Could Pep one day coach Arsenal’s First Team?

November 19, 2018

Joseph (Joe) “Pep” Montemurro, the Australian of Italian descent on course to make Arsenal Women winners again. Could he do the same for the men’s team?

This is what Joe had to say to Katie Whyatt of the Telegraph about Arsenal Women who last won the league title in 2012 and the all-conquering side that won it all in 2007 as the other big clubs started investing and winning (does that sound familiar?)..

“It was a big transition with other teams investing. The Man Citys and the Chelseas challenged the status quo of Arsenal being the dominant team. I think it needed to find its level of confidence, find its level of belief, find its level of enjoyment and what Arsenal stood for.”

“Arsenal’s always been synonymous with an attractive, proactive brand of football. It’s a football that excites, a football that entices. I think there’s also a level of integrity and respect that typifies Arsenal worldwide, as a club and as an identity.”

“I’ve always been a coach that loves teams to dominate with the ball. The most important thing is a level of fluidity, and I believe in what Arsenal stand for. It was a matter of me reiterating those messages, and allowing the players the freedom to start to enjoy their football again, to believe in what we’re trying to do. The reality is I put levels of clarity into what the ethos and the ethics of the team needed to be as a standard. It’s restoring those beliefs in your everyday work and your everyday language.”

How good were Arsenal Women of the past (pre 2013)

(from Wiki)

Arsenal have won the FA Women’s Cup fourteen times, and the Women’s League Cup ten times.[5] This includes eight League and FA Women’s Cup Doubles; in 1992–93, 1994–95, 2000–01, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08 and 2008–09, and four domestic Trebles, in 1992–93, 2000–01 and 2006–07, 2008–09. Arsenal have represented England a total of seven times in the UEFA Women’s Champions League (formerly the UEFA Women’s Cup), and had previously reached the semi-finals twice (in 2002–03 and 2004–05).

The 2006–07 season was Arsenal’s most successful ever, having won not just all three domestic trophies but also the 2006–07 UEFA Women’s Champions League (then called the UEFA Women’s Cup), beating Umeå IK in the final 1–0 on aggregate; this was the first time any British club won the competition. On top of that Arsenal won the FA Women’s Community Shield as well as the local London County FA Women’s Cup. The end result was that the team won every single competition available to them, earning a unique sextuple. The wins that year came against full-time professional players, whereas most of the Arsenal team had full-time jobs.[7] Additionally, Arsenal won all 22 games they played in the Premier League that season, scoring 119 goals and conceding just ten.[8] In recognition of the achievement, the team were honoured with The Committee Award by the Sports Journalists’ Association in the 2007 Sports Journalists’ Awards.

So how well is Pep doing in 2018 –

Played 7 games:

4 Home Wins 18 Goals For, 4 Goals Against

3 Away Wins 16 Goals For, 0 Goals Against (that’s right, zero goals scored against them whilst away)

Total 7 Wins, 34 Goals for, 4 Goals Against, Undefeated so far.

Some of the big wins this season –

Beating Liverpool Women 5:0 at home

Beating Chelsea Women 0:5 away

Other high scoring wins whilst away 0:7 (at Yeovil Ladies) and FA WSL Cup 0:9 (at Lewes Ladies)

Could Pep make the transition to the First Team?

Pep cut his teeth in the difficult youth and senior men’s teams of the old Australian NSL and Victorian State Leagues. An ethnic diverse bunch of clubs representing Italian, Greek, Maltese and Croatian communities in which expectations are high and it’s all about the results to get respect. He has saved clubs from relegation and he has taken clubs to promotion. He has taken mens and womens teams through the entire season undefeated. He is also well qualified –

(wiki) In 2010, he completed his UEFA A license at Coverciano Italy via the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio). He also completed his UEFA Pro License at Coverciano in July 2014 and is a member of the Italian Coaches Association (AIAC). He also holds an AFC/FFA A License and completed the Master of Sports Coaching degree at the University of Queensland.

In his own words

“To put it simply, I’m a project coach. I love everything about the journey.

