Emery’s Bermuda Triangle

Prompted by my Bros to expand on my criticism of Dick’s current tactics evident at the Fulham game, I offer another controversial effort for the perusal of AAers the world over.

I qualify what I am going to say in advance with the facts that…….

  1. We have lost Holding for a long time.
  2. Have not had Kos (and may never have the old Kos) for  a long time.
  3. Have missed an Improved Hector and reliable Nacho in recent weeks.
  4. Let alone had no chance to see the other Greek God, Mav, who I think could prove in the future to be the solution, together with Holding, to Dick’s Bermuda Triangle.

To explain:- Dick has regularly opted recently for the following three players in the vital “central triangle of defence”, and it is here he is making his mistake. Mustafi and Sokratis as CBs, with Xhaka in the central holding/receiving slot.

I will start with the CBs (without really needing to for anyone with eyes).

Sokratis has got guts, is committed and occasionally is in the right place at the right time (See fourth goal against Fulham). But good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Mustafi is dog’s poo (thought I’d do your job for you, ed). Positionally poor, rarely wins a header as he is a short arse, slide tackles late and nowhere near the ball. Good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Now, given this criticism, Dick has doubled the problems in his triangle by allowing Xhaka to play at the top as holding/receiver of passes from these two! Xhaka is in my eyes massively overrated. Sure he can spray long balls, but only when the oppo back off, and these long balls are rarely “dynamic” in their effect. (He is no Alonso). Under pressure he shovels poop, and under real pressure, he makes potentially disastrous passes. (He is no Gilberto). He cannot tackle really, and is regularly booked for this (lack of) “skill”. (He is no Kante……or for that matter, Terrier). And much of this slaughtering criticism is because he is not quick enough of thought or limb.

Sorry, I seem to have been a little scathing!

Does he deserve a place in the starting eleven? Well, for the moment my answer is ‘yes’. But play him forward of Terrier and Ouzi (alongside each other and in front of the defence). Both of these two are better at the job required there and, will shore up some of the defensive frailty currently evident. “For the moment” for that is the position I advocate for A M-N in the future, and then it could be bye bye Xhaka for me.

My view, sorry if you think I am still drunk with joy from my recent Birthday.

Written by LBG

51 Responses to Emery’s Bermuda Triangle

  1. chas says:


    Haven’t we been playing with Xhaka as one of two in a double pivotty type affair i.e. Xhaka left and Terrier right, rather than as him as the lone quarterback?

    Though I understand (even if I don’t fully agree) that you’re asking for him to be playing further forward where he can do less damage. 🙂

    As for the centre backs, Kos will need a couple of months, Shkod and Papa are fine against lesser opposition and it is a real shame that Lingard crocked Holding. Mavro is back in full training, I believe so might play by Feb?

    Perhaps the new purchasing team will find us someone other than Cahill to step into the breach.

    p.s the clickbait factory are suggesting Suarez is off. Perhaps the new boys are finding that negotiating for players is just all about money in the end – if you’ve got enough you can have him otherwise, do one.

  2. LBG says:

    Thanks Chas, esp for the artwork, and for your consistent efforts on behalf of the best Arsenal blog in town. Nah, the best football blog in town.
    I await a lambasting!

  3. chas says:

    p.p.s. just before I go to work, I was going to put a subtitle to the Bermuda Triangle theme, ‘where intelligent football mysteriously disappears’ but thought it might detract from anyone working it out for themselves. 🙂

  4. chas says:

    over a hundred views already proves what a great title it is!

  5. LBG says:

    re your first paragraph. No, I think Dick has made a Sarri type alteration in last two games and pushed Terrier further forward on right.
    Would like one of your heat maps for Terrier earlier on in season playing in the central defensive hole and now (say against Fulham).
    May be my old (65 now, you know) eyes, and the brain is wrecked from too much Cloudy, but I think a slight (wrong) adjustment has been made.

  6. mickydidit89 says:


    It goes without saying that I agree that Dick’s slot should be below the triangle rather than above, and I therefore completely agree with your analysis.

    Much as I like the Granit spirit, we do need an upgrade.

