Emery must not miss the moment!!

September 27, 2019

In football, as in many other aspects of life, there comes that moment when new possibilities present themselves and a new direction maybe needs to be seized upon. That moment is not always so patently obvious. You are potentially aware that you may have arrived at the moment, or equally maybe you are not quite there yet but are somewhere near it, so is it really the right time? Is this the actual moment or are we still approaching it? Stick or twist? If you go too soon then it could all go very wrong but dither and you miss the moment which may not present itself again for a long time.

Right then, my ears are burning. I can hear you all saying, “enough of the Machiavellian, Cantanaesque seagulls being thrown from the trawler ramblings GoonerB, what the hell are you on about?”

Well football clubs are often no different to big corporations in other industries, and also even all of us as individuals as we progress through life, in that they/we reach a crossroads at times in having to decide whether to stick on the road you are on, because its familiarity feels safer, or to take a different road that is more unknown and is full of uncertainty but that may well just have that pot of gold at the end of it.

Still too many seagulls and trawlers?……sorry, I digress.

What I am referring to is our promotion of the younger players, or the more untested ones, into the 1st team, and as importantly, into their strongest positions. Sure we have been integrating some of them recently, but is now the time to really go for broke? Is now the time to take that different road, and really push them through rather than just flirting with it?

Yesterday’s discussion threw a lot of debate up about this. Here are a few snippets:

This from JM

Chambers’s best long term position in our 1st team will be the DM/HM position, this season and the next season onwards.

He has shown to be able defend and attack competently whenever he played in our matches (EPL, EL, EFL cup).

– That all important equalising goal against Villa (collecting the cross from Guendouzi and after his intial cutback was blocked, he was first to steal ahead of the defender, calmly controlled the ball with one touch and lifted it back into the net over the GK with his next touch.
– 3 assists in the match against Forest (the first a no hesitation 1st-timed cross to pick up Gabriel from a right-side position; next a measured cut back from left-side position to Nelson; a last a nice pass to Gabriel for his 2nd goal and our 5th.)
– he has not made too many errors when he played so far in defence (CB, RB and LB in the matches against Newcastle, Villa, Frankfurt and Forest).

This season, when every 1st team player is fit, our defence and midfield could be:

Tierney, Holding, Luiz/Sokratis, Bellerin;
Chambers, Guendouzi/Torreira/Maitland-Niles, Willock/Ceballos/Ozil

Next season onwards, with Saliba coming in (excluding any newer additions),

Tierney, Holding, Saliba/Sokratis, Bellerin;
Chambers/Luiz, Torreira/Maitland-Niles, Willock/Guendouzi

 

This from FGG

Football moves so quickly these days and I think everyone gets caught up in the last 3 games and forgets everything that’s come before! I agree that there is absolutely no telling how good or bad we will be with Xhaka and Sok being replaced by Chambers and Holding, but I do think that given our current defensive frailties, it’s certainly worth finding out.

Football just seems to be so black or white these days and it becomes embarrassing at times. Saw an article the other day with Merson questioning wether Spurs should sack the manager. If they win a few games he will be calling them title challengers again! It’s utterly ridiculous.

I must say though that I do like the idea of 3 of our back 4 being British players. I think a bit of an English injection wouldn’t be a bad thing, and with Willock, AMN, Saka, ESR and Nelson in the squad we seem to be getting back to that a little bit.

 

This from LB

Some people seem to think that things can’t get worse by removing Xhaka and replacing him from within the present squad — they can, they can be an awful lot worse, same goes for Sokratis and Luiz, the idea that Holding and Chambers are some how our saviours in waiting is absolutely ridiculous.

 

This also from LB

Slim, I must say that I think I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that there is a part of me that would really like to see if Holding and Chambers could do better than Sokratis and Luiz.

Over the coarse of a long season I feel certain at some point we will find this out.

Should be interesting.

 

And finally, this from Rocky

For what it’s worth LB, I accept the caution that goes with thinking that any returning player or non-regular starter is going to be the Messiah to answer all our problems. Usually they just turn out to be a very naughty boy.

