Pepe Rises

November 30, 2019

Hold on to your seats. Things are about to get very VERY exciting at Arsenal.

Poor old Embers is gone. Decent chap, tried his best, blah blah blah. But when it came down to it, Unai at Arsenal was like diesel in a petrol car. The two didn’t go together and we were left sputtering by the roadside with noxious fumes leaking from our rear end.

Among the many disappointments of this season, one has been overlooked in all the psychodrama of the head coach and his inevitable ousting: the flop that is Pepe.

Do you remember how excited we were with the news Pepe was joining us from Lille?

A mercurial, gifted attacker arriving as our record signing. Reach for the popcorn, sit back and watch the magic happen… except it didn’t happen.

We’ve seen glimpses – the odd close-up card trick – but no real magic, no David Blaine makes an elephant disappear type magic. It sounds harsh, but so far Pepe really has been a flop at Arsenal.

So were we sold a pup? Is Pepe a poopoo?

Not on your nelly.

Pepe is an outstanding player who, in Ligue Un, was scoring goals at a rate of one every two games while also setting up opportunities for team mates and generally terrifying defences with his speed and skill.

So what went wrong at Arsenal? In many ways Pepe has been the main victim of Emery’s inability to get his message across to the players and to impose a settled style of football.

Emery’s inexplicably cautious approach against even the weakest teams (packing the middle of the field, passing sideways and backwards and rarely committing to fast breakaway attacks) has seen our cutting edge blunted like a rusty old saw. It has negatively impacted all our strikers, but Pepe especially.

With Emery gone, a new day is about to dawn for Nicolas Pepe. Even under our caretaker manager, Ever-Ready Freddie, I expect to see him unleashed in a way we haven’t so far seen. It certainly can’t hurt that Ljungberg’s own playing style was as a devastating wide attacker with a killer eye for goal: who better to coach the young Ivorian?

The emergence of Pepe as a real force at Arsenal and in the Premier League is going to be one of the most enjoyable stories of the second half of the season.

Bring it on.





So what now? …………….

November 29, 2019

Emery has finally been sacked…This reflects very poorly on a board that just backed him up two weeks ago, that said:

– the last 2 performances and the team’s form over the past few months,

– Tottenham’s decisiveness in changing their Head coach,

– the fans discontent,

– the pressure from former players and the media all kind of force their hand to go ahead with the chop.

The board says they are looking for a new Headcoach and that Freddie is in charge until the search for a new coach is over.

So what now? What will Freddie do and what are his options?

Luiz is out, Mustafi is out too and I don’t know how Freddie felt about Xhaka but we know he likes his young players, he likes pace, aggression and we also know that he likes to play in a 451 set up so what will he do?

I could see the following set up:


Bellerin, Holding, Sokratis, Tierney

Douzi, Chambers

Pepe, Laca, Saka


against Norwich but who knows…

Over to you fellow Gunners ………………….

I wish Freddie the best but also can’t wait to get our new headcoach appointed asap..



Will Arsenal v Frankfurt be Emery’s swansong? Pre-match …….

November 27, 2019

Tonight we are facing a very intriguing Frankfurt team. One that can beat Bayern Munich 5-1 but also lose to Liege or smaller teams in the German league. Frankfurt has some decent footballers in Hasebe, Sow, Rode, Kostic, Fernandes, Silva, Dost, Paciencia…They should end in the Top 8 in Germany but their inconsistency is a source of concern for them. They like to line up in a 3-4-1-2.

Rumour has it that this could be Emery’s last game in charge but let us see…If it is, I hope he ends his AFC tenure with a resounding win through a good team performance.

As this is the Europa League we should expect to see some players that otherwise don’t feature.  If a team plays          3-4-1-2 it is believed that if you want to counter their play (Emery tactics basically), you should play 4-2-3-1 with two very pacy wingers, so here is my predicted line-up for tonight:


AMN   Mustafi   Sokratis   Tierney

Willock   Torreira

Nelson   Ceballos (or Smithe-Rowe)  Pepe


In German, Frankfurters are not only the inhabitants of the city of Frankfurt but the term also refers to the sausage usually stuffed in a German baguette to make local hot-dogs. It is usually served with Mustard (sometimes ketchup too) and for the most daring, also with horseradish and a beer (usually a white beer). So I hope that our team will gobble this Frankfurter team up and that we can enjoy a nice beer while the action on the pitch gives us hope and pleasure.

