Should Arsenal be looking to replace Emery?

November 12, 2019

The following paragraph is taken from an article written by Adam Bates for sky.

Unai Emery was brought in to improve Arsenal but the decline has accelerated under Arsene Wenger’s successor, writes Adam Bate. Faith in Unai Emery is fading fast but he doesn’t help himself. The pressure is building.  Some of the stats are damning. The Gunners conceded 25 shots against Wolves, the most that any Premier League team has faced in front of their own fans this season or last. It is the most that any Arsenal team have ever conceded in a Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium. And yet, it is still not as many as the 31 shots they faced at Watford recently – a Premier League high this season.

Emery was brought in to address defensive problems but the systemic defensive issues are still there. The team is neither pressing, neither possession-based neither controlling the game. Instead the team seems to be set up to counter the opposition rather than impose a style/game plan on the opposition. Against City and Liverpool, the approach can be understood but against the rest of the teams? His tactics seem confusing. They have however improved in fast transition and seem to be focused on being a counter-attacking team. It is however only creating less than 2 big chances per game and if Auba (and Laca) were not so good in front of goal, the team would not be able to score much as the chances are simply not created.

Emery has now a solid squad at his disposal and it seems that he is  not getting enough from it. When you have Auba, Laca, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli and even Saka at your disposal up front, you would hope that the team can create more chances and that the game plan is more exciting than it is at the moment.

The heat is on Emery but who would you like to replace him?


  1. No one, he should stay until the end of the year.
  2. Ljunberg should be given a chance a la Ole style
  3. Allegri, and his trophy-laden record in Italy. He is, however, very much a fan of the team shape rather than a fan of pressing. In the EPL, it seems that pressing is key to success. He is, however, an astute coach with the ability to play in various systems depending on what is at his disposal. He is not one to ask for shiny signings.
  4. Arteta, our former captain who is being groomed by Guardiola, He knows the club, he knows the players and he was a leader on the pitch respected by his peers although his captainy coincided with the declining years under Wenger. Guardiola rates his tactical awareness.
  5. Mourinho, our nemesis. A man whose ego tends to cast a shadow on the club he manages. A man who had success with Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real and Man Utd. He knows the EPL, he is obsessed with winning and he would try to address our defensive issues. He is a diva and may make some fancy demands and play the spoilt child if he does not get the toy he wants.
  6. Blanc, an underrated coach. Knows the EPL as well, favours possession football. He likes the Barcelona type of game so he wants his team to also be able to get the ball back and to conserve it.
  7. Ten Hag, Ajax magic coach. Ajax philosophy, nurturing the youth and playing pretty and effective football.
  8. Favre, Dortmund coach. Similar to Ten Hag and Blanc in a away but likes also more direct football.
  9. Vieira – Henry, former heroes looking to make an impact as coaches. Vieira more successful so far.
  10. Ralph Rangnik – the visionary that has made RP Leipzig a solid club in the Bundesliga
  11. Someone else



The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

November 10, 2019


The Good:

The team line up looked more balanced and cohesive from the outset, both on paper and also in practice for large parts of the game. We looked to have a greater threat going forward and, although ultimately still well below where we need to be, seemed better than in previous games in defence.

We have allowed far poorer teams than Leicester a greater freedom of our penalty box. The best way I could describe it is that we were “in” that game for large parts of it. It felt the type of game that could have swung in our favour at certain points if we could have landed the first blow. There were some promising performances in Ozil, Bellerin and Aubameyeng.

The Bad:

Quite simply we lost another 3 points. We are now 9 points adrift of Leicester and Chelsea who don’t boast, in my opinion, as many good players as we do. Despite looking “in” the game for large parts of it there was always the feeling that we could capitulate at any moment if they landed the first blow…… That we would surrender control of the game and retreat deep for some Alamo style defending (and rely solely on quick counter-attacks) if the game started to turn against us……This all came to pass.

There were some players who didn’t look up to it. Sadly one of them was Guendouzi. He has been lauded as a future great but he also shows on many occasions that he is still very much a rough diamond. Right now he is not on the level of Maddison. If Douzi is to fulfil his potential, and not go the way of pretty much every promising youngster we have had over the last 6 years, then he needs the right environment and coaching.

