‘Friction’ with players can benefit team, says Arsenal boss Emery

Arsenal boss Unai Emery aims to “promote friction” with his players to “get something more out of them”.

The Spaniard succeeded Arsene Wenger as boss last summer after the Frenchman’s 22-year reign with the Gunners.

Emery is seeking to regain Arsenal’s place in the Premier League’s top four and Champions League qualification. The Gunners are fifth, six points behind Chelsea, ahead of Saturday’s London derby.

Unai Emery
Unai Emery knows which way he wants Arsenal to go under his management (Yui Mok/PA)

“At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers,” Emery said in an expansive interview with skysports.com.

“From that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside, a greater sense of ambition or maybe even a complaint – a complaint regarding the team can be positive.

“As a manager, you have to be careful because that friction can break a relationship. But I believe in always looking for more, both individually and collectively, with conversations which are comfortable but also with conversations which are less comfortable.

“In the end, the main thing with any footballer is that their qualities are used to benefit the team.

Unai Emery and Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil has not been an automatic first choice for Unai Emery at Arsenal (Adam Davy/PA)

“As a manager, you have to get the maximum out of that player and at the same time make sure that he fits with the rest of the team so that everyone is better.”

The approach may ring true for Mesut Ozil, who has fallen out of favour of late with Emery.

There is also uncertainty off the field with reports head of recruitment Sven Mislintat is poised to leave.

Emery acknowledges the challenges Arsenal have faced in his first six months as boss, but insisted the Gunners must target Champions League qualification despite the competition in the Premier League.

Third-placed Tottenham have 48 points, Chelsea 47 and Manchester United, like Arsenal, have 41.

Emery added: “In terms of getting into the Champions League and finishing in the top four, which is our main objective, it is true that we are not there right now.

“But firstly, I believe we have time to achieve that this season. And secondly, we knew there were going to be difficulties in this process.”

Defensive solidity is necessary, but Emery does not wish to curb Arsenal’s attacking instincts.

He added: “I don’t want to lose all the good things about this team. There are times when defensively we have not been very solid, but we have still won because offensively we have created a lot of chances.

“So, at the moment, I am still leaning towards making sure the team doesn’t lose what it has. But yes, it’s true that we have to achieve greater defensive solidity.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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