But I feel Chambo has already shown enough for us this season (on top of his ‘player of the year’ at Fulham last season) to be a serious contender for a starting place.

Context is always important. The context at Arsenal is that we are leaking goals like a sieve that’s been hit by a shotgun. We concede more attempts on goal than just about any grown-up team in Europe.

So I’d say let’s see if Holding and Chambers can do better. They don’t have to be the answer to all our problems but if they can make us 20% better defensively that will probably translate into extra points we wouldn’t otherwise get.

And I know, I know, our defensive weakness is not just about the defenders…

There were many more examples, so my apologies if I have left you out and you’d hoped to be immortalised on here. Similarly my apologies go out if I included you and you wanted to remain more incognito 🙂 I actually agree with every statement from those I put up. The general consensus is that we should try something new and exciting, but that we have no guarantee at this stage as to whether it will work out for us or improve us.

There was something else to consider from some of yesterdays comments. There was a fair bit of talk about other potential players in certain positions that we may need to bring in. How do we know we don’t already have those players in the likes of Chambers, Willock, Guendozi and ESR? If we bring in 2-3 others in the midfield department then I doubt we are asking these new players to be back up to our emerging promising youngsters. We are effectively replacing the above. How long before our own boys move on?

It is indeed far from certain whether those players mentioned, that we already have, can give us the world class we need in certain positions, but the only way to know is to find out directly. We need to play them to find out and to ensure we do not miss the moment.

What is the moment in this case? Well for me it is the next two transfer windows. We need to play these boys so that we know what we do or don’t need before we arrive at that point. Failure to do this and the uncertainties that we have currently will still be the same and we will have missed our moment. I actually felt we missed moments or opportunities in the latter Wenger years to try an alternate route, keeping on the same old comfortable pathway, but ultimately still as oblivious as ever about what we really had once transfer windows came about and decisions needed to be made.

We have literally had a failed generation of promising young players that have not been played at the right times but often, more importantly, when played were not played in their best position, the position they could potentially become world class for us in. Let’s not make the same mistakes with the class of 2019.

It is a risk assessment exercise with no guarantee. A judgement call. I personally feel the risk is at the lowest it could possibly be right now to push through the young and the untested players for a couple of reasons. As many have pointed out the experienced and the tried and tested are far from perfect anyway. Also the tried and tested will still be here, there is nowhere for them to go right now, so why not move them into becoming the back up players for the moment and try the new. The risk of it being far worse feels low to me.

As we approach the next two transfer windows we will then know far more, but with greater certainty rather than with wishful thinking. It is also the easier way of moving on certain players that may not be quite right for us. Keep playing them and they often sit tight and refuse to budge, but let them see that someone younger and better has emerged and that their time as the head honcho is over, and they make that decision to move on themselves, with less drama, and with all parties coming out of it reasonably well.

It does indeed seem that the majority of us feel that Emery and the club have arrived at their moment. We do indeed stand at the crossroads, and I for one hope that we don’t go straight on down the more comfortable, better known, but also far from perfect road. Lets take the alternative road, with all its uncertainties because it may just be the road to something far greater.

GoonerB

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Attack attack attack – get used to it.

September 21, 2019

Still basking in victory. The Frankfurt match report was always going to be a tricky assignment !! Much to love as many have stated. Much to fear as many have stated. So I’ve come to a conclusion about Dick, based on the following evidence:

1) Overall inability to defend as a team.

2) None of Xhaka, Toreira or Guendouzi playing a responsible role as a defensive lynchpin.

3) Two second half goals conceded against Watford, bringing off Ceballos and leaving Ozil and Pepe on.

4) 1-0 up away in Europe against an at least decent team. Bring off Smith Rowe (who at least tracks back somewhat) and put Pepe on (who doesn’t really defend – period). Bring off Willock and put Ceballos on (possible like for like but JW gave us a ball winning presence which was important last night).

5) We won the above game 3-0.

