How Does Unai’s 2019 Arsenal Compare to Arsene’s 2017 Arsenal?

Ahead of our 5th game of the season, where are we compared to Arsene’s last season (2017)?

I’m looking at 9 main factors in trying to decide how much of a better path we’re on compared to when Arsene left. Make no mistake, this is probably an examination of Arsenal under Unai Emery as anything else. It’s early in the season and maybe we can revisit this at the next interlull to help time move on. Sorry to RA in particular for not having this ready for this morning’s post (I had a couple too many margaritas last night !!). Sorry too if I’ve missed anyone!! Hopefully not !! So

Goalkeeper and Defence

2017 –  Cech, Ospina, Bellerin, Debuchy, Gibbs, Monreal, Mertesacker, Mustafi , Gabriel, Koscielny

Grade  – 6/10. Merts was a bit of a loss, Nacho will be too.

2019 – Leno, Martinez, Bellerin, AMN, Kolasinac, Holding, Sokratis, Luis, Chambers, Tierney

Grade 7/10. Leno is (will be) an upgrade, Holding is better than anyone else we had and we have a little better overall quality in the middle and Tierney should also be a good upgrade.


2017 – Ozil, Elneney, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin,  AMN, Wilshere

Grade – 6/10. Obviously very affected by injury (didn’t even include Santi) but overall, where can you see any ball winning coming from? However also obviously very creative.

2019 – Ozil, Xhaka, Ceballos, Willock, Torreira, Guendouzi

Grade: 7.5/10. Definitely more strength and tenacity defensively but also with plenty of creativity. Even if you’d argue there was more going forward in 2017, it’s hard to create without the ball.


2017 – Giroud, Iwobi, Oxlade, Sanchez, Walcott, Welbeck, Lucas.

Grade:  6.5/10. Obviously Sanchez was dangerous and Giroud was a huge weapon in the air but we hardly used it !! Not enough quality wide and very one dimensional as far as goal threat.

2019 – Auba, Laca, Pepe, Nelson, Martinelli

Grade:  8.5/10. There’s a lot of firepower in this group. Probably not quite deep enough but wide players are much better in my opinion.

Management Team

2017 – Wenger, Bould, Gazidis, Law.

Grade – 4/10. This group oversaw a steady decline in player quality and mentality which I think when you compare it to this year, is very stark.

2019 – Emery, Ljungberg, Edu, Sanehlli, Vinai V

Grade: 7.5/10. Mostly based on this summer transfer window but also the team just seems a little more steely and solid. It’s early but I also think we should bear in mind the losses of Bellerin and Holding last season at a time when we were on a very good run.


2017 – Kroenke, Usmanov, Fanshare

Grade:  4/10. Did very little to help a sinking ship. Is it the fact that now KSE knows putting its own money in will reap benefits back to them alone? (This is also a great subject for a later post that I’d like to tackle !!)

2019 – Kroenke

Grade: 7/10: Got to give credit where it’s due. At least for right now. Substantial improvement

Mental Strength

2017 – Arsene talked a lot about it but who would you say showed a good mentality from all of the 2017 lists? For me, Nacho, Ramsey, Coquelin, Wilshere and Alexis would be the only ones I would want in my squad today for their mentality.

Grade: 3/10: Stemming from the manager I believe this has been the biggest failure at Arsenal during the later Wenger years. A team crying out for leaders, there were none.

2019 – I’d pick Leno, Holding, Sokratis, Luis, Ceballos, Willock, Guendouzi, Auba, Laca, for sure as players I think have a great mental presence on the field. I’d probably take Torreira and I’d imagine Tierney too but I’m not sure.

Grade: 5.5/10: Substantial improvements here. There are 3 or 4 players that need to be moved  on before I would rate us higher and an addition or two would help.

Defensive Ability 2019

Grade: 5/10. I am starting to understand better the massive correlation between a good defence and a solid defensive midfield. Until we fix that issue, our defenders are almost over achievers.

Attacking Strength 2019

Grade: 9/10. Similarly to our defenders, attackers allowed to play freely without fear of losing possession leading to goals being conceded will be better with good midfielders.

Fear Factor 2019

I think teams facing the current Arsenal team see a different proposition to a couple of years ago. I think we’re going to win a few games through not being intimidated that we wouldn’t have before. I’m not sure we’ll intimidate too many at first but hopefully once our front 3 get firing, that’s possible too.

Summary:  I’m not saying everything is rosy in the garden, far from it. But from a more stable ownership model through better overall management to an overall more balanced and athletic squad, I think we’re on the right track. What do you think?

