Unai Emery is the sort of coach that can discombobulate your normal pattern of thinking. He can often make you feel on the verge of hysteria or madness and seems to facilitate complete euphoria or feelings of impending doom. Say what you like, but he is anything but predictable.
Emery’s Arsenal are as schizophrenic as their performances and the infuriating Jekyll and Hyde persona makes them irritatingly compelling.
Just when I’m at my wits end, vowing that the love affair is over, they remind me of qualities that once thrilled me in the North Bank at Highbury, when Arsenal were ‘THE’ team.
Emery is hard to fathom and understand. I’m not talking about the press conferences, which are sometimes a war of attrition, where he delivers a selection of often meaningless words delivered in the same well meaning and polite tones.
As for predicting an Arsenal side for any fixture, you may as well sit in a chair on Brighton beach, trying to prevent the incoming tide from its inevitable arrival. The man exclusively deals in the baffling, perhaps to distract the opposition with an unexpected team selection or formation.
I’ve come to the conclusion that he sees things in players that most of us don’t, because he includes them seemingly regardless of form, endeavour or performance.
Xhaka, Mustafi and Ozil are just three names that make the team without the necessary merit.
However, in ‘Emeryworld’ all is not what it appears to be and normal rules sometimes don’t apply, especially from our various vantage points at the Emirates.
Unai Emery recently pleaded with fans to support Xhaka and at first, I thought it was a joke. Only because every supporter has given him the benefit of the doubt since his arrival in 2016. That kindness and understanding has never been repaid and the well that Emery would like us to dip in is now empty.
There is one player that Unai Emery should have another look at this season and although he used him in the Carabao Cup, Calum Chambers continues to flit in and out of the side regardless of the level of his performances.
Unai Emery has defensive issues and the answer appears to us mere mortals, to be under his nose. Chambers can play a role in the heart of the defence and could certainly do a job if the Spaniard persists on a holding midfield duo.
His performances this season have been solid and confident, yet he can’t get the chance he deserves for whatever reason. He put in another good shift against Nottingham Forest and assisted with three of the goals, which push his stake for a start further forward than one assumed possible.
Arsenal’s forgotten man is back with a point to prove. He’s weathered the storm, dealt with continuous disappointment that has come his way and has come back from the brink of being sold.
Is this his chance ?
Calum Chambers can only keep it going if he’s given the opportunity and it’s testimony to his character that he hasn’t demanded a transfer.
Yet, it appears that Emery has finally seen the player’s worth and that his flexibility is now seen as an invaluable asset.
The Spanish coach seems to have been subject to what I refer to as a ‘ding’ moment, when a bell of realisation goes off to make a person examine their point of view.
Unai Emery said of Chambers’ recent performance against Forest:
“He helped. He helped us in the training, in the dressing room and when you need him to play right back, centre back, left back like tonight, and if we can use him in the midfield also.”
“His performance is starting with his attitude and his attitude is amazing”
Unai Emery continued to hear the bell like sounds by adding:
“After that is his best position, but tonight for example I was telling him, when he was playing left back, be calm here, help and support Bukayo [Saka], give the ball to Dani Ceballos and he was overlapping a lot of times with Bukayo!”
“He did one very good pass for the goal with Nelson. He didn’t listen to me!”
Well, in all fairness, Unai Emery has ignored Chambers since his arrival, only giving him a series of brief cameo roles.
Perhaps that’s about to change, but don’t bet on it because just when you think you know what Emery’s thinking, he’s thinking something else.