Predicting what team Unai Emery will pick is an art form

The Arsenal manager remains an enigma when it comes to team selection.

Before every Arsenal game, we try and predict what team Unai Emery will select, badly I will admit. But we are not alone, many try and very few succeed.

Today we predicted what team Emery will select for the Sheff Utd match, this is the predicted team

Leno
Tierney
Luiz
Sokratis
Bellerin
Guendouzi
Torreira
Xhaka
Saka
Aubameyang
Pepe

I am fairly convinced this will be very close to the side Emery sends out. However, it seems others are not.

FootballTalk agrees with ten of my picks, they believe Chambers will start ahead of Bellerin.

Talksport also agrees with ten of my eleven, however, their difference is in midfield. They reckon that Ceballos will play instead of Torreira.

90maat predict a very different defence and predict that Kolasinac, Chambers and Ceballos all start.

Goonertalk has Ceballos and Chambers starting ahead of Torreira and Bellerin respectively.

And on it goes, it does not matter if it is a high brow publication, an Arsenal blog or a generic football site, very few agree on the same line-up.

Not many managers do what Emery does and completely confound pundits and fans alike. The Spaniard has turned it into an art form that very few have yet to master.

The silver lining is that if so many struggle to second guess Emery then so do the opponents.

Updated: October 20, 2019 — 8:28 pm

49 Comments

  1. Victoria Concordia Crescit

    OT – to you all criticising Unai Emery for drawing at Manchester United . saying how shit United are,and using how the smaller teams keep getting point against them as reference.

    well the most inform team in England (Liverpool) just got a lucky draw against them too . so, what do you all have to say ? you should cover your face in shame now , I knew you all thought Liverpool will dismantle this “useless” Manchester United team … well , how do you all feel now ?

    Even the worst Manchester United team of all time won wenger , you all discrediting Emery as if your idol did better . how many years has he not won at old Trafford again ? not forgetting the 8 – 2 defeat , and 11 defenders team that won wenger

    I’m not saying Emery is the man but we need to put perspective on everything and stop bashing him at every opportunity you get . EVERY GAME IS DIFFERENT .

    Wolves won Manchester City at the Etihad . If Emery wins Wolves at the Emirates , does it make us a better team ?

    1. Finally..took 3 hours for someone to come up with this búllshît.
      I was waiting for this narrative.
      You really think if United played against Us the same way they did today, you think we’d have gotten a point?

      This obsession with Liverpool is the reason this club hardly moves forward when it comes the its fan base.
      Always one sort of excuse or reason to deflect our poor performance, and always using Liverpool as the Alpha of all teams so we hide under that curtain.
      We lose a game or drop points, it’s Okay and impressive for us, especially if Liverpool lose the same game or drop points.

      We lose a game or drop points, it’s okay and we justify it if Liverpool wins the same game with the excuse that they’re the best team on the planet so there’s no way they couldn’t have outperformed us.

      There’s Always one lame, weak àss poor mentality excuse we normally make out for our performances, as if there’s no way we could’ve done better.

      Already there’s the büllshït going around that we can’t really annihilate Sheffield Utd just because Liverpool won by a single goal. Liverpool won by a single goal, so there’s no way we can do better than Liverpool did against Utd.
      The kinda fans we have though

      1. Eddie you are right. In that utd game Emery had more trepidation and fear of a weakened utd team than faith in our attacking prowess.

        How can I say this? He fielded 3 DM’s rather than going with the strength of our attacking players.

        Fans immediately pointed this out, and the players had to notice this as well.

        Another thing, club’s standing has been from Auba’s magic not from Emery’s “tactics.” Or should I say in spite of Emery’s”tactics.”

        People like to point out Liverpool as an example for current success, and arguably so. No one mentions that they’re set up to their strengths, and not to counter opposition.

        They force opponents to adjust and adapt to them, yet Emery adapts before the ball is even kicked, rather than halftime.

        I don’t hate Emery, I hate the fact he doesn’t play to win, but rather not to lose.

        Hopefully he learned from last year’s setup folly and collapse the last six games.

        1. Spot on Eddie-why all of a sudden a Football Club that have never won a EPL Title should be who we judge ourselves against is anyone’s guess. Palace won at OT-should we compare us to them? FFS We are Arsenal Football Club.Lets be more concerned at what our results mean not any other Club, especially those over-rated Scousers who failed to beat a Man Utd with NO recognised CF, NO best player in Pogba, and the worst defence they have had for 30 years.