Mike M




37 Responses to How Does Unai’s 2019 Arsenal Compare to Arsene’s 2017 Arsenal?

  1. RA says:

    What a super Post, Mike, it will stir the old grey matter to make sure I give it the time needed to see what my own views are in comparison.

    Mike, I do not want to sail under a Jolly Roger, so to clarify, I am just an ordinary Joe, and do not have anything to do with the Admin of this great Blog.

    When I ask (pretty please) a particular person to write a Post, there is an element of self interest, because you, and some others are creative, knowledgeable and write with skill, and I am delighted you have come up with a really good ‘un. Thank you.

    If I ask you again, you can always tell me to take a hike! 😜 There will be no repercussions!! The lovely Peaches and Rasp the Koi would sort me out!! 🤪

  2. RA says:

    The best way to proceed to answer your comparatives is to say upfront, that the changes over the last two years, particularly where the defence is concerned, is how the roster has evolved.

    These things sneak up on you, and suddenly when you detail these changes it is like a magic wand has been waved over the team, and hey presto (or whatever fairies say when dispensing magic) new faces appear and with them, a new manager, with the ensuing tactical changes and styles of play.

    {More to follow – as I digest the info!] 🥺

  3. RA says:


    You have hit the nail on the head regarding the need for the defence and the midfield to work as one cohesive unit.

    I would go further.

    If I was able to draw an explanatory image, I would – but here goes with my boring verbals.

    Any management team, in any properly run organisation would do something like you have shown above, so let’s see.

    If we draw a circle, and place in it the names of the forwards of 2019; and then draw a lower, overlapping circle under the first circle, and place the names of the midfielders in that; and finally draw another lower, overlapping circle under the middle one, and place the names of the defenders inside that , then we have the basis to learn some basic truths.

    [Take three coins, lay the first one down – place the second one halfway down the top coin, and finally a third coin halfway down the middle one – and you get a better idea what I am driving at] 😏

    The management of the organisation set the policy and strategies they see as key to success, and everyone else needs to sign up to achieve that, or go work someplace else.

    1) It is obvious that organisations need canny people at the top to succeed, but they can do nothing without the ‘worker bees’ doing the hard graft – so there is a need to start at the bottom and work up.

    2) All parts of a successful organisation need to be in synchronicity so, in football, the defence need to be as one with the midfield — defend as one integrated unit.

    3) The midfield also need to change gear and to support the forwards with the defence keeping a keen eye on all that happens ahead of them.

    4) No part of of the three “coins’ can become isolated from the others, with the midfield playing a virtuoso role sandwiched between the defence and the attack.

    Nothing new there, but your breakdown highlights the need to recruit players who fit the roles, and are committed to supporting the tactics and strategies of the manager.

    I am not sure we are there yet — but with the right players, having shucked off those who do not fit — it becomes very much the role and the responsibility of the manager to achieve success implementation.

    This is an oversimplified explanation, and apologies to those who have managed in larger organisations where most of this is elementary stuff, but it does give a supporting base to the thoughts in today’s Post.

    I will now sod off and leave the interesting people to discuss Mike’s ideas. 😜

  4. GoonerB says:

    Good post Mike, thank-you.

    It is interesting Mike how you look at the individual key players in each are of the pitch and then form a collective score or grading. Did you have a formula to work the scoring out, or was it was based purely on your own subjective gut instinct?

    I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with your collective scoring Mike but it is interesting if you pull out certain players from your 2017 list and look at them more individually in terms of what they should have contributed to the overall score in their area of the pitch. I haven’t gone through every player but have selected some as follows:

    Cech – The most capped Czech international of all time. Has the EPL record for the most clean sheets in 1 season and the record for the fewest number of games to achieve 100 clean sheets. He has won 4 PL titles, 4 F.A cups, 3 league cups and 1 champions league.

    Mertesacker – 104 caps for Germany and a world cup winner.

    Koscielny – 51 international caps and a Euro championship runner up.

    Mustaffi – 20 international caps and a world cup winner

    Debuchy -27 international caps

    Ozil – 92 caps, 23 international goals. 5 times German player of the year. World cup winner. under 21 Euro championship winner. UEFA cup runner up. La Liga title and Copa Del Ray winner.

    Elneny- 67 caps, 6 goals and Africa cup of nations runner up

    Giroud- 93 caps, 36 goals. 1 world cup. 1 Ligue 1 title and top scorer in ligue 1. Europa league winner.

    Sanchez- 131 caps, 43 goals. Argentine premier league winner. La liga and Copa Del Rey winner winner. Copa America winner.

