Big Match

Football: Emery inspired by rivals

Arsenal manager Unai Emery explained that he needs time to work with players, and the club need to be very demanding of themselves to catch up with the likes of big-spenders Manchester City, whom they face at the Etihad Stadium today.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery explained that he needs time to work with players, and the club need to be very demanding of themselves to catch up with the likes of big-spenders Manchester City, whom they face at the Etihad Stadium today.PHOTO: REUTERS

He is looking to the recent progress of Spurs, Liverpool as a model for Arsenal's own growth

LONDON • Unai Emery believes Pep Guardiola is the best coach but sees the Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur models as the way forward for Arsenal.

The manager is eight months into the Gunners job, and ahead of today's reverse with Guardiola's Manchester City, who beat him in his first game in English football, he spoke about drawing inspiration from the champions' title rivals.

He explained he cannot spend big like City, evidenced by his lone January signing of Denis Suarez on loan from Barcelona following a summer window that saw them go for less established players.

"I remember three years ago, Liverpool were playing in the Europa League final, they were in the top four in the Premier League, and their progress is very good progress and now they are the favourites," Emery was reported as saying.

"Maybe Manchester City is a different example, because they bought a very important lot, with paying a lot and maybe we can't do that now like that.

"But we can also do one way similar to Liverpool, similar to Tottenham - doing more with young players, using well players who can improve with us.

A MODEL FOR PROGRESS

"... We can also do one way similar to Liverpool, similar to Tottenham - doing more with young players, using well players who can improve with us.

UNAI EMERY, Arsenal manager, on learning from league rivals to find a good model to develop his team to challenge Manchester City.

"We are doing that. We need time but also we need to be very demanding of ourselves."

And there is no man who is more demanding than Guardiola, 48, whom he has never beaten.

Said Emery, 47: "I have analysed a lot of teams and coaches and I think it's difficult to find one coach who is better than Guardiola."

Guardiola returned the compliments about his fellow Spaniard.

He told Sky Sports: "I've never been with him in his clubs but my impression from outside is that he's a manager who is well prepared."

Guardiola is demanding a big improvement from his team because he knows just how crucial the next eight days will be in determining whether the title ends up in the trophy room at Anfield or the Etihad Stadium come May 12.

After hosting Arsenal, they travel to Everton on Wednesday before playing Chelsea at home four days later. If City win all three games, the worst-case scenario is that they will be two points behind Liverpool, who have no midweek fixture.

The Reds play West Ham tomorrow, before playing Bournemouth at home five days later.

City's accuracy has dipped this term. Last season, they averaged 2.79 goals per game compared with 2.63 this term. Their shooting accuracy has also diminished, with 38 per cent of their shots hitting the target rather than 40 per cent.

So it is just as well that they are facing a team with a defensive injury crisis. Guardiola was annoyed by City's failure to break down Newcastle United's rigid and compact defence in their 2-1 loss last Tuesday but, otherwise, he was giving little away.

He said: "Many details we didn't do quite well. Of course we analyse, we talk about our game and see what we have to improve, like the way we have to attack some defensive structures like Newcastle, but it will be different against Arsenal."

Emery did let on more, saying: "Usually we want to have more possession than the opposition but, against City, maybe it is not possible because they impose usually the possession first and the positioning. But we are going to try to not let them have the possession very easy and also don't let them have the positioning better than us.

"But this detail is a big detail!"

THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 03, 2019, with the headline 'Emery inspired by rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe