Gooner Daily – Back Up Boys Suggest Emery Has Everyone On Board

Four ‘second stringers’ impressed last weekend

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One of the challenges for the manager of a side with a well-paid squad with a large number of international standard players is to keep everyone motivated and improve the younger players who are not getting regular first team action. In this regard, being in the Europa League has its benefits for Unai Emery. Four players who contributed (three of them significantly) to Arsenal’s victory over Watford had starts against Vorskla in the club’s opening European fixture this season, as well as against Brentford in the Carabao Cup.

If Arsenal continue progressing in the latter competition, it means the likes of Bernd Leno, Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi should get a minimum of nine matches under their belts before Christmas, in addition to any Premier League starts. As it turns out Leno will almost certainly get a couple of weekend games before Petr Cech returns to full fitness. There is also an argument to start Iwobi ahead of Aaron Ramsey on current form.

Partly due to the amount of time he had on the pitch against Watford (the pre-interval substitution of Cech may have influenced this), Welbeck did not have as much chance to impress last weekend, but he is probably worth retaining for another couple of seasons for what he can offer the team as an impact sub. He is number three in line for the centre forward position behind Lacazette and Aubameyang and we wait to see how much Eddie Nketiah progresses.

Rob Holding played the full match on Saturday and was arguably Arsenal’s standout player. This is a player who there were high hopes for after the impressive display in the 2017 FA Cup Final, but for some reason, he did not get his chance the following season. Emery has a decision to make when Sokratis is actually fit enough to start (he supposedly was for Watford yet didn’t even make the bench). Will Holding be dropped? If not, who will partner him. It’s good to have competition for places, although I am surprised how little we have seen of Mavropanos so far this season.

Bernd Leno played the second half and, although there was one hairy moment when he came for the ball and missed it completely, he pulled off some good saves and kept a clean sheet. Hopefully more game time will improve his confidence and lessen the gaffes, which he has got away with so far, at least in terms of costing the team results. We can’t say if he has improved under Emery, but hey, at least his goalkeeping coach isn’t Gerry Peyton.

Finally, Alex Iwobi proved to be a match-turning substitution against the Hornets. Here is a player who was being given very specific instruction by Emery before his entrance. From a distance, it appeared as if the head coach was informing the player where and how he wanted to see movement from him. Iwobi came on, got involved and was very mobile, playing a significant part in the build-up to both goals. The Nigerian international looked like he was going backwards last season, but now has given cause for optimism that he has a role to play.

An often perceived problem with younger players at Arsenal was that they were not given enough guidance to perform their roles more effectively than the ‘express yourselves and demonstrate the beautiful game’ philosophy of the previous regime. The words of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Liverpool seem to testify to this. Emery though, demonstrates a different approach. It’s taking time, and one suspects the settled eleven that had seemed to develop might not be so settled after all. If this means less complacency at the club that can only be a good thing. If you do not do as the man picking the side wants you to, someone else may be given the chance. We wait and see how this one pans out, but it’s definitely encouraging to see that the back-up options are hungry and motivated when they get their opportunity.

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  1. GeorgeBung

    Oct 2, 2018, 20:31 #112347

    The big plus for me is Dickie making early substitutions in the game and those subs invariably making a difference and improving our game. I've always thought that if a manager/coach is doing his job properly then by the end of the first half they should of worked out what's working and what's not. Unless your winning handsomely then at least one sub should be made at half time to improve play. Thankfully Dickie is not adverse to doing this and long may it continue. Would like to see more of Rob Holding starting games this season and consecutive clean sheets in the league certainly floats my boat. Don't mind winning games ugly,its certainly better than losing games pretty and if we only win one game against the top four please let it be against those turgid bin dippers. LAHK

  2. mbg

    Oct 2, 2018, 18:52 #112346

    Big Andy, he's keeping his powder dry, hee hee.

  3. mbg

    Oct 2, 2018, 18:41 #112345

    Good shout Ed lets hope that progression continues, some great looking back up lads there champing at the bit, raw yes but it's games that they need, would they have got them under whatshisname now's tenure ? And if they had how long would they have lasted,(until old favourite arse lickers ramsey, wally, etc, were fit again ? or Ozil decided he fancied a run out) they certainly wouldn't have received much guidance (if any) left to work it out for themselves, before being ruined and shipped out. And another thing for me also is he has the right/proper back up staff on board having gutted the nodding dog brigade, although what he has bouldy there for is anyone's guess, maybe he knows something we don't or that will change in the next window too. Onwards and upwards.

  4. John F

    Oct 2, 2018, 18:15 #112344

    Dick has a reputation for improving younger players and Iwobi certainly looks a better player.The side looked much more balanced when he and Welbeck came on.With the current squad I was trying to think of the most effective 11 and it is a difficult job due to too many central players does he leave out Auba and Ramsey or Ozil who is not suited out wide or play Auba and Laca in a 442.I came up with Leno Monreal Holding Sokratis Bellerin Welbeck on left Torreira Guendouzi Iwobi Auba and Laca up front 442.It would leave an unhappy bench of Ozil,Ramsey and Mikki.If it lacked creativity then I would bring on Mikki for Auba.

  5. Big Andy

    Oct 2, 2018, 18:14 #112343

    Remember that French guy who used to manage us? Me neither! It's funny how nobody has snapped up the "greatest manager in the world".

  6. jjetplane

    Oct 2, 2018, 11:04 #112341

    What a turnaround at the club with the hyper active Unai whose energy is surely a major factor in how the team are beginning to perform. All the players know a poor first half will see you on the bench well before the seventy minute mark. Watching Wally at the Toffees is like seeing a different player who has the humility to know he needs coaching. Ramsay maybe beyond that point so interesting to see how his career pans out. A win against Fulham and telling progress in the Europa will make more than a few heads turn. Doubt if the top four or five even thought about Unai's arrival but like with Chelski and their new man (whom I really like) Liverpool and City have it all to do to remain top dogs.