    That’s 9 players from the 2017 list before looking at the supporting cast many of whom were pretty decent like Ramsey, AOC, Monreal, Welbeck, Iwobi, Wilshere e.t.c. Should the 2019 squad really be scoring so much higher than that lot?

    My question would be….how the hell could we not make that work? As I largely tend to agree with you Mike on you scoring the 2019 squad being higher than 2017 it begs the question of why once you look at the individual players and their experience and achievements.

    There were a number of us on here that felt for much of the latter AW years that we were a squad that looked great on paper but never operated (performance and success wise) to the sum of its parts. A collection of very good individuals but not a balanced cohesive unit.

    We will of course have to wait to see how the season unfolds, because if the 2019 squad is graded higher then we should expect a reasonable upturn in performances and results, but maybe your post highlights the collective failings of that earlier side that still had excellent players. Does this post add further argument that the collective balance and cohesion in a squad is more important than individual brilliance?

  5. GoonerB says:

    Sorry some bad grammar, kept getting disturbed, hope you got the gist.

  6. RA says:

    Hi Gooner Bee,

    In essence the answer, in my opinion, to your question asking – “is the collective balance and cohesion in a squad more important than individual brilliance?” is that, although nothing is ever straightforward, team cohesion and balance is indeed more important than the talent of the individuals.

    As Aristotle said “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

    Or in football terms “the team can be better than the sum of its individual players”.

    Who can argue with Aristotle – or you? 😜

  7. RA says:


    Did you see Merts’ take on his old team mate, Ozil, that he can be brilliant on occasion, and also lazy on occasion, and just has a rather weird personality.

    Apparently he fell out with Mesut more than once — but whereas he (Mert) fretted about it for weeks after – Ozil simply said “OK, let’s move on” and just forgot about it.

    The inside story about one team mate, by another, can give a fascinating insight, I think. 😳

  8. GoonerB says:

    Didn’t know that about Ozil and Merts RA. Just seen that Willock has signed a long term deal. Excellent news.

  9. Mike M says:

    Morning All. Couple of things to address. Looking back at 2017 is with hindsight. Looking to 2019 is with foresight. So I may well be off target !!!!
    @RA, thanks. I agree with your idea of treating each part of the team like sets in a venn diagram. I think our “coin overlap” is a lot different now to 2 years ago. I’d also agree that signing (or developing) players that can and will play the roles is vital. Which brings me to Gooner B. That’s a great question. The answer is no I didn’t look at the individuals. I took my gut feeling (mostly how I felt/feel on game day) and then looked at the players we had in each era to see if it made sense. I noticed in your list of experienced and capped players you missed Xhaka. I think that says a lot. To qualify:
    1) When a cross comes in, I think we’ll probably defend it now. Cech was a legend but for us, never came off his line. Nor did he command his defence.
    2) I think we’ll win tackles in midfield and can break with not only speed but power too.
    3) I think we have better and more devastating finishers up front.
    I think it’s interesting to feel this way which is why I put it out there !! I honestly can’t tell you why except to say that this squad and their current ratings (in my mind) obviously still have a lot to prove.
    As a side note, I should have included Merts in my mentally strong category, I just missed him.

  10. kelsey says:

    A very well thought out post Mike M annd in principle agree with most of the comparison except midfield but to be fair there have been momental changes in this period and time is needed for us to get a clearer picture with Holding and Bellerin to come back and to see if Emery improves the team and we still need a leader to marshal the team, preferably in defence.
    Josh has stated more money will be available in January and I believe Kolasniac will go back to Germany, hopefully we can move out Mustafi and the real reason Ozil isn’t playing will be made public sooner rather than later.

  11. kelsey says:

    Monumental I meant.

  12. kelsey says:

    I forgot Tierney aswell to start l.Sorry

  13. Sue says:

    Nice post, Mike. When you look back on things this way, it just shows how much of a clear out we’ve had..and a much needed one at that, as some of the players we had back then, i honestly thought they’d be with us until they retired!!

    Great news about Willock signing a new deal.. he’ll surely get better & better!

    Rasp, Peaches, anyone 😄 i sent an email in, regarding our game on Sunday. Might need some tinkering, as you know i have a tendency to waffle, plus i kept getting disturbed!! 🤪

  14. fred1266 says:

    Sue you will enjoy 3:04

  15. fred1266 says:

    Was with you mike until u said 2019 midfield is better Ramsey along gets a 9/10

  16. Sue says:

    Nice little nutmeg, Fred 😉
    Jeez how fsst is Hector?!!

