'Utter rubbish'?! Emery will only succeed at Arsenal by sticking to his style & ignoring the critics

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The Gunners coach has been slated for asking his defence to play out from the back but his game plan has already won over the players

To adapt or not adapt, that is the question.

At least it was the question on everyone’s lips after Monday Night Football’s weekend recap with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on Sky Sports, where the two pundits debated whether Arsenal head coach Unai Emery should stick to his own principles or abandon certain ideas deemed unsuited to the rigours of Premier League football.

Former Liverpool defender Carragher suggested that Emery needs to adapt his style to the more direct English game and ditch his insistence on asking his defenders and goalkeeper to play the ball out of the back, a tactic that Sam Allardyce described as "stupid" and "utter rubbish".

Meanwhile, ex-Manchester United man Neville cited his own personal experience as manager of Valencia to claim that the Spaniard will confuse his players if he suddenly changes philosophy after a tough start to the season.

Arsenal have lost their opening two games but rather than highlight the need to change, the games against Manchester City and Chelsea provided enough evidence to support the believe that Emery’s ideas can work in the Premier League.

The Gunners’ second goal against Chelsea was particularly impressive, as it came from a sequence of 19 passes and involved 10 players, culminating in an excellent finish from the much-improved Alex Iwobi.

Iwobi himself has been quick to laud Emery’s fresh approach.

The Nigerian struggled last season under the stewardship of former manager Arsene Wenger and his latest comments suggest that the intensity of Emery’s training sessions and match preparation are seen as a breath of fresh air by the playing squad at London Colney.

Alex Iwobi

“These are exciting times, to be fair,” Iwobi told Arsenal Player. “Everybody’s enjoying and buying into the new ideas.

"For me, personally, I’m enjoying the new sessions, the new training methods and the new ideas, so I’m enjoying my time with [Emery].

"He demands a lot. He’s a lot more intense, [there's] a lot of high pressing and keeping the ball, so that it benefits us if we have the ball. It’s good for us, especially the attackers who like to have the ball a lot.

"It’s making me feel a bit sharper, I’m doing things with a bit more intensity. It’s not just for me, though, I feel like I’m helping the team a lot more. It’s benefitting me a lot more. 

“Whenever something in the system changes, you have to prove yourself again. But wherever you go, you have to prove that you’re better than whoever else is on the team. At a team like Arsenal, that’s always going to be hard so I always have to be on it in training and matches. 

“I’ve got to be different. It’s going to be hard because we’ve got so many attackers and so many world-class players, so I’ve just got to prove that I’m on that level or as good as them so that I can be ahead of them, which is my aim.”

Mkhitaryan Emery PS

Admittedly, defensive flaws could be seen in both games against City and Chelsea yet there was a newfound intensity about Arsenal which wasn’t on show under Wenger last season.

They have a huge opportunity between now and the end of October to put points on board and climb the league table, with games against West Ham (H) Cardiff (A) Newcastle (A) Everton (H) Watford (H) Fulham (A) Leicester (H) Crystal Palace (A) all to come.

Those fixtures are certainly winnable and represent a run of ideal opportunities for Emery to fine-tune his style even further.

The former Sevilla and PSG coach needs to find a balance between attack and defence, while at the same time sticking to the values that both attracted Ivan Gazidis to the 46 year old in the first place, and have since won over the playing staff. 

"Emery kept the philosophy of Wenger but is building something new on it,” attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan told Sky Sports.

“He knows he can give something different to this club, like the balance between attack and defence. It's not easy but I think he's doing it in the right way. 

"We have to keep working because we have a new manager, a new philosophy and want to play in a different way than before under Wenger. 

"It's not too easy but we are trying to achieve that and do what the coach is asking from us. He wants to play football and dominate the game and that's what we're doing. We're not just kicking the ball up front."

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Indeed, that would be truly "stupid", the kind of "rubbish" that is accepted at other clubs but not at Arsenal. 

To adapt or not to adapt? For now, the best thing Emery can do is ignore all of the critics, and stand by his principles.

After all, they have served the three-time Europa League winner well in his career so far.