The Five Major Changes that Emery Has Brought To Arsenal

Some are saying the fixtures have been kind to Arsenal. Others are saying Liverpool in two weeks will be a true reflection of what progress we have made. Unai Emery wasn’t my first choice but there’s no denying that he’s made improvements.

Below are the 5 major changes I have noticed during Emery’s first few months ….

5) Keeper Being Good With His Feet
My least favourite one as I’m yet to see how the reward outweighs the risk? Every couple of years there is a trend that all coaches want to copy with Pep Guardiola starting a craze of having a keeper who’s good with his feet. Manuel Neuer was so gifted on the ball he became a sweeper for Bayern Munich but not expected to lead attacks. We are seeing frequent goalkeeping errors as they overplay instead of kicking it up in the air. Cech is struggling with this new demand, it’s overshadowing what he’s doing with his hands. Leno seems more comfortable in the role but personally I hope this is a craze that dies out.

4) Strong Bench For Cup Ties
Like Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery has been able to field different XI’s at weekends compared to midweek. Which is fine, our fringe players should be good enough to get through our Europa League group. Unlike the Frenchmen though, the Spaniard has made a point of fielding strong benches. That’s not to bash our old boss. Resting our star names didn’t stop us winning our group in Europe last year or getting to a League Cup Final. So why would Ozil be asked to fly to Azerbaijan if not needed? Why would Lacazette come on when we are already 3-0 up? It can only be their new gaffer sending a message to his men. No one man is too good, no matter the tie, venue or credentials of the opposition.

3) Full Backs Crossing
For a long time, full backs have become crucial to a side’s attacking approach. Bellerin has never been shy getting forward but seemed to have lacked all confidence in the final third. While Monreal was getting a decent goal return, Hector was taking the easy way out, no longer taking on his man but instead passing backwards. He’s one of several youngsters let down by some of his more experienced peers in the last couple of years. A lack of leadership in our dressing room has let him down. Any Gooners who go to the Emirates on match days will see in the warm up there is a spell where the right back practises crossing the ball into the middle. He’s already assisted nearly his whole total from the whole of the last campaign.

2) Subs Made Early
Even in our glory years it was quite easy to telegraph Arsene Wenger’s substitutions. If we needed a goal after 70 minutes he brings on an attacker for a CM, kind of like you do on Football Manager. Perhaps showing how the game was evolving younger managers were changing tactics mid match, adjusting to what the opposition was doing. On Monday evening, Uni Emery switched to a back 3 to change the game, he’s even been making changes as early as half time.

1) Mentality
Some are saying the fixtures have been kind but it’s the fact we have won 10 consecutive games without playing well which is also impressive. Under Arsene Wenger in last two years, we wouldn’t have been able to win so many games when not at our best. The most impressive statistic is in our 7 consecutive League wins we have never been ahead at half time. So, in every win, we had to face adversity, be patient and stay focused. We didn’t have those characteristics last season.

Any other changes you Like?

Please leave your comments below…

Dan Smith


  1. Patrick_G says:

    My favorite improvement is the Mentality – which brings that fighting spirit onto the pitch.

    That matters more for me.


    1. gotanidea says:


      Because Emery is a new manager, the players fight to be his main players

      The internal competition seems to be very strong now and we can see the effect on most Gunners

  2. Eddie Hoyte says:

    “Keeper Being Good With His Feet……” “I hope this is a craze that dies out.”
    No Dan I hope it doesn’t, before Pep started that thing, hell who even concluded was the one to start it?
    Germany team has been known to be filled with Sweeper Keepers before Pep went to Bayern. All German keepers have that strength of having the ball at their feet.
    I think just kicking the ball to the center of the pitch used to be wasteful, yes. I used to question myself when keepers take goal kicks “Why not just pass the ball to your defender instead of kicking it out and giving it to the opponents? “.

    Hell even right from PlayStation 2 years, I’ve always passed the ball from back when I have a goal kick. I find peace in passing the ball to my players and starting from back. Which I’m sure a lot of PlayStation fans would’ve done a lot.
    I think it started from Germany’s team, and not Pep starting it. But that’s not the point, the point is I think it’s more reasonable to build from the back than kicking it out for the players to go fight for, so I hope it doesn’t end.
    I love the fact that Unai rotates well and perfectly too, I hope we beat Sporting tomorrow, Crystal Palace isn’t a threat to me on Sunday. I’m not getting ahead of myself, but it’s the same feeling that was there before we played Leicester, even after we went a goal down, I was calm and told my buddies we’ll win the match. Honestly I don’t see even Liverpool beating us next week.
    Let’s cut this crap of saying we’ve played average teams, Liverpool isn’t the team they were last season even if they’re on top, Arsenal ain’t the team they were last season. Only City can boast more goals, and personally without being sentimental I think Arsenal’s attack currently is the best in the EPL.If I want to delve deep into my assessment, it’ll be a long comment so I’ll stop here for now

    1. gotanidea says:

      I’m also a strong advocate of building the attack from the back

      In Wenger’s era, Cech often kicked the ball panickly or distributed it directly to Giroud, instead of playing it with the defenders. Luring the opponents to chase the ball should be encouraged, not criticized

      Barcelona start their attack from their defenders and their attackers are their first defenders. I believe this is what Emery expects from all outfield players, a total football

      1. Eddie Hoyte says:

        Under Wenger, Cech wasted a lot of balls

  3. pires says:

    The positivity for me.And it’s not a dig at Wenger.The club needed to clear out the negativity surounding our previous manager and it’s there to be seen that the lads are playing with more freedom.We were our own oppenents last year.

