Unai Emery’s record as Arsenal Manager and before

February 18, 2019

Arsenal’s Premier League record after 26 games

As we can see, the stat that sticks out is that our goals against is the worst in our PL history (tied with 2011/12) and significantly higher than our average. But nothing else appears to be a big issue in comparison to previous seasons.

So we have to look elsewhere to find what it is that gives some of us concerns ……

The PL is a six horse race and we have been also-rans in the last 14 seasons, in that time Man U have won 5 titles, Chelsea 5, Man C 3 and Leicester 1. This season it will be either Man C, Liverpool, or even Spurs.

The Leicester win was a one off occurrence by an inspired team and manager – self belief was a big factor.

Man U won 5 titles in 7 seasons with Alex Ferguson as manager but has not won in the last 5.

Man C are the rich kids on the block and won their first title in 2011/12 and have since won 2 more.

Chelsea’s riches gave them their first title in 2004/05 they repeated in 2005/06 and have won 3 times since.

Liverpool and Spurs are still PL virgins and long may it last.

So all that said, what about Arsenal – if it’s not stats then what is it?

Arsene Wenger treated us to many wonderful memories, far too many to list, in his final 14 seasons he did not win the PL but did win 4 FA Cups and 4 Charity Shields.

Unai Emery took over the reins on May 23, 2018 and he has an array of achievements.

Getty Images


UEFA Europa League: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16

Paris Saint-Germain

Ligue 1: 2017–18

Coupe de France: 2016–17, 2017–18

Coupe de la Ligue: 2016–17, 2017–18

Trophée des Champions: 2016, 2017


Miguel Muñoz Trophy (Segunda División): 2005–06, 2006–07

La Liga Manager of the Month: March 2014, January 2015

European Coach of the Season: 2013–14

UNFP Manager of the Year: 2017–18


Unai’s record as a manager


I would offer that Unai has inherited the same set of problems and issues that dogged Arsene in his final seasons.


  • Injuries to key players – in key positions
  • Lack of funding forcing creative purchases
  • Overpaid players
  • The Bosman Ruling
  • Inadequate positional balance
  • Over reactive supporters

Personally I’m not equipped with the knowledge to give definitive answers to these issues but one thing I do know and advocate is that Unai Emery has the future of our illustrious club in his capable hands.

He needs the support of both the management and supporters in order to achieve his goals and our dreams.

I wish him a successful and fulfilling career at Arsenal.

Give the man a chance.


Emery, the master carpenter.

February 17, 2019

Unfortunately we are getting closer to the Emery in or Emery out debate, I feel reassured that this site has risen above the playground name-calling on other sites to date from the usual suspects.

I have been trying to put into words by way of comparison how I feel about Unai Emery right now. I know in the past I was one of the most loyal of Arsene Wenger supporters, the reason for bringing that up is that I just want to make clear that I am nowhere near reaching that level of devotion; AW had a bank of great Arsenal memories to refer to and as such people like me probably carried the torch a tad longer than was good for all concerned. Unai Emery has no such bank of Arsenal memories………..yet?

The comparison I came up with to describe our Basque is that of a master carpenter having been invited to work on a prestigious London project only to find on his arrival that the project managers expect him to do his job without making available a saw, a hammer or a chisel.

Did you ever wonder what is going through his mind during a game when the camera cuts to him standing in front of the dug out with that pained expression on his face? I do, and the caption I see coming from his mouth is – What did you expect?

The recent Chelsea game seems to be frequently reappearing with both ends of the spectrum being debated: Chelsea are poor so that reduces the significance of the win or that the win shows that we really are not far off where we want to be.
The truth, as is often said, lies somewhere in the middle and that certainly seems to be the case with this game.

It is correct, of course, to say that Chelsea do not offer the same threat that they have in recent seasons but they offer more of a threat than Bate for example so why the difference, why doesn’t Emery set his team up in such a way that replicates that winning formula?

The answer in my opinion is personnel, or in this example, the lack of them because as much as he might want to play the same line up or the same system, he can’t and that is through no fault of his own.

This was the line up against Chelsea.


Bellerin, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac

—–Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi



I know I have said this before but I am going to say it again, the biggest loss has been Bellerin; he gave us goal scoring options from the right; he also enabled Kolasinac to do his magic on the left, this is subtle – no Bellerin = no Kolasinac magic. It is now too easy to crowd the Bosnian out and nullify his threat.
I know that GN5 justifiably points to the earlier part of the season when Bellerin’s sorties into the opponent’s half left gaps behind, but look above and notice how Torreira is set up to cover such gaps.

