For the dawn of a new era, Arsenal spent the eve of the season by stretching the legs inside an empty Emirates Stadium. It is an unusual measure for players to practice on the court reserved for the day of the game rather than at the sanctuary of their London based Colney in the Hertfordshire campaign. The logic was simple enough. Unai Emery has been at the stadium a couple of times, but never with her team. Some of his collaborators were not even remotely close. A handful of newly recruited players still had to see the place, they did not have the feeling for the locker room or for the walk along the tunnel and for the field they had to perform on Sunday afternoon against the champions, Manchester City. Lots of necessary faces to familiarize yourself with the place they will call home.
It's time for something new. What can the Premier League expect from this version emeritus of Arsenal? So much is unpredictable, with the construction of his first choice XI uncertain and the style of the team in adaptation mode. The expectation of Emery and what she wants to convey to her team is a simple aspiration: to be the best that can be. He gave a little idea of this when he described a conversation he had last week with Danny Welbeck, who was the last player returning from a breakup after the World Cup and uncertain about his future. "When he arrived with us after the holidays, I told him I want the best interpretation of his career," said Emery.
It is something that is asked first of all, but the message has been extended to all members of the team. Make this your best season yet. Show your strongest qualities. If this is your goal, good things should follow. "I want to improve every day and in every training session and every match," he says. "I want to convey the same idea to the players."
Another snippet of discussion, this time with Stephan Lichtsteiner of the Friday session, gave another look at how Emery wants her players to forget how things were or what they were conditioned to and to think positively about what it is in front of them. "The past is good but it's over," he says. "We were talking to the team and it was time to talk to Lichtsteiner, maybe he is the player with us who has won more titles, but after all we start with a new way, we want to keep winning – remember your big career titles – but this is a new way to try to win more, in football you live for your present and your future. "
This also applies to Emery. He won the silverware of some description in each of his last five seasons in management. But the only goal he will talk about is to improve and show the best.
Stephan Lichtsteiner won seven championships with Juventus before joining Arsenal. Photograph: David Price / Arsenal FC via Getty Images
For all the tactical, technical and fitness work that has been on the agenda since he arrived, the challenge of changing something deep within the psyche of the team is one of the most fascinating aspects that Emery faces. That old chestnut on mental strength. The psychological shortcomings that made Arsenal's presumption easy for an adversary do not want to fight away from home or critics to reproach them for softness or interruptions in concentration, they need to be resolved in the sense that there were times when it seemed that 39; Arsenal was beaten like any opponent did.
The disparity between the formidable form of last season's house and the series of crumpling in series has been marked. There had to be some kind of mental block. Arsenal obtained the second best home result in the Premier League. With this in mind, it is a pity that the encouragement to open this campaign with a home game is mitigated by the fact that it is against the City – one of the two visitors to leave the N5 with three points and the 39, the only one to distribute a thrash without limits.
When asked the Spaniard if he had watched the filming of that particular meeting and how he would deal with it, there was a pregnant break, long enough to remember a snowy night when Arsenal seemed beaten before # 39; beginning and apparently unable to calculate how they could even try to compete with the superiority of the city. Emery raised a wise smile and gave his answer: "A new way".
That new way, if his team can do it, is based on the idea that they want to set the tone for the games, to force the problem. "The message is the same inside and outside the training ground.We want to convey an idea with personality, style and ambition.We want to play looking forward.We assume responsibility for being protagonists rather than being in possession. good message to say to the fans, we want to do it. "
In all honesty, it could be more feasible in games that are not against the City, but if Arsenal will be able to perform with more clashes, more aggression, more conviction than the one they called last season that in itself will be a step in the right direction.
"It's about the mix when you have a defensive or attack moment, and I want every player to get better this way," says Emery. "My main thing is to start the Premier League, the [FA] Cup, the Europa League, and therefore my goal is to improve each player with his qualities and our work with them ".
The wait among the fans was largely positive during the pre-season. There is real excitement about how the front half of the team will work, even if this is offset by some trepidation of the back half. It will be interesting to see if Emery chooses new recruits or experience to help the defense in his Premier League managerial debut. He could select Bernd Leno, Arsenal's record for a goalkeeper, and Lucas Torreira, with an excellent midfielder. Or he might prefer Petr Cech and Mohamed Elneny. Or it could also be super-surprising and go with the teenager Mattéo Guendouzi, who stood out in midfield in the pre-season.
It will be equally fascinating to see if the group of expected parties left by Arsène Wenger – such as Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – show that they have already responded to new ideas.
Day of the meeting. Emery made his decisions, chose his training, prepared his instructions and composed his first significant team speech. It's time to find out if Arsenal is ready to try to be the best possible.