Did Unai Emery train the Pep out of the Arsenal players last season?

It seems like there’s still very much a verdict out on Unai Emery. Which is justifiable and understandable.

The players needed and probably got a bit of a culture shock. I don’t think he inherited a good enough squad to do it the way he would have liked.

Remember Pep’s first year at the Man City? I distinctly remember people saying he was training them too hard and he was going to burn out his poor millionaire superstars. I think he did too. They didn’t win much.

It appears we hit a wall and burned out too last season. So for me it bodes well. Ask any City fan, Raheem Stirling, David Silva, Fernandino, Kevin De Bruyne and I’m certain a few more how they feel about it now. Alternatively you could ask Joe Hart (learn to pass it Joe or you can’t play for us), Jesus Navas, Eliaquim Malanga, Samir Nasri, John Stones, Bernard Mendy etc. who may see it differently. I hope you get my point.

Obviously the big difference is what to do about it. City just bought better players for a shed load of money. We can’t. So one of our alternatives is to promote the youngsters, which is what recent posts have been about. It’s VERY important that we’re very careful here if we use this strategy. Reiss Nelson will not turn into Ryiad Mahrez in one season, nor Eddie into Sergio Aguero. As a believer in a much needed mentality shift, I can’t see a problem with bringing in a young player to replace some of our current squad who just don’t seem to have a good enough attitude and/or work ethic.

But if we do, just make sure we temper our expectations of the team and manager so we give them a chance to succeed. Because it took City 2 years and Liverpool 3 years to do it and I’m not sure we can compete with either one of them financially (certainly the City, but probably Liverpool now too).

Mike M


93 Responses to Did Unai Emery train the Pep out of the Arsenal players last season?

  1. walad mwatawala says:

    I like the article. but one thing I dont like from Emery, he wanted to change a lot of things in just few moments,building from the back, high pressing,high intensity while he doesnt hv those type of players. Yes I agree our team is not wealthier club,but how does he spent those available funds thts so shocking, why buying 4 mediocre players, If it would hv been me, I would buy only 2, who can improve the team greatly. Apart from Leno, I didnt see anayone who improved us as a team, nor Guendozi, nor Sokratis no Torreira. Its hard to be an Arsenal fan, because so many confusion, but as for me I dont trust Emery,coz I didnt see any progress, because when he signed he knew that there was Ozil, Nketiah, Mustafi etc.that means he conviced himself, he can make them better, but I dont know style we are playing or system, it has been try and error. I never saw a team made changes during 49 minutes and won trophies.He was lucky even to finish 5th

  2. RA says:

    Good Morning All,

    A sensible reasoned viewpoint, Mike M, although to be picky, I do not quite agree that “the ‘verdict’ is out on Emery, in as much as that is justifiable and understandable”.

    It is perfectly understandable that fans looking at a new manager may be unsure what improvements he has made to the team, if any, and wonder if he is the right man for the Arsenal, but it is too early to say that any implied criticism is ‘justifiable’ — maybe this time next year?

    It is easy to play the “what if” game, but it is natural for fans to speculate when things haven’t gone as well as was hoped — so I ask for your indulgence by saying – if we had beaten Brighton, the extra 2 points would have catapulted us into the top 4 and qualification for the CL.
    In turn, that would have lead to the usual (well it used to be usual) angst about how far we would get in the CL rounds, especially with the rubbish defence we have suffered for so many years.
    Maybe only drawing with Brighton at least saved us from that.

    Many fans would, probably, have changed their tune about Emery if the result of one game against a poor team, so late in the season had been different. Such a small thing – the success of the season hanging on one more goal in that game and — wowsie he would have been the new messiah, and we would have more money to spend on transfers, and could have looked forward to better players joining us, and ……….. well it did not happen.

    Was that enough to condemn the manager? was it Emery’s fault that the team played crap that day? – was it the fabled player burnout? was it lack of bottle by some players?
    Who knows – but there will be as many opinions and finger pointing allegations as there are stars in the sky.

    Good blog material. 🤪

  3. RC78 says:

    Jury is still out on Emery. As previously said, he will meet expectations which is to make sure we put ourselves to really challenge for 4th spot (maybe not make it) and the Cups (semi-finals at least in FA and EL Cups).

    Our team is almost weaker position by position than Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and maybe Utd. We can’t expect miracles. I still think that we can purchase smart and make things better next season by playing more cohesively as a team both defensively and offensively. I think Emery needs to purchase 3 players for the first team to make that happen: CB, DM, FW

    El Sharaawy leaved Roma…Brahimi touted to replace him.

  4. Jjgsol says:

    3 new players means 7 new players in a year, ignoring Lichsteiner.

    4 of the 5 signings last season became first team regulars so if the same happens to the ‘new 7’ so much for eu’s dossiers as the team mostly mostly been replaced.