I don’t really need to explain the loss of calibre to the team having Sokratis replaced by Mustafi but the loss of Ramsey is underestimated. If you look at that team above again you will notice that there is a connection with London buses, we have been crying out for a defensive midfielder and now we have three, how else would you describe Xhaka, he may not be a very effective DM but he certainly isn’t a AM.

Ramsey is the only person from that midfield who could augment the front two; he is the only one who is capable of getting a goal from midfield. Unfortunately I don’t expect to see him play at THOF again, we got a flurry of determination for what looked like a final push to secure his lucrative Juve contract but from now on his foot will be off the pedal as I suspect he worries more about injury than our success.

What of Ozil? I see no reason why Ozil simply couldn’t be swapped for Ramsey in the above set up, there certainly is enough defensive cover to give Mesut a free rein; the problem is as I see it is that is like a house of cards.

No Bellerin, no effective AMN, no effective AMN, no effective Kolasinac, No effective Kolasinac, no effective Ozil all of which equates to: Arsenal 0 Bate 1

Personally I have very little hope of coming 4th, I don’t think we have the personnel to achieve that goal, I would be happy of course but I am not holding my breath. However, I do not think the responsibility for that misfire sits squarely on Emery’s shoulders; although that said, I might not be quite so sympathetic if we are in the same position this time next season after Emery has had an opportunity to buy his own saw, hammer and chisel.


Arsenal’s remaining season: what’s the point?

February 16, 2019

I’m writing this on the back of the Bate result with all the despondent reactions still ringing in my ears. Now I don’t want to sound like I’m high as a kite on false hopium, BUT, pre-season, and on the back of a new manager, most Arsenal fans were pretending to show a more mature and patient side with getting back to being a top four side as step one.

We are currently sitting in 5th, with just one point separating Utd in 4th and Chelsea just below us in 6th. Hardly a time to chuck in the towel.

Beyond the League (although this post is about the League), in the Europa most think we’ll get past Bate, and we recently beat the bookies favourite, Chelsea.

Ok, the remaining League fixtures:  much will be decided by how each of the 4th spot contenders perform against the lower sides as that’s the majority for each’s remaining games, however much will depend on encounters between us, so here they are:

Totnum a
ManUtd h

Totnum h
Liverpool a
Man Utd a

Chelsea a
Arsenal h
Liverpool a
Man City a

Liverpool h
Arsenal a
Man City h
Chelsea h

I haven’t included City or Pool because they are not in the race for 4th , although interestingly, City have only one fixture left against a top six side, while Pool have three.

I have included Totnum because they are more than capable of spectacular implosions.

Some of these could end up effectively being the classic six pointers.

Can we make it? Stranger things have happened.


Embarrassing in Belarus – Player Ratings

February 15, 2019

First Half

Loads of possession – Mkhitaryan one-on-one and a Lacazette header perhaps should have been dispatched. Bate look a poor side but still had a couple of good efforts on goal. Simple goal for them when it came. Poor.

Second Half

Lots more possession with very little to show for it. The number of times there was a poorly weighted pass was ridiculous. Yes, it was a terrible pitch, but really?

‘Fancy coming back to mine?’

Auba came on with us needing a goal and then played in a withdrawn inside right position. Utterly ridiculous – get him hanging round the goal or leave him in his sleeping bag.


As fgg says, we should win next week by a few, so maybe this isn’t as bad as it seems right now, but playing against a team which isn’t even fit as their season doesn’t start until March, we looked toothless and almost completely ineffective. Oh, if only we had a player who can play that killer pass to open up the bus!


Cech – blocked a couple – picked the ball out of the back of his net … 5

Mustafi – not really required to do a huge amount of defending – passing very average … 5

Koscielny – slightly above average in a poor team performance … 6

Monreal – again, not much to do against a team content to defend … 5

Maitland-Niles – saw a fair amount of the ball and didn’t really achieve much with it … 4

Kolasinac – his one decent cross found Laca marginally offside according to the lino – dreadful attempt at goal when the ball came back to him on the corner of the 6 yard box … 4

Xhaka – looked rusty – silly booking – didn’t add much … 4

Guendouzi – telegraphs his passing often leading to interceptions … 4

Iwobi – a game made for him but somehow he produced very little of note …5

Mkhitaryan – pretty anonymous when we needed him to take up the creative mantle … 4

