Sports Monks

Unai Emery Says Arsenal Lacked Defensive Structure Under Arsene Wenger

The new manager of Arsenal, Unai Emery has publicly gone out and said the Gunners lacked defensive structure when Arsene Wenger was the manager of the English Premier League club.

After spending more than two decades with the club from the North London, Wenger stepped down as Arsenal manager in May 2018. Emery was let go and Paris Saint-Germain the same time and he replaced Wenger at the new manager of the Gunners.

Emery gave an interview to Spanish website Marca, and he went on explain what was wrong with Arsenal when he arrived at the club.

“Not about the team. I ran into him once and not many more times. I respect him a lot, but no matter how much information he gave me, I had to change things. I told the players ‘we are starting at ground zero’. Even now, four months later, I still say ‘we are just at the beginning!'” Emery told Marca.

“Before Wenger arrived, Arsenal celebrated the 1-0 wins and were based on defensive solidity. With Arsene, they became an attacking team, with players who were good on the ball.

“And the perfect combination came with The Invincibles [in the 2003/4 season when Arsenal won the Premier League and remained unbeaten]. But with time, you can only take care of technique and attacking freedom, losing your defensive structure.

“What I want to do is unite the two and become more competitive. Arsenal were falling. We had to stop that and start to lift them.”

On how he managed to get the job at Arsenal, Emery said: “As Ivan Gazidis [ex-Arsenal chief executive] explained on the day of my presentation, I was part of an eight-man shortlist that they interviewed, and it is thanks to Arturo Canales, who insisted to them that I was the best candidate.”

“In the past, teams had already approached me with their decision made: Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla, Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Almeria… I wasn’t used to being another candidate and putting my arguments across.

“I prepared for the meeting with my staff. I went into it with the doubt of my English speaking, but they always said that this wouldn’t be a problem. And I spoke to them very naturally that day.”

“These days, it’s very difficult for a coach to last 22 years. The chairs had to be moved in all sectors of the club. And not because of previous negligence, but to motivate everyone again: to shake it up, to sweep things under the carpet, to open the windows, all positive things.

“Once, I learnt from Javier Irureta [legendary Basque coach] that if they ask you to make changes, you have to do it. And I got to work in implementing my ideas.”

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