    I think that those of us hoping for a role this season for our talented youngsters are likely to be disappointed unless they can learn to run around like lunatics and to do what they are told the whole time.

    My jury came out a long ttime ago.

  5. gee says:

    for me this article misses the point. You cannot compare Pep and Unai as they have both different philosophies. One is all out attack and aesthetic football and the other is win at all cost even at the expense of aesthetic football.

    Pep encourages his own teams to play and be brave on the ball expressing their talents, heck he even encourages other p[layers from opp teams to play (remember his geeing up Nathan Redmond when they played against Southampton).

    From what i seen of Unai is that he micromanages his team giving instructions for every possibility that occurs in a game. He wants them to play in way to contain the other team and capitalise on their mistakes, a very Jose Mourinho way of playing.

    So it is better to compare Una 1st yr to Jose’s 1st yr at Man Utd. Jose still went out bought truck loads of players but did not change his philosophy, and we all seen what happened there.

    Unless Unai changes his end of season philosophy and his preferences for freezing out our best attacking players (Carzola, Ramsey, Ozil) and loaning out our most creative youngsters (smith rowe, Nelson) etc, and preference for playing 8 defensive minded players in the starting 11 @ home to teams like crystal palace – then i don’t see how you can at all compare him to Pep.

  6. Rasp says:

    Welcome gee, great comment. Looking at manu, and the fact that they are still in disarray 6 years and 5 managers after replacing SAF, I am grateful to UE for even taking on the task in light of the seemingly unsolvable problems he has inherited.

    I don’t think he’s the best manager there is. He isn’t in Pep, Klopp or Poch’s league, but he has been brought in to do a job and see us through a seismic change in the whole management of the club.

    I reckon he’ll stick around for a couple of years and depending on whether he can get us back in the CL in two years, he may stay longer, or hand over to a new manager of a different type who won’t have to deal with the problems that currently restrict him.

  7. gee says:

    @ Rasp – thanks.

    We are where we are with Unai and i have not totally given up on him yet but i don’t really see much positive signs that he can turn it around but i ain’t no expert and he is a proven manager at a high level.

    My problem being is that like Manu who were known for a style of play and philosophy, is the loss of identity linked with a manager that has helped to create that recent identity and then switching to an opposing manager with a totally different philosophy.
    Manu have not recovered from it and we may not.

    If you are going to outright change the clubs philosophy you MUST be successful or else you are going to piss a lot of people off.
    If Manu won the league under Jose he would prob still be there. the problem being that he didn’t and no one believed his shit after that esp with dour functional football.

    The problem Unai has got is he is changing the clubs way of playing and commitment to entertaining football to a functional, less entertaining way of playing. So results will come first. Tell me do you see him playing more youngsters in that scenario or experienced internationals who he can micromanage to get the result required.

  8. LBG says:

    Thanks Mike M.
    Surprised at this argument for failure in last six games.
    Professional footballers should be able to play a full season of whatever length.
    I believe the problem was in the mind for too many of our players. Never say die is the requirement. Motivate yourself and almost important, motivate your team mates. Dont leave anything on the pitch. Keep your shape, keep your discipline. If you are down, take responsibility for your errors and get your head up. Dont blame anyone else for your errors and believe with true teamwork you can turn things round a la Totteringham, and Liverpool.
    Mustafi, Kola, Xhaka, Mesut, Mickhy all, by varying degrees failed to show the above when the chips were down.
    Ouzi, Torreira, A M-N, Wobbly, Elneny, were, on occasions influenced by this ” attitude”.
    Get the players, young or old, who are prepared to believe in and enact NEVER SAY DIE, and play them.
    Dick needs more time, may never be Pep, Klopp or the Argie, but can do IT for us, provided you dont expect too much from IT!

  9. Rasp says:

    Thanks gee. In some ways I see UE as the sacrificial lamb, he can’t work miracles with what he’s got, and he can’t buy top quality on a minimal budget.

    Like you, I have my doubts about him integrating some of the younger academy players based at his record at previous clubs … but maybe that was understandable at PSG because they are big spenders.

    As regards the style/philosophy, it wasn’t great for the last few years despite the FA cup victories. We made ourselves easy to play against by continually sacrificing defensive numbers in an over-commitment to attack. Added to that, we didn’t recruit physically strong or even strong personalities who could cope with a high press.

    Who knows, Unai may be working on the theory that without top quality (on high wages) playing attractive football is going to be difficult, therefore conceding fewer and working harder is the best way to milk the most out of our resources.

    We must be the only so-called ‘big club’ with a small club budget and with little hope of improvement in that situation.

