Lauren exclusive interview

The ex-Arsenal star discusses Unai Emery, transfers, the Invincibles and more.

Lauren | Sportingbet

Emery

On differences between Unai Emery and Wenger…

"Emery has brought a different dimension to Arsenal that perhaps wasn’t there before under Wenger. Emery has got Arsenal playing with high intensity, putting pressure on their opposition when they lose the ball and ensuring a quick transition from defence to attack. Wenger always ensured his side had a greater focus on possession of the ball.

"Emery didn’t let the two early defeats to Man City and Chelsea effect the players’ mentality, and they’re now on a fantastic run."

On Emery getting the best out of Arsenal’s players…

"Emery has made Arsenal’s star players fight for their positions again and we’re seeing that by dropping Ozil at the weekend. Players can get too comfortable when working under the same manager for a long period of time, which could have been the issue with Wenger. Every player knows exactly what Emery is trying to achieve, and the part they play in making it happen."

On Emery’s first year achievement…

"I think winning the Europa League and qualifying for the Champions League would be a successful season for Arsenal. It would be unfair for the club or the fans to expect more from Emery in his first season. Emery has the experience of winning European trophies, so I expect Arsenal to be real contenders in this year’s competition."

Unai Emery | Sportingbet

On Arsenal moving on from Wenger…

"Emery won’t be able to create a dynasty at Arsenal if he is compared to Wenger. If the club and fans expect too much from Emery too quick, then they are destined to fail. Arsenal need to start regulary qualifying for the Champions League again before considering competing with the top of the Premier League.

"If Emery doesn’t make steady progress over the next three of four years, then he will start to receive criticism, but his only priority this year is to get back in the Champions League. This is a new era for Arsenal who haven’t had a change for 22 years, so it’s going to take time."

On Wenger’s next role…

"Wenger will be itching to get back in to football and I’m sure we’ll see him managing somewhere new very soon. He will have a lot of choices, but he’s clearly waiting for the right one."

Premier League

On who’s on top in north London…

"Tottenham have improved drastically under Pochettino, but they’re still not on the same level as Arsenal. They are getting closer and closer each year and their squad now has strength and depth, which they’ve lacked before.

"I think Arsenal will beat Tottenham in the derby this weekend. This will be one of the toughest games Arsenal have ever played against Tottenham, but they have been excellent at home and I believe the team’s confidence and recent results there will see them take the win."

On Man City going unbeaten…

"Manchester City will win the Premier League, but they won’t go unbeaten this season. I don’t see another team being able to go the season unbeaten. There’s a lot more football being played in modern football and as the season continues, players get tired or injured and that’s when City will lose games.

"Manchester City will be expecting Guardiola to win the Champions League. He’s secured the Premier League, but the board will want the Champions League above anything else. City will beat any Premier League side, but Juventus are real contenders now they have Ronaldo, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona."

The current squad

On Cech getting back in to the first team…

"KaneLeno is a fantastic goalkeeper and I think he’ll have a bright future at Arsenal. Of course, Cech has had a fantastic career and offers huge experience which will only improve Leno. For now Leno is first choice and I think it’s important for him to use his time with Cech wisely in order to learn as much as he can from him, whilst combining it with what he’s already mastered.

"Keepers are increasingly expected to do a lot more in the modern game. They are expected to play as a sweeper and read the game more like a defender, to anticipate play better. The best goalkeepers in the world are quick off their line and are expected to close an attack down much higher up the pitch."

On Ramsey’s future…

"West Ham could be a great fit for Ramsey should he leave the Gunners. He’s settled in London so he won’t want to move, but West Ham gives him the chance to get first team football whilst becoming a leader in the dressing room.

"Ramsey has been a fantastic player and role model at Arsenal, but it seems like he wants to move on now. There has been mixed messages coming out of the club and he’ll be a great asset wherever he decides to go."

Aaron Ramsey | Sportingbet

On Wilshere’s performances since moving…

"Wilshere should have made the move away from Arsenal earlier in his career. He had a lot of potential and was in the media spotlight from a very young age, but he wasn’t given the best advice to become a top player, which has cost Arsenal and England.

"A lot more could have been done to unlock the potential Wilshere had and unfortunately, we won’t ever see that now. As a player you have to decide what’s best for your career, as you can’t afford to look back and have regrets."

On youth players not making the same mistake as Wilshere…

"Wilshere loved Arsenal, but you have to put first team football ahead of everything. The best advice you can give to any young player is joining a club that will give you regular football. Every game you miss stops you from learning and progressing to reach your potential."

On Aubameyang winning the Golden Boot…

"Emery’s style of play could win Aubameyang the Golden Boot this season. The system suits the striker, as the quick turnaround in play means Arsenal can exploit the oppositions defence with his pace. With the creative players in the squad, it’ll be hard for teams to stop him from scoring."

On Ozil’s recent performance…

"Ozil is targeted much more than other players who aren’t performing their best. A lot of players across Europe who have come back from the World Cup haven’t performed as well as usual. Kane, Griezmann and Modric haven’t played at a standard that we’re used to seeing, yet they don’t receive the same criticism. Ozil is clearly tired and once rested, will be a different player.

"Ozil’s consistency will be key to Arsenal having a good season. With the style of play Emery wants to play at Arsenal, Ozil’s vision and ability is vital to linking the defence to the attack. Emery won’t be afraid to bring someone in who will give him the consistency he needs so Ozil will have to perform every week to keep his place."