Tactically Leicester seemed to have all the freedom in the world in the wide areas to play in a number of (unchallenged) dangerous balls across the face of our goal, particularly down our left. Conversely we seemed to have to work a lot harder to get the better of their full-backs, and always looked challenged in that area. Is this where you see the back 4 trump the back 3 or was it some other coaching issue?

The Ugly: 

More the “Ugly Truth” of it really, that we were once again bettered by a club that on paper (individual player for individual player) doesn’t have the same quality level as us. A club that doesn’t have the same pulling power or resources as us, but a club that looks significantly (not slightly) better than us. …not just in this individual game but across all games this season.

If some feel that Leicester are stronger on paper then a sobering thought should be that every one of their players would have been attainable for us. There are no £180m Kyllian Mbappes in there. Even in Maddison, their young crown jewel, you are looking at a player that is likely no more than we paid for Pepe.

Quite simply, Rogers looks to be a manager operating at a far superior level to Emery. I hear arguments about it is too early to judge Emery because he has only had a season and a half. Well Rogers has in a fraction of the time shown what you can do if you develop the team in the right direction with good coaching. Can we really say, at this stage, that we haven’t clicked because Emery’s development of the team is specifically time related and it hasn’t had long enough to come to fruition?

It is that more than anything that bothers me, that we don’t seem to be developing a style or identity as Rogers seems to be doing in far less time with Leicester. That said though, arguably we are developing a style and identity, but just the wrong one.

In the end Leicester just looked to have more confidence in their own ability. They looked slicker and had a greater belief in what they could do. That comes from progressive coaching and you can see that they are on an upward trajectory. Lampard seems to be doing similar at Chelsea.

Each Leicester player, and the team as a whole, are being improved. Our players individually are at best standing still, but in many cases regressing. The team as a whole certainly looks regressive in the last 6 months.

I am not really your man for individual ratings so you can use someone else’s. I will give a couple of alternative ratings as follows:

Team strength individually on paper:

Arsenal 8.5/10

Leicester 7/10

Team strength collectively in real play (in this game alone):

Arsenal 7/10

Leicester 9/10

Manager ratings this season:

Emery 6/10

Rogers 9/10

Many prior games would have seen me mark our real play as a 5/10 so this is where I felt there was more about us in this game for large parts of it.

I would like to ask that we all play nicely today and have a healthy debate. There will be increasingly strong opinions at this juncture with our club, but we must respect each others views. More than that, the contrasting views and arguments are what makes this site the most interesting, so lets embrace that.

Finally I would like to put up an FGG comment from yesterday which very accurately reflects where I feel we are right now and have been in recent years:

He’s just not qualified for this job. Nothing personal, nothing about him as an individual, but the best he’s done in a job is EL football and we are striving for CL football in a very difficult league. Time to move on and fine someone who can do what we ask. The players look lost, the tactics are confusing, and the results are poor. We wasted years waiting for Wenger to re-find his old magic, let’s not make the same mistake with someone who’s never had that magic to begin with.



Prematch – Leicester vs Arsenal ………….

November 9, 2019

……………………… Rodgers vs Emery / Vardy vs AFC Defense…OR the game that could end our Top 4 hope.

This game is so interesting in so many ways. There is so much to play for and both teams are in opposite spirals. On one hand, Leicester has started the season very well and everyone is raving about Rodgers, Vardy and the overall team movement, shape and balance. On the other hand, Arsenal who has started the season relatively poorly and there is a lot of negativity about Emery, Xhaka and the overall lack of team movement, shape and balance.

To make things spicier, Rodgers is being touted by many pundits to replace Emery at AFC. Vardy was close to join us but decided to stay at Leicester.

To add to the drama, a loss against Leicester will all but end our Top 4 hopes while a win would not only give us hope to seriously challenge for a top 4 spot but would give a lifeline to Emery until the end of the year and will bring some positivity around our club.

Leicester main performers this year are:

Schmeichel – Ricardo, Evans, Chilwell – Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison – Barnes – Vardy. So almost the whole squad except maybe Soyoncu and Barnes but again these two had stand out performances as well. That said, I think that we can basically find a way to bother them if we play behind Madisson and if we target Soyoncu. How to do that?