  10. Sue says:

    Nice article, Mike 👌
    Excellent comment, LBG 👍 totally agree! I hope we’re done with the way our heads go down after going behind.. that give up attitude stinks! We need that never say die attitude instilled into all of them & if that means UE cracking the whip even harder next season, then so be it! I’m available to crack it too 😂

    Just checked Sky Sports – we’re not in the top 10 whispers, not much going down at all….. come on AFC, it’s like waiting for bloody Christmas!! My patience is pretty thin 😁

  11. LBG says:

    Sue, Dick should not have to “crack the whip” too much! ( And we all know who you wish to whip!!) Young, Arsenal imbued players from the Academy should come into the team and tell the Mustafis and Xhakas of this world “get your finger out, WE ARE THE ARSENAL”, and you are being paid a lot to work your b******* off!.

  12. VP says:

    Excellent, I get to reply to RA starting with a quote from a Vince Vaughn movie.
    “Nows not the time to be pointing fingers…” but yes, if we had beaten Brighton, the extra 2 points would have catapulted us into the top 4 and qualification for the CL and I would have changed my tune about Emery if the result of this one game against a poor team, so late in the season had been different. And yes one more goal in that game and — wowsie he would have been the new messiah, and we would have more money to spend on transfers, and could have looked forward to better players joining us, and because it did not happen it is enough to condemn Him. Yes it was Emery’s fault that the team played crap that day.

    Good material RA. 🤪

    I feel much better now, night all.

  13. fred1266 says:

  14. VP of Oz says:

    I love womens sport what with my daughter now playing football and averaging 3 goals a game, Aussie Pep coaching the Arsenal womens to the title and the recent World Cup Matildas disaster.

    I’ve also commented in the past on how they were calling Ellyse Perry the new Bradman due to her phenomenal batting average.
    Today I read –
    Australia smashes England as Ellyse Perry smashes records in Women’s Ashes
    Ellyse Perry humiliated England, opening the bowling to take a wicket with the third ball of the day, then rolling on to the frankly obscene figures of 7 for 22.

    Maybe Aussie Ash could win wimbledon…

    I’m also looking forward to the start of the new EPL season. I dont hold out much hope of new player transfers but I do hope that Holding is fit all season long.

    definitely good night now

  15. jjgsol says:

    Surely, the “finger pointing” goes further than that.

    It seems that it is all about the “mess” that was left by AW, whose last year was badly affected by the shenanigans orchestrated by some fans, and who knows who behind the scenes.

    Of course, it is all his fault, isn’t it?

    Nothing to do with the fact that he left behind Ozil, Auba. Lacazette, Mikhitarian, Ramsey and a number of others, who are players who, not in the poisonous atmosphere that now pervades the club, would be automatic choices in many other clubs both here and abroad.

    UE was given 5 players in his image and mold and chose to freeze out 2 excellent players for half the season.

    I am afraid “blame” here is not retrospective.

    With his dossiers on all the players, he would and should have known that a lot of them could not play his negative style, because one of the reasons they were chosen in the first place was because of their uninhibited style and abilities.

    I have seen our team during the Wright, Mee, Neil and Revies times and I can see us regressing to playing non-descript and negative football because the result is all that matters, isn’t it?

    Perhaps, if the rumours are right, we are going for Zaha, so that we can benefit from his cheating and diving, because it is all about the result, isn’t it?

  16. allezkev says:

    Good post Mike, a well balanced view, patience is in quite short supply among the fan base.

  17. Mike M says:

    Morning All (here!!). Great comments above. Just to clarify a couple of points I was trying to make and may not have done the greatest job of it. First, i am very much a believer in UE. I think he has a record of success and can get his team over the line in the big games. Sure he’s failed on occasion but he’s no rookie and i think he’ll do a great job for us. He inherited a poor squad with a poor attitude and I somewhat disagree with the criticism of his handling of Ramsey since that situation was already a train wreck waiting to happen. And although Aaron he had one of his best seasons for us, he did revert to type and that hurt us badly at the end of the season. I also believe the Holding and Bellerin injuries, although very Arsenal, were unfortunate and hamstrung UE to a large extent. (i think “freezing out Cazorla” is a little harsh also !!). Second, I’m more hoping that theorising that our players “burned out” because if that’s the reason it might bode well. If I’m honest I’m not sure i really believe that but in the cases of Klopp, Pep and even Poch to a large extent, their second seasons have been very much more productive than their first and in all 3 cases, their “brutal” training methods have been criticised. In fact the point about Manure is very astute. None of their 5 managers have had this accusation levelled at them. Could that be the problem?!!
    I think mainly I’m tired of the Arsene Out brigade and the negativity surrounding our management, so i think I’m going to continue to look at things with rose colour specs and try to take positives rather than negatives. By the end of the new season, you might hear a slightly different POV, but I hope not.
    C’mon you GOONERS !!!