On Torreira’s start to his Arsenal career…

"Torreira has settled in to the Premier League quicker than expected. He has been outstanding so far and is filling a role that Arsenal has been lacking over previous years. The system suits him well and you can see Arsenal building a team around him.

"He seems to be a model professional with his feet firmly on the ground. You need these types of players to keep the rest of the team focused and on track. He’ll be a presence in the changing room and a role model for the younger players."

On Welbeck’s injury setback…

"Welbeck will be a big miss for Arsenal. They’re playing a lot of games and it’s important to keep squad rotation when you’re playing three games a week. Aubameyang and Lacazette now face a higher risk of being injured themselves, as they will be playing more games."

Danny Welbeck | Sportingbet

On Arsenal’s defensive injuries…

"Arsenal’s continuous defensive injuries will cause unease for the whole team. A successful team needs a regular back four to play week in week out, or the whole team falls out of sync. Arsenal will play with more confidence once they have a settled back line."

On Arsenal needing to bring in new defenders…

"Arsenal may think about parting ways with their injury prone defenders if they want to improve. They have some quality defenders, but the fear becomes if they can rely on them to be fit, especially with the amount of games they’ve got to play over a season.

"You’d worry if they pick up even more injuries over Christmas, which could then see players playing out of position."

On Arsenal lacking a leader…

"I feel Arsenal could benefit from a commanding centre back. It’s been an issue for some time and I’m sure they’ll look to get a real leader who will take ownership of the back line.

"I would love to see Arsenal have a player like Sergio Ramos, who shows strong determination and leadership. Torreira will now add that to the midfield, but you need someone in defence doing the same thing.

"Arsenal need someone with the same quality as Koscielny, but also with the leadership skills. He’s a fantastic player and one of the best centre backs in the Premier League, but given he’s picking up a lot of injuries, Arsenal can’t rely on him to be fit for the majority of the season."

On Bellerin’s resurgence in form…

"Lichtsteiner has improved Bellerin’s game and made him a better player because he hasn’t had any competition for the right back position for the past few years. Bringing in a player with so much experience has increased Bellerin’s focus and determination to keep his place in the team.

"Lichtsteiner doesn’t have to play to make a big impact on the team. He’s so versatile and brings so much experience that players will improve knowing he’s breathing down their neck for a starting position. He’s a massive benefit for the team."

Transfers

On signing Ousmane Dembele…

"I think Arsenal should do everything they can to sign Dembele. Everything about his style of play matches what Arsenal are looking for. He isn’t getting the playing time at Barcelona, or playing in his strongest position, but Arsenal’s high intensity will allow him to reach his potential.

"Dembele can play on either side of the pitch, which is a bonus and he’s showed that he can do it against the big teams, coming off the bench to rescue points for Barcelona. I would love to see him at Arsenal."

On Reiss Nelson’s performance in the Bundesliga…

"Nelson will have a much better chance of getting in to the Arsenal team now he’s gone out on loan. At a young age, you need to be playing as many games as possible. There’s no point sitting on the bench for your parent club, when you could be gaining experience in another club’s first team.

"I hope Nelson’s move inspires a few other youth players to go and get first team football. The Bundesliga looks to be giving these young players a great chance to gain solid playing time."

On Arsenal trying for Martial…

"If Martial doesn’t renew his contract at Man Utd, Arsenal would be crazy not to try and snap him up. He’s a fantastic player and is starting to show what he can really do when given a good run of games. Martial won’t go anywhere without being guaranteed first team football, which I think he would get at Arsenal."

The Invincibles

On the greatest Premier League team…

"Arsenal’s Invincible team is the best the Premier League has ever seen. Unless another team goes unbeaten, then you can’t compare any title winning team to the Invincibles.

"If a manager is given £600million to build a team, then they should be expected to win the league. The issue is making the team gel and there’s no point spending big money unless you have a manager that can handle big players, which City possess in Guardiola."

On Henry’s managerial start at Monaco…

"I’m unsure if it was the correct decision for Thierry to take on such a big role this early in his managerial career. It could prove a mistake going to Monaco. Gary Neville tried to do the same when taking on the Valencia job, and it didn’t go well. When you look at Zidane, he managed Real Madrid’s second team for two years before taking the first team role.

"Being a good player doesn’t mean you’ll be a good manager. It’s a completely different process, and you need a few years of experience in the lower leagues before taking on a team in the top league. It’s not as glamourous, but it’s necessary."

Thierry Henry | Sportingbet

On Vieira’s management path…

"Vieira is a prime example of how a management process to the top should look. He has built up experience managing in the United States and is now doing a great job a Nice. I believe that Vieira will have a fantastic managerial career, he’s patient and isn’t trying to take the big jobs too early.

"Henry has great knowledge of the game, but Vieira has built a managerial career path in the right way. If I had to choose one former teammate to manage a team, it would be Patrick Vieira."

On Campbell taking the managerial role at Macclesfield…

"Campbell has gone the right way with starting his managerial career. After seeing Henry struggle at Monaco, he will avoid the limelight of a high-profile team. Macclesfield is a great opportunity for Sol, and he’s going to learn a lot more there than at a top team.

"He’s got his coaching badges and you have to admire the fact that like Vieira, he’s learning his trade in the lower leagues first."

The toughest player Lauren ever faced…

"Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo were the toughest opponents I ever faced. They were always unpredictable and had lighting pace."

Best foreign players in Premier League history…

"Henry and Bergkamp were the two best foreign players I witnessed in the Premier League. I’m glad I played with them rather than coming up against them."

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