Who exactly is Unai Emery?

October 11, 2018

Most of us know his football CV, an underwhelming football career, moving into management after a serious injury to his knee; successfully taking lower league sides up through the divisions before landing the respected job at Valencia. He stayed there for three seasons doing perfectly well and then bizarrely he left to work with Spartak Moscow. Now for the life of me I cannot work out why he would want to go and work in Moscow, so if anyone can throw some light on this please do. He was sacked after 6 months due to bad results.

He returned to Spain to take the reins of Sevilla and, as we all know, he won the Europa three times. Sensibly in my opinion he moved on, I say sensibly because the only way was down after that kind of success. He took the offer to join PSG and won a series of various French trophies which no one cares about because it is about as meaningful as reading the list of Celtic’s palmares.

It is thought that the reason he left PSG was because he found it impossible to micro manage the likes of Neymar. I have added the word micro myself as that in my opinion is what he does and by the way I am in all favour of it as it seems to be working well at the home of football.

Gazidis gave some cock and ball story on how the club were interviewing 5 different candidates for Wenger’s job, yeah, yeah, yeah. In reality it seems we were hours away from appointing the only decent option available and that was Arteta. Now if you were not scared about the idea of someone with zero managerial experience taking the helm then you should have been. Anyway, rather than drag up the past I believe we got lucky in the sense that all of a sudden PSG wanted rid of Emery and we needed someone just like him. So, right place right time.

Interestingly, or certainly interestingly to me, we seemed to have got lucky in a similar way with our Director of Football, Raul Sanllehi. This guy’s credentials are something special; to keep it short, he really was the top dog at Barcelona for a long, long time, no easy task in that cut throat world. From what I can gather he was, among many other things, the one that was able to keep “Team Messi” on side for so long; he finally fell from grace over losing Neymar. Lucky us, right place right time.

Sanllehi (far right seated)

Back to Unai Emery, let’s start with his full name and an explanation “Unai Emery Etxegoien” It is very common in Spain to have two last names “Etxegoien” is his mother’s name and is as Basque as Basque can be, I can’t find the meaning so if anyone can please let me know?

Quick language history lesson, the majority of languages in Europe descended from the region now called India hence the name Indo European. But Basque predates all of them; it is a Stone Age language that has somehow survived. Quick story, most languages have to deal with the Anglo Saxon bulldozer, the word computer is a good recent example; most countries, in an attempt to stop even more English entering their language’s vocabulary found a replacement that sounded a bit more like their own. France = ordinateur, you get the drift. But Basque is so old that they had issues long before when the new-fangled “Scissors” came along, so being a Stone Age language their solution was to use the Basque equivalent of Two Sharp Stones, get it? You have no idea how much I dine out on that story in Spain.

Our Manager’s first name, Unai, is very common in the Basque Country and it means ‘shepherd’. His father’s name, Emery is confusing because it does not sound Basque and it does not sound Spanish, again if anyone knows the origin please let me know.

To me the Basque Country represents the industrial north of Spain; I think it is possible to draw direct comparisons with the UK: “Sophistication, I’ve been to Leeds”. I put this down to why Emery is poorly dressed: the jacket he wears fits him so badly, the shirt looks like something that the club gives out to anyone working there and the tie is sloppy.

I don’t want to be too harsh on the Basque Country because they do have the beautiful San Sebastian (or Donostia in Basque) and by way of example, it has as many Michelin-starred restaurants in that little town as we do in London. I do not pray at the Michelin Guide’s altar but it does give an idea of how the town takes its food seriously and trust me I have put in hours and hours of research into this!  That care for food does trickle down to the more everyday eateries such as Tapas Bars.

Tapas, we have all heard of Tapas, what does it mean and where does it come from? It comes from the Spanish word ‘Tapar’ which means to cover and goes back to, let’s say, Shakespearean times – a long time ago. Coachmen used to enter the inn, get a tankard of beer or wine and on top would be slices of ham or cheese covering the top of the tankard. Tapar = cover, Tapas = expensive “covers” you find in the now fashionable Upper Street, Islington. There is one last important thing here and that is because Basques want to protect their own language: remember Two Sharp Stones? Well, in the Basque Country, Tapas are called Pinxos and they are on another level of fantasticness.

Again back to Emery and in particular his hair: the style of slicked back and dyed has, without any shadow of a doubt, been influenced by his time at Seville; they take their appearance a lot more seriously down there; watch the crowd come out of the main bull ring in Seville, a very dressy occasion, and you will see half the men with that hair style.

Photo by Lindsey PARNABY / AFP/Getty Images

So who is Unai Emery? I think I have hardly scratched the surface. I wanted to go into how much he has changed the club but realised that I have waffled on for longer than I expected – maybe next time.

LB

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Internationals – when and where do Arsenal players feature?