  18. LBG says:

    Thought this blog had done the past blame theory and was pulling together to work ideas for the future with the man currently in charge. Even Bruce Rioch got given more time than Dick currently by some on here!!

  19. LBG says:

    MIKE M
    There you go! With you all the way. Up the Arse!

  20. Mike M says:

    Sorry Jigsol I was writing my comment when you posted. I agree that our style has and will change but maybe UE did know that Ozil couldn’t play his style but tried it anyway. He didn’t sign nor extend Ozil and Possibly he tried to give him an opportunity to adapt? I think it’s possible to play solid defensively and still play good football. Ask George !! As far as Zaha goes, not my first choice but I think we all agree we need a tricky winger and he’s one.

  21. Rasp says:

    Nice one Mike … here here

  22. fred1266 says:

    Any news on mustafi sue

  23. Rasp says:

    She doesn’t live with him Fred 😂

  24. RC78 says:

    1. Unless a catastrophe, Emery will stay until the contract ends.

    2. At PSG, Emery tried to make a transition and counter-attacking team. He had to go back to the Blanc system because the players felt unconfortable with the high press and low possession football. Emery needs very athletic players to implement his vision especially in midfield and he needs players that can just also play very direct football. At the moment, we don’t have really have such players. At the moment, most players are still very much keen on / better suited for possession-based footie rather than counter attacking.

  25. allezkev says:

    Regarding Emery and our youngsters, did he not develop a clutch of young players when he was at Seville?

  26. LBG says:

    Kola lives with Mustafi, Sue, so if you want one you get the other as a bog off!!

  27. Mike M says:

    Agree wholeheartedly RC78. problem is we’re not very good at possession based football any more. Only City can do that in this league. Spuds and Liverpool counter attack with great success. Maybe someone could do an analysis of Poch and Klopp’s signings since taking over. I’d imagine fast, strong and fit would define almost all of them. So we need to chose a style and Dick is either trying to figure it out, or has decided already.

  28. RA says:


    You have a fair point — but surely high pressing and possession football is not mutually exclusive?

    I would be interested in your assessment of the styles of the currently best teams on the Italian, French English and German leagues. [champions or runners-up]

    Do they all play ‘possession’ only football [can’t see how myself] – or do they only play the fast paced, pressing style of football. [this last one rules Arsenal out – [not that we are one of the best teams admittedly we are abysmally slow when compared to so many other teams] — or, do the best teams play both pressing and possession related football, dependent on prevailing circumstances?

    Should not be a problem for someone with your knowledge. 😁

  29. LBG says:

    Where’s your Bro when you need a goal put up?
    Aubang v Leicester, fast break, one touch. possession football. They would excite me all day long with that style. Come on Rasp, need your expertise!

  30. RA says:

    Hi VP,

    I am glad I wrote/typed something for you to get your teeth into — and it certainly was a novel way of expressing your opinion, and very interesting it was as a result. 😳

  31. Sue says:

    Hi Fred… any news on Mustafi? He’s still a donkey, is all I know 😁 no, not seen owt about him today… I still have everything crossed & if I come across anything, you will be the first to know!!!

  32. Sue says:

    Hahaha LBG… that is one bogof I’d have to say no to!!! 😆

  33. Mike M says:

    Sue, not sure what your feeling about Mustafi are but a lot of double entendre’s in your comment. LMAO !!

  34. RA says:


    You have to be careful crossing your eyes. If you saw Kola and waved – Mustafi would have given you a kiss! 😇

  35. Mike M says:

    Part of an article from ESPN FC :

    “Complaints about a heavy training workload are likely to receive short shrift from Solskjaer and his coaches, with ESPN FC reporting in May that Solskjaer and his assistant, Mike Phelan, had been dismayed by the poor fitness levels of the squad following their arrival in place of the sacked Jose Mourinho last December. Solskjaer and Phelan are determined to ensure that a vast improvement on basic fitness levels are dealt with as a priority, so there are likely to be more demands placed on the players during their first week on tour in Australia.

    However, one of the first mistakes made by David Moyes during his ill-fated 10-month reign as manager in 2013-14 was to focus too heavily on fitness rather than technique and the Scot struggled, and ultimately failed, to convince the players of his fitness-first approach.”

    Not sure what to make of that but I think the Premier League demands fitness levels above and beyond any other level of world football.

  36. Aaron says:

    Emery is a cup manager.

    The team is not going to integrate youth this year.

    The Arsenal will lose many away games, and most likely not make top 4, all the while conceding a ton of goals and playing dour futbol.

