he can just get past this tricky season, tricky because he is still trying to balance the team with players returning from injury, new players needing bedding in and young kids forcing their way into the starting line-up.

I think by Christmas we will have something, a first team and a style of play. I think we will buy a central defender in Jan or next summer, Saliba will come next year.

I think that next year, the year after, we could be challenging for the title.

#emeryin

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

I appreciate many things about Emery, not least his incredible bedding in of the youth of this club, have Arsenal Ever had this many academy youngsters given so many chances at the same time? I think not.
Wenger used to buy young prospects from outsise, only for them to turn their back on him when they’ve matured enough and stated contributing consistently. Cesc, Nasri, RVP, Flamini, Helb..etc
But in Emery’s case he’s right about the fact that local kids will be more invested in the club and the fans would be more patient with them.

Still, getting result and a more than the minimum of decent performances is the biggest part of the job. We’ve been delivering the minimum this season I’m afraid, and performances are not quite there.
My judgment on him is not the same OTT knee-jerking we see around here. I don’t think he has much room when it comes to squad selection, especially in midfield. Still the demand is high, and he’s got to deliver better and balanced performances or we part ways at the end of season.

AussieGooner
AussieGooner

I agree fully, if we don’t have a team that plays well by the end of the season then he will need to go. And that is regardless of top 4 or not. We could finish 3rd but if we are still looking not right then I think two years is enough to change things up.

I don’t think it will get to that. I think we are heading in the right direction, I honestly do. I love that we get to mix up hard fought premier league games with the awesomeness we are seeing in the cups. And I can see a clear plan to merge those two squads together by the time January comes around and we can then fight for honours as a single squad with a game plan.

I am getting seriously annoyed by the pessimism around here, and the stupidity of calling for his sacking now. I have no doubt it is 99% Ozil fans behind it.

I’m actually enjoying this rebuilding period, and while the games have been often difficult to watch I bloody love the spirit we are showing. A massive improvement on last season where it looked like we were just giving up.

Kolasinac
Kolasinac

I have to admit that you made me a bit more positive and made me smile with that comment. I hope that you are right. Give credit to Emery where it´s due and I think he got it spot on in Europa league/League cup so far. It´s just that important league matches where his team selections and tactics are questionable.

Bob's Mexican Cousin
Bob's Mexican Cousin

And having to wear diapers at Anfield

PEA14
PEA14

Maybe , just maybe that the Europa league is the plan back to CL, thus Bellerin, Holding, Tierney and co are playing there instead of the league

mrugunner
mrugunner

Duh it’s only the start. Nothing “lost” yet.
Xhaka in the team won’t make us go anywhere higher

PEA14
PEA14

If getting 3rd in his 2 years stay is not right in your opinion, then I dun know what is.
As I mentioned before in other post, its important to set high standards, but not unrealistic targets

canadrian
canadrian

I like what you’re saying, although Emery’s team selection, for me, leaves a lot to be desired. And Especially in midfield, where I know a far better balance could be had.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

The very big disappointment about Emery was the last six games in the league last season. Fans forget that and keep on criticizing his selection of Xhaka.

para
para

Probably not so long to wait. 🙂

xjert02
xjert02

This is more result of circumstances, than result of Emery’s work. Any other couch would have had the same results. UE is here for short time. This bright future is more due to the management and coaches in the past and attitude of current management.
Unfortunately, UE hasn’t brought so much needed team style of play so far. That is something I am concerned about most. There is no chance to be successful if you don’t have a clear and stable game plan (and backup plan B too). And I can’t recognize any so far. Look at the City and Liverpool. It’s crucial for the success. Time is definitely needed, but the foiled end of the last season, some match day squad selections, most of the starting line-ups and even his tactic changes during games make me think over, if UE is the right coach for leading AFC to the better future.

COYG1001
COYG1001

Love that the young ones are playing! Talent and desire! That said, at least 50/50 UE was told in no uncertain terms to use them.

Lettra
Lettra

Willock is exciting his nack for goals his dynamism push ing forward into the penalty box is special. We don’t have anyone else doing that and haven’t had for some time he is a little.bit of a legend we just lost to Bosman and a little bit of another Arsenal legend. Good pedigree. Hope he keeps progressing.
There is a lot I don’t like about first team performances but credit for Emery making it a meritocracy and (finally)blooding academy kids.

canadrian
canadrian

And a bit like even another legend whose career was destroyed by injuries…

Francesc
Francesc

I am all for playing the Europa XI (plus Auba & Laca) in the PL.. need to not play Sokratis, Luiz, kola, Xhaka

American Gunner Fan
American Gunner Fan

Emery should put a sign on the lockerroom in a prominent place so that everyone can see it every day that reads: “If you are not working to improve every day, you are getting worse!”

This is a phrase that is increasingly being used by coaches in other major sports to inspire and warn young (and not so young) players who, having made it to the top-level of their sport and are being paid millions in salaries, that they cannot and should not become so self-satisfied that they don’t think that they have to continue to put in the same kind of effort and dedication that got them to that level in the first place. Some coaches have added an additional warning to this phrase: “Because your opponents working hard to get better every day.” And it is not just the opponents who are working hard to get better, it’s also the youngsters coming up in the game who are working hard to get to the top-level.

