Emery’s Project is Beginning to Bear Fruit


Emery is proving to be something of an enigma. Is he a genius or is he simply meh? Nobody seems to understand him.

All complain that no pattern can be discerned in his philosophy assuming there is even one. Or are people able to see only that which they want to see?

Last weekend against Watford his team conceded 31 shots as they were pegged back after a 2 goal lead. Knives were out. He was leading the PL in shots conceded. Then he went to Frankfurt and conceded 24 shots running away with a 3-0 victory. The knives were sheathed. Meanwhile it surfaced that in 2015/16 season, one of the three consecutive years he won the Europa League with Sevilla, his team conceded the highest number of shots in La Liga. Isn’t this a very discernible pattern?

17HT has been singing this song that Emery likes to suck the opposition in so as to open up their rear for quick transitions. Unfortunately for HT only the echoes of his voice come back to him. At Arsenal, we are not used to being dominated in territory so we do not want to accept that what we are seeing is being deliberately managed. Whether it is worth it or not, whether we like it or not is another matter. There is a pattern. What’s more, we can’t yet tell if this pattern is only a stage in an evolving process: a teething problem as it were.

So how should we as fans respond?

I suppose we should show more patience. It is not for us to pass the hasty judgement (never easy when it goes wrong). The fortunes of the team is going to do that for us.

It should be expected that the four new signings this summer were considered tailor made to fit into Emery’s project and the promoted academy players would have been similarly assessed. So his project should be all set to begin to bear its fruits. Our hope should be that they are not sour fruits.

We should expect to witness more of playing out of the back. That most basic of Emery’s  process has now been cooked in the Watford experience and am hopeful that we would be seeing a more intelligent mix of patterns there.

Emery is very passionate with his football. His philosophy is him. He can’t be another him and the little I know tells me that there is nothing as powerful as self belief in a cause. Who knows Emery might be rewriting football. That’s maybe why the football statisticians and pundits are finding it difficult to label him. Many want to write him off but are hunted by his track record. We, of the Arsenal world would do well to give him some space on the wheels by finding ways to manage our fears and hopes as he hurtles along. As I had said, the fortunes of the team would be the arbiter and bet that before the season is done we would know exactly were we stand with him.

Tierney plays his first match today with the under-23 team. He is a big part of the project. Holding is back with the first team and Bellerin is not far away. Saka and Willock dazzled last night. ESR is coming back from a long lay off. We know he has the potentials to be one of the best. We might just be on the cusp of seeing what Emery has for us. Sheath your knives please.

By PE.

32 thoughts on “Emery’s Project is Beginning to Bear Fruit

  • Thank you PE. What a positive result can do, hey?! 😉

    If the plan is to live dangerously and hope that we can take more of the chances than our opponents, then that can certainly be called Emery’s plan. And I think that is exactly the point 17HT has been making.

    This is imo a recipe for disaster and will get us nowhere eventually, but when it works out in a game like yesterday, in which luck and better strikers were on our side, there is not much to complain about of course. But let’s not pull the wool over our desperate eyes: this style of football is unsustainable. Let’s just wait and see how we get on when we go to Old Toilet.

    I appreciate your desire to see the positives, though, PE. 🙂

  • Good comments, but what worries me, is this. I cannot understand what Emery says or
    Means so how can the team. Is he getting his message across. Looking at the players on Sunday, they were looking like they did not know what is expected of them. I think of Frankfurt had half decent strikers, if could easily been a much different result. I hope I am wrong but still have doubts

  • Same as what TA said (who said it more eloquently than I ever could have). 👍😀
    One element that was mentioned in passing in Emery’s post-match statements that I am intrigued by, is a more advanced role for Torreira. Curious to see if it was just a statement meant to confuse / wishful thinking (can’t have everyone in advanced attacking roles). If intent is true, keen to see how well (or not) it plays out.