October 10, 2018

So interlull dullness hits us like a big wet sock just as the season was beginning to look so bright after such magnificent goals at the Cottage.

I’ve learnt a few things looking into these fixtures…………..

Auba, Wobbly and Mo Elneny are involved in home and away fixtures against South Sudan, Libya and Eswatini respectively in the AFCON qualifiers. Seems sensible.

South Sudan is, well, south of the much larger Sudan.

Eswatini is the new name for Swaziland.

Stephan Lichtsteiner will not be called up by the Swiss under a pre-arranged agreement to give the old fella a breather.

Mkhitaryan has long flights to and from Armenia since we now know it’s alongside Azerbaijan.

Terrier has even longer flights buzzing around with Uruguay in the Far East. He’ll feel at home height-wise out there anyway!

Mikhi – Armenia

13th Oct Gibraltar (H) Uefa Nations League (UNL)

16th Oct FYR Macedonia (H) UNL

 

Auba – Gabon

12th Oct South Sudan (H) AFCON

16th Oct South Sudan (A) AFCON

 

Terrier – Uruguay (only five foot five)

12th Oct S. Korea (A) Friendly

16th Oct Japan (A) Friendly

 

Granit – Switzerland

12th Oct – Belgium (A) UNL

15th Oct Iceland (A) UNL

 

Wobbly – Nigeria

12th Oct Libya (A) AFCON

15th Oct Libya (H) AFCON

Sticking it to Bamidele

 

Big Sok – Greece

12th Oct – Hungary (H) UNL

15th Oct – Finaland (A) UNL

 

Rambo – Wales (impending arrivals permitting)

11 Oct – Spain (H) Friendly

16 Oct – Ireland (A) UNL

 

Welbz – England

12th Oct – Croatia (A) UNL

15th Oct – Spain (A) UNL

 

Mo Elneny

12th Oct Eswatini (H) AFCON

16th Oct Eswatini (A) AFCON

 

Hot off the press……..

Bernd Leno has been called up by Germany.

13th Oct – Holland (A) UNL

16th Oct – France (A) UNL

 

Let’s say a prayer to Dennis that all the boys come through unscathed.

chas


Poll – Mesut or Miki – You Decide

October 9, 2018

Ahead for Gunners is a very long International break, so here’s an easy conversation starter.

I’m offering one formation and one positional player option.

It’s a 4-2-3-1 and today the option is Mesut or Mkhi. Obviously you vote for one, but can then elaborate in comments i.e. Mesut only starts when the sun shines and it’s a Full Moon……………

POLL – Mesut or Mkhi – You decide?

mickydidit89


Unai’s boys flatten Fulham with flawless finishing

October 8, 2018

Wow, it really is an exciting time to be an Arsenal supporter. With the toxic infighting of last season fading from memory and now, incredibly, nine wins on the bounce it rightly has to be said that the Unai Emery revolution is gathering pace. I can’t remember the last time I found myself looking forward to the next game with such eagerness: you just don’t know what you are going to get.

We continued to make mistakes at the back in the early part of yesterday’s game and I can’t be the only one who feels that a better team is going to punish us to the tune of three quick goals giving us a mountain to climb to get back on level terms; but, on the other hand, there are now elements of our play that suggest that not only could we get top four – we could win the league. More level-headed and certainly more annoying sourpusses will probably say that the truth is somewhere in between.

My take on what turned out to be the thrashing of Fulham was that it was a workman-like performance studded with five incredibly good goals. Our football in general wasn’t that convincing but our goals certainly were. I could go through all of them, describing each in turn but wouldn’t be able to do justice to the fine collection.

Probably the most important was Lacazette’s second; it came at a crucial time, shortly after the restart and dampened down the enthusiasm that Fulham had worked up having scored just before the break. Back in charge Arsenal went on to slowly strangle the life out of the home side and add another three important points to our growing tally.

Yes, we have to continue to fend off accusations that we have not played anyone of note during this run but as dull as the saying goes that you can only beat who is in front of you, we still have had to do it and I for one did not expect us to do it so well as we have and be in this excellent position – especially in the wake of the first two games. Still, I am happy and pleasantly surprised to write that things really are looking good.