    Emery really does not have a defined style, and he tries to force the players to adapt to his style, whatever it is, depending on the game. The Arsenal do not have the players to do this, and his micromanaging will be the final sword in his coffin. (As mentioned above, possession or counter attacking or both)

    So, he is going to get what players into shape? Bel and Hold, who have just come back from injury, mustafi and Xhaka, who have no brain and no pace, Kos, Monreal, Sok, and Ozil, who are on the downward trajectory of their careers, Iwobi who is still in AFCON, Sead who is just one injury away from missing a bunch of games, Auba, Laca and Elneny, who are pro’s and stay in shape, that leaves Leno, and AMN, who could probably use it.

    The question is- will getting our players into shape help us defend better as a team, score that 1 goal at home versus Brighton? Won’t matter, as the other sides are moving forward while the Arenal try to shave nickels on an up and coming defender who will probably go to another club.

    $h*ty, pooL, chaVs and spUds will all get better.

    Read a review of the club from a Colorado Rapids fan perspective, and it mirrors our situation about the top level of apathy of their club.

    Putting our ownership and Emery together is a match made in heaven- from a balance sheet perspective.

  37. LBG says:

    Glad you are trying to lift all our spirits!

  38. LBG says:

    Why has Freddie been appointed to his position if Dick is going to ignore him?

  39. Mike M says:

    Aaron, great comment and I agree that this could be the way things go. I hope you’re 100% wrong but you’d have to be a fool to discount this scenario. It’s up to UE and the entire club to get us out of our current malaise. Try to keep the faith !!

  40. LBG says:

    Good effort Mike, got a feeling you are flogging a dead horse, though!

  41. RC78 says:

    RA – According to whoscored.com, the champions of 4 out of the 5 Major leagues have the most possession-based football in their league (https://www.whoscored.com/Statistics):

    – 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).

    I think you cannot play possession football all the time – I think all the teams mentioned above (except maybe PSG) are adept of also 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 think Emery is more keen to turn us into a mix between Atletico and maybe Bayern type of team. I always say that 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:

    Neuer – Lahm, Dante, Boateng, Alaba – Martinez, Schwini – Robben, Muller, Ribery – Mandzukic

    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:

    Neuer – Kimmich, Sule, RECRUIT, Hernandez – Alcantara, Goretzka – Gnabry, RECRUIT, Coman – Lewandowski

    I think they will be major contenders for the CL next year if they get a CB and a CM – they tried both De Ligt and De Jong but missed narrowly. They will spend big

  42. Rasp says:

    There is definitely a post in the question: “What do we reasonably have a right to expect next season?” … anyone care to jot down some thoughts on that topic?

  43. RC78 says:

    Bergwin looks like a good and accessible prospect by the way…

    Rasp – I ll do a post later this week on “what if AMN and KOLA were played as CMR and CML?”

  44. allezkev says:

    I’m not sure that Emery will be as focused on the cups this season Aaron, so I think that a lot of our youngsters will get game time in the knock out competitions, finishing top four will get Unai another year in charge so I reckon that’ll be his major priority.

  45. Rasp says:

    I’d be ecstatic if we make top 4, that is above my current level of expectation … but, I am optimistic and I do expect a good season even if we only finish in the EL again. I don’t think we will be totally free from constraints until the 20/21 season

  46. fred1266 says:

  47. Aaron says:

    LBG, good point about Freddie. I really do not know the answer to that question. I guess it depends on how the first 10 games go for Emery. If the season starts with difficulty, will he have the courage? I think not.

    RC78- another solid observation. But one thing in common with those possession based teams, big time $$$.

    Even reaL, who won 3 CL’s in a row had a truckload of money and talent, and I bet their possession numbers were high too.

    The Arsenal can do that to the very bottom of the EPl table, maybe, but surely not the top.

    The Arsenal are going to have to go all in on counter-attacking due to money problems, a la Athletico, or going the other way and just accept top 6.

    Here is an interesting article on ESPN, though it was early in the year.


  48. Rasp says:

    Thanks RC78 … offer gratefully accepted ….

  49. Aaron says:

    allezkev, you are correct, but like I said he is a cup manager, and all the other squads are moving forward.

  50. Sue says:

    Elneny to Bordeaux? 🙏
    Nelson, Nketiah & Willock are promoted to the first team 👌 just don’t ask me their numbers!
    Really nice seeing Freddie in the training pictures (but where’s the whip?!)

    All I have to say to you Fred is… shamone!!! 😂

    Mike… double entendre’s? Me? Never 🤣🤣

    RA.. I try not to cross my eyes, as it’s not a pretty sight 😆

  51. allezkev says:

    I see your point Aaron, but in Spain he had Valencia and Seville and those two aren’t winning La Liga any time soon.

    In France he did win Ligue1, but he had the resources to do it.

    In England he’s hamstrung by KSE austerity, we are as you say a cup team, but is that Emery or Arsenal under Kroenke?

