The champions of 4 out of the 5 Major leagues have the most possession-based football in that league. – City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG.
Only Juve is behind two rivals, namely Inter and Napoli.
So I would say that at the moment, possession football is winning. The philosophy being that if you have the ball, you can’t be hurt by the opponent and you can hurt your opponent. Now, you have to use the ball effectively and this is the key.
Interestingly in the EPL, the top 5 teams have the highest possession rate in this order: City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal.
You cannot play possession football all the time – I think all the teams mentioned above (except maybe PSG) are adept also at the high press. Again, if you get the ball in the opponent’s half, you can hurt them quickly because they have less time to react to the loss of the ball and if you do a good use of the ball, you will score or at least create chances. Barcelona is amazing at the doing that and so is City. Bayern and PSG slightly less so.
Basically, I believe Emery is more keen to turn us into a mix between Atletico and maybe Bayern type of team. The team that impressed me the most was the last Bayern Munich team that won the CL with Heinckes. They were lethal on transition and were good at possession but they were so balanced and so cohesive. The wings were very active – the mid was solid – the forward hard working and clinical. The only weak point was Dante who had that year an amazing season. Bayern is trying to recreate such a team now.
Possession football is very popular and effective these days. However, my feeling is that the teams with high possession are also the most effective at getting the ball back (hence the high possession as well). Unsurprisingly they are also among the richest clubs. The players in these squads can also adapt to these demanding systems – look at what De Bruyne, David Silva and Sergio Aguero do at City and what Sane, Wijnaldum do at Liverpool or Rakitic, Verratti…
We don’t have confirmed players like that but I am hopeful over Maitland-Nyles, Lucas Torreira, Guendouzi, Iwobi and Kolasinac within our squad so things are not as gloomy as some may believe. We will only know how strong we will be for sure when the transfer window closes.