    Thanks for the post

  7. RA says:

    Good Post, LBG,

    Agree with it – and over the years the names have changed, but we always seem to recruit slow, short-assed CB’s (OK, Kozzer in his prime was an exception in the pace stakes) and having been spoilt, in our great years, for strong, skilful midfielders, we have not had any of worth for ages — including Granit.

  8. LB says:

    Love a quality constructive criticism post and the above certainly is just that.

    It is true what you say, I also agree that Torriera has been playing ahead of Xhaka, although, I am not convinced that the switch would work only because Xhaka is not good enough to play further forward. Might as well start with Ramsey and Torreira.

    Thanks for the read.

  9. Rasp says:

    Thanks LBG, I think UE has been tactically astute in the most part … and he usually proves me wrong on the times I have doubted his team selection. He is limited by the players available. I agree that Mavro and Holding could well be the rock of our defence in the future … so buying a top defendercould be a mistake, I think we have to be patient. What we do need is someone to pull the strings in attacking midfield and width up front.

  10. LBG says:

    With no wish to distract from the post……
    ….thank you Cesc for all that you did for the Arse ( not so interested in your link with the blue “disgrace of London”).
    -Second most assists in PL only to Ryan Giggs 111. (DB only 5th).
    – Sixth most assists in a PL season – 17 2004-5.
    – Fourth highest scoring Spanish player in PL. 50
    – Arsenals youngest PL goalscorer 17y 3m 21d.

  11. Big Raddy says:

    LBG. Thank you

  12. Big Raddy says:

    I pains to say say but it appears we have consensus!

    None of these chaps are good enough to get into any of the teams above us, None. They wouldn’t even get into some of their reserve teams.

    City have Ottamendi, Laporte and Mangala to bring on when their first choice CB’s are crocked. Total cost: €120m+ … on reserves!

    Our future midfield loks very competitive.. AMN, Terrier and Ouzi are just boys, add in Willock, Emil and Wobbly, and we have some real young quality.

    Could Mr Versatile (AMN) become our pivot? He has yet tp play that role, so we must wait and see.

  13. Big Raddy says:

    Rarely have I admired a player as much as Cesc Fabregas.

    It hurt when Cesc left and dented my affection for AW when he refused to re-sign him from Barca. IMO it was a mistake and with hindsight AW is likely to agree.

    Fabregas is our Liam Brady of the 21st century

  14. mickydidit89 says:

    Fabregas. Eh?

  15. mickydidit89 says:

    Is he dead?
    Taken over from Unai?
    A thick plot

  16. LBG says:

    Real Madrid have “accepted” a £63m bid for James Rodriguez!!
    Which!! ? Horror!! Do we have 63 million? Buy a CB of world class ability.

  17. LBG says:


  18. LBG says:

    Buy Harry Maguire.

  19. LBG says:

    Buy Harry Maguire, please.

  20. RC78 says:

    I like your post and criticism. I agree with most of it and like other bloggers, I am not understanding why we are going after James esp at 63 Mln….

    Emery is a good tactician but he is also stubborn. He has improved us a lot on our transition game going forward but he still has not addressed out defensive frailties nor our ability to get the ball back higher up the pitch…One of his issues is indeed sticking with Xhaka and also Holding’s injury and Koscienly’s poor form. He also has alienated Ozil and played Miky out of position. Our best form under Emery has been in a 3-4-3 system but if you are going to play 3 at the back and given our current squad, you need to play 5 in the middle, which means playing now:

    Leno – Mustafi, Kos, Sokratis – AMN, Ramsey, LT, Xhaka, Kola – Laca, Auba

  21. RC78 says:

    Now if we want to improve the team in January, we need to:

    1. Buy a CB (Pepe would be good as he is free and then this summer hit the bank for 120 Mln and get Kouilbaly);
    2. Buy a DM/CM (I like Suarez but in the summer to replace Aaron as they are very similar SO now, we would need someone like Allan, Gueye, Doucoure…);
    3. Buy a Winger/Forward who can play on the right especially (as you know, I think Douglas Costa would be best but Perisic would also be great)

    Then you set-up the team differently and revert to 4 at the back

  22. Big Raddy says:

    I cannot see how it is possible to incorporate Ozil and James. And AFC do not 60+m to spend on a luxury player.