          1. To be fair, there are some matches the players raise their game for. Derby games like Man Utd vs City/Liverpool or Arsenal vs Sours (love the autocorrect). At the moment, the City and Liverpool are the yardstick we judge ourselves by as they’re the top two. I wasn’t alone in thinking Utd would lose but look what happened there. I agree with Durand in saying we’re winning despite Emery’s tactics. He seemed to play with less fear this time last season, what do you think?

      2. My prediction is that kit will be a boring game.

      3. @Eddie hoyte so you think someone wrote bullshit hust because you don’t agree with his post but all i see in yours was complete trash, you can choose to not acknowledge the fact that liverpool and city are the two best teams in English football in todays game.fans don’t want to accept the fact that these two teams are the measuring stick of todays epl. Yes we are a work in progress wait what is the rubbish about playing 3 dm against united over 2 season we have considered insane no. Of goals and in this season looks like it may continue i was worried about it. And i expect the coach to be worried too, its not as if he is using same tactics every match united as bad as they are can hurt/halt any team.Am not unai’s biggest fan but wouldn’t make me to start talking shit at everything he does.we are all whinning about our defense yet we he trys to offer them little protection he becomes pragmatic and not playing to teams strength. Yes our stength is to concede 50+ every season am not saying his decisions are always correct but lets be reasonable too

        1. @Nonny
          You have written so much sense your post should be pinned! I salute you 👊

      4. I agree to this, liverpool drawing to man u is their problem

    2. I accept that every one is entitled to their own opinion but this kind of attitude that some fans carry around that because so and so dint win then it’s okay for us not to win. This kind of negative mentality is just not good whatever. We have our own circumstances and approach. We simply played withholding our full force in that game. We didn’t play to our strength. I always say that it’s better to lose with an intent to win than play for a draw

    3. Victoria – Your logic is deeply flawed. By your logic Norwich should challenge for the title because they beat City. Just because Man U got a draw against Liverpool doesn’t mean we played well against Man U and were lucky to get a draw.

      Man U were there for the taking but we choked in our team selection, with our tactics, and on the pitch.

      I expect you to come on here after we beat Norwich to explain how we are better than City.

  2. You are spot on.you just said it the way it is.

  3. LDDWWWDWW…

    The premier league is the most toughest and craziest league in the world.
    Livpl draw against Man. U and they are called invisible. We draw against Man.U and we are poor.

    I just hope we win tomorrow and climb back to 3rd position.

    1. We can only hope Liverpool become “invisible”!

  4. If you follow what Unai says ,and previous lineups, it’s pretty simple.
    Leno -obvious
    Chambers – Bellarin ain’t ready
    Sokratis /Holding
    Luiz
    Tierney -said he’s ready to play
    Xhaka -captain
    Guendouzi -amazing form
    Ceballos -he’s not missed a game this season
    Saka -empty space
    Auba
    Pepe

  5. If Chambers or Bellerin is at RB, Tierney is at LB, and Chambers or Holding is in for Socrates, then I couldn’t care a less about who gets picked in the midfield. Those three changes will make all our midfielders better.

  6. That’s quite a good prediction, however I also think Chambers & Ceballos will start over Bellerin & Torreira.
    The PL is a very tough league & as I predicted, Liverpool would get a draw at best at OT. I don’t understand why people assume that a team especially like ManU will just roll over at OT just because they are in poor a form.
    I also don’t understand the fascination of some of our fans for Ozil to start, citing lack of creativity in midfield. Liverpool don’t rely on very creative midfielders, most of their goals are created by their full backs & front 3. Their midfield is full of very hardworking players who can press well. My point is I understand Emery’s use of a pragmatic approach to matches. I don’t like it, but we’ve had a long history of exposing ourselves to counter attacks when we attack too much.
    Liverpool got the same result as us at OT & are being hailed as invincibles while some of our fans called Emery a coward & all sort of names.
    Football is played in that moment, nothing is cast in stone. Let’s support our team & manager & criticize rationally.
    Looking forward to our match against Sheffield, really hope to see a 1st PL start for Tierney.

    1. United played 10 times better against L’pool in a game that is basically their cup final.

      When they played like against us, they lost to Newcastle.

      Stop with silly comparisons.

      Of course, if we get at least 75 points Unai will prove he is improving us. Anything less would be disappointing. We cannot judge a manager based on the shit form of opposition. Wenger got 75 points in his penultimate season, but we were 5th because other teams had decent sseasons. Was it Wenger’s fault? And if Spurs and United have crap seasons, is it Emery’s achievement?? When we were second in the “Leicester” season with only 71 points were we improving? Of course not. We were lucky opposition had a bad season…

      So let’s at least agree that if we get 75 points or more Emery has shown some improvement, although considering the players we now have, we should be close to 80, I feel. I mean this is the best squad we’ve had in a decade so Emery should take advantage of what was GIVEN to him (as he is just a coach, not in charge of transfers).

