Does Unai Emery Have The X Factor? (Where X = Xhaka)

September 3, 2019

There is a growing feeling amongst supporters that the new ‘Weakest Link’ in the Arsenal team is the seemingly un-droppable Granit Xhaka.

The two opposing views as to whether Unai was culpable for only drawing against spurs are summed up in these comments:


I seem to be in the minority again in that I’m struggling to blame Emery for the result or performance yesterday. It was 2 individual mistakes that led to their goals so is Unai supposed to foresee that? It’s easy to say Xhaka shouldn’t have started after a poor showing but it was only a week ago that people were hoping he’d be in the team for the Liverpool game because of his added experience.

As for tactics, it’s very difficult to protect the back 4 adequately when you’ve gone 1 and then 2 goals behind. We were chasing the game for large parts and that has to be taken into consideration when assessing our defensive frailties. I also thought Son was very clever playing between the lines and he was exploiting the gaps we were leaving.

If anything, Emery did well tactically in the second half as he saw that we were too open and struggling to maintain attacks and so he brought on Ceballos and Mkhitaryan which gave us another body in midfield and resulted in us camping in their half for much of the second period. It was only after we equalised that the players eased off a little and allowed Spurs some late glimpses of goal.

I think the disallowed goal took the wind out of our sails a little and maybe we tired after trying so hard to get level.

I’d be interested to hear what people think Emery should’ve done differently yesterday as the line up looked solid and the formation was probably the correct one, and he made some good calls during the match to help us get level. Given that we don’t have a world class CB or HM player in the squad, I don’t see much else Emery could’ve done with that starting line up.

Mike M

@FGG. Hope you’re ok with me disagreeing fairly strongly here but if the manager picks someone that the general fanbase keeps saying isn’t good enough and he directly gives a goal away that cost 2 pts. isn’t he responsible?

He’s had a year, has seen enough of Xhaka and I’m not sure about your assertion that many people wanted him to play against Liverpool but I will defer if that’s true.

However Xhaka reverted to type and let his team mates and manager down. It’s noble of you to try to defend him but it’s frankly indefensible. As far as subs go. Ceballos was a no brainer at 2-1 down and Laca was injured.

For me, especially in the fact that he left today, bringing on Miki ahead of Nelson or Willock was bizarre at best. Again, I don’t want to sound obtuse here but I thought it was a ridiculous substitution. He played wide left and with no assists and 1 goal in his last 16 matches (again I stand to be corrected !!) he did exactly as expected – nothing substantive.

I’ll just say this. If you picked an Arsenal team solely on performances this season, Willock has to start, probably along with Guendouzi. If you say Xhaka too, I’d give you that but I think Ceballos or Torreira would have been worth a punt (as if you didn’t know how I felt !!). Sorry if it sounds a little blunt but I’m tired of the excuses for Xhaka of oh well he made a mistake. He almost always makes a mistake, luckily for him, his team mates often bail him out. It’s time to move on from him.

So what do you think? Has Unai inhertited Arsene’s Xhaka blindness? Would we have won if Xhaka hadn’t been on the pitch? Do we know more than experienced professional managers? … Over to you …


Points shared ………. nearly very good ……… will get better

September 2, 2019

So what do we know after this game?

1. Leno will make the odd mistake but will be solid throughout. Better than Scezesny? Not sure but definitely a good GK

2. Xhaka is a disaster despite his warrior attitude.

3. Pepe is great and Auba and Laca are legends. I hope Laca is not too injured

4. Guendouzi’s workrate never disappoints. I thought he was our MOTM, just based on his second half.

5. Sokratis is not very solid and Luiz is not really having a Van Dijk effect

6. Kola and AMN had a good game I thought.

7. Torreira cannot be our playmaker. He is a lot more comfortable as a BTB.

8. Ceballos has such good ball control and his passing Is good but he needs to beef up and play quicker.

9. Mkhy can be useful because he always did the right runs and good passes BUT he is slow now and cannot beat anyone one to one. He needs to play as a false nine or as an 8.

10. We only have 7 points after 4 games but we have played Liverpool away and Tottenham at home. Now the break is welcome and when we resume, we need to pick up the pace and the points

11. Emery messed up his starting line-up according to me and our players need to understand better the transition in defensive phases because we conceded well too many chances.


Leno – 5.5 – At fault for the goal but kept us in the game as well.

AMN – 6 – Did well at both ends

Sok – 4.5 – Not his best day at the office and could have conceded a PK at the end or gotten a red card.

DL – 5 – Anonymous

Xhaka – 4 – Usual Xhaka showing. Runs a lot. Tackles a lot. Fouls a lot and picks up a card. Has a decent distribution but gives away PKs for fun.

