Unai Emery’s game plan revealed? Positives, Needs and Hopes

People are talking.

I think they are right.

I think that Unai Emery’s game plan is to feel out the opponent in the first half, taking less risks, and win the game in the second half with his smart tactical mind and a fitter team.

It has happened too often to not be a thing. Against weaker teams too.

Not convinced that he will stick to this against stronger teams.

Let’s be honest, none of us really know what’s coming next! 😳

Every half of every game, every line up, substitutions etc…, are unpredictable.The only predictability in it all is that he coaches the game in front of him.

Some are uncomfortable with this approach. It’s risky. It does however show how much faith he has in himself and it’s working.

Sporting FC had only lost at home once in 2 years (to Barca) so that wasn’t as easy as we made it look.

Unai Emery is the consistent difference so far this season.

No doubt.

Formation: 4-3-3 (first half)
3-4-1-2 (second half)


* Lichsteiner and Sokratis have brought change. Savvy, real men those two. One example…. Lichsteiner leans on players at set plays. Is it a foul? Probably. Is it gonna be given? No.

* Holding has given Emery a conundrum. Again, played well.

Is it Mustafi or Sokratis?

Ordinarily, I’d say Sokratis. Mustafi been better recently though.

* I made my mind up last season that we needed to sell Xhaka. I couldn’t cope with him giving up when the play went past him. Fans want second effort, at the very least.

You can tell that we have a new coach on the sideline by his second effort this season. Playing quite well now.

Big question is now…. Is Emery trying him at left back because he is not a high level CM against top 6 teams? Guendouzi looks like he has more attributes and can pass like Xhaka too.

Alternatively, are we gonna sign the modern trend of an athletic powerful ‘Ndomble type?’

* I think fans need to think deeper when analyzing Lichsteiner.

We obviously knew that he wasn’t as quick when we signed him. Why comment on that? It’s like saying that Lacazette doesn’t win most of his aerial duels against guys 5 inches taller!

He is a serious, smart, consistent (like Monreal) type player who they say is a huge dressing room influence.

That quality is highly valued by coaches and undervalued by fans.

* Sokratis proved twice tonight that he turns quickly and has recovery speed

* Last 30 minutes was all Arsenal.

Again, I’m thinking Emery’s plan is second half domination and it’s clear his men have the fitness to accomplish this.

* Welbeck’s first non-goal was dubious and would have been yet another fine headed goal. Clear improvement for Danny.

His second goal screamed confidence.

Rarely has Welbeck been seen as reliable in front of goal.

Not only is this positive for him, it adds to Emery’s opportunities to make others accountable for mediocrity.

Far easier for Emery to never have to tell a player, ‘you gotta perform or I’ll bring in…’

Much more effective to have players aware of teammates on form and the step up is more likely and organic.

You see the change in Xhaka…. look at Guendouzi!

* Nice to see Emery trust Welbeck a little longer rather than sub on Lacazette 10 mins earlier

* Yet again, the defending was serious. We made it hard for Sporting to score and therefore they didn’t look like scoring.

* On that note, watch how quickly Torreira shifts laterally to double team on each wing. I think his ‘seriousness’ about defending is contagious.

* I wonder if Elneny will stay much longer.

Before he does leave the club I’d like to say that I think he is a perfect squad player. He is reliable, not a complainer, always gives his best and available for the ball. Much like Welbeck he may not win you titles as a starter but no team has three high level players for each position. If they do they probably have unrest in the camp.

Ask yourself this…..

Xhaka, Elneny, Welbeck and Mustafi may not be at the level to be a dominant player against the top 6, but if they lined up against let’s say Southampton or 2/3rds of the division we should be more than capable of still winning, right?

I think Elneny has value at Arsenal.

* The sign of a good player is one who is clearly trusted by his teammates. Watch the game back and observe how all our players trust Guendouzi and in comparison many times ignored Ramsey. No agenda, just eyes.

* Best til last…. When Arsenal go ahead I don’t think the opponent is coming back.

A new feeling 😊


* Would like to see other ways of attacking. Maybe in time this will evolve. It can seem that our passing patterns more often than not end up with a ball to the RB who puts a low cross in.

Great option, no doubt.

Wonder if opponents might shut it down unless we use some combinations on the top of the box in order to keep their defence compact (to allow ball to RB).

* I often wonder if Mkhi’s ‘moments’ are gonna be enough to keep him in the first team

* Auba’s touch when not in motion needs work

* When the low crosses come in they are often blocked and ricochet to the top of the box. I think we need a player hanging back to finish these chances.

* Our first half performances this season have often seen more careless passes. Is Emery’s caution making players doubt their choices?

* Aaron Ramsey slows the play down too often. Turns in his big circles.

Then again, Ozil has this tendency too.


* I’m not surprised that we are looking to sell Ramsey.

He just doesn’t seem to fit our attacking plan.

My hope is that we allow Maitlind-Niles to have his opportunities and sign a winger or a centre-back.

Alternatively, a similar player to Torreira. I think he is our most important player simply because nobody else comes close to being able to replicate his product.

If he gets injured our midfield changes overnight.

A smart decision might be to go after someone like Ndidi at Leicester or Gueye at Everton who are capable of similar numbers in interceptions, tackles etc…

* Look for the Alberto Moreno rumour to come to fruition.

Of all the rumours I say this is the most likely simply because he will be free and Arsenal can’t spend ££ on every position that needs it.

* Hoping that our skill of avoiding penalty kicks and red cards sticks around 👍🏻

* At a certain point in most every game I have the same thought…. ‘we need a dynamic dribbler to open this game up.’

To this point we haven’t needed one. Wondering if the Liverpool game may be where we see this in a clearer light.

Finally Mr Emery, if your plan really is what I stated at the opening of this blog, you make me nervous man!!!

Then I realize that you seem to have a wonderful habit of changing our fortunes.


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3 Responses to Unai Emery’s game plan revealed? Positives, Needs and Hopes

  1. lari03 October 26, 2018 at 7:25 pm #

    Thanks for the review. I think only Pep can have ideas on how to stop our fullbacks, but the transitions leading to the goals coming from the full back’s cross is often very fast and so within a matter of second, the ball is hit from the center, out wide, and back to an unmarked player in the center. The speed is why it works and it seems unstoppable at the moment.

  2. lari03 October 26, 2018 at 7:29 pm #

    The full back cutback cross pattern reminds me of scenes at Highbury when TH14 would dance to the edge of the box, from the left and unleash a curling shot which more often than not ended in the far corner as a goal; trademark attack.

    • Mike McDonald October 27, 2018 at 5:47 pm #

      You make a good point about stopping Bellerin.
      I hope we use Bellerin in the same way against Liverpool as caution would tell you to stay back and watch Mane

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