      1. Oh my God.so if Liverpool wins the league by 80 points it will be because other teams are poor seriously all do you mean other teams are strong and its not easy to take away points from them.

        You logic sounds awkward. Stop trying to paint things so that your opinion will look more superior. Black is black and white is white. Manchester united would have beaten us if the performed as well as they did against Liverpool what type of aberration is that maybe its because they lack the quality to perform that way against us. Pls lets ✋ stop this twist Manchester played 1:1 with Liverpool the same score line the can Munster against us fullstop

      2. Diogenes, with refernce to the Leicester season and improvement…just check the final positions the two seasons before then 4th 3rd then 2nd…that is undeniable, factual improvement.
        The following season we missed 4th place and CL by just one point, but won yet another trophy.
        Hardly the awful squad some on here love to say UE inherited, judged by these results I would suggest.

        So what am I looking for from UE?

        With a squad UE has at his disposal now, 4th place is the minimum we should expect and eight more points after
        spending over £215,000,000 is a poor return pro rata don’t you think?
        It seems certain that we have lost exciting, attacking, flowing football, for a defensive type of play. ?..now GG played this type of game and was successful up to a point.
        But he was consistent with his game plan, his players and his tactics…unlike UE.

        I have no idea what I am going to see at every game I attend, even after UE being in chaege for 27 premier league games…and of course he has an imput into transfers, do you think he is given players like pepe with no discussions regarding how said player would/could improve the squad?

  7. Fair criticism is fair, and questions must always be asked, this is a natural state. Are we fans or lemmings?

    Blindly following over the last decade landed us where we are. Blindly following again will not help us progress.

    Wenger wasn’t questioned soon enough and look what happened. Emery has been here nearly 18 months, when can he be questioned or fairly criticized?

    Lack of defensive improvement? Isn’t his job to help Mustafi and Sokratis improve or replace them? Chambers has outperformed both, on loan and at Arsenal, yet only seen at RB; far from his best position yet still one of our best defenders still.

    Xhaka our least effective midfielder; poor defender, poor in attack, and error prone yet walks into lineup regardless of form.

    I could go on with Torreria and others, but most get the point.

    1. Durand, absolutely nothing wrong with questioning a coach’s selections or tactics with reasoned arguments; it is the rabid disparagement and personal attack by some on this site that I can’t stand.

    2. Durand – well said! I think it is the fact that as you say: “Xhaka our least effective midfielder; poor defender, poor in attack, and error prone yet walks into lineup regardless of form.” that makes the blood boil. So freakin’ frustrating!

      Perhaps this complete unfairness of what Emery is doing week after week after week is what causes the “…rabid disparagement and personal attack by some on this site…”

      1. Gunner Jack, can’t people criticise without making it a personal attack against someone not in a position to defend themselves?
        Gutless keyboard warriors abound, unfortunately.

  8. It is current form of Liverpool, not the historical achievements. They recently won the champions league. I mean champions of Europe. They missed out on the premier league by 1 point. That’s exemplary.So don’t bash people referencing to Liverpool when it comes to arsenal.

  9. I think we will always have problems picking what team Emery will play and that’s what he wants.

    I see many on here and elsewhere referring to our UEL/Cup squad as our B team but I honestly don’t think that’s how he sees it. He has said numerous times that he wants a 25 man squad available for each game.

    Don’t get me wrong some players will probably be favoured more for the PL – like Auba, Laca, Pepe, KT, Bellerin, Holding etc but I don’t think they are guaranteed to start in any way, shape or form. Emery will do exactly what he says and pick the combination he thinks will work best in each match.

    For example Sheff Utd is a game that I feel will play to Willock and Laca’s strengths as it will probably be a more physical match up and both are more than capable of handling these type of games, whereas players like Ozil (example not criticism before I start something off), Ceballos and Saka may struggle to sieze the game more. On the flip side maybe their tricksy footwork will work where Willock and Laca’s directness fail – these are the type of things that Emery will constantly be adjusting for imo and I’m fine with that. What I don’t want to see though is an entirely new formation each week, swapping players in and out of the same formation each week is one thing (familiarity will still come just maybe a bit slower) but swapping the players and formation all the time will just lead to confusion imo as not only will players not be familiar enough with each other but not familiar enough with their own role each week.

    Lineup for Sheff – I don’t know, but I am expecting us to start becoming more aggressive in our play now (quite possibly slower than I’d like if Emery is too cautious) and I think it will probably be a 4-2-3-1 formation as that seems to be what Emery has favoured this season – looking forward to seeing what he does.