So my conclusion is, Dick just isn’t interested in defending. He thinks we can outscore everyone. His solution to winning games we’re ahead in is to go further ahead. Conventional wisdom says keep it tight, secure the win. Not Dick. He wants more goals. His signings have been very attacking – even Luiz as a CB. He’s decided we can’t build a good enough defence to win games consistently so he’s just gonna build a better attack. Which he’s doing. He’s in his second year with an option for a third. Most people think if he gets us into the CL, he’ll get a 3rd year. But… there are lots of others who think he’s just not the man for the job. So Dick is coming out swinging. He doesn’t just want to scrape into the CL, he wants to catch City, finish 2nd, win all the Cups. Then he’ll get his extension.

I’m kinda tongue in cheek here but this is a great opportunity for Emery. We are a big club. They said he couldn’t cut it at PSG. He’s not waiting for slow and steady. He wants results now. It’s the only explanation I can come up with. Why doesn’t Xhaka sit in? Yet Emery plays him every game? Because he’s doing what the manager wants – getting forward. Screw defending – lets score goals.

And you know what, if I just accept it and go with the flow, it might be a fun ride. There will be ups and downs but it’s not going to be dull !!!

And lastly, for anyone that thinks that’s a stupid idea (on his part – mine’s just a theory !!!)? Remember a certain Mr Klopp and his two seasons at Liverpool before Van Dijk ???

Mike


Emery Bored … Already?

September 16, 2019

We were dire against Watford. No two ways about it. We made them look like the top four pretenders whereas we performed like we were in bottom of the league form.

Apart from the heroics from Leno and the pure class of Aubameyang, pretty much every other players scored less than 5 out of 10. So much so that there were too many choices for any individual to become the scapegoat. Inevitably the focus was directed at the manager – for his tactics, his team selection, and glaringly for his inability to coach the players to play out from the back after 15 months in charge.

The combined value of our players was three times that of Watford and yet, on the day, they put in a team performance that was greater than the sum of its parts – we certainly didn’t.

Here are some of the views expressed by bloggers yesterday …

From Rasp:

Emery it seems is like the later Arsene …his vision of how we should play is more important than the three points … tell that to the thousands of away fans who had the life sucked out of them when the first goal was conceded.

It was abundantly clear that our players had no faith in their ability to play out from the back .. you could feel the nerves.

Any decent, pragmatic manager would have sent out the instruction (probably at half time) that it wasn’t working therefore the keeper would kick the ball out to the flanks and our midfield should get tight on their players to gain first or second ball … but no, we gave the game away shamelessly.

GoonerB’s take:

As Rasp points out there are hallmarks of the latter AW with Emery. On top of what Rasp mentions there seems to be that trait of repeating the same things that are getting us into trouble. Bad formations with players out of position and not complimenting each other and then substitutions that dont alter the imbalance.

Arsene we can let it go with because he once was the prince amongst princes and the best of the best but simply the game moved on from him and he wasnt able to see it and react to it.

The board basically held out too long and we regressed as a club. Emery is younger and supposed to be that dynamic modern coach but I have reached the conclusion that he is not right for us.

LBG says:

Dick the insistence on ALWAYS playing out from the back does not work with these players, and even Man City dont do that. Adapt to the “quality” of your players. Stop making politician type comments and excuses. Percentage football is required at present .

Kelsey’s thoughts:

So far this season – in just five games – we’ve allowed 96 shots on goal, more than any other team in the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga, or Ligue 1 (via @ollysailor). That is shockingly bad, and when you throw in the fact that since Unai Emery took over we’ve conceded 10 penalties, more than any other team, there are alarm bells going off all over the place for me.(from arseblog)

Those stats are absolutely shocking and Emery must take a proportion of the blame.This is at best mid table form despite spending a shedload of money’

RockyLives:

I’m not ready to write off UE yet, but in addition to the ‘playing out from the back’ problem, his substitutions yesterday were mystifying and only made us worse.

Willock and Nelson are not yet ready for intense first team football such as yesterday’s – they need to be eased in as late subs and in Europa League/Caribou Cup games etc.

Aaron’s hard hitting stats:

Facts:

Arsenal are on pace to concede 60.8 goals this year.