Given that Frankfurt is on a poor run as well, I would expect us to win this game at home so I am hoping for a 3-1 win for us with Martinelli, Pepe and Ceballos on the score sheet while Frankfort will score from Kostic.

If it is Embers’ last game, I wish him well in his future endeavours and I hope that Ljunberg does well in the interim!




How would Wenger deploy our current squad?

November 27, 2019

Here’s a little puzzle for a wet and windy morning:

If Arsene Wenger were parachuted in to run the Arsenal team right now, which players would be in his starting eleven and how would he set them up?

One of the biggest differences between the way we play under Unai Emery and the way we played under Arsene is that we are now less effective in attack. These days we typically have fewer attempts on goal than our opponents, something which never happened in any of the Arsene years.

One could argue that our defensive frailty would be just as evident if Monsieur Le Sixpack were calling the shots, but surely we’d be more potent going forward?

Emery’s philosophy, as far as it’s possible to discern one, appears to be about keeping control – of the ball and, therefore, the game. It may have worked in the first part of his tenure in N5, but for whatever reason it’s just not functioning now.

So let’s indulge this thought experiment.

Arsene arrives in time to select the team for this weekend’s game against the Norfolk tractor boys. What’s his approach?

Here’s what I think he’d do: first off, he would be thrilled with the quality of the attackers available to him, so the names “Aubameyang” and “Lacazette” would be the first ones on his team sheet, closely followed by “Ozil”.

He would consider whether he could afford to potentially weaken our defensive spine by adding an attacking wide player to the mix, but his internal debate would last only moments before he would conclude: “Merde, you only live once: let’s go for it!”

He would add Pepe to the team sheet – but only after having a word in his shell-like about how he could be the next Thierry Henry if he followed the advice which Arsene would now give him…

Next, he would need to find the right two midfielders to provide some sort of defensive solidity while also being able to play a possession based game and get the ball to Ozil in good positions. Torreira would be the first pick (the young Uruguayan would be slightly confused by his instructions to screen the back four while also bursting into the opposition box given the opportunity).

After toying with the idea of Guendouzi because of his energy and his general Frenchiness, Arsene would ultimately plump for Willock as a partner for Torreira in midfield, figuring that Willock is a better passer and a more considered player.

In defence, there would be no hesitation in picking Bellerin and Tierney as the fullbacks. For centre halves he would choose Luiz and Chambers (both have ball-playing abilities and would be encouraged to bring the ball out from the back. Luiz also brings tons of experience). Leno is in goal.

So here’s my Arsene Wenger starting line-up for this Sunday’s game:


Bellerin Chambers Luiz Tierney

Torreira Willock


Pepe Aubameyang


We beat Norwich with a classic Arsenal scoreline of 5-2, with a hat trick from Pepe and goals from Laca and Auba. Five assists for Ozil.

Am I right?


AFC team of the decade – your take?

November 26, 2019

So the end of the year is arriving fast and many news outlets worldwide are now having some articles about athletes of the decade, teams of the decade…

In order to brighten up the mood and forget about Emery and our failing team and board, I thought it woul be nice to think about who would make our starting XI if we were to put a AFC Team of the decade…

It is harder than you think as there has not really been a player that has been a consistently been a stand out player in the past decade…Here are a few names to get you thinking…

GK: Pole-in-Goal, Ospina, Leno

RB: Sagna, Bellerin

LB: Clichy, Gibbs, Kola, Monreal

CB: BFG, Kos, Sok, Holding, Luiz

DM: Arteta, Xhaka, Torreira

CM: Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere, Oxlade

AM: Ozil

FW: Auba, Sanchez, Walcott, Welbeck

ST: Van Persie, Giroud, Laca

Carraghers’ EPL team of the decade:

De Gea – Zabaleta, Van Dijk, Kompany, Azpi – Kante, Toure, Silva – Bale, Aguero, Hazard


De Gea – Zabaleta, Van Dijk, Kompany, Azpi – Hazard, Toure, Silva – Kane, Aguero, Suarez

No AFC players 😦 It just shows that it wasn’t our decade…


Arsenal’s Very Public Pain

November 25, 2019

Today’s national newspapers make grim reading for Arsenal supporters:

Daily Telegraph

Arsenal players have lost faith in head coach Unai Emery and do not believe he is the man to salvage their season.