  10. Why do we compare ourselves to anybody anyway?

    I read with disbelief earlier in the week, that some were saying that The Invincibles weren’t as good as fans think…this from our own sso called fans!!!
    Since the formation of the premiership, pool and spuds have won it exactly how many times?

    They even diss the fact that we have won the oldest cup competition in the world more times than any other club…not fans at all, just trophy hunters who haven’t got a clue about supporting a club.

    As regards to the topic…not an idea, especially since the miracle type return of fitness, commitment and positive body language of a man that UE looks for in a player.

    I would like to see:

    Martinelli-Bellerin-Chambers-Holding-Tierney-Torerria-Guendozi-Ozil-Ceballos-Auba-Lacs.

    Subs: Leno-Luiz-AMN-Saks-Willock-Pepe: This is probably why I have never made it as a professional manager, but I think it looks terrific!!!

    1. 442 diamond Ken? 🤔

      1. MadHatter, exactly, with Ozil at the top, Guendozi and Cebs either side, with Torerria in front of the defence.
        As I say, I’m not the best, but at least we will try and attack them!!!
        If I’ve got any more than four right, I’ll be chuffed to bits!!!

        Enough of this defensive tripe and giving a player more time to get back to fitness…if Ozil can do it in three days, these slackers should be following his professional example and go and see the the miracle workers at our club!!!!

        Yeah, I know MadHatter, I know…but sometimes one has to do it!!!!

        1. It’s not without its merits my friend – certainly a line up that could play some sexy football 👍
          My only concern in it would actually be Torreira.
          Not sure if it’s just the freedom he’s been given so far or just part of his game but he does love to chase the ball a bit too much. If the FBs are forward, we get hit on the counter and he goes ball chasing, the CBs could be left exposed. Maybe Luiz swaps with Chambers (also gets a long ball option in there) and Chambers takes Torreira’s spot. Xhaka would give opposite problem in that he would provide the stability that Torreira (seemingly) lacks but not enough mobility to cover properly 🤷‍♂️

          1. @ Madhatter. A new day and a new battle! Great stuff! So let’s get stuck in to your latest half truths and general waffle.

            “It’s not without its merits…” Bet Ken’s glad he’s got your approval about his lineup. Talk about condescending!

            “My only concern in it would actually be Torreira… he does love to chase the ball a bit too much. If the FBs are forward, we get hit on the counter and he goes ball chasing.”

            That’s because Emery has been trying to force Torreira to get further forward or even be a box to box player. Here’s what Emery said: “His qualities are that he can give us good pressing, and he can win the ball HIGH UP THE PITCH to give us the possession to score.”

            When he went back to play for Uruguay the manager played him in his correct DM position and he played well. So why on earth do you and Emery think he’s better playing further forward? Especially as he was bought specifically as a DM!

            You also decided to somehow ‘not see’ Ken’s comment which was “… with Torreria in front of the defence” because it didn’t fit in with your narrative.

            Okay, on to your next comment and let’s take a look at what sort of old cobblers you’ve come up with there…

        2. Oh and just because I can’t resist temptation at times – it’s not so dissimilar to how Emery lined up against Watford and Lpool 😲🤣

          Main differences between his lineup and yours is he had Pepe instead of Laca, Xhaka instead of Torreira and most importantly the whole backline has changed.
          Its plausible that Xhaka was used for that extra stability I mentioned that I feel Torreira lacks, but could be that whole backline being swapped over is the difference between a team that can actually push forward and one that has sat deep like we’ve seen so far 🤷‍♂️

          1. MH: talking about Ken’s lineup “– it’s not so dissimilar to how Emery lined up against Watford and Lpool”

            followed by this gem:

            “Main differences between his lineup and yours is he had Pepe instead of Laca, Xhaka instead of Torreira and most importantly the whole backline has changed.”

            So six changes but it’s not dissimilar? SMH in disbelief.

            BTW do you think using a double negative makes you sound impressive? And not a pompous prat?

    2. Ken, I’m a bit concerned about Martinelli’s prowess as a goal keeper; I think Martinez may be a better selection. 😊😊

      1. Ozziegunner, if UE can do it….so can I!!

        Seriously, as soon as I sent it I thought s★★t, , well spotted old friend – he should be on the subs bench instead of Luiz and alongside Leno.

        The reason I selected him over leno, he is better when dealing with crosses, a tactic that Ithink they will use.

        1. Ken, I knew it was a simple typo, but couldn’t let the opportunity pass for a bit of light hearted fun 😊.
          Also I have made comments on a number of your previous posts on a number of subjects without reply.

