Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery spoke on The Coaches Voice about the things he learnt about the Premier League during his time in England.
The Spaniard’s time at the Emirates will sadly be remembered for how it ended. However, he did his best at the club and gave opportunities to a few young players who are regular starters under Mikel Arteta now.
One of Emery’s biggest criticisms during his time at Arsenal was his reluctance to use Mesut Ozil. He was clearly not a fan of the German and left him out of the side on numerous occasions. That was criticised heavily by fans, pundits and the media.
However, the former Arsenal boss had his reasons. He has described what a player needs to succeed in his side in the Premier League and sadly, Ozil does not check all the boxes that he thinks are necessary.
Emery: High physical level a must in the Premier League
He said: “What the Premier League has is a very high physical level which is necessary. There, in addition to the tactical, technical and psychological aspects of football, the physical side is also very important.
“Players must have these four necessary qualities and the teams operate at a very high level in all of them – but above all the physical side.
“The level of contact and fight for contested balls – in these duels, you must be able to win them or avoid them by having possession. When there are a lot of duels in a game, you need to take up good positions and have good anticipation to win the second balls.
“And then, there is how to use that physical side. We are talking about the physical aspect, both in terms of physical duels and high-intensity displays. The level of intensity of both the teams and the players is really high.”
Ozil never fancied a physical duel
There were a lot of myths floating around about Ozil not working hard or running enough. That was completely untrue, but the one thing the German never really wanted to do was take part in physical battles to win the ball back.
Emery’s comments hint that physicality was the biggest criteria for a player in his squad. He wanted his men to contest every duel and be prepared to win the second ball every single time.
Sadly, Ozil was not that player.
The former Arsenal boss’ reasoning also hints why he often chose Lucas Torreira in an advanced midfield position. The Uruguayan’s best trait was winning the ball back and that was Emery’s number one priority, which is why he was preferred over Ozil at times.
Both Emery and Ozil are now gone and Arsenal have bigger things to worry about. However, it is always interesting to know why a coach decides to make a big call, and in this case, the Spaniard was probably right to stick to what he believed in – even though it never quite worked out for him.