Have played 13% of their games.

Conceded more shots than any team in the top leagues of Europe.

Know this, we are playing the worst defense I have seen the Arsenal play in a very long time. Emery has been in charge for 16 months and is continuing the run of play that the Arsenal exhibited during the season’s final games.

The question has been asked to death: what is Emery’s plan with no defense?

Sue’s response:

Aaron.. I saw an article earlier, about Unai’s time at Valencia (super cup v Real Madrid 2008/9 2nd leg)
Valencia were 1-0 up, Real were then down to 10 … but levelled. They then saw red again, so down to 9 men.. yet the score went from 1-1 to 1-4!!!! They ended up losing 4-2 (& losing overall) and that was with David Silva, David Villa & Juan Mata!! You couldn’t make it up!!!!

Not a great article & it didn’t fill me with confidence!! Also, it was on about him parking the bus from the 50th minute, with a slender 1-0 lead and pretty much always surrendering leads.

A balance to the debate from Fatgingergooner:

Even though I’ve done this above in previous comments, part of me does wonder if it’s a little unfair to question what Emery’s style is when at the same time we are asking him to forget his style because the players are not good enough to implement it. If Emery is only the coach, as seems to be the case, then is it fair for us to chastise him for playing out from the back?

Should he just forget his whole ethos of possession football and control because the club haven’t given him good enough players? Im not convinced the blame lies solely at his feet. It’s not as if Pep took over City and transformed their existing CB’s into world class, ball playing defenders. He got rid of any players who couldn’t do it and bought ones who could. Surely it’s too much to ask Emery to come in and transform 30 year old defenders.

They are what they are. I think it’s up to the club to provide him with the correct tools that allow him to get the best results. I’m not convinced that’s the case at the moment, so I will still give him a bit of slack on that front.

Before the game, the jury was out on Unai for most supporters … after Sunday, many are now questioning whether he is the right man for the job.

But should we even be having this debate when negativity is the last thing we want transmitted to the players?

The atmosphere at The Emirates this season has been better than for many years – we need to get behind the team, get behind the players and leave it to those above Emery to manage him and rectify the glaring problems that Watford exposed.

What do you think?

Rasp


Arsenal Playing the Fool …. Out from the Back

September 16, 2019

Where do we go from here?

This is not so much a match report as a scream of frustration, but I’ll try to articulate something about the game.

It’s safe to say that the first half yesterday was not enjoyable to watch. We were getting outplayed all over the pitch. However we got to half time 2 nil up through two moments of classy goal scoring from Aubameyang.

One of the shocking things about the first half was Leno playing us into trouble with short passes out from the back. Since the rule change of being able to have players in the box from the restart our play out has been appalling.

Guendouzi had already been given the ball under pressure, in the box, a couple of times in the first half and we’d just managed to clear our lines. Watford were now fully aware that they could gain an advantage and were camped close to our area at each restart.

And so it came to pass …………. we conceded probably the most ridiculously easy goal that any team can score!!!!! Not through a freaky accident, not through a one in a million chance but through suicidal play that those watching could see was an accident waiting to happen.

So several people could have changed the play. Emery? Leno himself? Xhaka, our captain? If Emery isn’t going to give an instruction during play then surely, if something isn’t working, then someone on that pitch has to take on the responsibility. Personally I think Leno has to take the initiative and switch play but I don’t know if those kind of instructions have to come from Emery.

All in all the disaster was completed when with ten minutes to go we gave away a penalty. 2-2 was a lucky result for us.

We had allowed 31 shots on our goal – Watford, bottom of the league, had strolled through our midfield time and time and time again. They were unlucky not to win this game.

We are in a complete mess. Xhaka’s comments after the game that the team were ‘scared’ are shameful. Emery’s comment about taking Ceballos off because it was hot is ridiculous. Watford had 31 shots to our 7. We weren’t even playing that game, we were just making up the numbers.

Where do we go from here?

peachesgooner


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

September 12, 2019

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.

Midfield

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.

Forwards

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.