The best of the best know that there is always something that they can do better and are driven to work on improving. As one highly-decorated professional athlete summed this approach up, “Nobody has ever played a perfect game yet, so there’s always room for improvement in my game”.

Emery and the Arsenal front office have assembled an impressive group of talented young players who have the potential to return the club to championship glory. It’s going to be up to Emery and his staff to inspire, groom and challenge those young players to maximize their talents. It sounds like Emery understands this and is looking forward to undertaking this task.

AussieGooner
AussieGooner

Also worth mentioning that I am Irish, and while I can watch England with my English mates and take happiness from their happiness, I don’t really enjoy watching England win. I am starting to look at some of our squad and thinking about placing a decent bet on England winning the world cup.

shaka
shaka

what a liar. The bum froze out Willock all year…till freddy was promoted to thr coaching staff specifically to make Bummery do this

Assshavin
Assshavin

Froze out a youth player..?

PEA14
PEA14

Think he meant Frozen 2

Alex
Alex

Why Dani £15M a year Ceballos then?

DPK
DPK

Alex sticking to the Trump method of lying that’s become the norm lately. Say something so often that it becomes accepted by some as the truth even though it clearly isn’t. Ceballos is not costing us anywhere close to 15m a year. Everybody knows this who has any interest in reasonable debate.

Adrian
Adrian

Alex, we all know, you are big Ozil fan but don’t lie to prove your point.

Rich
Rich

Emery is doing a good job, the transition was always going to take time.

Emery has form for developing young players, Mourinho + Allegri have zero form for developing youth.

Now we’re not relying on width from wing backs, I think the back 4 is here to stay.

Developing Saka, Martinelli, Nelson and Pepe over the next season is an exciting prospect, hopefully we can renew our 2 strikers + Guendouzi.

We still need to move a few out, but if Saliba turns out to be a success? And we can get Ceballos in permanently? We’re 3 astute signings away from having a very exciting group of young players.

We need competition for Bellerin
Another centre half
And a more dynamic midfielder than Xhaka

Would be great if the young right back we sent to Germany comes back as a genuine option.

Ballz
Ballz

Which young players has Emery developed? The focus on youth is from the club in general. Post invincibles, Wenger realized that arsenal could not compete with the likes of City, United, and Chelsea in the transfer market, so he started a culture of recruiting really young players from all over Europe and bringing them to our academy. Fab, Hector, Fabianski, Schezny, Malen, Bennacer, The Jeff, and a bunch of other players were all brought in and spent a year or two playing in the academy and cup competitions. Obviously not all of them got into the first team, mostly because of injuries and wanting first team football right away.

The project to completely rebuild new facilities for our academy was also started and finished under Wenger’s stewardship. The current crop of young players breaking into the first team were all identified and given chances to train with the first team and play some cup games under Wenger.

Emery is playing these young players because his job depends on it. The entire structure of the club relies on developing young players through the academy.
Anyone who intends to manage arsenal HAS to play young players, otherwise they’ll be fired.
The promotion of Freddie to first team coach should tell you all you need to know about how serious arsenal are with developing young players.

I think Emery is a shitty coach and I refuse to give him credit for someone else’s decade of work.

Adrian
Adrian

Do you realize he is the MANAGER and he can play whom ever he wants? So credit where credit is due.
I am not impressed by the way we are playing in league but he does deserves credit for playing youth whether it is Guen, Saka, Willock or anyone else

PEA14
PEA14

Freddie is at the club long enough to share his knowledge on which players and ready for the next phase and which are not

Give UE credit when it’s due. There could be a tons of academy player waiting to be unveiled, but it does not matter if they are not given the chance.

And in UE, he gives them the stage to perform, whether you think his job depends on it or not.

Vonnie
Vonnie

Emery is playing the youngsters because he has to, it’s part of his job spec. Last season he could have played them a lot more than he did, this season with Freddie it seems the club has made sure they will play. We have excellent youngsters and the Europa League is perfect for them.

DPK
DPK

We get it. You hate Emery. Maybe Emery is playing them lore this season because they are more ready I know, crazy to think there might be some logical reason that doesn’t reflect badly in him!

mrugunner
mrugunner

If willock was not “ready” last yr, why was he subbed on for a final!

Okechukwu Jude
Okechukwu Jude

Thanks. #emeryout

Monkey knees
Monkey knees

Is Allegri still a free agent!?