  • This tactics of sucking in of opponents in order to open up their rears for quick transition, can only work when you have a rock solid defense, eagle-eye mid- fielders and fast and sharp strikers that can make the fast break and cause havoc.The defense is still the weakest unit.We must always concede playing this tactics.

  • Hi PE, my thoughts are very clear, I do not enjoy Emery’s brand of football. Although to be honest I have no idea what his brand is. The clearest evidence we have is that he wants to play possession football, including his ill fated decision to play out of the back from goal kicks.

    Here is a look at our performance after 5 games for our entire EPL history:-

    Season – GP – W – D – L – Pts – GF – GA – GD
    1992/3 – 5 – 3 – 0 – 2 – 9 – 8 – 6 – 2
    1993/4 – 5 – 4 – 0 – 1 – 12 – 6 – 4 – 2
    1994/5 – 5 – 1 – 2 – 2 – 5 – 3 – 4 – -1
    1995/6 – 5 – 2 – 3 – 0 – 9 – 5 – 2 – 3
    1996/7 – 5 – 2 – 2 – 1 – 8 – 9 – 7 – 2
    1997/8 – 5 – 2 – 3 – 0 – 9 – 9 – 5 – 4
    1998/9 – 5 – 1 – 4 – 0 – 7 – 3 – 2 – 1
    1999/0 – 5 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 10 – 7 – 4 – 3
    2000/1 – 5 – 2 – 2 – 1 – 8 – 10 – 7 – 3
    2001/2 – 5 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 10 – 13 – 4 – 9
    2002/3 – 5 – 3 – 2 – 0 – 11 – 12 – 6 – 6
    2003/4 – 5 – 4 – 1 – 0 – 13 – 11 – 3 – 8
    2004/5 – 5 – 5 – 0 – 0 – 15 – 19 – 5 – 14
    2005/6 – 5 – 3 – 0 – 2 – 9 – 9 – 4 – 5
    2006/7 – 5 – 2 – 2 – 1 – 8 – 6 – 3 – 3
    2007/8 – 5 – 4 – 1 – 0 – 13 – 10 – 4 – 6
    2008/9 – 5 – 4 – 0 – 1 – 12 – 11 – 2 – 9
    2009/10 – 5 – 3 – 0 – 2 – 9 – 17 – 8 – 9
    2010/11 – 5 – 3 – 2 – 0 – 11 – 14 – 4 – 10
    2011/12 – 5 – 1 – 1 – 3 – 4 – 6 – 14 – -8
    2012/13 – 5 – 2 – 3 – 0 – 9 – 9 – 2 – 7
    2013/14 – 5 – 4 – 0 – 1 – 12 – 11 – 6 – 5
    2014/15 – 5 – 2 – 3 – 0 – 9 – 10 – 6 – 4
    2015/16 – 5 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 10 – 5 – 3 – 2
    2016/17 – 5 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 10 – 12 – 7 – 5
    2017/18 – 5 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 7 – 7 – 8 – -1
    2018/19 – 5 – 3 – 0 – 2 – 9 – 10 – 9 – 1
    2019/20 – 5 – 2 – 2 – 1 – 8 – 8 – 8 – 0

  • Oh dear, that data is from one of my spreadsheets, I obviously don’t know how to post them correctly. The columns have collapsed and are hard to follow – but all of the data is correct

  • TA, am not by any stretch saying that he is the right man. Just saying let’s not conclude in any direction yet.

    A recipe for disaster @ TA. Maybe. But there again it can be merely the bumpy stretch before we hit the highway. One fact that should be noted about the shots we concede is that a lot of them are from outside the box which statistically has about 3% conversion rate. Wenger for example was never impressed with shots from outside the box by his team because of this low conversion rate.

    Maybe Emery is at home with that low risk against his team. Just an observation ….. as the opponents attack I have observed that quite often say two of our midfielders fall back to join the back-4 to form a flat-6 just at the edge of the box forcing the opposition to shoot from outside the box. Not saying that am comfortable with it but in these games of wits one has to wonder.