  11. United 1-1 Arsenal
    United 1-1 Liverpool

    Yet Emery got so much c*** from many “fans”

  12. You’re allowed to say “crap” on this site I think going by some posts.

  13. Predicting an Emery team against any opposition is a game- he wins, you lose, because you can never get it right. It’s laughable really – the armchair experts against the guy that sees them, coaches them, talks to them every day.

    I know who I would like to see on the field, but as far as I’m concerned he can pick the dressing room cleaner, as lonng as wee stay up there in 2nd, 3rd or 4th place this season.

  14. It doesn’t matter to me whom Unai picks up – I need the 3 points for my team, so it is up to Unai to get us those 3 points. If we loose / draw a match, Unai is accountable, if we win he needs to congratulated.Personally I would not like to see MO10 on the pitch as his demeanor and body language is disgusting, but those are my opinions and for myself only, it is up to Unai to select his best starting 11.I do not mind 3 CDMs if we get 3 points, and maintain the gap. Except MO10, other players seem to be ready for a fight on the pitch, it is up to Unai to prepare them tactically, mentally and physically. Hoping for a win tonight.

  15. When Emery could only salvage a draw, from the “worst United team in history”, rabid fans were jumping on his neck saying, “If Palace can whoop Utd in their own backyard, why can’t this clueless manager do the same? Then Klopp goes there and embarrassingly rescues a point for his team in the dying moments of the game and the tune now changes to “we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to other teams”. You didn’t mind comparing us to Palace before, did you? so what has changed?

    1. We are arsenal, the fans are not analysing us as arsenal they are analysing us as city and pool yes today they are the two best teams in the world and it took them time resourses and believe from the fans and club in the vision they are trying to achieve and here they are today this is the second season of a phase what we all accepted will be a process suddenly the fans are jumping it’s taking too much time why everyone wants us to be as good as city and pool this teams took their different roots to be where they are today and we took our separate root which we all accept will lead us to the promise land we are prioritising promotion the youths buying promising talents and so on we had a complete change of clubs backroom staff we are not like chevs who have a tradition of changing managers/coaches. there have been insane no. Of changes in the last two seasons many are still trying to find there feet i can still go on but what am I trying to say we are not liverpool or man city we should just accept the fact that currently they are above us in development and in performance, this season should be a season of development and closing the gap between the two lets not create a toxic environment that will hamper what we are trying to build

  16. @GunnerJack do I need to make you the chairman of the MadHatter fan club? 🤔

    Im well aware that Emery wants Torreira playing further forward, as I said it could be the freedom he’s given or just his natural game 🤷‍♂️ Just incase you haven’t noticed though there is a general trend for tough tackling midfielders to be higher up the pitch (Kante a good example) as for some peculiar reason managers don’t want them tackling on the edge of the penalty area with VAR being a thing. Funny that.

    Im also well aware Ken said Torreira in front of the defence – and as I said I worry he will actually sit there like he should, so I didn’t ignore it to fit my narrative 🤷‍♂️

    As for the rest of your diatribe, yes I’m well aware it makes 6 changes but as I’ve been saying all along that backline makes a world of difference to how effective the team is, yet people like you like to ignore how it affects us going forward?
    As for me being pompous for using a double negative? Think what you like chap, never said my use of English was perfect, nor have I ever said that I know more than anyone else – I was just chatting with Ken about his lineup he posted, don’t like what I post – move the fekk past it, don’t act like your Billy big b*lls trying to pick an argument just for the sake of it. You want a reasonable debate fine, I’m all for that. You just want to argue and insult? Go find someone else because carrying on trying with me will just get you ignored for being the troll you appear to be 🤷‍♂️
    Have a good day chap 😁

    1. Emery will make our team play
      In our way
      In our capacity
      In our mentality
      In our pressing
      In our system….

  17. You sound just as gibberish as he sounds during his press conferences. I wonder if he actually attends the English classes as stipulated in his contract. Really curious to know what band score he got o his UKVI IELTS for his Tier 2 Visa.

    1. I guess you didn’t get my sarcasm. I was just imitating Emery.

  18. I think you’ll be right except Chambers, I’d say CC will play at right back. Midfield I think he’ll go with those three, and Laca will be on the bench. There’s a chance Kol might keep his place, but I’d like to see Tierney start and he looks fit.

    Leno
    Chambers
    Luiz
    Sokratis
    Tierney/Kolasinac

    Torriera/Cabellos
    Xhaka
    Guendouzi

    Pepe
    Aubameyang
    Saka

    ……………..COME ON YOU! GUNNERS!!!!!!!……………..

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