  4. Hez says:

    Personally I think building from the back has won us games this season, if you remember Wenger’s teams would be stuck in midfield passing aimlessly with little movement while the opposition parks the bus, now the opposition is drawn to press leaving the mid open for long passes and effective counters, look at the third goal again

  5. AndersS says:

    The biggest change for me, is how much harder the players have to work under Emery.
    Last season, we were the 6’th ranked team in distance covered. So far this season we are no. 1.
    So you can say, we may have been a bit lucky in a couple of matches, but we also work harder to get that luck, and I am also sure the harder work rubs off on the players. The are stronger, and they feel it mentally.

  6. ozziegunner says:

    AndersS, I agree that the major improvement is that Emery and his assistants are working the players hard at Colney, not only physical fitness but skills drills. With physical fitness comes mental fitness and confidence that the players can keeping running right until the end of games. This has shown in Arsenal’s second half efforts and the improvements in players’ fitness and skill levels. The old adage aplies that “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” Many of the games won this year, would have ended in draws, if not defeats, last season.
    Also it is evident that Emery does not play favorites with selections, sets up the team dependent on the opposition and makes substitutions to suit the game situation.
    Long may the improvement continue.

  7. Omo-ochez says:

    Well for me the most improvement is the mentality. I dont wanna get carried away tho but the Arsenal’s response after going a goal down has been impressive. First against West-ham and now against Leicester. The team is improving by every game, however they need to get off the blocks from the blast of the whistle, better teams would have punished us.
    Another thing that has helped the team is the time he names his team for every game. Emery waits until few hours to the game before picking his starting eleven unlike Wenger who names the team 2-3 days ahead of a game. This has enabled the players to get stuck in and fight real hard to start the games because no player is guaranteed a starting berth.

    Fozza gonners lets make it 11 wins on Thursday

  8. Kenny Rolfe says:

    Point 5, You say keepers playing out from the back is a craze you hope dies out. That’s never going to happen, football evolves and ball playing goalkeepers are the future.
    Point 4 Unai has surprised me with some of his substitutions in Europa games but agree with you Dan, refreshing.
    Point 3 Bellerin looks a better player this year especially going forward. It doesn’t surprise me, Unai’s improved every player in the side
    Point 2 This is where we’ve improved most, purely because Unai is a brilliant tactician. So different to 70th minute same substitutions by Wenger. If a coach thinks he’s picked the wrong side he’ll change it immediately like, at much as I hate to say it, Mourinho does. Wenger waits for the 70th minute and always used the same excuse “the player was tired”
    Point 1 The reason for the difference in Point 1 is because of the previous 4 points, a complete different mentality. When you’re not at your best then the only way to win games is to be better tactically. Unai has this in abundance. His tactical nous is up with George Graham, how George must enjoy watching this new Arsenal side. Good article Dan, sums up our season so far.

    1. jon fox says:

      WENGER ALWAYS BELIEVED PLAYERS GOT TIRED IN EXACTLY THE 70TH MINUTE. I got tired of him ten years before he was sacked.

  9. RSH says:

    The team believes they can go out and win a match, even if they go down a goal. Even against Chelsea there was a lot of self-belief. Even if we dont get the result against Liverpool I will still be happy to see that same belief. This is the type of mentality that has to stay at the club.

    1. Patrick_G says:

      I agree,

      Football is about margins. Yes you can concede goals based on the quality of the opposition.

      Yes you can score lots of goals.

      But the margins sometimes can go against you or in your favor.

      So team spirit and mentality always keeps that assurance to the team and supporters.

      We keep our heads up and the team will do so as well.


  10. Break-on-through says:

    Some good points to talk about there, you could maybe have four or five topics for your articles. The sweeper keeper, I can remember times when a ball would go very long, our keeper would stay in his area, and there’d be a race to the ball. Aguero was dangerous with that stuff. I think it’s a good tactic but I believe that the GK’s ability with his hands is the top attribute to hold, obvious of course. Overplaying it at the back, that can happen with or without the keeper. It is better to have that option than to not have it, in my mind.

    Fullbacks crossing. If ever there was one player in this team that totally suited Every’s vision, it is Hector Bellerin. He is in the mold of your quintessential European fullback. He’s a very important player for the make up of Emery-Ball. I can definitely see us buying a brand new left back, a really good one. I would believe them if the media comes to tell us we are interested in that Switzerland left back, Rodriquez.

    Subs made early, but more importantly, made wisely. This is great and I’m sure all agree. The mentality, the new mentality it seems, though allot of them were already hear. Confidence is a wonderful thing. I wasn’t aware that we had not been winning in any of those games until the second half, this is amazing, it does show a certain mentality. Really good article Admin, nice read …if you’re a Gooner!!