Emery is under increasing pressure following another poor performance and result against relegation-threatened Southampton, and there is a growing feeling among the squad that he should be replaced.

Arsenal players are confused by Emery’s selections, tactics and instructions, and believe the team has no identity under the Spaniard.

The Times

Arsenal would be interested in talking to Mikel Arteta and Massimiliano Allegri as potential replacements for Unai Emery, who looks increasingly likely to leave the club.

Before the abject 2-2 draw at home to Southampton on Saturday, Arsenal had been determined to stick by head coach Emery until the end of the season but their position has shifted amid mounting concern in the boardroom and anger from supporters. 

The Guardian

One of several Premier League managers whose days look numbered, Unai Emery is cutting an increasingly isolated figure at the cauldron of seething dissatisfaction that is the Emirates Stadium. Max Allegri and Mikel Arteta are both being touted as potential replacements.

Daily Mirror

Arsenal fans have issued a strongly-worded statement accusing the hierarchy of “rudderless” leadership which has left the club “floating aimlessly.”

The angry backlash comes from the same set of supporters who issued a powerful online #WeCareDoYou campaign in July against owner Stan Kroenke and the club’s board.

The fan statement does not directly call for under-pressure Emery to be sacked but, instead, takes aim at the Kroenke ownership and warns about falling attendances, a lack of direction on and off the pitch and the club losing its identity.

The Independent

The lackluster 1-1 draw against Southampton saw Arsenal’s miserable run of form stretch to six winless games across all competitions for the first time in 21 years.

During the latter stages of the match, with Raul Sanllehi and Edu watching from the directors’ box, sections of the fanbase began chanting ‘we want Emery out’. However, after the game, the Independent revealed that Emery will still be given more time to turn around his sinking ship, despite the players’ reaction to their last-gasp equaliser appearing to show their disconnect towards the manager.

The end for Emery feels inevitable, but after Jose Mourinho joined north London rivals Tottenham, who could the Spaniard on a permanent basis?

Despite the Independent’s report that Emery is to be given more time, these stories are clear evidence of a wave building that is going to break sooner or later. And when it does, Emery will be washed away.

Even if you believe he could turn round our fortunes given enough time, sometimes the external pressure is so great that it cannot be ignored. This is one of those times.

The club are never going to say “we’re looking for a new manager right now”, so when the announcement comes that the current coach is being fired it will be very sudden. Maybe even this week.

Brace for change, would be my advice.




Another Nail In Emery’s Coffin? Southampton Report and Player Ratings.

November 23, 2019

Unai Emery has always reminded me of Dracula. It’s something to do with the way he slicks back his hair, his sallow complexion, his thin angular face.

Oh, and the fact that he’s sucking the lifeblood out of Arsenal right now.

I was going to suggest, as per the headline, that yesterday’s limp display and scrambled point at home against the most out-of-form team in the Premier League was another nail in his coffin.

But the analogy doesn’t hold up, does it? Vampires like coffins. Hammer another nail in Unai’s casket and he’ll probably be quite happy – it just makes him a bit more snug.

Perhaps it would be better to say that a 2-2 draw with Southampton at the Emirates is another clove of garlic in the eventual ousting of Count von Emery.

I feel mean even writing this. Unai seems like a decent bloke, even an honourable one. He doesn’t have a rampant ego and narcissism issues like the new man at N17. He’s not a footballing Neanderthal like the Allardyces and Pulises of this world. And he certainly can’t be blamed for his physical appearance: none of us gets to choose how we look (when I was younger I was known as “Rodders” because of my apparent similarity to Rodney Trotter from Only Fools and Horses. We all have our crosses to bear. Except for Unai Emery because he’s a vampire and doesn’t like crosses).

But the facts (and the garlic cloves) are mounting up against the Count.