  17. GoonerB says:

    Morning all, great video Fred. Prefer Bellerins hairstyle now but I really liked his banter near the end. He seems a great character with a wicked sense of humour.

  18. RC78 says:

    Hi everyone – sorry I have been Mia. Great post as always. I would rate the 2017 defense and attack as well as the coaching staff a bit higher but overall and after this transfer window we do seem more solid indeed

  19. Sue says:

    I have that Friday feeling (even if it is Friday the 13th 😬)
    One of patients – at work – is a gooner!! Surprisingly, this doesn’t happen very often, so we’ve been talking, or more like reminiscing, about everything from how & when we became gooners, to our first live game, to fav players, first shirts we bought etc etc… and he even asked his wife to bring in photos of his last visit to the Emirates, with his son, to show me 😊 He said the son normally follows his Dad (supporting a team) to which i replied that’s not the case with my son (there is a god 😂) he has followed me supporting Arsenal, otherwise he’d have ended up supporting Liverpool (boo!) and that doesn’t bear thinking about!!
    It’s been really sweet seeing him smile & he even said he could quite easily fall in love with me, because we could talk about Arsenal all day long!
    Anyway i just thought I’d share that, always love talking to fellow gooners… have a great Friday people! The sun is shining.. and 2 days to go!! COYG

  20. RA says:

    That is a lovely story, Sue, and reflects very well on you!! 👍

  21. RA says:

    Incidentally, Sue, I am waiting to read the Post that you sent into arsenal nuts when Rasp puts it up.

    Peaches and Rasp are inundated with work at the moment, but they won’t forget you — and Rasp will probably announce your ‘Post Debut’ with a drumroll. 🥺 Maybe.

  22. Sue says:

    Bloody hell, Laca is ruled out until next month with an ankle injury. What a bummer. Please Pepe, dig out your scoring boots for Sunday 🙏

    Very funny, RA…. put it this way – i won’t be making GN5 redundant any time soon 🤣🤣

  23. Sue says:

    On this day, back in 1997, Ian Wright broke Arsenal’s goal scoring record… only seems like yesterday!!
    What an absolute legend 😍😍😍 love him & loved the vest!!

  24. fred1266 says:

    Lacazette out until October

  25. LBG says:

    Saliba at London Colney.

  26. LBG says:

    Saliba is at London Colney.

  27. LBG says:

    Two Salibas, even better!

  28. fred1266 says:

    One saliba in defense and one on midfield sweet

  29. allezkev says:

    The Saliba brothers

  30. Sue says:

    How lush was that full moon last night? (RA, i mean in the sky, not me bending over 🤣)
    Anyhow, it’s back..a day (& night) full of football, no work!!….Only let down for me is the early game, Liverpool meh, unless Almiron scores his first goal (s) then i might be interested.. otherwise I’ll either walk the dog or finish the ironing 🤣🤣
    The sun is shining, going to be a beautiful weekend, i just hope we end it with 3 points! COYG

  31. RockyLives says:

    Is the Interlull over yet?

    Thank God for cricket.

  32. RockyLives says:

    Fortunately the Interlull combined with a very busy week for me, so I haven’t had to spend the whole week mooning (nod to Sue) about the lack of footy.

  33. RockyLives says:

    Really fun article and great comments.

    My main takeaway is that the squads and set-ups are not massively dissimilar in terms of quality apart from in one area – attack.

    Auba-Laca-Pepe is a massive upgrade on Ollie-Sanchez-Theo.

    I think your ratings for MF and Defence reflect a bias towards hope (not a bad thing by any means) and I don’t really agree with them.

    It may well be that a back four of Hector-Holding-Luiz-Tierney will turn out to be amazing, but on paper (until proven otherwise) it is no better and arguably worse than Hector-Kozzer-BFG-Nacho.

    Ditto the MF options, although I take your point about the current group having a bit more tenacity. Perhaps I would call that a score draw on paper.

    Yet overall I feel more optimistic about the 2019 class, and not just because of the better front line. Why is this?

    Some of it is that, no doubt, I share your bias towards hope. But I think the main reason is that I have more faith in the energetic and optimistic new management/coaching regime which is still on the first steps of its journey, compared with the jaded, punch-drunk regime of the final AW years.

  34. RockyLives says:


    I like your “overlapping circles” description (it’s a good way of visualising the need for connectivity throughout the team).

    It did occur to me that if we added two more circles we could enter the Olympics…

  35. Sue says:

    Very good, Rocky 😄👍

  36. Good Morning all

    We have a New Post ……………….

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