Leno: We were not a team, on or off the pitch…you could see this

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Bernd Leno says Mikel Arteta set about transforming Arsenal’s team spirit and professionalism from his first day and believes things have ‘completely changed’ at the Emirates.

In a damning endictment of the Unai Emery era, the German claimed the players were left confused by tactics and were not together either in the dressing room or on the pitch.

While the Gunners haven’t benefitted from a huge upturn in positive results since Arteta took over, a number of players have praised the Spaniard for transmitting a clear playing philosophy and for putting smiles back on their faces.

“In this short time he has made a big impact,” said Leno. You can see the intensity we play. Also the structure in the team and the mentality all over the pitch.

“Before, I don’t want to say it was a mess, it was a little bit confusing. Everybody was doing different things. We were not a team, not in the dressing room, not on the pitch, and you could see this.

“With Mikel it changed completely. The first day he came, he was not talking too much about tactics, he was talking about how we behave in the dressing room. [He said] when we go to the games we have to be more professional, more like a team.

“It’s not only what he has learned from Pep Guardiola, when you talk to all the people who worked with him, they say he’s a very clever guy with tactics and how to improve players.”

Against the backdrop of Arteta’s arrival was the spectre of players leaving. Granit Xhaka eventually changed his mind about a move to Hertha Berlin while Barcelona showed interest in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Despite all the rumours, Leno maintains that the squad are focused on the jobs.

“I think not too many players talked about this,” said the goalkeeper.

“Of course there are many rumours and other people talk about this, but you never had the feeling that any player was thinking about another club or wanted to leave or was refusing to train, or something like that, or they didn’t have the mentality in the training.

“Everybody can see we have a new manager and a new mentality. We want to build something here at Arsenal.

“Maybe it takes a little bit of time, but of course we also want to have good results straight away now.

“You can see on the pitch all these rumours [don’t affect] these players – they are fighting, they are leading the team and this is the only way.”

While Leno accepts that Manchester City and Liverpool have been streets ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons, he insists that the Europa League and FA Cup offer up great opportunities to build confidence and win silverware before the end of May.

“In the Europa League and FA Cup we have so many difficult games, so many big games because we saw last season that in the Europa League quarter-finals and semi-finals you get Champions League teams.

“They are all playing for the title and the final was Arsenal against Chelsea [last season], so it was a very, very big game.

“We want to have this final again and also in the FA Cup. Everybody told me that the FA Cup final at Wembley is unbelievable with the atmosphere and it is also a trophy, a title and we are looking forward to playing these games. Hopefully we can win a title this season.”

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C.B.

Our top player in recent months (Auba might have a shout too), sounds like a bright chap too!

HelderHughes

Bet he still has ptsd like a Vietnam war vet about some of those Emery games… It’s testament to Arteta that we haven’t talked about him as much since he took over.

PeteyB

“Before, I don’t want to say it was a mess”…
it was a mess!! Nobody says that if they are not thinking as much.

Dave M

Really says a lot of the character of many of these guys that were talking up the situation at the time, because like under wenger things were just too comfortable and these players could do whatever they liked instead of acting seasoned pros. Hopefully that’s what changes now. It’s been the problem for the last decade or more at arsenal

Atom

It gets glossed over but there are a lot of players who just aren’t good enough to do more than scrap for 4th at this club regardless of who the manager is

SirL

Thing is they aren’t even that good….

Dave M

And others talented enough but don’t have enough fight in them. Cesc was really a prime example of that and when you make guys like that the team leaders… Then what can we expect. Now we have less talent and the deep seeded mental fragility remains… Thus we’re scrapping for the top half

atom

I’m glad Arteta is ruthless in that he likely will keep the younger players from adopting a weak mentality. I think this club is headed in the right direction after years of just drifting but the process is going to take a few years.

OnlyBeingHonest

Best keeper we’ve had in ages,

Elijah Groves

I wish the person giving a thumbs down to this comment would explain themselves. He’s unlucky to behind a couple of big names in Germany or he’d be their number one too.

Ya Gooner

Great shot stopper, poor distributor.

Ya Gooner

I’m not saying that means you deserve a thumbs down btw

OnlyBeingHonest

Haha its grand peeps, i’ll not lose sleep over a thumbs down 🙂

OnlyBeingHonest

I diasgree, but ok 🙂

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

Cech was a better goalkeeper over his career.