I mentioned in comments after the game yesterday that, in their last four Premier League outings before facing Arsenal, Southampton managed a grand total of 16 attempts on target. That’s 16 attempts in FOUR full matches (or an average of four attempts per game). Yesterday they had 21 attempts on goal in ONE game against us (we had 12).

This can’t go on.

It’s not in my nature to pile in on a manager when he’s down and join the chorus of people clamouring for him to go, but recent performances have left me no alternative. You’ll now find me in the tenor section.

The Count has been a successful manager in his career, winning significant trophies at Sevilla and PSG, but for whatever mysterious reason he just can’t do it with this team in this league. And the longer we resist facing up to that fact, the more damage will be done.

It’s time for the people who run our club to hand him his cape, say fangs for everything and get him out of N5 like a bat out of hell. The stakes are too high (sorry).

And so to the game.

As usual, our team looked great on paper, but sadly someone decided to play the game on grass and at that point it all went wrong.

We had some good moments and some OK individual performances (as well as some poor ones) but I can’t be bothered to do a blow-by-blow report. Instead I’ll mention a few things that stuck in my mind.

  • Our midfield under the Count just does not function and the more I watch it and try to figure out why, the more baffled I am. Hopefully some of you more tactically literate types can explain in comments. Yesterday I thought Guendouzi and Torreira put in plenty of effort, did some good things and generally looked OK. Yet Southampton were able to breeze through our middle like Moses parting the Red Sea (no, not Remi Moses, you Phillipinos).
  • Ozil had good moments but also had moments where he seemed disinterested and lacking in anticipation. Not sure what’s going on with him.
  • Pepe was unlucky not to get his first goal from open play (he hit the crossbar) but it also looks like his confidence is shot. At one point he was through on goal, one on one with the Saints ‘keeper. Any confident striker would have shot. But Pepe made a half-arsed effort to square the ball to Ozil in the area (despite there being a big lump of a Southampton defender in the way).
  • The Saints penalty was as soft as you’ll ever see. And worse, the VAR review seemed to show an offside in the build-up. But this being Arsenal and that being VAR, the decision inevitably went against us. (Can I use my “all’s not fair in love and VAR” gag again?).
  • How utterly Arsenaly was it that when our ‘keeper finally saves a penalty (which we never seem to do) the opposition score from it anyway. Grrrrr.

Player Ratings

It’s almost impossible to separate the players’ performances from the way they are being asked to play, which is just not working. Nevertheless, with that in mind, here goes:


Did well to save the pen, even though the rebound went straight back to the penalty taker. Was generally OK. 6


Struggled in defense, didn’t really get forward and seems to be lacking in touch and confidence. We need the old Hector back in the house.  4


Overall was OK, but almost gifted another goal to Saints in the second half by trying to dribble in his own penalty area. 5


Did OK until subbed at half time. 5


Missed a headed half chance. Was strong on the ball and tried to get us going forward a bit faster at times. 5


Unlucky to be penalised for the (very harsh) penalty. Was really good going forward and delivered a terrific cross for our first goal. Struggled defensively with his fellow Scot, Armstrong, at times but worked hard all game. 7


High energy, plenty of commitment. A decent player in a system that doesn’t work. 6


See Guendouzi. 6


Good moments, indifferent moments, a very Ozil performance. 5


Was more in the game in the first half than the second. Always looks good on the ball and always a willing runner, but not much came off for him yesterday (partly because of poor service). 6


Our best player by far. Two well taken poacher’s goals, but he is also tireless in his willingness to chase lost causes, track back to get the ball and harry opposition defenders when they’re trying to bring the ball out. 8



Always looks skillful and tricksy but he’s just not contributing enough at the moment. He doesn’t currently look like a £72 million player. 4


Came on late and tried to make a difference with the little time he had. Did well to get the ball into the box for our second equaliser. 6


Didn’t have long but made an impression. Had a header on target and cleared one off the line. 6






Arsenal v Southampton pre-match

November 23, 2019

This week’s excitement in the other half of north London has been a bit of a welcome distraction from our own tribulations. But the Premier League is back and we get to return to The Emirates today, for a 3pm kick off against Southampton.

Southampton are in a bit of a state, they sit 19th in the table, having lost 8/12 games played this season. They have the worst defensive record in the Prem with a goal difference of -18. Their manager wants them to be a bit more nasty.

