Secrets behind Emery’s revolution: High-octane training and has banned sugary drinks



Arsene who? Well, not quite but Unai Emery has quickly stamped his authority at Arsenal.

Nine wins on the spin have propelled the Gunners to fourth place in the Premier League table and fans sang, ‘We’ve got our Arsenal back’, during Sunday’s 5-1 trouncing of Fulham.

Here, Sportsmail reveals how Emery has revolutionised Arsenal since being appointed in May.

Intense training

The intensity of the Spaniard’s meticulous sessions is, perhaps, the single biggest shift from the Arsene Wenger era.

Training is high-octane and fiercely competitive. Emery believes training should mirror match conditions.

He has had an outdoor gym built close to the first-team training pitch. Covered by a tent, it allows players to transition quickly between work on the field to strength and conditioning drills, thus keeping a steady, high heart-rate.

The former Sevilla boss knows his players must retain high cardiovascular fitness to play the relentless pressing game he demands.

The 46-year-old has introduced other subtle changes. Training is often held in the afternoon, because Emery feels holding sessions closer to the time matches kick off helps performance on game day.

It was a culture shock for some of the players who were used to Wenger’s 10am sessions but, nine wins later, they have come round to the idea.

Arsenal train at the Emirates the day before matches — another ploy to replicate game conditions during practice.

After last week’s Thursday night trip to Azerbaijan to face Qarabag in the Europa League — Emery’s first European away game at Arsenal — players were given Friday off to recover ahead of Saturday’s session. Wenger had his players in the day after European trips.

Emery does not name his starting XI until the morning of the game, while players would often be told the line-up three days in advance under Wenger.

He feels that keeping his squad guessing adds to the intensity of sessions as players battle to win places in the team.

No more Mr Nice Guy

Wenger nurtured a relaxed atmosphere at the club’s London Colney HQ. He believed it would help his team be more calm on matchday.

The Frenchman’s reluctance to have heated confrontations with players underpinned that approach but the training ground is far less breezy under Emery.

The Spaniard sticks close to his inner circle — No 2 Juan Carlos Carcedo and first-team coach Pablo Villanueva. ‘He is almost distant with other members of staff at the training ground,’ said one insider.

It is a source of frustration for those who were used to Wenger’s more open demeanour.

Perhaps Emery’s limited command of English has something to do with his reluctance to mix. He is continuing with language lessons so we could yet see a more approachable side.

But in many ways Emery’s more business-like persona is exactly what Arsenal needed to shake them out of their malaise.

Unlike his predecessor, Emery is more open to having frank conversations.

He phoned two players out of the blue during the summer to break the bad news that they were surplus to requirements.

When Aaron Ramsey knocked on his door earlier this season to talk about his role, Emery confronted the awkward conversation head on.

The manager’s decision to substitute Ramsey and Mesut Ozil this season has done away with the feeling that certain players are untouchable.

Attention to detail

Emery is far more involved in direct coaching than Wenger.

Players have found the Spaniard’s sessions engaging and refreshing. There was a feeling training had gone stale under Wenger — nobody is saying that is still the case.

Tactical sessions can be arduous and time-consuming but Emery’s attention to detail has impressed the squad.

He spends more time focusing on the tactics of the opposition than Wenger. Players were taken aback by the level of information they were given before the first game of the season against Manchester City, with a detailed plan to nullify Pep Guardiola’s side. That would never have happened under Wenger.

Star strikers fire

Upon his arrival at the Emirates, one of Emery’s briefs was to find a way to get Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette firing.

The club invested more than £100million on the two strikers last season and Emery was told to make them work in tandem.

The duo have scored 11 goals between them this season as Emery’s hard work on the training pitch bears fruit.

With finances tight, Emery will be expected to improve the players already at his disposal rather than spending heavily on new arrivals.

To that end, he holds regular meetings with academy coaches to keep updated about the club’s emerging talent.

When Emery does venture into the transfer market, the club have relaxed their stance on signing ageing stars, which allows him to sign proven talent — such as 30-year-old Greek centre back Sokratis — rather than players with potential and sell-on value.

Pattern of play

Emery wants all his players to buy into his possession game. The ball moves from the goalkeeper, through the defence and up to the attackers as safely as possible.

It is not passing for passing’s sake. There is an endgame to Emery’s possession-based style, something which could not always be said of Wenger’s teams, who were often easy on the eye but lacked potency.

Arsenal’s brilliant team goal against Fulham on Sunday, finished by Ramsey, typified Emery’s approach.

Sugar ban

Emery has banned sugary drinks at the club’s training ground.

One player during Wenger’s reign boarded the team coach holding a bottle of Coca-Cola. Wenger let it slide.

You get the impression the new man in charge at the Emirates would not be so forgiving.