  11. BZ says:

    Well said Pires

  12. Declan says:

    Playing from the back has a simple philosophy, retaining possession of the ball. So often a keeper, Cech included, just pumps the ball upfield and 7 times out of 10 it ends up with the opposition. Yes, Leno kicks long sometimes as every keeper under pressure may have to but when he kicks long it’s udualy to a teammate. His distribution Niall areas is excellent.

  13. Declan says:

    Btw, I’m also really pleased to see crosses and cut backs into the box from out wide. It’s something we hadn’t been doing for years.

  14. jon fox says:

    Lots of technical changes but for me the most important by far can be summed up as players have to play full out and give it all for Emery or be dropped. And he knows they all know that too. He has amply proved it already. This fear motivates players. They now play for the shirt , previously they just turned up and looked unworried what happened. All that nonsense has been swept away. THAT is by far the biggest positive change that has happened. WITHOUT TOTAL EFFORT, NO TEAM EVER WINS A TITLE. Eh Weed Walcott? BTW, who saw the Weed coasting, before being rightly subbed the other day against Palace when wearing Everton’s shirt? I do not call what Weed did playing, merely shirt wearing. PLUS CA CHANGE!

  15. ken 1945 says:

    Biggest change?
    DESIRE, but to do what?
    To win.
    To compete.
    To assist.
    To cover.
    To enjoy.
    To deliver.
    To acknowledge mistakes.
    To play to a system.
    To play for the shirt.
    To acknowledge the fans.
    To earn their salaries.
    To be competitive.
    To play attacking football.
    To play constructive football.
    To improve as individuals.
    To improve as a team.

    I actually think that’s sixteen desirable changes I’ve noticed.

    This is what was missing from our team over the LAST TWO YEARS, and that must mean (as a Wenger man for the previous twenty years) the improvement of Emery over Wenger, who is still a legend to me!!

    1. Sue says:

      ??? things are looking good Ken!

      1. ozziegunner says:

        ?well said Ken.

      2. Red and white says:

        Yes sue until the liverpool game
        Lets judge this chap after the pool game
        Even wenger won these matches nothing great
        Suddenly fans are adoring this man forgetting he lost to the big 4 twice

        1. Sue says:

          Oh come on…. Jeez you sound like you want us to lose!!!

          1. Sue says:

            Plus… we were unlucky against Chelsea… most teams will lose against City. I think you’re being harsh… he’s changed everything we’ve become accustomed to… the subs, the tactics, he even takes part in training, he isn’t afraid to drop anyone who’s underperforming,, he even had a heatmap on MOTD the other week – there wasn’t a blade of grass untouched, he was everywhere!! So Red & White I for one am very happy with our manager & the way things are COYG

  16. Ackshay says:

    1St in distance covered and not winning any games at half time shows a whole new mentality for this squad. One of the main reason the fans tuned out of the teams this past years is the lack of fighting spirit that we see now. We had some bad matches in this run but never due to lazyness.

    Vs man city our players were still fighting till the end. Vs Chelsea the same you could feel even at 0-2 down they still thought they wouldn’t lose the match, I certainly was surprised when we lost the match late. It’s true that our squad overall is weaker than the 3 teams above us but our fighting spirit and emery tactical nous compensate for it.

    1. Ackshay says:

      We will lose at some point maybe even bad vs Liverpool if their attack is clinical that day and we are bad in the 1St half but I don’t expect us to give up. On the other hand if Liverpool has a bad day we could lay a beating on them.

      The heavy defeats vs Liverpool have mostly been because of the tacticall mismatch in their favour since we crumble under heavy pressing and that was there biggest strength. Only team I see that can outclass us is finacial doping mancity.

  17. Sal says:

    here are the changes in the way we play that i’m spotting:

    1) we attack as a unit we defend as a unit

    2) the two midfielders are tied together and play close to each other unlike previous seasons where one pressed and the other sat deep, they are like 10 – 15 meters apart at most which i think is what we need to protect the back four

    3) when we attack we overload the wings with our fullbacks and we attack the box with at least 4-5 players waiting for a cross or a cutback, when we got two strikers on the field well we’ve all seen what happens!

    4) we try to keep the ball when the opposition defense is compact and we move up the defensive line to launch numerous attacks with only two defenders remaining marking the lone striker

    5) when the ball is played from the back one of the two midfield drops inbetween or just infront of the cbs to collect

    6) our manager knows tactics!!

    1. Sal says:

      and we play from the back that’s a given no 🙂

  18. jim wall says:

    I have been ozils biggest critic last year.
    But i have to swallow my pride and say when hes on his game he is lovely to watch but i think against the top 4 teams away he should be left out and play a extra midfielder.
    Bell……… Sok….. Kos…… Mon…..
    ………….guss… Torr… Xakai……..
    Iwobi……. Lacca…… Auba…..
    Subs to bring on if we go behind god forbid… Ozil for xakai…. Wellbeck for iwobi…
    Last subb on miki for guss…


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