To be fair to our opposition we are in a bit of a state too. No wins in our last 4 games – Drawn 2 Lost 2. We are unbeaten in our last 7 home games but have won only three of those, which is embarrassing.

We have a good head to head record against Southampton having not lost to them at home in 24 meetings but they did beat us 3-2 last December at St Mary’s.

Lots of questions about who will play and how Emery will set up the team. We need a win, so he needs to have worked out how to get the ball to our goal scorers. I’ve stopped trying to be clever and work out why it’s gone wrong and how he can fix it. Emery gets paid a lot of money to do just that job so let’s see if he can work it out.

There were a couple of moments of exciting attacking football in the game against Leicester which dried up once Kolasinac got scared of moving the ball across the halfway line. I expect The Emirates crowd to show their displeasure if there’s too much passing back instead of moving forward.

Hopefully Emery has a new plan and today is the day to execute it against a poor Southampton 😁

Xhaka may return but we are probably missing Ceballos, Pepe and Kolasinac will be decided on today.

I would like to see this team …..


Chambers Holding Luiz

Bellerin Torreira Guendouzi Tierney


Lacazette Aubameyang

We haven’t seen both Bellerin and Tierney in action in a Premiership fixture and I’m hoping having them both will keep the play moving forward.

I shall be there ……….  enjoy the game everyone.


Pochettino to Arsenal?

November 20, 2019

It’s been a tumultuous 24 hours in North London and it could become crazier yet.

The Tiny Totts sacked the most effective manager they’ve had for years and appointed a man who is to harmony what Harry Redknapp is to accounting.

Pochettino out at N17. Mourinho in. What next?

Well, it is already being suggested that Arsenal could be looking at Poch as a potential replacement for the struggling Emery.

If that were to happen it would be the most seismic move across North London since Sol Campbell left the swamp and joined the good guys (before going on to win trophies galore).

So here’s a question:

Regardless of whether or not you think Emery should be given the heave-ho (we’ve had that debate plenty of times), would you be happy with sloppy seconds from the Spuds as our new man?

Could Poch get more out of our squad than Emery?

Could we tolerate an ex Totteringham manager in the dugout at the Ems (we haven’t had one of those since Terry Neill in the mid ’70s)?

And what do you think about Maureen taking over at the Toilet Bowl? I have mixed feelings. His track record is usually to achieve success for a short period before causing the whole thing to blow up in acrimony and recrimination.

So don’t be surprised if the Totts do well for the rest of this season.

Over to you…


Xhaka to Milan? An opportunity to get a real midfield enforcer

November 14, 2019

According to various news outlets, Xhaka has made up his mind. He would like to leave AFC after his fall out with the fans. Gazidis tested the waters with him and Xhaka is now keen to join AC Milan. The news goes as far as saying that he was spotted looking for a house in Milano. This could all be fake news but let us assume that these rumours are true…

Xhaka is still worth 45M EUR in the current market so I think we can recoup our investment…If the guy leaves, there are a few things that we can say about him:

  1. He did not hide, played with heart and always gave a 100%
  2. His teammates and managers seem to recognize his leadership competencies
  3. His passing range was not bad at all
  4. He did not live up to the expectations
  5. He was maybe played out of position
  6. He crystallized the failure of the team in the last few seasons
  7. He will not be sorely missed

Now if he goes, we need to replace him for sure because the gap at DM would become wider with his departure. In January, opportunities to land a quality player are usually rarer than in the summer. That said, there is always space to make a “coup”. Here are some ideas:

  1. Allan from Napoli wants to leave after his house was broken into by disappointed fans;
  2. Emre Can has hit rock bottom at Juventus and wants to leave;
  3. Matic (I know I know but I have to list him nevertheless)
  4. Zakaria but would be hard to get him now as his team is first in the Bundesliga
  5. SMS may be persuaded to join us
  6. No one and ask Chambers or Luiz to play DM
  7. Rakitic from Barcelona, he recently gave an interview saying he was sad at Barcelona

Anyways, if Xhaka leaves, we have an opportunity to upgrade at DM or at least bolster our defensive cohesiveness in midfield. I hope we do the right thing and take this opportunity and make the right investment.