The last 11 months have flown by for Unai Emery, and he’s enjoyed every second of it.
The Spaniard succeeded Arsène Wenger in May 2018 and, after overseeing a 22-match unbeaten streak in his first few months in charge, has taken us into the Europa League quarter-finals and the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League.
There is of course still a lot of work to be done before the end of Emery’s first campaign in north London but, speaking with the media ahead of Monday’s clash with Newcastle United, it is clear to see that our head coach is very optimistic about the future.
“First, it’s the attention to the squad and to the players. We need to think about the football and the future. I have not come here to tell everybody about my football and that my knowledge is better than theirs. No. First, it’s about adaptation, to see that things are working well every day with the players and the club.
“After, I can change things because I always think we can improve here and there. Above all, it’s about respecting all the good things that have been done here and respecting the players too. A lot of time we’ve had good collective and individual performances. After, I am here to improve and to get better results tactically and individually.
“This process needs time but above all it’s about respecting the history here of Arsenal, of Arsène Wenger, of the players. Then I can share my ideas to create a new history, a new career, a new way here by being together.”
INTRODUCING A NEW IDENTITY
“I think it’s about reinforcing and giving the club my idea. Our first quality in me and the coaches working with me is that our commitment at the club is very big with the work. I think if we work more, we can get better in our results.
“After this, our experience in France, in Spain and also winning titles in the past helps, but we know that we need to create a new present and future. We are here to do something important and also to play for the possibility win the titles, to go to the Champions League and never miss it.
“We know this process also needs time but I am very happy at the beginning because everybody here at Colney has helped us a lot and has given us a lot of confidence to do things. They have given us good commitment and good behaviour to help our adaptation of being together.”
A ‘COMPETITIVE’ ARSENAL
“I think we can recognise this team as a competitive one. We are competitive because of the adaptation in the systems we are changing. Also, when we are playing against Manchester United, Tottenham, Manchester City or Liverpool, maybe sometimes we will not play like we want and we have lost. We lost against Manchester City, but generally we are being very competitive.
“Also, I think we are playing with energy and offensively. We are scoring a lot of goals and defensively we are finding the balance. In the last month, we have got better too and it’s the way. We have created a very strong mentality by being competitive.
“Afterwards, I like a lot of quality, I like the players to be protagonists with the ball, in possession. Above all, I want a very offensive team but we need to be competitive and also take our defensive work seriously so that we can have strong moments there too.”
SHARING HIS ENERGY
“I think being energetic on the sideline is natural. First it’s because I started doing that as a coach. I want to progress in my career with this personality. Also, it’s about helping the players in each match with my activity in the 90-minute period during the game. I also look at other coaches and they are very similar to me.
“I want to take the balance for when we need to push and when we need each player to have my energy to do more in the 90 minutes. Also sometimes, we need to show them or give them that calmness. Above all, we want to use the ball to create the best moments in the attacking third against the opposition.
“We need to do that with good concentration, good combination between us and the players on the pitch. I usually take two moments in the 90 minutes, when I need to push and ask the players to take my energy to push a lot. Then in other moments, it’s about being calm to take the moments with the ball and have good combinations like we want. That’s how we create our identity.”
EQUALLING LAST SEASON’S TALLY
“I use the Premier League a lot as the most important competition for us and the reason is because we have 38 matches to be consistent, and also to show our mentality. We started by losing the first two matches against Manchester City at home and Chelsea away, and we were last in the table.
“In this moment, maybe a lot of people were negative about our future, but in this moment I spoke with the team and told them that we needed to be consistent in 38 matches. We are going to do that by first being positive and then also by working in our way first. We’re not watching the table, we are focusing on each match.
“Now, in this moment, eight matches away from finishing the Premier League but in a good challenge. We’re focused on the next match against Newcastle. Our energy and focus needs to be like that to get the best performance in each moment.”
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