I’m not a smash-and-grab manager who goes in there, saves a club from a tight spot and then leaves. It’s about building a group and developing a DNA. It’s really, really important that everyone’s on a journey and everyone’s involved in a process to build something very, very special. That’s what I feel we’re going to achieve at Arsenal. “

And the Aussie ABC had this to say – It is Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, however, with whom comparisons have recently been drawn. And not just because friends and family back in Victoria know Montemurro by the same abbreviated first name.

It could be the Catalan speaking when Montemurro explains his playing philosophy. “We want the ball … with the ball you’ve got control,” he says.

“We work a lot on that. And on positional play. That creates the framework for players to be innovative and creative within it and express themselves.”

So can Pep make the transition? Don’t be surprised to see him on the bench next to Emery before the end of this season. Could the backroom boys already be grooming our very own Pep to take over?  Yes its a real possibility but I can also see him being tempted back home to his wonderful family, most likely as Australia’s new national Women’s coach in preparation for the Women’s World Cup to be played on Australian soil in 2023 (the Aussie WWC bid is already underway).

And the best thing is that Pep is living the dream. He has been a lifelong supporter of the Arsenal, let it be so…

So who has been to watch the transformation of the Arsenal Women’s team under the guidance of Pep?

Can you see Pep sitting alongside Emery in the not too distant future?

Could Pep become the new Pep at Arsenal?

Written by VP of Oz


January Sales – what type of player would you buy for Arsenal? – Poll

November 18, 2018

If you were Unai Emery and could buy only one player in the January window, which position in the team do you think is in the greatest need of reinforcement or improvement?

I don’t usually look at the ‘we’re after this player or that player’ clickbait articles, so I haven’t really got a scooby what sort of player the manager is supposedly interested in (that’s if it’s even vaguely possible to deduce such a thing from completely fabricated stories 🙂 ).

Personally, I think we need someone to link the midfield and attack, like a Santi Cazorla type player. Though a case could be made for left side wing attack even with Wobbly having had such a fine season there so far. Deffo don’t like Auba there.

A young left back with international pedigree, a ball-playing centre back who’s great in the air, maybe a new glove butler?

What do you think?


Kolasinac: Should he Stay or Should he Go?

November 17, 2018

When we signed him I was excited. We needed a left side back up to Nacho and Kolsianc fitted the bill precisely.

Able to play in midfield but a specialist full back, voted into the Bundesliga Team of the Season,signing on a free – it seemed to good to be true and on current form it was TGTBT.


He started well, setting up a couple of goals and working well defensively. I thought he would be taking the shirt from Nacho but injury has ruined his AFC career. It was the same at Schalke where he missed time with knee knack. Sead appears to be lacking in confidence and direction. Against Wolves he was dreadful.

Good young LB’s are in much demand, there are few around, hence the stupid money talked about for the Chilwell etc. The demands of the position have developed to the point where one has be blessed with the lungs of a marathon runner, the strength of a boxer and the crossing ability of Georgie Armstrong.

Nicknamed the Wardrobe, I was hoping for something from Heals, I would have accepted a top of the range one from IKEA but instead it appears we have have a chipboard self-assembly from Homebase.

Either Sead must improve or he will be skipped.

written by Big Raddy

Talking ’bout an Emery Revolution.

November 16, 2018

Is there one?

Over the past couple of posts we have taken stock of the season so far, I am sorry but today you will get much of the same!

When comparing games against the same opposition at this point in the season we have less points than 2017 ( my research – not fact – although it may be  😀 ).

So, the points haul hasn’t improved significantly.  Have the performances?

I wrote during the first half of the Wolves game that our play was” measured, ” by that I meant slow. Very slow.  It was not the first as we continually give the opposition  45 minutes start before performing at AFC levels. So far, we have been fortunate that the opposition have not taken the plethora of chances but it cannot continue into December when we play so many good teams.

Is this a tactic? Are we playing Rope-a-Dope in the hope that the opposition are exhausted in the final 20 minutes? If so, he is not the first.

I recently read the Sir Alex Ferguson autobiography (I am a closet masochist), it was a tactic of his to press in the final 15 minutes and according to him, the pointing at the watch was to remind his players that they had a huge chance of scoring in the final 5 minutes. It worked.