Atom
Atom

Many of the things fans don’t like about Emery appear to be true of Allegri – he just managed a team where it was virtually impossible not to win the league given their resources relative to everyone else

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

For all of Emery’s flaws, his handling of young players stands as definite positive. Not many other managers would have given Guendouzi the opportunity he had last season and we’ve seen him transition from a player that was very good for his age, to a player that’s just very good. Of course, it’s up to those players to step up to the plate and they look to be doing that by-in-large. They may not be as heralded as the Chelsea crop or as shamelessly self-promoted as United’s, but they look as good as any.

shaka
shaka

thats coz emery and doozi are bum buddies for a long time now

canadrian
canadrian

This feels like the type of thing a manager would say if he’s trying to garner favor from a fanbase that is slowly getting away from him.

rumba
rumba

It is a type of thing a manager would say when asked about youth integration.

Jagaban07
Jagaban07

I’ll give more credit to Raul and new structure than Emery. They cleared forced it on him…remember those raul/vinai interviews where they pushed the youth agenda? They forced his hands into playing them by selling more experienced players. Saka wouldn’t be getting epl game time, Emery would have preferred Mhkitaryan. Mslintat told him to play Saka last season, he opted to loan Suarez. I’ll give him credit for playing Guendouzi a lot tho but it’s clear the squad building was orchestrated by Raul. It would be class to have a manager like Erik ten hag with our squad starting next season. Bored of the dire football.

Hantal
Hantal

It’s good that youngsters are getting a chance this season but I suspect had mkhi not left he’d have played most games

Alex
Alex

Were all these players given academy contracts by Emery? Or is Arsene Wenger missing out a few props?

SarcasmB0t
SarcasmB0t

For all the talk of his conservatism, he has been willing to give young players a shot.

There is no way a truly conservative coach – say a Mourinho or a Pulis – plays Guendouzi (or even Holding) as much as he did last season.

I attribute his not playing the kids in Europa League last season to him wanting to make it clear to everyone that EL is NOT beneath them and that nobody gets pandered to.

And speaking of Ozil, he had better start training harder than he ever has if he wants to get into the squad ahead of some of the youngsters.

Mekus
Mekus

I can’t wait for Ozil to leave so that all his fans masquerading as Arsenal fans can leave this site and go spread their pessimism to another club’s blog site. I love Ozil as a person and I’m also a fan, but Arsenal is first and foremost my first love. I’m also a realist. If Ozil is not ready yet or not in Emery’s plan for some matches, then so be it, so long he’s winning those matches. If he losses and we observes that Ozil could have made a difference, then we constructively criticise him for omitting him… But let the Ozil fanatics know that just like soldiers will come and leave but the barracks will remain, so will players come and leave but Arsenal as a club will remain. My conclusion..? Shape in or shape out. Arsenal for life!

TOGooner
TOGooner

I guess that, reading the comments today and every other day for the past month, arsenal optimism has returned just a bit. I have no doubt Emery is trying to garner favour with the fan base with his comment, and that’s a very good thing. Some saying on this and other forums that Emery was in a way pushed or forced to accommodate our youth prospects by upper Mgmt, and if that is true, that’s an unquestionably good thing. Means that the group we have running the club right now has got their priorities straight. Our executives will certainly outlast Emery, and if this past 6 months are anything to go by, they are doing a very good job.

Producing great players that are arsenal red that play the arsenal way. Being ambitious in the transfer market. Strong offensive football. I don’t think we’re going to be challenging for anything except maybe Europa, but the trajectory of the club is right and for me that’s all that matters for now.

btw
btw

Don’t forget, all that youth is worth a lot of money if developed properly -and plenty of expensive players have not lived up to their transfer fees, Mustafi, Xhaka, Ozil? Smart management and certainly a club priority, whether Emery is for or against is all rank speculation.

Onenil
Onenil

Where do I go to laugh at Spurs?

TeeCee
TeeCee

Anywhere you like. I find that it doesn’t matter where I am, Spurs will always find a way to make me laugh.

truj
truj

Go North!

mrugunner
mrugunner

Still behind xhaka though

mrugunner
mrugunner

Isn’t playing academy players the trend now anyway? Other than man city, don’t they (top 6) all do it?

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

I’m not an Emery fan, as you may have guessed, but the best thing he has done at the club since he came is to bring on the youngsters. The club’s strategy of getting rid of the deadwood and mainly replacing them with the kids has clearly paid dividends.

As I write, Spuds have just been humiliated by an average Brighton side. It looks like Pochettino and Levy are about to go their separate ways. From what I hear the Argentinian has had enough of the senior management at the Lane: they have failed to support him and the club is now going backwards.

Question: if Pochettino became available would you want him as the new Arsenal boss? I would.

AussieGooner
AussieGooner

He is going Manure, I have no doubt there.

Do you fancy Oly at Arsenal?

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

No: Oly is shit.

A spuds boss coming to Arsenal wouldn’t be new: Terry Neil left WHL for Highbury in the 70s.

btw
btw

I don’t know, Spurs were really good the last couple years but now are falling apart (which is hilarious). How much blame should Pochettino get for their bad form?

I’m hesitant to laugh at Spurs until the season is over, but I can’t help myself, 3-0 to Brighton, ha! ha!

Richie

No because Pochettino wouldn’t be an upgrade on Emery.

Vonnie
Vonnie

They’re both as bad as each other.