Big Match

Football: Unai Emery's high-pressing game is anti-Wenger but defence is key for 'new' Arsenal

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is set to bring a greater focus on defence.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery is set to bring a greater focus on defence.PHOTO: REUTERS

Gunners can match City's firepower but new boss Emery must ensure backline holds firm

On Sept 28, 1996, Arsenal beat nine-man Sunderland 2-0. It would be a long-forgotten match, 22 years and 1,235 games ago, but for one fact: It was their last competitive outing under anyone other than Arsene Wenger. Until now. Until Unai Emery signals a break with the past by taking the reins against Manchester City tomorrow.

It is a sign of how long Wenger's reign lasted that nine of the men Pat Rice chose to start against Sunderland are in their 50s, with some nearer 60 than 50. In contrast, Lucas Torreira, the new signing who could debut tomorrow, was only seven months old then.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2018, with the headline 'Defence is key for 'new' Arsenal'. Print Edition | Subscribe