The new Arsenal manager Unai Emery is very clear and surprisingly open about how he likes to set his teams out, and he has been explaining exactly how he thinks that one striker in his formation allows his teams to be more aggressive and attacking than if he uses the traditional 4-4-2 set up.
As he explained in a recent interview: “What I like is provoking the opponent,” Emery said. “It’s a more aggressive idea, which exposes you more. Bielsa’s style, Guardiola’s style.
“When you lose the ball, you win it back as quickly as possible. Anywhere the ball may be, the team has to position themselves to press and win it back. If play stops, everyone goes back to their position. If the ball is in play, we press, all while remaining organised tactically.
“Those are my two outlooks from a defensive point of view. If the ball is in play, you press. If play stops, you reposition yourself.”
“For me, the 4-1-4-1 is the system which facilitates that type of pressing,”
“The 4-4-2 is designed more and more for zonal positioning. It’s less aggressive, but is more difficult to get past. That’s the case with Marcelino’s teams, Quique Sanchez Flores’ teams, Saint-Étienne when we last played them…
“I am not ruling out the possibility of a 4-4-2. That’s not the idea that I privilege, but if it allows me to be more competitive, then I’ll go towards it without hesitating.
“We sometimes used it in Sevilla. I would put Banega in a playmaker position, and have him move to the second striker position without the ball. With two strong, physical players behind him, it provided me with the necessary cohesion to press.”
So it looks like Arsenal fans are going to be treated to some entertaining football in the coming years. I would love to see us playing in the same style as Pep’s Man City. It could certainly lead to some interesting high scoring games, especially when we come up against the Champions next season.
Can Emery out-Pep Pep?
Exciting times ahead….