Ownership

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

 

 


Do We Just Blindly Trust Unai Emery?

September 4, 2019

The “Opinion” Connundrum

We had a fantastic discussion yesterday on the question of Unai and Granit Xhaka related to how fans feel about them. FGG and I went back and forth, many others chipped in and in the end it seems there’s a fairly broad spectrum of opinion. Obviously that’s what a blog is for and on this particular site, almost always discussion and differences of opinion are respectful. So it seems discussion wise we’re on the right track. So what about the subjects of our discussion? Some of the points raised in the discussion were along the lines of:

“Should we be criticizing our own players/manager?”

“At what point is it disloyal as fans to criticize our players/manager?”

“Do we back them through thick and thin, even if we see an issue with their performance?”

All of which are legitimate questions. It got me thinking, when was the last time I felt like being critical of our players/manager (before Sunday !!)? I came up with during the last 2 years of Arsene’s reign when I got to the point of despair with his blind belief in his players’ ethic which it seemed obvious to most everyone else, was severely lacking. Anyone who watched Adams, Bould, Vieira, Parlour, Freddie, Santi but to name a few will know what I’m talking about.

I got to the point where I just couldn’t trust AW anymore because I believed he was too close to the technicalities of his management to see the more simple picture, which was – play your best players who will do the job you tell them to, no matter what their name or “status”. Also find a Captain that will lead by example and demand those players do what they need to. I think most people would agree that this was in fact the case and the reason he had to go.

So here’s the question: Do we just blindly trust Unai and not take our players to task. I think everyone would say no to that so where is the line? At what point is it ok to question, criticize, hold accountable? Obviously I’ve reached my tipping point with Xhaka and yet, although Unai keeps picking him, I am not there yet with the manager. It will probably take a while for that but I feel it’s ok to question him at this point.

I know we’re just fans and we don’t have all the technical information, nor see the players in training every day so is there a point that allows us to voice our opinion if it’s not necessarily positive or even downright negative. I’ll not be a hypocrite here and admit I had a few choice words for people who have criticized Wenger, Fizman, the Kroenke’s over the years because I always thought there was more to the picture. So what do you all think? Are there rules for this or do we just have to agree that we all see it differently?

Mike M

 

 


Does Guendouzi Do It For You?

August 27, 2019

Emery said this about Guendouzi in his pre-match conference for the Liverpool game:

Matteo is very young but he has talent, his talent is to adapt to what we need. We are working tactically and individually, a lot on videos and a lot on the pitch. It’s a big challenge for me and him to achieve a big level here. Last year his process was very good but we miss a lot with him to achieve big moments.

Really, really I am very optimistic with him because he has this talent. We can improve other things, physically – we are working in the gym – his mentality. He has potential right now to help us achieve the best performance.

After the game, Emery praised Willock but also said that Douzi had a good match.

I thought that Douzi had an “OK” game. He ran a lot, he had a lot of passes but he (and Sokratis) were beaten for the Matip goal on a corner kick and he did not have one shot on target, not one key pass. Douzi is only 20 and we shouldn’t be too harsh on him but it is clear to see that there is a lot of room for improvement. I think for him, it is about:

  1. Becoming more effective with his running and his passing
  2. Being tactially more aware on defensive, transition and offensive phases
  3. Becoming stronger physically as well

Torreira, Willock and Guendouzi have fantastic attitude and also a great desire to run and work hard for the team. They are young and full of energy but none of them is a DM as of now and they need to play with someone who is more sound defensively. If we are playing in a double pivot (DM-MC), then none of them can play together unless Torreira is confined to a DM role and none of them should play with Xhaka. So what is our best available DM-MC pair?

Now back to Douzi – I think he is a well liked players and fans – but should he command a starting spot for EPL games? Wouldn’t it be wiser to help him grow as a player by playing him in Cup Games and then giving him some game time in the EPL as a sub?

Back to you…Does Douzi do it for you? Here are somes stats for you to help you make up your mind: https://www.premierleague.com/players/50512/Matteo-Guendouzi/stats?co=1&se=274

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