Is the import of young talent in Curly and Terrier new to AFC? Of course not. Cesc played for us at 17, so did Jack.

A post during the Interlull will concentrate upon the front 4, so I will not dwell here but we have problems which need solving. Our best players are not given the best platform to display their undoubted talents.

And the defence!. Sevilla were a team who were so difficult to break down and this was the foundation for their success, can we say the same of this Emery team? Can we  ****.  OK, we have had injuries and have yet to find an established first choice back 4.  But do we know who they are? I doubt even you, in your wisdom, can name our best CB partnership! Bellerin is automatic and we have backup for him in the Swiss fella. Monreal on the right but given his performances so far, can you really say his backup Kolasinac inspires confidence?

Midfield? Who knows – this another area which requires an entire post. But once again we have no clear first choice.

That said, it is a healthy situation when we have so many choices insomuch as those choices are good quality, but are they?

What is a revolution is the attitude in the stands but one must question why, when an AW went behind, the fans did not support the team as they have recently.

I should point out that I am a Wengerite and want Emery to continue his wonderful work. There was need for change and UE’s start is promising but no more than that.

written by Big Raddy

Stretching a point – Unai discovers the limits of his squad?

November 15, 2018

It really does feel to me as if the XG chickens have come home to roost. Or at least it does until I realise that the meaning of that statement is in the mind of the writer and as such open to interpretation by everyone who reads it.

The image that this conjures in my mind is one of Emery’s team resembling an elastic band. It has been exciting watching Emery stretch it as far as it can go and I happily admit that I think he has been able to stretch it further than I expected but it is now contracting back to its original shape.In other words, I believe we have seen the collective best of the squad that Emery has at his disposal and I don’t believe that he is able to make it any better than he has.

In fact with the amount of games that we have got coming up and the continually diminishing squad due to injuries, I only see us going backwards.

A bit gloomy I know, but this is what I would describe as the reality of our situation, or ‘our lot’ if you like. There are bright spots, it could be argued that the elastic band started contracting when we lost the extremely important Nacho Monreal and his return could put us back on our expanding trajectory.

I expect Torreira to start scoring goals. When Wolves reverted to parking the bus, Emery brought on Guendouzi and pushed Torreira forward, I thought this was a clever move as I think that the Uruguayan is probably only just behind Ozil in his ability to operate in the tight space that parking the bus ensures. What I am saying is that Torreira being quick and super accurate should start getting him on the score sheet sooner rather than later.

I really like the way that Emery is able to keep players feeling part of the squad but at the same time generating competition for places. Look at how enthused and determined Ramsey and Mkhitaryan looked when they took to the field on Sunday. Emery was also able to do this with Welbeck, of course, before his unfortunate early departure.

But pointing to Ramsey’s and Mkhitaryan’s facial expressions is, in many ways, clutching at straws. The reality is the reality. Is Iwobi likely to improve further this season, well I hope so but I seriously doubt it. Is Holding going to improve this season; again I hope so but I doubt it. Both have enjoyed meteoric rises under the stewardship of Emery but Holding is not going to start to be able to run any faster than he can already and Iwobi just can’t resist a blind alley.

Emery has had a good, hard look now and must have a pretty solid idea of what he needs. I doubt that he will be able to get everything on his wish list in one go but I do expect a new arrival or two in January and, with that, I expect Emery’s elastic band to start to stretch once again.

Written with a tooth ache so if it is a bit miserable, blame the weakness of the drugs.


Can Emery’s Arsenal maintain our current League position?

November 14, 2018

The following is a tweet from Orbinho‏ @Orbinho from just before the Wolves game………………….

Arsenal seemingly worse under Emery than during Wenger’s last season in everything apart from actual goals scored and conceded (and therefore results). It’s enjoyable so far, but if things don’t change there’s probably a correction around the corner.

For weeks I’ve been reading articles from stats chaps who have predicted that Arsenal will eventually start to get results of a level corresponding to the performance level being achieved (that is, lower than at present). We all know that football is a simple game, the result being decided by the team which scores the most goals. If your team keeps pulling positive results out of the hat, even if it is slightly against the run of play, all is well and good with the world.