  • Ray, agree with you the frustration of trying to understand him. Luckily in training too many words are not as necessary.

  • St Henry, I must be one of the few who’s given up on Torreira as another N’golo Kante. Holding mids IMO should be athletic and physical. That diminishes Torreira’s role there. Don’t forget he was initially an attacking midfielder. Only converted at Sampdoria. But I get you. We have too many of the attacking midfielders. The fact that Torreira can do defensive work also is what might be exciting Emery. A b2b.

  • Cheers PE, not sure whether you watched the game I can assure you we gave away a large number of good opportunities to score. We operated like a sieve at the back and we survived due to Martinez’s fine goalkeeping and Frankfurter wastefulness.

    I get your point, though, of Emery trying to get the balance right and that Tierney, Holding and Bels will help to strengthen the defence. I am as hopeful as you are… 🙂

  • Prince Charles decided to take up jogging.

    Every day, he’d jog past a hooker standing on the same street corner.

    He learned to brace himself as he approached her for what was almost certain to follow.

    “One hundred and fifty pounds!” she’d shout from the curb.

    “No! Five pounds!” He would fire back, just to shut her up.

    This ritual between him and the hooker became a daily occurrence.

    He’d run by and she’d yell, “One hundred and fifty pounds!”

    He’d yell back, “Five pounds!”

    One day, Camilla decided that she wanted to accompany her husband on his jog.

    As the jogging couple neared the working woman’s street corner, Prince Charles realised she’d bark her 150 pound offer and Camilla would wonder what he’d really been doing on all his past outings.

    He figured he’d better have a good explanation for his wife.

    As they jogged into the turn that would take them past the corner, he became even more apprehensive than usual.

    Sure enough, there was the hooker.

    He tried to avoid the prostitute’s eyes as she watched the pair jog past.

    Then, from her corner, the hooker yelled, “See what you get for five pounds, you tight b*stard?!”

  • Here are this week’s five games for the prediction competition. Home win, Away win or Draw. Good luck (we need at least five to participate for it to count).

    Burnley v Norwich
    Newcastle v Brighton
    Crystal Palace v Wolves
    West Ham v Man United
    Chelsea v Liverpool

  • PE. Thank you for the post. Like you I tend not to take a knee jerk reaction and am willing to wait until the new management plans come to fruition. However, I am not sure that Kroenke’s will and they make the decisions not us (sadly)

    Ceballos will become an influential member of the midfield as he becomes PL trained. Pepe looks lost at the moment and desperately needs a goal or three.

    As Bon Jovi said “Keep the Faith”

  • Bright, you are right. But Emery’s ideal is not to concede possession while sucking them in, but to do that while maintaining possession. The former is the famed Italian catenaccio. Possibly Emery is trying to evolve a “catenaccio in possession”. Will it be successful? Only time will tell. But note that we score goals at a higher rate than our expected xG.

  • N5, I don’t agree that it’s an ill fated decision to play out from the back. The whole thing is hinged on big risk/big dividend. Every team that does it (which are the best teams in the world) have factored in the possibility of a few mishaps. The gains over the long term out weighs the mishaps.

  • PE, we are actually in agreement – the best teams in the world are doing it successfully – The Arsenal have no idea – and make a fool of themselves.

    During the Frankfurt game they seem to have abandoned the idea – mostly long goal kicks, and if we lost possession in the opposition half that’s fine with me..

  • TA, am not in anyway holding brief for the last match. It is too small a sample for me to generalize with. Just an exercise to understand what maybe Emery is trying to do. Can he be totally daft with that track record? Am trying to give him the benefit of doubt.

  • Burnley v Norwich: Away
    Newcastle v Brighton: Home
    Crystal Palace v Wolves: Away
    West Ham v Man United: Draw
    Chelsea v Liverpool: Away

    Almost wanted go all ‘Away’.
    Sounds insane. Looked plausible.