Emery is expected to play in a 3412 tomorrow and I can see him going with


Chambers  Sokratis   Luiz

Bellerin  Guendouzi  Torreira  Kolasinac


Laca, Auba


If Ozil can play right behind Madisson and if Lacazette can target Soyuncu, we have a chance to create some opportunities to score BUT I would rather play with another line up where I would trust Willock and Pepe…I know I know but I think they could help us in being more effective in targeting the Leicester weaknesses, at least initially…

My line up:


Chambers  Sokratis  Luiz

Bellerin  Guendouzi  Torreira  Willock  Tierney

Pepe  Auba

Anyways – I am not holding my breath but I think that the players know that this is a must “not lose” game so they will put in a good fight…If we can manage a draw at half time, we can maybe scrap out a win but given the current team forms, I would say that Leicester will dispatch us 3-1. Goals from Perreira, Maddison and Vardy. For us, it will be Luiz.

AFC – please prove me wrong and win vs Leicester! COYG!


Arsenal’s Best Strike Partnership

November 8, 2019

We’re heading into what could be a very important weekend for Arsenal’s immediate future and certain subjects have been debated half to death:

Emery in or out.

The Xhaka debacle.

The midfield dilemma.

So how about we change the script just for today by taking another look at a topic that has slipped down the priority list of late, namely: with the talent we have available, how should our attackers be set up to give us the best chance of scoring goals?

(After a performance where we managed one attempt on target it’s not an unreasonable question).

First a caveat: obviously the way we play in defence and midfield has an effect on how our strikers perform. But for the purposes of this exercise let’s just pretend we have a functioning team behind the strikers (I know, hogs might levitate etc) but bear with me.

In those circumstances, which strikers should be starting in our first team and in what configuration?

The options available to us are Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe, Saka, Nelson, Martinelli and I think we can throw in Ozil and Ceballos if either is played as a Number 10.

My preference is Lacazette central, with Aubameyang on the left and Pepe on the right.

But I know some people have doubts about Laca and would rather see Auba in a central role.

And what about Martinelli? After a blistering start to his Arsenal career, should he be in the starting equation?

Pepe has disappointed so far, but I’m sticking with him because I’m expecting him to come good, but perhaps Saka or Nelson are better options right now?

And one addendum to this discussion: is attack an area where we need to consider strengthening in January?

Over to you…


Xhaka 0, Fan Power 1

November 7, 2019

So Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the captaincy and there are indications he will be allowed (or encouraged) to leave the club in January.

On the face of it, this is a pretty clear cut example of fan power claiming a scalp.

Some (perhaps many) supporters will celebrate that the Swiss international is now out of the team and probably on his way out of North London. I find the whole episode disturbing and not a little upsetting, as I’ll explain below.

Xhaka has never exactly been loved by the Arsenal faithful, although there have been periods when his play was at least somewhat approved of. But during last season and, particularly, in the current campaign he has been the focus of considerable discontent.

It’s not uncommon for individual players to become lightning rods when their team is going through a rough patch. In recent times at Arsenal, players including Mustafi, Ozil and Ramsey have all fulfilled that role.

But now, with the current season slipping into mediocrity and recrimination, Xhaka has been a lightning road in the eye of a rapidly growing thunderstorm. With hindsight, it’s not surprising he ended up burned.

It was a “victory” for fan power because it has been clear that Unai Emery (like Arsene Wenger before him) saw Granit Xhaka as an important component of his first team and had no desire to lose him in the short term.

This may be, as LB has suggested, because he is seen as the best option among those that are currently available rather than him being thought of as a world class star. But either way, Emery continued to pick Xhaka even as the social media cacophony for him to be axed grew louder and louder. Not only that, the head coach made him captain (after an admittedly bizarre process).

As we all know, everything came to a head when Xhaka was subbed off during the Crystal Palace game. When his number was held up some fans cheered ironically. Xhaka walked off slowly, to a chorus of boos and took off his shirt before heading straight down the tunnel.

This is why I see it as a “win” for fan power: the fans got their way. The persistent barrage of criticism about Xhaka no doubt weighed on Emery’s mind (as well as on the player’s). When things were going badly (again) for his team, Emery attempted to appease his critics by taking off the captain. The subsequent scenes cemented Xhaka’s place in the Arsenal departure lounge.