So, what’s changed at Arsenal this season compared to last? We have two more points after 12 games; we also have 3 more goals than the 22 we had after 12 games last season.  In effect, two defeats have been turned into two draws by those extra goals. From this simplistic viewpoint virtually nothing has changed.

The stats guys suggested that Arsenal’s league place wasn’t sustainable because we weren’t creating enough decent chances and were actually conceding more. Games against Watford and Everton (plus Wolves more recently) have seen Emery’s Arsenal confound the stats. We all know that the better team in a game of football doesn’t always win, but generally it does and only the odd exception proves the rule.

Last season under Arsene, Arsenal were creating both more chances and having more shots on goal. Is this season’s difference that the strikers are more clinical? I still believe that if Auba had scored on Sunday (when it was harder to miss), we’d have gone on to win in similar fashion to how we’ve closed out other games.

Are the stats analysts beginning to be proved correct with our last few results? Once we stop taking decent and difficult chances with such precision, will we start to slide?

I can’t really see much wrong with creating slightly fewer efforts on goal if you’re going to put a higher percentage away. What does worry me is that we’re actually conceding more chances but still, somehow, managing to concede less goals (16 goals conceded 17/18 compared to 14 conceded 18/19).

This isn’t intended to be a negative assessment of Unai Emery’s first dozen games managing The Arsenal,  just an attempt to rationalise what’s going on. We can all see the differences in personnel and patterns of play – things are changing. Team structure and tactics are also bound to be very much a work in progress and probably will be for the rest of the season.

I must admit I am seeing similar aspects of our play from the Wenger era which I’d assumed would be phased out by now. Things like……

  • Fullbacks being caught too far forward with no adequate cover (even the Terrier is struggling to get across sometimes)
  • Centrebacks being prone to both poorly thought out passes and ill-advised, lunging challenges
  • Midfielders giving the ball away in our own half leading to opposition goals
  • The front 4 players not recognising the damn huge whole in the team between them and the back 6, especially in the first half of matches

The draw against Liverpool was creditable but those two performances against Palace and Wolves were as equally dire as some from last season – the only difference being that we didn’t lose.

Are our xG chickens finally coming home to roost?

Maybe some of you more tactically astute commenters can soothe my furrowed brow and give us all some good reasons to be more optimistic? After all, we can only get better as the season progresses, can’t we?


Arsenal’s Interlull – Who’s involved and when?

November 13, 2018

It’s getting more difficult to find words to describe how horrendously tedious these regular international breaks actually are.

There will be 9 games for Arsenal in December – just imagine how much easier December could be if we dropped two of the international breaks, enabling fixtures to be more evenly spread. Injuries will inevitably mount as fatigue sets in. Clubs with the biggest squads and those teams which contain less international players will benefit.

Pros for the November break

Aside from Mesut still giving Die Mannschaft the finger, Terrier won’t have to travel halfway around the world this time around as he’s playing at the home of North London’s finest Club on Friday and then in Paris.

Cons (not A.M-N)

Two manc players have withdrawn from the French squad, so Laca has been called up.

Micki is playing away with Armenia, which means less travelling as the games are in Gibraltar and Liechtenstein

There are another 256 cons but I can’t be bothered to list them.


Mikhi – Armenia

Friday 16th Nov Gibraltar (A) Uefa Nations League (UNL)

Monday 19th Nov Liechtenstein (A) UNL


Auba – Gabon

Saturday 17th Nov Mali (H) AFCON

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Terrier – Uruguay

Friday 16th Nov Brazil (Emirates Stadium) Friendly

Tuesday 20th Nov France (A) Friendly


Granit – Switzerland

Wednesday 14th Nov – Qatar (H) Friendly attempting to pretend Qatar are part of football

Sunday 18th Nov Belgium (H) UNL


Wobbly – Nigeria

Saturday 17th Nov South Africa (A) AFCON

Tuesday 20 Nov Uganda (H) Friendly


Big Sok – Greece

Thursday 15th Nov – Finland (H) UNL

Sunday 18th Nov – Estonia (H) UNL

Rambo – Wales

Friday 16th Nov – Denmark (H) UNL

Tuesday 20th Nov – Albania (A) Friendly


Mo Elneny

Friday 16th Nov – Tunisia (H) AFCON

Tuesday 20th Nov – United Arab Emirates (A) Friendly


Bernd Leno

Thursday 15th Nov – Russia (H) Friendly

Monday 19th Nov – Netherlands (H) UNL

Getty Images

Bournemouth away will be our first fixture when we get back to proper football on November 25th, hopefully with no more casualties.