  52. JM says:

    Reiss Nelson (No.24), Joe Willock (No.28) and Eddie Nketiah (No.30) are promoted to the 1st team.

    RC78 (4.13pm)

    Neuer, Kimmich, (Pavard), Süle, Hernández, Goretzka, Thiago, (Tolisso), Gnabry, Coman, Lewandowski

    They still have Alaba & Müller, as well as youngsters Davies & Arp.

  53. allezkev says:

    LBG, did you notice Steve Bould commenting that it was good to be ‘back on the grass and coaching’, which could mean nothing at all, but I did wonder how much he was possibly sidelined last season?

    I don’t think that Freddie will be sidelined, which should be good for our youngsters.

  54. Rasp says:

    The Saliba deal is looking increasingly likley. Apparently it will only take place if we loan him back to them for the coming season … there is a suggestion of staged payments as well. Saliba is young (18) but quality. It would suggest that UE intends to be around for a while. Saliba would be back at about the point where Sok may be past his best.

  55. Aaron says:


    Emery got it right once in France, in a single team league those 2 years. Melted to barCa in CL league, and was canned!

    Both, actually, and with walMart losing 1 billion this year on their internet business, you can bet the money will be tight, just like is has been for the last decade, I see no change on the horizon under stan the maN’s ownership models.

    Wish GunnerN5 would comment to give some perspective of the long view. He has seen many ups and downs, and ups.

    The Arsenal are in a holding period, if not downward trajectory right now. I accept this, I will not though accept the brand of futbol that is currently being played, nor pretend like it is going to change soon.

    It is entirely not acceptable, and I enjoyed watching the USWMT play the game more than I did the entire last season, accept for about 3-4 games out of 60 plus games.

  56. RC78 says:

    For Saliba, 30 mln EUR with staged payments, loan back and then discussing bonuses. The deal is happening soon

  57. RA says:

    Hi RC78,

    Thanks for that info, really very insightful, and I knew you would have the answer. 😁

    My problem is that sometimes the answer throws up far too many other questions.

    You said, as I understand it, that all the top European teams primarily used possession based strategies, leaving only the EPL top teams playing the high-pressing game.

    That lead me on to musing that the best team in the European CL was ‘Pool who won the CL, and who are committed to the pressing game under Klip Klopp, and above them in the EPL were Man City who were better than them, as Champions, last year.

    So the results are not as clear cut as I would have hoped. By my reckoning, the pressing games strategists are ahead of the following pack, based on your analysis.

    In addition, from just an observation, I think both ‘Pool and City are ace at fast, counter attacking, pressing football, because they have the players to make that work, but they also can keep possession with ease when they go ahead in games, so to be a top, top team, both pressing and possession strategies are needed, and in turn that requires quality, fast, athletic players, as well as a manager(s) who believes in that system.

    With the squad we have/had last season, Emery could never hope for that breadth of pressing/possession football – and indeed, in my opinion, with the available players in the Arsenal squad, even if Pep became our manager, with Klopp as his assistant, they would win diddly squat.

    Is it all Emery’s fault? Not for me it isn’t.

    I do not have an ax to grind for Emery, and I was hoping that someone else would have been appointed as manager last year, with enough money to spend on replacing players who are clearly not up to scratch.

    The news trickling thru about some fine youngsters being promoted to the first team squad has to be good.

    Just as a catch up, there are 25 players in a first team squad — of those, there are a minimum of 8 who must be home-grown — and that leaves 17 who are overseas players.

    If we buy 3 players all under the age of 21 y.o. they can be played in the squad too, And as the number (8) of home-grown players is a minimum, there is nothing to stop us playing more than that, which means we would have to dump a similar number of overseas players.

    However, if we buy 3 overseas players, over the age of 21 y.o. we would have to release a similar number of overseas players already on our books (in the squad).

    It is why we release so many youth team payers who become 21 y.o. before the season commences or who will become 21 y.o during the season.

    It can be tricky, keeping within the rules, but there are ways to make that work to the club’s advantage.

    I mention the above, because there is a certain amount of huffing and puffing from those who see money being unnecessarily thrown at acquiring too many players, but the checks and balances of squad limits under UEFA rules make that a moot point.

    Again, thanks for your input RC78 – it was helpful. 👍

  58. LBG says:

    Yes I noticed his comment. For me, I think it could be a case of character with Bouldy. I get the impression he chose with AW and Dick to be passive. Dick also brought two of “his” coaches with him, speaking his language, and perhaps it was difficult for Steve to ‘insist’ if he didn’t agree.
    Hope and believe, Freddie will tell it as it is, and wont hang around if ignored.