Ratings

Leno: looking more confident and I have to say, commanding; I don’t think he could have done any more to stop Fulham’s goal. 7

Bellerin: excellent game, early criticism of his gallivanting down the wing, leaving us exposed at the back is now seen as unfounded as all have noticed that he was acting on instructions and he was not being covered as he is now successfully by Torriera. Hector looked the DB’s. 8

Mustafi: I think it was Fred who said that Shkod seems to be playing better with Holding rather than with Sokratis, this may be true; he did look a little more secure yesterday. 7

Holding: Well, who would have expected him at the start of the season to be in a position to stake a claim to an automatic place in the starting line-up? Not I, but he has. He really is improving his ability of playing the ball out from the back. Pretty much, always in the right place at the right time yesterday. 8

Monreal: everything was going down our left in the first half with he and Iwobi dominating proceedings, all marred by a really annoying bad pass that led to the Fulham goal. 6

Torreira: yep, the image of the Duracell Bunny works for me. Lacazette maybe most people’s man of the match for his goals but that is what I would argue he was supposed to do in the same way as a goalkeeper is supposed to save shots and just because Leno made some fine save does not make him man of the match. Now Torriera on the other hand controlled the game from start to finish and that is why he gets my man of the match. 9

Xhaka: Captain Granit, I know he is flavour of the month and he has been spraying the ball around well recently but he is still guilty of early lapses in concentration that seem to cause heart stopping nightmares early on in the game. We won 1-5 so I don’t want to get too moany. 6

Iwobi: confidence soaring, decision making improving, goal assists coming, what is not to like? Emery still took him off early and you could see the disappointment in his face, the aim was clear and it worked: don’t rest on your laurels Alex, more is still expected. The difference this season to last is that most people now expect him to successfully rise to the challenge. 8

Lacazette: two top goals, tons of hard work, swagger in his play. More excellent man management; he was left out of the team earlier in the season and has risen to the challenge of getting back into the starting eleven. 9

Welbeck: a fans’ favourite, everyone wants him to do well but he has two strikers around him who are at the top of their game and as such Danny is being shown to be the slightly inferior striker that he is. 6

Mkhitaryan: probably the thing he was guilty of was not scoring, that’s not to say that he had the chances it’s just that as those around him were scoring for fun and he was made to look human. I don’t think he had a bad game it’s just that he didn’t have a stellar game as some around him did. 7

Subs

Ramsey: well if that doesn’t win goal of the season then the one that does is going to be very, very special indeed. I have a lot more to say about Aaron but I will save it for another time. 8

Aubameyang: treat em mean to keep em keen. Raring to go as soon as he came on and gave a master class in finishing. 8

Guendouzi: superb cameo, ok the game was won but he offered so much to the midfield. 7

PS. If Ozil had played we would have won 1-8

LB


Away form to Continue?

October 7, 2018

A trip to The Cottage is full of nostalgia. Cosy ground by the river, no longer owned by that clown Al-Fayed (now owned by a Pakistani American) and managed by a chap from Serbia, Fulham are a fine club

A family club (whatever that means).

They have some decent players as well … the wonderkid Sessegnon, the powerful Mitrovic, the speedy and very expensive ex-Chav Schurrle, a very good Italian MF named Seri. They are a decent team who have yet to find their feet in the PL.

If you need to know more, read GN5’s excellent post from yesterday.

images.jpeg

I expect a tough game this lunchtime. We returned from a very long Spursday trip to Baku  late Friday morning and had only a day to prepare for this one, though many players were rested for the Qarabag tie.

The team almost picks itself with only the Holding or Mustafi selection in doubt. My hope is that Emery rewards Holding with a starting  role but I suspect he will give the shirt to Mustafi (AWTH).

Oh … I forgot. We still have the Ozil & Ramsey quandary. I much prefer Iwobi to play instead of Aaron but think we will see a repeat of the early subs with Ramsey starting but not finishing the game.

My Team:

Leno

Bellerin    Mustafi    GB   Monreal

Ramsey   Terrier    Xhaka

Ozil

Lacazette    PEA

As usual we will have a very strong bench.

Much is being made of the possible 9. Given we have yet to see a solid consistent 90 minutes in any of our victories it is proof that good fortune remains important in a fledgling managerial career. Had our opposition taken the many chances on offer we would be discussing Emery in a very different manner.

Should be an entertaining game and, if we can score early, a positive result.

COYRRG

 


Arsenal FC – our record against the Cottagers

October 6, 2018

Our first game against Fulham was on February 6th, 1904 when Fulham, then in the First Division of the Southern League, passed through all seven Preliminary Qualifying Rounds to make their debut in the First Round of the FA Cup. The eighth game was one too many as Woolwich Arsenal won 1-0. This was the one and only time the two clubs have met in any Cup competition.

Fulham gained professional status on 12 December 1898, the same year that they were admitted into the Southern League’s Second Division. They were the second club from London to turn professional, following Arsenal in 1891- then named Royal Arsenal.

While Fulham have never beaten Arsenal in away games (they have lost 22 tied 5 and been outscored 67 to 23), their home record is a tad better having won 8 tied 5 and lost 14 and were outscored 13 to 38. Their last away win was on Jan 2nd 2012 when they won 2-1.

Photo by Bentley Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

London Club Trivia

Chelsea beat Clapton Orient in the first Football League derby between two London clubs – in November 1905.