Apologies for any inaccuracies/omissions.


Arsenal FC Player ratings – Almost Savaged by Wolves

November 12, 2018

This was always going to be a tough fixture against a team known for being hard to break down and quick on the break. Arsenal’s attitude was going to be key, matching the intensity of David Wagner’s boys. 🙂

First Half

Unfortunately Arsenal’s attitude stunk the place out early on. Yet another slow start not helped by yet another dreadful referee who allowed the same niggly fouls all over the pitch as the norm. He even allowed a blatant bodycheck on Wobbly which was a stonewall penalty if you view the replay.

The stats for the first half were …… shots for Arsenal 3, with a big fat zero on target. Wolves had 7 attempts with 3 on target including a decent goal on the counter after a Xhaka-induced turnover. The only stat we won was fouls – Arsenal 1 Wolves 8 which adequately illustrated both teams’ commitment levels.

Second Half

Emery’s tactical change at half time to shore up the exposed left flank of Arsenal’s defence, was both timely and effective. The Wardrobe looked anything other than a competent left back in that first half but why the players on the pitch couldn’t see he wasn’t getting any support, Dennis only knows.

Guendouzi made an immediate difference and with Wolves content to protect their lead and hit us on the counter, the game took its familiar ‘second half at the Emirates’ shape with all the action moving towards the North Bank goal.

To be fair, Wolves restricted the red and white chances to some extent. Terrier drew a fine fingertip save from the keeper. Hector failed to keep the ball down with his left foot when scoring appeared a formality and worst of all, Auba (POTM for October due to his impressive strike rate) hit the post from the edge of the 6 yard box when it seemed impossible to miss. If we’d have scored then, I don’t doubt we’d have gone on the win even if we hardly deserved it from the balance of play up to that point.

The subs sparked new chances which found the Wolves keeper in the right place when called upon, until he was finally beaten by a fizzing curling cross from Micki which was missed by everyone and nestled into the far corner. The Wolves players bleated about a non-existent offside assuming the ref would reprieve them in the same fashion as he’d given them everything else, but hard as he tried, him and his linesman couldn’t find anything wrong with the goal.

Wolves had a couple of excellent chances to seal victory on the break as Arsenal resorted to the old kamikaze Wenger style of throwing everyone forward, even when the opposition have brought on a speedy forward who looked as though he had a dead hamster on top of his barnet.

We couldn’t quite manage an undeserved victory in amongst our attempts at professional suicide and the game ended in a draw.


Wolves played very well with little possession and are an extremely well-organised and efficient outfit. Expect them to become features of the Premier League for many seasons to come.

The first half was appalling yet again and it was a miracle it didn’t cost us defeat. Auba and Laca on the pitch from the start is shoehorning which just doesn’t work. How many more times? The back 6 and front 4 had no link. Poor.

The amount of stoppage time at the end of the second half was a complete joke. There were 5 substitutions (the Wolves’ ones taking at least a minute apiece); the Wolves lad at the end play acting was on the floor for 3 whole minutes including one of the added on minutes; the referee himself wasted 3 minutes by insisting play was halted every time there was a booking so that he could find his pen to write the player’s details on his piece of card; not to mention all of the time wasting at goal kicks and when the ball went off the touchlines. A conservative estimate would have been 8 minutes. How can you discourage time wasting if you don’t add it all on?