  59. RC78 says:

    RA – my point was just to say that possession football is very popular and effective these days. However, my feeling is that the teams with high possession are also among the richest and most effective at getting the ball back (hence the high possession as well). The players in these squads can also adapt to these demanding systems – look at what KDB, DS and SA do at City and what Sane, Wijnadum do at Liverpool or Rakitic, Verratti…

    We don’t have confirmed players like that but I am hopeful over AMN, LT, Douzi, Iwobi and Kola within our squad so things are not as gloomy.

  60. RA says:

    I understood you meant that, RC, and you are, of course, correct, in my opinion too. 😁

  61. Sue says:

    Wilf has scored for Ivory Coast 🤩

  62. fatgingergooner says:

    So Leicester are signing Tielemens for £40m. Why haven’t we tried to sign him? We’ve just lost Ramsey for absolutely nothing and this lad would’ve been a perfect replacement. 22 years old, played handfuls of CL games, been a club captain for numerous seasons, and has already proven his ability to play in the PL. Where is our club supposed to be going???

    We’ve signed an unknown Brazilian lad in a position that we have relatively covered right now, and we are ‘apparently’ on the verge of grabbing a young CB who we are loaning back to his current club for next season so that we don’t have to put him towards this years measly transfer budget. Even though we are short of real quality at CB. With Monreal extending for a season and the rumours all about attacking players, I’m starting to get the feeling that we will be beginning the PL season with exactly the same group of CD’s as we finished the last one. Koscielny, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal, Mavropanos, Holding, Chambers. Are we really going to waste another season on this group? I know there is potential in a few, but will that ever come out if we are shipping 2 goals a game and the confidence is low? I doubt it.

    Why do the club persist with this FFP nonsense? Nobody else seems to care and it’s only making us weaker. The Zaha bids once again make the club look like a bunch of amateurs and the fact nothing’s changed even with a new manager says it all. The owners are a joke.

  63. allezkev says:

    Yep LBG, I tend to agree with you, in fact when Pat Rice retired I don’t think that Bould really wanted the 1st team job, he looks a lot more settled now with the Academy players.

  64. allezkev says:

    Enjoying the Red/RC78 debate, when you look at the midfield of Man City and Liverpool you see no No.10, so is that position becoming obsolete?

  65. Mike M says:

    FGG I agree Tielemens would be a great signing. He destroyed us last time he played against us. Maybe it’s because he played for Leicester and is familiar with them. Remember Vardy??!! I think it’s more an indication of where we are now as a club and players’ perception of us. So the only way out it to change that perception. That’s why I think UE will be the man for the job. Hopefully doing the best with what he has and avoiding too many injuries. But it’s a little sobering to see the likes of Leicester catching up. Imho, we just have to give UE time and be realistic about how we get back to the top level.

  66. RA says:

    Hi Kev,

    As you are here – who is Cirjan – my inestimable adviser? 🤠

  67. RA says:


    You are spot on, there are so many things that defy understanding – Tielemens would have been an excellent recruit for us, from what I have seen and given we have lost Rambo, and maybe Mesut too.

  68. LBG says:

    Why cant A M-N or Smith-Rowe, or Willock be as good/useful to us as Tielemanns? Give youth a chance

  69. RC78 says:

    I am not a fan of Tielmans although he s a quality player. The guy was useless in the French league for some reason. He has potential but for 40 Mln, I think we could get Doucoure or Ndidi or Gueye who are closer to the profile we re looking for.

  70. fatgingergooner says:

    Tielemans is 3 months older than AMN!!!

    I’m all for youth, but who are they learning from? I do like the idea of UE snapping up these young players like Martinelli and Saliba, but a club of our size should be doing that whilst at the same time bolstering the first team squad. If UE wants to be around to see these players progress then he better start improving the first team, because the likes of Leicester and Wolves will be catching us at this rate. The defence has been a shambles for years, yet we seem to do nothing about it. Sure, there’s a world shortage of CB’s, but you’ve got to buy a ticket to win the lottery. The defence won’t improve if we sit back and do nothing (which is what it looked like last season). It’s like we got burnt with Mustafi and so we’ve stopped trying. Cut your losses, get £20m for him, and try again.

    There are 2 key areas we failed last season, CB and AM. I don’t doubt Zaha would be exactly what we need in that he’s got that unpredictability that we lack, but if we can’t afford him then why embarrass ourselves? Go buy what you can afford and hope the youngsters can fill the other gaps. There’s far more potential in Nelson, Martinelli and Smith-Rowe than in that CB group. £40-£50m could get us a decent CB.

  71. allezkev says:

    Red, he’s a young scholar, 16, Rumanian, midfield, I read Jeorge Bird bigging him up about a year ago…

  72. fred1266 says:

    Sue stop first mustafi now elneny u just keep raising my hopes

  73. RC78 says:

    I think if AMN plays CM on the right side of the midfield, he s gonna be a player that can be better than Ox. If we get Doucoure, then we have two top players at CM Right they can more than adequately replace Ramsey.