The first derby in the top flight, between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge (November 1907), was watched by an estimated 55,000.

As Highbury Stadium was built in 1913 on land owned by the Church Commissioners, Arsenal agreed not to play on Christmas Day or Good Friday, until they bought the freehold in 1925. The last Christmas Day game there was against Chelsea in 1954.

When Spurs were relegated in 1934-35, a year after finishing third, they lost both games to League Champions Arsenal – by 5-1 at Highbury and 6-0 at White Hart Lane; still their joint record home defeat.

If you think fixture congestion is bad these days, in 1905-06 Chelsea had to play a League game and FA Cup qualifying round tie on the same day. Prioritising the League, they sent their reserves to meet Crystal Palace in the Cup and lost 7-1; still the heaviest Cup defeat by any League club against non-League opposition.

For the 1989-90 season London had a record number of clubs – eight – in the top division, meaning 56 derby matches. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham finished in the top five while Charlton and Millwall were both relegated, the remaining three teams were, Crystal Palace, Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers.

Arsenal have finished as highest placed London club 58 times, more than everyone else put together. It includes a run of nine successive seasons from 1996-2004; the longest sequence since they were the capital’s only representatives more than 110 years ago.

Steve Bould scored the quickest-ever own goal in the top flight in the Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal fixture on Saturday February 17th 1990. The Arsenal defender put one past his goalkeeper John Lukic after just 15 seconds.

GunnerN5


Bog Snorkelling in Baku – Qarabag Ratings

October 5, 2018

Another game, another clean sheet, eight wins on the trot; ouch, it is going to hurt when we fall. Or maybe we won’t?

In trying to understand the team selection, it struck me that much of what was going on had more to do with November the 3rd than with a second tier team from Azerbaijan. As the more astute would have realised, we play Liverpool on that day and as much as we should win our two games before, we all know that will be our next real test.

And how does this all link into last night’s win? Answer – the choice of defence. Emery set the team up for the best part of the first half with five at the back:

Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac

Yes, Lichtsteiner and Kolasinac got forward as demonstrated by the first goal but they spent the best part of the first half in the above formation, which against a team of lowly calibre, was belt and braces and unnecessary in my opinion.

Anyway it is just a hunch but if Kolasinac and Monreal start against Liverpool, I can say I was right. Bellerin will obviously replace Lichsteiner.

Once Emery had had a chance to air this experiment, Torriera replaced Monreal at half time and everything calmed down in the way it should have been from the start. I say that as though I know how he does it, but as close as I look, I still don’t understand how the Uruguayan effortlessly seems to be able to have such a huge influence on every game he plays in.

The rest of the team selection was clear that it was designed to give more of the squad a run out. The Guendouzi/Elneny combo is obvious as is Welbeck, Smith-Rowe (Lab) and Iwobi.

courtesy David Price

So enough of that tactics drivel, let’s get onto the serious stuff: Red Shorts? What is that about? The opposition were wearing black shorts so I see no good reason why we should not have been wearing the normal time honoured white shorts. Pink sleeves? Don’t get me started.

It turned out to be a pretty comfortable win, with probably the three players on the pitch that we would most have wanted to have scored the goals, (all in the knowledge that each one of them would benefit confidence-wise from doing so), and so they did.

courtesy David Price

Leno: what a fine goal keeper we have and seamlessly slotting in? Some more great saves…. 8

Lichsteiner: an excellent stand in and proof that the powers that be in the club’s new buying system are working very well, naturally that also applies to Leno…. 7

Holding: why did we loan Chambers to Fulham? Don’t know and don’t care…. 7

Sokratis: it is going to be fascinating to see if Emery sticks with these two on Sunday — he should, they are far from perfect but it made a nice change not to have mop up Mustafi’s usual clangers…. 7

Monreal: Nacho is the most improved player of the squad; he has become authoritative, something that I would never have thought last season; he is clearly benefitting from clearer instruction, the language must help. He tucked in well last tonight as he usually does…. 8

Kolasinac: I loved the way he bulldozed down the wing early on in the game, pushing his opposing defender away like a skittle, pretty good game really…. 7

Guendouzi: getting better and better and now adding goals, it looks like he has a long future at the club…. 8

Elneny: things are moving on and Mo does not seem to be able to keep up, did ok last night but can’t see him being around for too much longer…. 6

Smith Rowe (Lab): the goal obviously did his confidence the world of good, it struck me that he is a striker rather than a midfielder, interesting to see how this one develops…. 7

Iwobi: last season Alex had plateaued; he was going nowhere fast, it is testament to Emery’s man management that he has been given new drive, direction and self belief. I am not sure where it will all end up but at least it is going somewhere…. 8

Welbeck: Danny, Danny, you know I am a fan but you have got to take those chances that come your way…. 6

LB