OnlyBeingHonest

if by”over his career” you mean before he joined Arsenal?

truj

It is very unusual, not the pr bull*hit like the one with Louis yesterday. Seems like the blog and the fans were close to the truth and the team was in dissintegration and down in a hole. And we were dreaming about better performances,top four finish but the truth we were just fckd up in the arse…

DatguyPepe

Been away from this site for a while coz of work. I love the new look in the comments section; matches our new team structure in the pitch. Great job blogs…great job.

Viva la Prof

Comments section scares and confuses me, but must say it works well.

Paul Roberts

We still have a problem with it saying “you have already voted” Blogs?

shmokin'em

I know its minor but it really annoys me! So much so that I scrolled down 45 comments and took my votes back that I “had already voted” for.

thw14

How many damning indictments must we suffer through before we get rid of that fraud, chancer, barely professional, won-more-titles-than-this-club-in-the-past-decade Emery? (????!!!!)

atom

I’m not sure Emery is a bad manager so much as he simply wasn’t right for us. He walked into a relatively difficult situation in that poor recruitment over a number of years had led to real holes in the squad. He created some of his own issues by treating every game as if it were Liverpool away but largely this was a case of someone just not being a good fit. I do hope we look back on this period though as pivotal in laying bare how large of rebuild really needed to occur to get us back to… Read more »

Fatgooner

So we were a mess under Emery! That was obvious looking at what was going on on the pitch. I’d love to hear more about this maybe some more players could speak out.

I bet Raul is feeling uncomfortable this morning.

Elijah Groves

Was it so much of a shambles in the first season? It ended ****e but 5th and a final. We’re feckin’ miles from that at the moment. Onwards and upwards but it’s time for all the positives to be reflected in performances and points.

Guns Up

Miles from that in terms of league position? Sure, that’s simple math. In terms of performance, this group is playing miles better than during last season’s run-in, including the final vs Chelsea. Whereas Emery was extremely fortunate to get some of the few points he did this season, MA has found quite bad luck in the first Chelsea match (his only loss) and having to play the majority of two matches down a man. Rsults will undoubtedly come, and I’d even argue that 3 wins and 5 draws from 9 isn’t too bad, considering how little time he’s had to… Read more »

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

But why these players need to think of themselves as people who have no responsibility over what they are doing? The manager did not do anything to make us friends in the dressing room, poor little boys driving luxurious gars.

Elijah Groves

This is not in support of Emery in anyway, but players always big up the current manager, especially if they’re playing in the first team.
Whilst people can only report what is said, these sort of interviews are the sort of thing I imagine you’d get in Pravda, supporting whatever leadership was in place.

Diaminedave

Or a cabinet minister in Johnson’s government. Or a republican!!

Diaminedave

or an employee of News Corp!
Link can be provided if wanted 😉

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Lol, loved it.

loose_cannon

Interestingly Leno made a few comments about our lack of compactness and intensity earlier in the season under Emery. A top keeper and clearly quite tactically astute.

Dave

I really like this guy, is honest, and an amazing goalkeeper too, has kept us in so many games, player of the season candidate for me.

Happy

Amazing goalkeeper? You could say that again with his poor ball distribution that cost us several games

shmokin'em

How/why would you even call yourself Happy?? Happy

shmokin'em

Embittered. Fixed it for you

jon

I attended a match where Emery shouted a lot at Chambers, telling him to push up or fall back etc. Chambers was probably chosen because he was the only player near enough to hear. It struck me as peculiar that this had not been drilled during training, so I think Leno is totally correct when he says they did not know what to do.

Viva la Prof

Looking forward to premier league title redux coming in 2021

Naked Cygan

How about calling out some players too? Can’t be all the managers fault.

Sancheezy

If they manage to bring back the double… Wow!
COYG!

henry

good ebening!

Atom

Besides the fact this “joke” has been done to death, there’s absolutely zero reason to mock a guy who attempted to speak in a new language. I give Emery a lot of credit – he easily could have gone the interpreter route

shmokin'em

Wow. Are you for real? That guy eh ??‍♂️

Atom

So where would you like to draw the line since apparently it’s cool to mock foreigners for attempting to speak English? Is it ok to harass black players? Maybe pick on mentally slow kids?