Lacazette – Frustrated with the quality of chances created for him but lacked sharpness when half chances came – in some ways the elbow into the chin of the Bate player was for all of us – him missing from the second leg may work out ok if Auba gets a hat-trick … 5


Aubameyang – the lad is a striker not a withdrawn midfielder – no efforts on goal in over 20 minutes … 4

Torreira – we needed something different than the Terrier offers – his 30 yard effort at the end was laughable … 5

Suarez – at first sight looks a typical Wenger signing, lightweight midfielder – might have been better to have left plan A (the Wardrobe cut-back) on the pitch … 4


Emery – not the result he or the Arsenal supporters were after – having neither Ramsey or Ozil on the pitch seems even more ridiculous now … 3


Bate Borisov – In Brief

February 14, 2019

Rumours abound that Mesut hasn’t travelled which, considering he was announced as back in full training and appeared in a photo of Wednesday morning’s training (below), are quite frankly, ludicrous. Is it some sort of bizarre Mexican standoff – who blinks first, Emery or Ozil?  Quite ridiculous.

Stuart MacFarlane

Ramsey has a slight problem with his knee also, so misses out ( 🙂 ) – probably aggravated when he sunk to his knees celebrating the signing of his gigantic pre-contract agreement with Juve.

Granit has travelled, as has Auba, whereas the only youngster in the squad appears to be Eddie.

It’s difficult to imagine the Borisov arena, jammed to the rafters with 13,000 people, being too intimidating an atmosphere. There’ll be no goat-slaughtering in the centre circle or ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners but, then again, if the home team score first, we’ll need to keep faith in the team’s mental strength.

A good result in Belarus will make next week’s return at the Emirates all the easier. We have no game in between as it’s FA Cup weekend, so there isn’t really any reason not to play a strong team.

Having said that, it might still be prudent to leave Auba on the bench wrapped up in his sleeping bag as he was poorly last week. The team functions better with two more versatile wide attackers anyway. Perhaps Denis Suarez might get a full starting debut, though Micki and Alex Iwobi will also want to start after their minor successes against Huddersfield.

The defence looks so much stronger with Kos as the first name on the teamsheet.  with Kola and Ainsley as wingbacks – why not?

In midfield why not have Xhaka and Torreira as the double pivot and allow Curly a role further forward to allow more interchange with Iwobi/Micki/Suarez (perm 2 from 3).

The Bate Borisov manager is Alyaksey Baha. He has worked his way up the coaching ranks at the club since 2011, finally becoming head coach in June 2018.

Sightseeing in Barysaw


Holy Resurrection Cathedral – perhaps Mesut should have gone and paid a visit here


State museum complete with a Napoleonic cannon outside

Winning the Europa Cup still seems our most likely route to next season’s  Champions League but winning a cup competition always needs a fair amount of good fortune.

Still, if we can’t get through the Round of 32, we certainly don’t deserve CL qualification by the backdoor.


chas (BR is on manoeuvres)

Arsenal FC – Our away record against FC Bate Borisov

February 13, 2019

FC BATE Borisov is a Belarusian football team from the city of Barysaw. The club competes in the Belarusian Premier League. The club’s home stadium is Borisov Arena, which was opened in 2014 it has a capacity of 13,126. BATE is an acronym of Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electronics.

The team was founded in 1973 and then disbanded in 1984. Prior to being disbanded they won the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic league three times (1974, 1976 and 1979), the club was re-established in 1996.

They are the reigning champions and are the league’s most successful club with 15 titles, 13 won consecutively. The club has also won three Belarusian Cups and four Belarusian Super Cups. BATE is the only Belarusian team to have qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (2008–09, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15 and 2015–16) and one of two to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League (2009–10, 2010–11, 2017–18 and 2018–19), along with Dinamo Minsk.

The following comes from a stadium guide and is not a great reason to travel.

The Borisov Arena is located on the edge of the city surrounded by forests, office parks, and some residential housing. There is not much to see or do near the stadium so little reason to head over long before the match. Barysaw is a rather sleepy city so there isn’t much to do elsewhere either, but you’ll be able to find a few places to eat or drink in central Barysaw around Revolution Avenue or around Gagarina street near the coach station. There are barely any hotels in Barysaw so your choice is either to go for one of the very basic options or pick one of the apartment rentals around the city.

The alternative (as most of the travelling Gooners seem to be doing) is to stay in Minsk. In fact Arsenal FC have arranged coaches for fans to make the 70km journey. Coaches will depart from Lenin street (metro station Pershamayskaya) opposite the Minsk Concert Hall.