    Unless Ozil is leaving this is yet more clickbait.

  23. VCC says:

    Harry Maguire would be the ideal fit for us. Quality, has cohonas and the ability to orchestrate the back line. Oh, and plus he chips in with the occasional goal.

    Great article LBG. Ive been banging the Xhaka out drum since the first time I see him. Cannot tackle, poor discipline, has one of the slowest brain to foot co-ordination of a premiership midfielder I’ve ever seen.

  24. GoonerB says:

    Happy new year to you all….been a while 🙂

    Great write up LBG. I have to admit to being an absentee both in terms of commenting but also reading so I have no idea what has been discussed on here in recent weeks.

    Without besmirching the great man (AW) I do feel that UE is somewhat undermined currently from inheriting an unbalanced squad from AW and will need to have a couple of TW’s minimum to shape the team as he sees it.

    UE has shown some great positives but also some areas that could be questioned in how he has shaped us up to play. Forgive the room 101 pun but there are still some square pegs in round holes. At the moment though I am happy to go with this as a transition period and compliment UE on sticking to his guns in how he wants us to play, even if it currently exposes us at times.

    I am not sure whether anyone has said this but there are some very strong similarities between his insistence on not altering how we play (and our subsequent frailties), and what we saw with Guardiola and Klopp when they first took over.

    I feel we are still overstocked with too many similar CM’s from the AW period. To me Ozil, Ramsey, Micki and Iwobi all look very similar ACM type players. Not quite number 10’s but more 10 1/2’s. I get the feeling this is about to be addressed and we only need 2 of the above to stay, especially with players like Willock and Reece-Smith waiting in the wings.

    We are missing proper goal-scoring wing forwards in our line up. I have high hopes for Nelson and hope he is given a go from the left before we consider buying in. What I feel we need is a top class left footer who can operate on the right of a front 3.

    Beyond this I agree that we need to go big on a CD like Pool did with Van Dijk. Socratis, Mustaffi, Lichtensteiner and now (unfortunately) Kos are all squad players and at their ages we don’t need them all. Holding and the young Greek should be kept and add 1 world class CD.

    Xhaka (and Elneny) for me is a squad player and so is young Gouzi right at this moment. e has great promise and should be in and around the 1st team with much playing time but isn’t quite top level against the best teams yet. If anything the 3rd purchase could be a more dedicated HM as Terrier has shown that he offers a lot going forwards as well. Maybe it shouldn’t be Terrier holding with Xhaka alongside but should be another holding player with Terrier alongside.

    Tara for now.

  25. RC78 says:

    Xhaka’s best asset is his long passing and shot range. Otherwise, he is just average. He d do well in slower leagues like Italy or France.

    I like Maguire but I don’t think he will be great for us. I d rather take Kouilbaly, Bailly or even Aldewereid over him.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    Maguire ✔️

    GB’s comment ✔️

  27. Big Raddy says:

    RC. Maguire has PL experience. Koulibaly is out of our price range, MU will not sell Bailly and certainly not to us, same with Aldeweird

  28. GoonerB says:

    Agree with BR about us not getting Kouli, Bailly or Alderweireld, and I also like the look of Maguire. Despite a slight lack of pace he is remarkably assured on the ball for a big fellow and reads the game well. Reminds me a bit of John Terry in that sense.

    The problem is that we bought 2 stop gaps in Socrates and Lichtensteiner, and also maybe Kos can be considered that now and will become more a back up player. None of those 3 are young and (maybe Kos aside) are not near world class. With Mustaffi being no better than that at this level as well that makes 4 who are not 1st team level (possibly Kos aside).

    I would sell Lichtensteiner, Socrates and Mustaffi and keep Kos with Holding and the young Greek bloke. If an in there prime top class defender can’t be brought in for the right money maybe another stop gap older CD could be considered but it would have to be one that, unlike the others we have mentioned, is considered truly world class.

