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The Secret Behind Unai Emery’s Half-time Tactics

Xhaka, Arsedevils

Arsenal are on a roll. ‘3 wins in a row, including 2 consecutive away wins’ is a statement that the Gunners have heard after a long time, all thanks to Unai Emery’s tactical brilliance.

However, the Londoners haven’t gone into half-time with a lead this season – a tie on 4 occasions and trailing 1-0 to Man City once. Hence, this makes me wonder what magic spell Unai Emery is utilising on his wizards at half-time.

Lucas Torreira came off the bench at half-time against Newcastle United and produced, yet another, impressive performance. His quick passing combined with his strong tackling impacted both Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil a lot. With his defensive assurance, Xhaka and Ozil could play ahead with more confidence.

Sky Sports pundit Stuart Pearce commented:

“He wants to go forward maybe a bit more regularly than some of their other players. He looks for that forward pass.”

One thing that I have noticed is that when Xhaka and Guendouzi play together, they play parallel and when Torreira plays with the Swiss International, the Uruguayan plays behind him. Hence, Xhaka has more of an impact in the attack. And Ozil, as seen on Saturday, shifted to the center after half-time and impacted the game more effectively.

Moreover, Torreira has displayed decent performances in games against Cardiff and West Ham as well coming on as a 2nd half substitute in both. His stats against Cardiff were perfect – 100% pass completion rate and an assist in 30 odd minutes.

The only question that all the Gooners ask is what else does our little Uruguayan have to do to start.

Both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette’s contributions after half-time are worthy of mention. The duo seem more involved in the game. Aubameyang drifts inside to connect with Lacazette which also creates space for Nacho Monreal on the left flank to deliver crosses. The duo sparked to life against Cardiff with both of them scoring and Lacazette bagging an assist as well.

The half-time tactics Unai is implementing are certainly working. Whatever speech he says in the dressing room or changes he implements at half-time have been effective. In my opinion he deliberately plays Guendouzi in the first half and then substitutes him at half time to disturb the opponent’s strategies.

Unai needs to experiment with playing Torreira in the starting line-up. These tactics have worked against humble sides. We can only be 100% sure of his tactics working if we perform the same way against quality opposition.

We move on to the Europa League this Thursday against Vorskla Poltava where we would see the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe, Mohamed Elneny and finally, Bernd Leno play for a considerable amount of a time.


Rishabh Sancheti
Student pursuing the IB Diploma at JPIS, Jaipur. My interests lie in Football and Mathematics. Avid supporter of Arsenal FC. Love to casually blog on my interests and current affairs on

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