Minsk Concert Hall


Belarusian Premier League
Winners (15): 1999, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Belarusian Cup
Winners (3): 2006, 2010, 2015

Belarusian Super Cup
Winners (7): 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Belarusian Second League

Winners: 1996
Belarusian Soviet era champions
Winners (3): 1974, 1976, 1979

The only occasion we have played against Bate in Belarus was in the 2017/18 Europa League when we won 4-2.

Thursday 28th September 2017 – FC Bate Borisov 2 Arsenal 4

Two early goals from Theo Walnutt and a close range header from Rob Holding gave the boys in powder blue a commanding lead. Bate sneaked one back before FFS Giroud sealed the win with a penalty just after half time. Bate’s second 20 minutes from time proved no more than a consolation. A 17 year-old Reiss Nelson impressed at right wing back.

I expect us to win – but then again we are the 2018/19 version of Arsenal so –?



February 12, 2019

Despite the fact we have discussed the Mr. Ramsey situation for over a year I feel that we will have to do so again., after all over 1200 comments on the BBC website following his statement shows a high level of interest.

And what is the focus of the ire? His wages and the level of inefficiency of the Arsenal negotiating team.

My response to both is that there is a misconception based upon ignorance.

Let’s start with the wages.

Aaron Ramsey is a very high profile player in the world’s most popular sport. His wages pale into insignificance when discussing high earners in a minority sport like American football or baseball.

It is a simple case of supply and demand.  Those of you who are lucky enough to travel the world know that wherever you go there is passion for the Premier League above any other, countless millions know the name of Aaron Ramsey.. He may not be in the rank of Messi/Ronaldo or Calum Chambers but he is definitely in the top 100.

He earns the Big Bucks because someone is willing to pay. It seems as though there were a plethora of clubs willing to pay €400k a week, including Man Utd and the Chavs.

Footballers are not overpaid, lawyers are 😀

The Arsenal Backroom Boys effed up the negotiations? How can anyone know outside of the meeting room what was offered and refused?

Some time ago LB wrote a post on this very subject and he is a man who knows about contracts.  Mr. Ramsey employs an agent to get him the best deal possible. It would be foolish to imagine that his agent didn’t tout Aaron around the big clubs in Europe at least 18 months ago. He would have known the benefit to his client of running down his contract. It is called Player Power. and Arsenal got shafted. They aren’t the first and will not be the last.

It is also the job of his agent and press office to present Mr. Ramsey in the best possible light – they have done a superb job. Arsenal are left looking foolish. Very clever.

Aaron is one of my favourite players (despite his Welshdom). In his 11 years he has been superb for Arsenal and we will miss his genius.

I wish him the very best of good fortune on his new adventure.

I am deeply envious.

written by Big Raddy


Things we learnt from the gameweek 26

February 11, 2019

So, Gameweek 26 comes to a close (apart from for those poor s*ds who are looking forward to Wolves versus the barcodes tonight) and what conclusions can we draw?

Getty Images

  • Yesterday’s game proved that Abu Dhabi oil money trumps Russian oil money – or does it? It was only the start of December when some were pleased that the chavs had inflicted Citeh’s first defeat of the season. After yesterday it’s difficult to imagine how – home advantage, I suppose. How good is it to go up a place in the table without playing? Haha.
  • Liverpool cruised at home against the Cherries, but they tend not to travel well anyway. The two horse title race could be very interesting as it moves towards the turn for home. As long as the outsider in the lilywhite silks doesn’t become involved in the final furlongs, that is.
  • Man U had fun at the cottage – sounds a bit like a Sun headline! The red mancs are like a runaway train at the moment with Pogba free from Maureen’s shackles. Their next three fixtures are PSG at home, the chavs away in the FA Cup, followed by the dippers at home on 24th February ( a game eclipsed by Arsenal v Soton kicking off at the same time, it has to be said). Will these matches slow them down? – we shall see.
  • It’s scary that the spuds are only 5 points off the top. Some on here were saying what great football they’re playing, even comparing them to us in our prime. This is so preposterous. Whenever I’ve seen them ( which is not often as I get an involuntary gag reflex if I see Son dive), they have seemed both lucky and dour. Compared to the attacking prowess of City and Liverpool – nah!
  • What did we learn about Arsenal? Well, not a lot, it has to be said. I guess it’s more of a case of we’re all wondering what will come next more than anything else. Getting some of our top earners out of the sick bay might help. Then again, if they’re not picked to play, what difference will it make?