    Pepe has been mentioned but I note that one Mr Vincent Kompany is out of contract at the end of the season. Injury prone though he is he is world class and as long as he and Kos could give us a reasonable amount of games it may be a 2 year solution until young Greek bloke and Holding develop a bit more.

    If looking at a better option alongside Terrier in midfield, also out of contract are Milner and Dembele (Spurs one). Milner looks like one of those players whose conditioning will allow him to operate at the top level 3 years beyond most and he would be a really solid addition. Ask yourself if you would prefer to see Milner or Xhaka next to terrier when up against a top team?

    Dembele I think we could get on a free for the hilarity value, although I know many Spurs fans who really rate him and again could possibly improve that deeper CM area.

    Still not averse to possibly trying Chambers as a DM minder next to Terrier in a similar way Spurs moved Dier from CD to holding midfield. Although Fulham are struggling there have been some decent reports of him playing that role well for Fulham and in many ways he looks more suited to that than CD. He will be a better and stronger defender than Xhaka and he isn’t bad on the ball. He also isn’t that slow and looks quicker over the ground than Xhaka.

  29. John Mathews legend says:

    Happy New year to all at AA (and to all on this blog…) Had a fantastic Xmas week back in Lahndon N7, marred only by the watching of the Liverpool game with the Bro in the Assembly House Kentish Town, where nearly half the punters were London Mickey Mousers. That’s what you get if you cross the Brecknock Rd into Camden….and to a lesser extent the Brighton game in the same pub (I spent most of the match catching up with old friends with only half an eye on the screens, so had a good time whatever happened in the match)
    Why the Assembly? When you’re based just the Islinton side of the Brecknock, you’ve got the choice for the matches, between The Unicorn (good for Death metal gigs if you’re that way inclined, not great for footie) the new sports bar that used to be The Hobgoblin (Those of you still in touch with local folklore might understand why it’s a dodgy option…and why I’m not naming it here.) And the Assembly Nice big screens, only 10 minutes walk, as opposed to 15 down to the Holloway rd*.
    On today’s subject…I think some of you are bandying names about for a new CB that I think are way beyond our budget this January, probably even next summer’s.
    Would love to be wrong!
    * Sentimental reasons for the Assembly H….I pulled the French barmaid in that pub back in ’84. The mother of my children and the reason I moved to france back in the day!

  30. Maxwell says:

    Evenin’ all. Thanks for a real discussion provoker. In addition to Chambers getting good reviews for his DM work, Krystian Bielik is making big waves at Charlton in a similar role. I would love to see Bielik alongside Torreira in a year or two, with Mavropanos and Holding behind them. And don’t forget Zech Medley, who I think is a very impressive young man.

    Once again, at transfer time, fans are looking for solutions that cost a mortgage or ten, while we may just have the answers at home already. Most of them seem to fit the Emery template, having speed, brio and technique.

    Moreover, everyone seems to ignore the “Home Grown” rules, when begging the club to bring in half a dozen players from abroad.

  31. LBG says:

    “Home grown” never ignored on this site, sir!

  32. chas says:

  33. chas says:

  34. Rasp says:

    I see those substitutions as a real positive .. UE is doing everything he can to wring the talent out of a limited squad .. and at the same making all the players feel involved.

  35. Rasp says:

    Great to see so many old friends on the blog today … analysis and controversy are the heartbeat of debate … top work chas

  36. chas says:

    Nowt to do with me, Rasp.

  37. chas says:

    Home to Man U

  38. chas says:

  39. chas says:

  40. chas says:

  41. LBG says:

    Chas 0650
    His mouth looks like one of Stephen Hawking’s black holes!

  42. LBG says:

    You’ll like this one, Chas……according to the CIES Football Observatory algorithm Terrier is now worth £67m and Aubang £86m. Value buys!!
    Buy a CB, please.

  43. chas says:

    How much is Mustafi now worth?

  44. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Love those pics !

  45. Agree with that, Xkaha is not part of the XI b

  46. Big Raddy says:

    There is a New Post

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