  • Hi fellas… After a big (Arsenal) day yesterday, today I’ve got nothing (or, at least, very little). The game prediction contest will always get me, however. Burnley, Newcastle, CP = Home Wins, ManU, Pool = Away Wins, Cheers, TA, for keeping it going…

    I appreciate being cited in the post, PE–and sometimes (often) I do feel like I’m shouting into a wind tunnel–but I would have to agree with TA, that it (the post) feels like a grasp for positives and not the way we ought to be playing our football.

    Frankly, I find it amazing (or maybe unfathomable…) that folks can find things to like (and feel hopeful) about Emery’s approach if the result is OK, but can also come up with reason upon reason why it’s all bad if the result goes the other direction. (I just reread the post after the Watford match…try it and see…) If we’re going to play at being manager–or even just keen observers–shouldn’t we try not to get carried away by the emotion of each and every situation?…

    Or maybe that’s the whole thing that I’m missing. Maybe it’s the (extreme) ups and downs that make it fun for folks…and that standing behind what you might say (or write) one day isn’t important (at all) the next…

    To each his own, but it feels (awfully) hard to take these “insights” seriously. Sorry…

  • HT, mood obviously affects perception for many particularly the negative ones. Not a great thing but that’s man. Some swing more than others. I accept I do swing. But this post only says let’s give him some more time (oh the main title of the post isn’t mine) that before the end of the season we’d know where we stand with him. Just pleading that he be given a bit more time to convince us.

  • Hi all..

    Very good TA..
    I missed it so much..
    Almost all draw for me.. except Newcastle home..

    Burnley v Norwich: Draw
    Newcastle v Brighton: Home
    Crystal Palace v Wolves: Draw
    West Ham v Man United: Draw
    Chelsea v Liverpool: Draw

  • Henry, we only started recently. 17HT has 15 points (stinking luck) and Erik the Red has five points; the rest of us have no points. So it is not too late for you (or anybody else like Pb or Le Gall etc) to join the fun. 🙂

  • Aahhh, the enigma that is Unai Emery! In a relatively short amount of time at Arsenal’s helm, he has managed to generate so many differing opinions, create a very wide divide amongst Arsenal fans and various pundits, while stoically remaining faithful to his philosophy. Problem is, nobody yet fully understands what his philosophy is exactly. And if I were to guess, I’d say neither do the players. We don’t really know what to expect so we are all stuck in limbo, unsure. At least with Arsene Wenger (latter years), we could all expect some really shitty defending (with a few pleasant surprises and good luck here and there every once in a while) but at the same time, we could also count on some fantastic/glorious, crowd-pleasing attacking moves resulting in beautiful goals (Jack Wilshere’s sensational goal against Norwich City easily comes to mind). With Emery, we have no clue. Personally, I am thinking this could partly be related to language/communication issues. And if so, then my suggestion would be to find a way to bridge that gap by bringing in a top notch defensive assistant coach who is fluent in both English and Spanish.

    I remember Emery saying during his very first press conference after being hired on that he intends to play a very high tempo, high pressing game, and be a protagonist. So far this young season, I’ve yet to see any that. I’ve noticed that when we try to press the opponent in their own half, there is no cohesion at all. We don’t press as a well-drilled unit. You may see one or two players pressing and everyone else is standing way the f*ck off, not to be bothered. Maybe with our returning defensive reinforcements, we can now gain some much-needed confidence and actually press as a team and cut passing lanes. Also, I’d like Emery to not be afraid to make adjustments during the game if things are not going so well, like playing out of the back at all costs (we got so many warning signs against Watford before Sokratis’ gift that Emery simply ignored). I’d be very happy to see both of these scenarios occur but I know, it’s only wishful thinking on my part… 😥

    Aston Villa on Sunday will be very telling! Under normal circumstances, I’d say 3 or 4-nil to the Gunners but with Emery and this team, I’m too much of a big chicken to dare. Too many heartbreaks, I suppose.

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