The unbeaten run continues ………… just. 🙂

Ratings (based on the BR ‘miffed that we played so poorly’ system)

Leno – MOTM, which says a lot …9

Bellerin – as dangerous as ever, missed a glorious chance …7

Mustafi – iffy in defence and his passing isn’t that good either…6

Holding – holding the defence together – who would have thought …8

Wardrobe – not a left back, more of a massive Welsh dresser …3

Xhaka – another costly mistake …6

Torreira – efficient and tidy – the ref allowed him to be kicked as usual …7

Ozil – before the game Arsenal put up a clip asking him who people should put in their Fantasy teams, Auba or Laca? He replied “both”, as he would assist both. Not on yesterday’s performance, Mesut …5

Iwobi – never looks comfortable on the right – sacrificed for Douzi at the break to give us some balance …6

Aubameyang – left his scoring boots at home with his award. Seems to have lost that smile he was playing with when he first arrived at THOF. Mind you, there wasn’t a whole lot to smile about for Arsenal on the pitch yesterday …5

Lacazette – not much service, but poor touches when he did get a sniff didn’t create a good impression of the Frenchman’s performance …5


Guendouzi – gave Arsenal some control back …7

Mkhitaryan – scored …7

Ramsey – popped up in a couple of good positions …6


p.s any Wolves fans daft enough to read as far as this……yes, it’s biased but if you read between the lines, you’ll see that it agrees you should have won. 🙂

Wolves: A Difficult Afternoon?

November 11, 2018

After two draws, can we return to winning ways this afternoon?

Wolves have lost their last 3 games, we are on an unbeaten run stretching back to 1982, the portents are good. But before we start assuming an easy victory Wolves are the only team apart from L’pool to take points off Man City and drew at Old Trafford – they have ability.


Every time I have visited Wolverhampton it has rained, and I have to say, it is a grim place enlivened only by its proximity to Tipton (home of Steve Bull). A historical highlight for W’hampton is that the first automated traffic light in the UK was sited in Princess St. (1927).   Slade come from Wolves as does the teams most famous supporter, Robert Plant of Led Zep fame. That’s it really.

Apart from it’s football team. Billy Wright, later to become Arsenal manager, is their signature player, a man whom in his day was the biggest star in English football.

In David Wagner they have a fine manager who is doing a wonderful job with very limited resources. By far the most impressive of the promoted sides, Wolves already have 18 points, just 2 behind the incredibly lucky Man Utd.

Mr. Emery must be delighted with his start in the PL, to take a team which is in a transitional period and go unbeaten for 14 games is remarkable. True, we haven’t hit the heights of Wenger’s first season but nonetheless the green shoots are clearly evident.  Our new signings have all bedded in well and both Terrier and Curly look amazing purchases.

My Team:


Catwalk    Mustafi    Holding   Wardrobe

Terrier    Xhaka   Mhiki


Laca   PEA

Towards the end of the Sporting Lisbon game Iwobi looked shot, perhaps he is carrying an injury because his stamina has never been an issue; as such I would start Mhiki.

Perhaps the Greek Bloke for Holding who could use a rest, otherwise the team picks itself ahead of another Interlull.

It would be excellent if we could go into the break on the back of 3 points, especially as the Top 6 are consistently winning.


Remembrance Day. 100 years since the Armistice.  5 out of the 23 Arsenal players who served died in the conflict. Humbling.


Arsenal FC – Our home record against Wolves

November 10, 2018

September 24th 1904 was the date we played our first game against Wolves and also the day we scored our first ever top flight goal.

Charlie Satterthwaite holds the honour of scoring Arsenal’s first goal in the First Division. The striker had a keen eye for goal during his six-year spell with the Club and scored 48 times in 141 appearances. Satterthwaite opened the scoring on that day in 1904 in a 2-0 victory over Wolves – both Arsenal’s first goal and also first victory of their maiden campaign in the top flight of English football. He had joined five months earlier from West Ham and made his debut on the opening day of the 1904/05 campaign in a 3-0 loss to Newcastle. Satterthwaite finished as the team’s top goalscorer that year and also in 1906/07 (with 19 goals) before retiring in 1910 at the age of 33. His younger brother Joe also played for Arsenal, which made them the first siblings to achieve the feat.

The following is an extract from the book Fighting for Football: From Woolwich Arsenal to the Western Front by George Myerson.

Getty Images

Getty Images