By Tony Attwood
You may recall that we recently undertook a bit of an analysis comparing Mr Emery’s first season at Arsenal with Mr Wenger’s last. The full report is here in case you missed it but the long and the short of the analysis was that at home we conceded the same number of goals as the much praised Tottenham, and only four more goals across the season than Manchester City who won the league. That is roughly one more goal conceded at home than Manchester City, every four games. On that basis there is nothing wrong with the defence!
Which of course points to our problem – it is not a question of an awful defence, it is a question of an awful defence away from home – which clearly suggests tactics, not players, are at fault.
Now that is not to suggest Mr Emery got things wrong in his first year – he had to get to know the players and make things work during the season. Now however he has a bit of a chance to sort the issue.
So I thought it would be interesting to see what he did in his previous second seasons. Mr Wenger did the double; what can we expect now?
The general consensus is that at Valencia, come the second season, Mr Emery changed the team constantly according to a) whether it was home or away and b) the nature of the opposition.
In season one this is what he achieved
And in season two
The number of wins went up by three, the number of goals scored actually went down by nine, but the number of goals conceded went down by 14. So he got third place and automatic entry to the champs league.
And if you look back at reports, he did this by changing his line up according to the opposition, making it almost impossible for anyone to pick his side ahead of the game. And this rotation included players like Mata, Silva and Villa. He did not play the same starting 11 for two consecutive games all season.
Reports at the time also suggest that he brought a good number of players through the youth system too – which gives hope for those of us who love to see home grown Arsenal boys turning into men.
On the downside Dani Parejo (still at Valencia) complained of the length of his team talks and Dani Parejo said “there were so many videos I ran out of popcorn.”
On the financial side he spent the same amount of money as he brought in not least through taking some players who were much derided by fans (and we have a fair number of such men at Arsenal) into brilliant performers whom he could much later sell on. Roberto Soldado was the lead example – but there were a number of years of moaning before that happened.
If we by pass his short time at Spartak Moscow Mr Emery next popped up at Sevilla – which the boss joined half way through the season. So this is slightly harder to compare for a second season achievement, but I’m just taking complete seasons and ignoring the opening part-season. So 2014/15 is season one.
And then in season two he didn’t go quite so overboard in terms of changing players around for every game but kept to a smaller number of options depending on whom his side was playing. He is also reported to have reduced the use of videos for players, and instead opting for more face to face chats. The table at the end of 2015/16 read
So a calamity – everything good went down EXCEPT the goals against were two fewer, and of course having won the Europa League he got the team into the Champions League.
Next up was PSG. Mr Emery’s first season there was 2016/17 and with his club having won the league by 31 points the season before, coming second eight points behind the leaders was not what was ordered.
But in the second season he made up for it.
He also won both domestic cups in his two years giving him five trophies in two years and seven in the past five years. He is a man who wins things – although not always, and not always with historically the strongest clubs.
At PSG the selection process was less changeable, but this being PSG, one of the clubs that can rival Man City for money as and when required, he did show he was able to handle the big players too – which shows how little of history those who suggest otherwise, actually know.
So what does it all mean? Probably that this man can handle star players, will change the team around to make the most of it if he has too, but does not feel obliged to, and wins something in his second season: twice the Europa League and once the French treble.
If he lives up to what he has done at his previous sides in past seasons we should be happy – although that slippage down the league in Spain 2015/16 would give the media and their Anti-Arsenal Arsenal chums, a lot of ammunition.
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