Unai Emery’s versatility is key to Arsenal’s success

Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to an impressive 20 games following their enthralling 4-2 victory over bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday as well as their 2-2 draw against Manchester United on Wednesday. The North London derby was the important match that was essentially a microcosm of Arsenal’s Premier League campaign so far this season. Spurs hit the Gunners twice in the first half to take a 2-1 lead into the break, which meant that Arsenal has still yet to have a lead going into halftime during this Premier League season. However, Arsenal’s attack, lead by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, stormed back to score the final three goals in the match and take home the massive three points.

While the club’s slow starts are a bit worrying, Gooners around the globe ultimately won’t care as long as they continue to win matches. Manager Unai Emery is surely one of the main reasons for this strong start to the season. The Spaniard’s managerial style and versatility have been absolutely crucial to Arsenal’s success. This versatility, in particular, has proven to be extraordinary.

Emery is not afraid of benching his high-profile players if he feels like their teammates are better served for a particular matchup. Stars such as Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey, and the aforementioned Aubameyang have all began games from the bench this season. Not only does Emery take each match by a game-by-game approach, but he also is not afraid to make substitutions before it is too late.

Halftime substitutions, along with a formation change as well, during the Spurs match completely transformed the game for the Gunners. And this was not the first time that Emery chose to make changes that early either. Under the former Sevilla and PSG manager, Arsenal players are forced to embrace a more team-oriented system.

The Gunners have also changed formations and starting lineups multiple times under Emery this season. Although he does tend to favor the 4-2-3-1 setup more times than not, Emery has also gone with a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and even a 3-4-2-1/3-4-3 variant as of late. In turn, these different formations obviously mean changes in personnel. In fact, only two players, Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi, have started every Premier League match so far this season for Emery.

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This versatility by the manager, along with obviously having quality players on the pitch, have helped the Gunners adapt to different situations during matches. Having world-class players at your disposal is one thing, but having the gall to make bold moves mid-match is another. It certainly appears as if Arsenal’s brass made the correct decision making Emery the heir to outgoing managerial legend Arsene Wenger.

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