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Ceballos Showing Why Ozil is Fighting A Losing Battle With Emery At Arsenal

23 August 2019 Sport

The Gunners boss is finally starting to implement his footballing philosophy at the Emirates thanks to the signing of players more suited to his style

When Unai Emery was unveiled as Arsenal manager in May 2018, fans were promised an emphatic end to the apathy that had gradually seeped through the club in the final years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.

Arsenal were passive, meek, and directionless, reflecting their manager’s laissez-faire attitude; sleepwalking through a new era of hard pressing and meticulous coaching of the finest tactical details.

Emery, an obsessive renowned for boring Neymar with long tactical seminars, was to bring smelling salts to the Emirates.

It didn’t quite go to plan, and Emery’s first season in charge was peculiarly aimless. Arsenal stuttered through home matches, shuffling and probing with a hesitancy that was – thankfully – punctuated by sudden bursts of quality from individuals.

In away matches, they were hopeless, winning just twice after Christmas. It being a transitional year, fans were happy to give Emery some leeway.

However, they will not be so kind in 2019-20, and although Arsenal have won their opening two Premier League matches for the first time since 2009, things don’t appear to have improved.

Their performances against Newcastle and Burnley – both tipped for a relegation dogfight this year – were ambling.

Scratch beneath the surface, though, and things are finally starting to take shape for Emery and Arsenal.

It is easy to forget how bad things had got under Wenger, how inevitable it was that Emery’s transitional year would look a little directionless when considering the scale of upheaval needed for his tactical ideas to take hold.

Winning seven more points than in 2017-18 and reaching the Europa League final should be considered a success, and while fans expected a tactical identity to gradually emerge as the season went on, it would appear, with the benefit of hindsight, Emery just didn’t have the right players to make it work.

However, with the arrival of David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos, Arsenal could be on the verge of looking like a coherent and identifiable Emery team.

Emery was forced to play a possession-based 4-3-3 at Paris Saint-Germain, a super-club whose dominance of French football made them unwilling and incapable of bending to his methods.

So, to understand what the Spaniard wants to achieve at Arsenal, we need to look at his Sevilla team that won three consecutive Europa Leagues.


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