Javoroncov

Yeah…so it was a mess indeed. Yet according to Emery we are in a very good process bla bla bla.
Must be one of the worst managers we ever had. We played big teams like Liverpool or City with the mentality of a sick old dog. That, I never forgive him

Mr Thunder

I think we were better against top 6 teams under Emerys first season compared to under Wenger. The problem was the constant change of tactics against the lesser teams

Javoroncov

We were “better” against Utd and Tottenham because utd are pretty shit these days and we are always fired up against Tottenham even in Wenger’s worst day. Buyou seriously expect anything with the way Emery set up his team against Liverpool or City? remember the liverpool game when he vacated the wings and packed everyone in the box to defend? Emery is a coward, so he played those teams with damage limitation in mind. No ambition as all, no bravery at all. But the team was “scared” against the mightyWatford so it’s expected Emery wet his pants at the mere… Read more »

JIM

Team spirit is more important in every aspect. Togetherness I can also try to improve on the pitch’s performance.

Rich

Player who wants to keep his place, says something positive about the guy who picks the team….

Team who’ve done badly, try to absolve themselves of any responsibility, by passing the buck onto a guy who’s left, rather than accept their role in the current debacle….

Why do I get the feeling you’ll be able to rehash these comments from the same group of players in 12 months time?….

Tim

This is probably as honest as it comes, and it begs the question once again, why did they wait so long to make a change…

Different Tim

I’m just glad we didn’t do a contract extension. Got lucky really

Olutomi Akinsanya

I always said that we weren’t playing as a team. We were not scoring from open play, we were an abstract team – unrecognisable. Emery made that possible. It wasn’t his intention, I must say, no one will want to fail, but he was trying to change the Arsenal way and that became unacceptably unacceptable. If we win, we have to win like Arsenal. Even if we don’t win, we have to play like Arsenal. That’s more acceptable.

Santori

A lot of the issues Emery era still persist. And they were there as well during late Wenger era. There is a fundamental issue balancing between defensive prudence and offensive enterprise. We are still NOT creating enough chances or taking/scoring enough. When we are scoring, we are still having issues at the back. Its not as if we have suddenly become that much more water tight. Arteta has still many issues to resolve and part of the problem (as it was for BOTh Wenger and Emery) is we have not been buying well enough (not to be confused with not… Read more »

Frank Lelo

Arteta trying to solve a mess which has been around for like 10 years plus. Inexperienced manager remember, 9 games in charge over his all coaching life. Unfucking believable what he has done in a short period of time. I will personally judge Arteta after 18-24 months. For now, taking all bullets for him.

Futsboller

You’re not alone.

Santori

If we don’t start to get concrete results, this good feeling about being a team again will quickly dissipate.

Sure improvements but we really need to start chalking some results now.

Santori

Leno needs to be better distributing the ball. BUT it also hinges on the players in front of him to be quicker to offer the avenues for him to punt the ball up quicker when we retrieve the ball at goal. We have yet to find quick transition from regaining possession at the back into a counter. To me, every free kick given up or set piece defended by us be it corner or otherwise needs to be seen as an opportunity to take the other team apart. We are currently too focus on defending right (with reason) without pre-empting… Read more »

Santori

Leno is one of the few players in our squad who is in a first team in a top tier world squad. He has Neur and Tersteigen ahead of him but he has opportunity to break in. But with exception of Aubameyang aside, I don’t see many of our current squad that are truly top tier in the world today. And even Auba IMO is no RVP or Henry. He scores but he does not create as much as these players, has his limits. Others, Granit is critical element of an OK Swiss team. Sokratis an aging asset in a… Read more »

Santori

Unai’s problem is he failed to address the nitty gritty issues in the team and lost a handle on certain players. He had an OK first season but was not reinforced properly in the summer. We failed to bring in a Cback we needed instead brought in a panic buy Luiz for 6m and a potential player at 19yrs in Saliba for 27m who would not be available to us this season. Also we made a mistake with Pepe at 72m which curtailed spending in other areas and will continue to have impact in subsequent transfer windows considering continued lack… Read more »

Theenge

“Everybody told me that the FA Cup final at Wembley … is also a trophy, a title”