Guendouzi – 7 – Great work rate. Possibly his best showing in an Arsenal shirt. Really stepped up when others were not playing well. An assist, countless runs and ball recoveries. Well done!

Torreira – 5 – Anonymous.

Pepe – 6.5 – An Assist. Some chances. Desire to get behind the ball and have a go. What a recruit!

Laca – 6.5 – A goal and his usual fighiting spirit. Hope he s ok.

Auba – 6.5 – A difficult first half but a good second half and a good goal.

Ceballos – 6 – Instant impact.

Mkhy – 5 – Good runs and decent passes but heavy and sometimes heavy touches. Cannot dribble anyone with this type of pace. Needs to work on his pace and also needs to stop double guessing himself.


It’s The Biggie … Time for The New Look Arsenal to Show its Quality

September 1, 2019

Quick side note that I feel everyone should know if you don’t already. If you go to google and ask “what is a hotspur?” – it returns “a rash, impetuous person”… who says you can’t always believe the internet???

Anyways… on to the important stuff …………..

We’ll start with potential lineups. I think we’ll return to the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 line up. My Dad (Mike M) and I have gone with the following for our preferred line up:

I know a lot of people on here may disagree as it seems many do not see Torreira as a DM. I however feel that’s his only option. I think as a BTB he isn’t as good as Willock or Guendouzi and I don’t think it’s very close. I think this is his time to prove that he can play for us and he can play as a DM.

Up to this point I truly believe that he has always been deployed alongside Xhaka and never explicitly been told to play in the DM role and has therefore been guilty of running too far up field. I think he has what it takes to play DM and hope we get to see him in that role at some point.

This is the team I expect Emery to pick:


This is certainly pretty tough. I think the back line is pretty obvious at this point and while I think it’s possible, he won’t unleash the PAL (Pepe, Auba, Laca) front three, I’d be a surprised if he didn’t. So that leaves a predicament in the center of the park with 5 players for 3 spots. I think he’ll give Xhaka the nod as that seems to be who he wants for whatever reason I can’t seem to figure out. I also think he’ll pick Guendouzi and Willock as he loves the former and has started the latter all three games (1 at Attacking Mid – Newcastle). Therefore I think he leaves Torreira and Ceballos on the bench.

Now for the Match Preview:

We’re at home to the Spuds this weekend, and therefore nothing more really needs to be said, a win is a must. However, this particular clash seems like it could be more important than some in more recent times, at least in terms of how vital it is to win. We are a team that in my opinion has a lot of momentum heading into this game. I know we just lost but without going into far too much detail… I’m ignoring that game. We’ve begun the weekend in 3rd rdplace, we have potentially our best front 3-4 in over a decade and seem to be teetering on this tightrope of obtaining the sort of swagger needed to push us out of the “top 6” group and maybe into the “top 3” group. A month or two ago, I couldn’t have really imagined writing that sentence because in my mind the Spuds were a major obstacle in that scenario.

So let’s talk about the Potatoes briefly. They have declared that Ndombele, Walker Peters, and Foyth will not play due to injury. Others such as Eriksen, Alli, and Dier possibly missing out for various reasons. So far this campaign they have struggled, they squeaked by Villa, were extremely lucky to get a point against City, and obviously lost to the Barcodes (At Home!). They also seem to be having internal issues with Eriksen wanting out, as well as other reports saying that some of their players are growing tired of Pochettino. I certainly do not think they are in free fall, but I do believe they’ve been lucky over the years and said luck (and Harry Kane) has papered over some cracks. Nonetheless, the cracks are there and it’s time for someone to try and break them open, why not us?

With all of that said I want to stress that I don’t believe this will be a walk over game, I actually have a predicted score line of 2-1 (Mike went with 2-0). Part of me also thinks that there’s a possibility we could screw this up. None of that is the point though, the point is that in terms of 4th games of the season, they don’t get much bigger than this. This game is an opportunity for us to show why this season and this squad are different and why we may finally be returning to form as one of the best clubs in England. Mike thinks it hinges on how Xhaka plays if he gets picked and in that sense, he doesn’t feel great about it even ‘though he predicted 2-0.

At the end of the day, it is just one game. It’s not a be all end all game but make no mistake, this has potential to be huge for the futures of both of the clubs involved.

C’mon you Reds !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Late update – this was written on Friday. As of yesterday, Nacho has gone. That’s a bit of a shame but hopefully Tierney isn’t far away. Seems plausible that he could go with 3 at the back or bring in Chambers at RB and move AMN to LB but I’d assume Kolasinac will be the replacement.

Good luck Nacho, you were consistently one of our better later AW signings. Thanks for all you did (also in Emery’s presser last night he cagily hinted that all 3 of our front players are now completely fit, so here’s hoping !!!!!!!!!)

Brady’s Namesake