Huddersfield 1 Arsenal 2 – Player Ratings

February 10, 2019

No Auba or Mesut due to illness and no Rambo with a slight knee.

First Half

Plenty of chances against the bottom team: Laca tackled just as he was about to pull the trigger; Wobbly into the side netting when he should have got his head up.

After a quarter of an hour, a fine cross from Wardrobe allowed Wobbly to expertly cannon a volley off a Huddersfield heel to wrongfoot the keeper and put us one up.

Looking dangerous on the break, we eventually doubled the lead when a driven cross from Maitland-Niles was simply despatched by Lacazette.

Huddersfield huffed and puffed nut were kept at arm’s length. Micki was very good on his return, finding space and using the ball intelligently. Wobbly was also having one of his better games where he looked really dangerous going forward.

Second Half

It’s difficult to say that the second half was comfortable watching.

Aside from a 10 minute spell where we should have got that crucial third goal, It seemed to be a case of holding what we’d got. Huddersfield’s lack of a cutting edge was partly responsible for us looking as though we might keep a clean sheet away from home. Leno did well but bottom of the table finishing was partly responsible for us not conceding earlier in that second period.

Photo by Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images

Wardrobe felt sorry for the Terriers in injury time and casually passed into his own net to send the home fans into raptures – their first goal since Adam were a lad.


Three points against the bottom team away from home with a team hit with injuries You can’t really ask for more. Or can you? The gulf in class should have been stamped, double-stamped and triple-stamped. Curiously, the balance of the side was much better in the first half than of recent games.

I didn’t really understand Arsenal’s second half. If Huddersfield had managed to get one back early in the second half would we have just gone up a gear to score a third? I have my doubts.

Maybe the nerves kicked in after such a poor run previously? Maybe the half time team talk was to just try to shut up shop, let the opposition have as much possession as they wished and stay solid?

Either way, it was pretty unconvincing viewing.


Leno – great save early in the second, relatively untroubled by a castrated opponent’s forward line … 7

Mustafi – a liability yet again, some of his passing and decision-making is just shocking … 4

Koscielny – Back in control, definitely one of the classiest players on the pitch – his instant forward pass to Wobbly in the build up to the second goal was excellent … 8

Monreal – struggled manfully as always, let’s hope he stays fit … 7

Maitland-Niles – another ‘chillum in the pocket’ performance, sometimes composed and graceful on the ball, others completely lacking in urgency and nous. You would have thought he would be grabbing the chance to cement a first team spot with both hands and with the utmost eagerness, instead he’s often lackadaisical which is perplexing. Extra point for an assist … 6

Kolasinac – an assist also and he played to his strengths – calves, thighs, shoulders, biceps – shame defending isn’t really his bag … 6

Torreira – Good in the first half, presumably subbed off with a knock? … 6

Guendouzi – I’m still not sure Matteo is a defensive midfielder, but he is still only 19 so maybe even he doesn’t know … 6

Iwobi – dangerous to any defence and to any supporter’s blood pressure. Can be outstanding and then infuriating in the space of ten seconds. Great first half when he looked dangerous. Kept his goal volley down which gains him an extra point … 7

Mkhitaryan – another who had a good first half – lovely to see him breaking the lines, finding space and looking so composed with the ball at his feet – a fine return from injury before understandably fading … 7

Lacazette – I’m sensing a little Wrighty-edge to Laca’s play which I really like, his goal was on a plate but taken with aplomb – love that aggression … 7


Elneny – comical moment when he climbed all over Laca who was waiting for the ball to come down on the edge of the 6 yard box – ran around a lot … 6

Suarez –  on for Micki, didn’t really have a chance to shine again … 6

Willock – time wasting sub


Emery – got the job done which is what we ask of him. I liked the team structure far more than in recent weeks – what did he say at half time though? … 7

Wagner – even he can’t keep them from the drop … 4


Moss – oozing both incompetence and lard from every pore … 2


In Brief: Huddersfield Away.

February 9, 2019

One for Fred:

Huddersfield. Kirklees Stadium.  AW’s last game, a win.

AFC not won in 5 away games. H’field won one of last 12 games. On longest losing run in all 4 leagues.

H’field not scored against AFC in PL. AFC yet to have an away clean sheet in 2018/19.

H’field have 3 Danish players in their squad.


David Wagner.

Ozil? Unlikely. Suarez? Very likely.  Young Greek Bloke/Mustafi?


Important 3 pointer.