    We want a CB and a DM too – there are good options out there between 30 and 50 Mln. We gotta go for them. I think getting the CB and DM from EPl would help us. There are some quality ones accessible at a decent price

  74. Sue says:

    Sorry Fred! I just keep coming across these articles 😁 I will love Bordeaux forever, if they buy him 😄

  75. LBG says:

    We’ve got Holding and Mavrapanos, with Sokratis as back up, and maybe even Kos and Nacho. We’ve got Hector coming back, Chambers as potential stand in and Medley and Thompson can be bloodied this season.

  76. LBG says:

    I like Doucore, but I want to know your suggestion for our new Vieira to replace Xhaka?

  77. RC78 says:

    LBG –
    A) if we want to compete, we need 1 solid CB. I know that Fred226 does not like the sound of it but I think Mina or Aldewereid would be quite good and sensible acquisition. We would then have for example:

    CB: Mina / Holding ; Sok / Mavro + Monreal (we need to sell Kos and Mustafi)

    B) As for our new Vieira, unfortunately, I wanted Ndombele but he went to Spurs for too much money. I also like Allan (Napoli) but again they will be hard to get for less than 50 Mln. I think we have then to go for players like Fabian Ruiz (Napoli), Parejo (Valencia), Vidal (Barcelona) or Aguilar. Ander Herrera would have been a fantastic free signing but he is with PSG now. I think that Ndidi is also worth it and that Doucoure, Veretout, Pulgar could be interesting cheaper options. If we want a real DM though, I think that Gueye would be worth a look.

    Vieira was a good DM that could transform into a box to box mid with his long strides and I think that AMN can become that player if given the chance,

    I think that Iliev, Bielik, Willock, RN, ESR, Saka, Martinelli and Nketiah will be given a chance. Chambers will be our back-up DM and we already have integrated Bellerin, AMN and Iwobi into our squad for a while now. Our young players will be used.

  78. RC78 says:

    That could be our back up team:
    Martinez – ?, Sokratis, Mavropanos, Monreal – Willock, Chambers, Douzi – RN, Iwobi – Nketiah

    Not too bad..

    Leno – Bellerin, Mina, Holding, Kola – AMN, Gueye, Torreira – Pepe, Auba – Laca

    could be our starting line up with 3 recruits being Mina, Gueye and Pepe.

  79. fred1266 says:

    No one cares sue lol

  80. fred1266 says:

    That was in response to your wilf comment. Imagine u already have a nickname for him smh hopefully you don’t have a song yet

  81. fred1266 says:

    Yea although we didn’t land Vardy (like who really wanted him). We still landed aubameyang lacazette so people still want to play for our club

  82. fred1266 says:

    Isn’t willock a striker or was that his brother, I think AMN can be great in the Ramsey role

  83. fred1266 says:

    Doucoure no need to mention the rest Rc78

  84. fatgingergooner says:

    Sokratis and Koscielny are our best 2 CB’s, so why people want Koscielny to go is a strange one for me. Yes, he’s getting on, but he’s still top 2 in our side. That’s not a compliment to him by the way, more a realisation of just how shit we are in that position. Holding is coming off a serious injury, Chambers has proven himself far better at HM than he’s ever looked at CB (thank god as he was very average at CB!), Monreal is a LB regardless of what anyone says and wouldn’t get anywhere near any other top 10 PL first team playing as a CB, Mavropanos has played a handful of games so it’s far too early to judge him, and the less said about Mustafi the better I think.

    You can work on shape and defensive attitude all day, but sometimes you just have to accept the players aren’t good enough and move on. Personally, I’d be selling Mustafi and Monreal. I’d bring in Tierney and look for a big name CB. I’d be using Chambers in midfield, and I’d give cup game opportunities to Mavropanos and Bielik (shame he wants out as he looks one of our more promising CB prospects).

  85. Sue says:

    You’re right Fred – I’m the only one who’s excited about Wilf!! No I haven’t got a nickname or song for him, so you can stop shaking your head 😉🤣

  86. fatgingergooner says:

    I’d be happy with Doucoure but given the finances I just think we have greater needs. We really need some players who can beat people and run with the ball. Nelson might be able to offer that and Zaha would do but can’t see us spending £80m on him. I hope Willock and Smith-Rowe get an opportunity too this season.

  87. allezkev says:

    Fred, Willock is an attacking central midfielder, his brother Chris played wide right in midfield (now at Benfica – or he was?)

  88. fred1266 says:

    Hey how heavy does it snow in January

  89. Rasp says:

    Morning all, excellent debate yesterday.

    I’ve stolen a couple of RC78’s insightful comments to create a post for today ….

    … New post …

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