If there had not been a background of dissatisfaction with how Arsenal were performing under Emery I am sure he would not have substituted his captain. So “fan power” influenced his in-game decision making. Then the booing did the rest.

Frankly I hate this whole episode. My view of Xhaka is that he is a perfectly decent player in an underperforming team who is being asked to carry out a role that does not suit his skills, possibly in a league that does not suit his skills. But regardless of his footballing merits or otherwise I am appalled that our head coach bowed to fan pressure in this way.

If Emery thinks Xhaka should play every game he should stick to his guns and ignore the fans. Let’s face it, for all we like to think we know plenty about football, we know precious little compared to an experienced head coach who was won trophies at the highest level.

Is this how it going to be at Arsenal now? When the fans get on a player’s back the manager throws him to the lions?

And mark my words, there will be another lightning rod player after Xhaka unless the team suddenly starts displaying top-three form and crushing all opponents.

The whole carry-on has left me angry and depressed. No-one comes out of it well – not the fans who cheered when Xhaka’s number came up, or the ones who booed him off, not the player for his reaction, not the club for their handling of things and certainly not the manager for his apparent weakness.

I don’t want my club or its head coach to make decisions based on the latest scapegoating campaign by a noisy minority of supporters and social media blowhards. The Arsenal should be better than that.

It may well be that, as per the headline, the Xhaka situation makes it: “Fan Power 1, Xhaka 0.”

But there’s another scoresheet for this whole business and it goes like this: “Fan Power 1, Arsenal 0.”  And that’s not good.


Arsenal …… not good …….. again

November 6, 2019

First half was horrendous, second half was better. We were exposed every time Vitoria put some pace on their attacking movements. We did not create much going forward and we did not really defend well when tested. No stand out performer.

Lessons learned:
1. Ceballos cannot play in central midfield
2. Holding can only play at the base of a back 3
3. AMN-Mustafi are not a good combo covering the right side of the defense
4. Saka needs a rest
5. Emery does not rate LT anymore
6. Willock is the real deal
7. Pepe set-piece delivery is good but he still needs to do better in open play

Player ratings

Martinez – 5.5
AMN – 4
Mustafi – 5 (just b/c of the goal)
Sokratis – 6
Holding – 5
Tierney – 5
Ceballos – 4
Willock – 5
Saka – 3
Martinelli – 4
Pepe – 5


Douzi – 5
Laca – 4
Torreira – N/A

Emery – 5 (for trying a new formation but not playing the right players)



Arsenal v Vitoria pre-match

November 6, 2019

Good morning Gooners.

Although some find themselves in the midst of doom and gloom – Emery in Emery out, Xhaka in Xhaka out, Ozil in Ozil out – we have a game this afternoon in a competition that thus far has brought some much needed fun – Martinelli’s headed goals and Pepe’s free kicks to name a couple of things. Plus we are top of our group with 9 points and have a goal difference of +8, what’s not to like.

This afternoon we are in Portugal for the return fixture against Vitoria. A fixture that has been arranged for 15.50 to make it easier on the local traffic 🙂 Europa games are not allowed to be played the same time as Champions League games so that’s why this game is in the afternoon.

The Europa league has given Emery the chance to play some of our young talent and I expect we’ll see the likes of Martinelli, Willock, Saka and possibly Nelson and Smith-Rowe too. Add to that we have the players returning from long term injuries Bellerin and Holding, possibly Tierney (although he played 80 minutes on Saturday).

Vitoria gave us a bit of a scare at the Emirates a couple of weeks ago by scoring two goals – but then everyone scores against us – and I expect their little spud reject Marcus Edwards will be up for making things difficult for us again.

How many Arsenal supporters will be able to watch the game? It’s an unknown isn’t it, so for those that do watch it, their thoughts and feelings will be important, something to remember when reading social media after the game.

I’m hoping we’ll see a similar team to the one that took to the Emirates pitch previously – something like this.


Bellerin  Mustafi  Holding  Tierney

Maitland-Niles  Torreira  Willock

Pepe  Martinelli  Smith-Rowe

As no-one will be watching they can just go for it and have some fun 🙂 good luck guys, win this one and the U18’s can play in the next rounds.