Arsenal's 'work in progress' going very well


HARARE - When Unai Emery first arrived at Arsenal he was of the opinion that many players were complacent, too comfortable and living the life but not giving 100 percent to the fans or the club. That has now changed.

Emery works 12 hours a day and he expects maximum effort from the players. A sign of things to come happened on July 23 when the Arsenal plane landed in Singapore’s Changi airport en route to their pre-season tour.

Instead of relaxing after the long 15-hour flight, Emery told his players to drop off their bags at the hotel and report for training. The players were shocked. In very hot conditions and jet-lagged he made the players work hard. 

Emery has phased out fruit and energy drinks, banned alcohol and insists that players eat together. Training sessions are longer and more intense and he is working the team harder during matches where they now run an extra two kilometres on average compared with Arsene Wenger’s tactics.                      

Emery concentrates on analysing everything from the previous match to the next opponents. He puts particular emphasis on the small things, finer points of the game and plays video after video of opponents, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses. 

He spends hours putting all this information together. He has also made 3pm an intense training time because it replicates kick-off time on a Saturday.                                                                     
Training often takes place at the Emirates unlike Wenger who never trained at the stadium. Every week starts the same with a 60-minute video of the previous match highlighting every player’s contribution, the positives and the negatives. 

Emery often criticises a player in front of the rest of the team. He behaves with the authority of a schoolmaster and backs up his criticism with video evidence so there is no room for argument.

Emery has one on one meetings with each player but they are very formal and not a casual chat.      

Emery is a good guy and he cares for his players but he distances himself from them like a figurehead boss rather than one of the guys. 

You feel the players should be calling him Sir! There is little time for favourites and Emery names his team only a few hours before kick-off so the selected players feel elated that they are playing.   

Emery learned a hard lesson at Paris St Germain where he was bossed around by superstars like Neymar who called the shots and he has clearly avoided this at Arsenal where he has kept world superstar Mesut Ozil very firmly in his place.

Four excellent positives have come from Emery’s first few months in charge: Lucas Torriera has been outstanding in midfield, Arsenal’s new rising star Matteo Guendouzi is a superb discovery and the two most improved players are Rob Holding and Iwobi. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is full of confidence and banging in the goals and he is supported by Alexandre Lacazette.                                                                   
It is still work in progress but the way ahead looks very positive.


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