Guest columm: What Emery means to Arsenal

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I’m very excited to welcome new guest columnist Jonathan Blaustein (he’s NYT levels). He’s a great writer, he packs a punch and this is his first article (stay for the podcast at the end as well). Find him @jblauphoto.

Well hello there, fellas.

What do you know?

You probably don’t remember, but I wrote a guest post here at Le Grove back in 2014, as I was the poor schmuck whose DVR failed, dooming me to miss the first FA Cup victory.

(All was not lost, as I did a full media blackout, and watched a replay a few days later.)

For the last couple of seasons, I’ve written a regular column at the American Arsenal blog 7amkickoff. (Thanks, Tim.) It gave me a chance to opine on all the ridiculous elements of the Late-Wenger-Era, with a healthy dose of Jose Mourinho mockery too.

Perhaps to tie those themes together, we should keep a running tally of all the times Mourinho mocks Wenger this season? That man would fuck Arsene Wenger’s corpse if he could get away with it, just to have the final word.

All along, though, I continued to read Le Grove daily, beside 7amkickoff, Arseblog, ESPN and The Guardian.

Nearly two years ago, I surprisingly found myself coming around to Pete’s way of thinking. Instead of sounding like a cocky asshole, he came across as a forward-thinking, intelligent young man, well ahead of the curve. Sure, he was on the same message for the last 4 years, but eventually, the world moved in his direction.

Pete called for the modernization of Arsenal Football Club. He said hire a proper backroom staff. And a Director of Football. Modernize the training methods. Get current on analytics. Bring in high-level talent from other successful organizations. (Ultimately Barcelona and Dortmund.)

Pete was bitching about the red zone, and proper player rotation, at least 5 years ago.

And while I was a newbie as both an Arsenal fan and a sports writer back in 2014, now I am neither. (I’ve been a professional photography writer for 8 years, including 5 years at the New York Times.)

I’ve watched 95% of the Arsenal matches since I became a fan in 2011, and have seen 3 FA Cup titles in the interim. I’ve got a solid track record of prognostication over the last two years, and think I’m ready for you guys.

The truth is, everyone needs a change sometimes. It seemed like the perfect time to jump back to Le Grove.

I’m aiming for a monthly column, but might write a bit more than that if the situations are worthy.

But since this is my August contribution, I’ll give you my quick synopsis of the situation.

I like Unai Emery, and mostly like the summer and the squad. (I would have been happier if we’d brought in a CB with true quickness and speed, but that will likely wait until next summer’s window.) Emery strikes me as a passionate, likeable, hardworking grinder with a vision how to build this team.

Remember, he only got the PSG job because he was considered an up-and-comer who wins trophies. Sure, he’s got less shine now, (since he got sacked in Paris,) but I’m not sure he ever had a chance, once they signed Neymar.

The biggest stain on Emery’s reputation is the choke-fest against Barcelona in the 2017 Champions League. And don’t forget, one of the stars of the victory was… Neymar.

Speaking as a student of human nature, there is no fucking way Neymar was going to come to PSG with respect for a coach whose team just capitulated like that. Emery never stood a chance last year, and still he brought home silverware. (Though he gets no credit for it, given his budget, and the fact that Monaco drastically disassembled their title-winning team.)

Right now, after Saturday’s win, it still looks a bit like Wenger-ball, but with more cutback crosses from Hector Bellerin. The press hasn’t really taken root yet, but you can see where he’s going with it. And the attempts to build from the back, (to break the press,) are far-less-feeble than during Wenger’s last couple of years. (Post-Cazorla-injury.)

Even if Mustafi and Sokratis are a scary pair, (not in a good way,) with Torreira and Guendouzi potentially patrolling in front of them, I’m far less frightened than if we were stuck with Ramsey and Xhaka instead.

My belief this season is all about the Europa league, and the race for 4th. Everyone talks about the latter, but the former is more realistic, in my opinion.

Arsenal literally hired an expert in winning the Europa league, and have handed him enough talent to do it. (I’ll bet you £10 that Atletico don’t crash out of the Champions League early this year either.)

Emery has 2 cracks at the Champions League, and I think he’s a decent bet to come through on one of them, but probably not both. If he wins the FA or League Cup, but doesn’t get into the Champions League, I think he’ll keep his job, but it will be considered more failure than success.

Basically, I’m currently bullish on the post-Wenger era. (Especially now that Emery pulled out his first, very Wenger-ish victory.) And for the record, I officially called for the end of Arsene in the winter of 2017.

By then, I’d come around to Le Grove’s way of thinking, and hope you guys dig my columns to come.


Latest podcast that discusses:

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332 Responses to “Guest columm: What Emery means to Arsenal”

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  1. Pierre

    Ah chop suey j.oe

    Question…is there any difference between Tottenham/pochettinos situation now and Arsenal’s\Wengers situation when we moved into our new stadium.

    Tottenham and pochettino have spent little money ,have managed a top 4 place .
    and have won zero trophies ,yet he is being lauded as some magician for achieving this without having the finances of other clubs .

    Arsenal and wenger back in about 2006 onwards spent even less money during that period …top 4 every season..champions league final…zero trophies but was labelled a clown by the obsessives despite not having the finances of the other clubs.

    The situations are exactly the same yet one is labelled a magician and the other a clown.

    As for the suggestion that Arsenal and Wenger should have achieved more because we are a bigger club…. that is a ridiculous statement because Arsenal ,at that time were not competing financially like a big club ,in fact I think you will find that during that period we had one of the lowest budgets in the premiership and were in fact in profit.

    The fact is wenger and pochettino over achieved during these periods so they both should be treated the same and be respected for the fine job they have done /are doing with one arm tied behind their back.

  2. Pierre

    And j.oe

    No one would have said city or Chelsea were big clubs 10/15 years ago …it’s the money that has made them big clubs .

    If Tottenham were handed a billion to spend on players then guess what …they would be labelled a “but club”.

    And let’s get it right ,Arsenal have never,and I mean never ,been a big club when it comes to competing in the transfer market.

    It was wenger who gave the new fans the illusion that we were an elite club with his superb teams he created and the quality football we played that was lauded all around the world…and he did it without spending big money……

    And now we are back to reality…paupers in comparison to city ,man u and Chelsea who can still go out and any amount they like unlike Arsenal.

  3. Pierre

    Pochettino’s team now is similar in quality to wenger’s team of ces,rvp,ade,nasri,cliche back then…both teams built with limited resources.

    If Arsenal had won a couple of trophies during that period then maybe he could have kept that side together … hindsight,wenger should have left as well and his legacy would have stayed intact and he could have let some other mug to try and complete against unlimited wealth of city,Chelsea and man u..

    In my opinion ,pep would have been the only one to succeed (win the league)at Arsenal with our limited resources in comparison to the other clubs.

    Tottenham look to me that they are coming up to exactly the same situation.
    No trophies this season and the players and probably the manager will have their heads turned by real,barca ,city as they can more of less guarantee silverware.

  4. China

    Most reasonable fans don’t harbour most of their resentment towards wenger for pre 2010’s unsuccessful years. Perfect consistency on a small budget is never easy and I think it’s hard nosed for people to go hard on wenger for the early barren years.

    But I think most reasonable fans don’t. We came close with the Eduardo leg break season and only missed out by fine margins which is forgivable.

    Most reasonable fans turned on wenger because what started out as an era that was a bit disappointing but still hopeful turned into an absolute shit show in the years to follow. The constant lies from him towards the fans talking up how he was looking for super super quality players when actually signing deadline day randomers with a broken back, park chu young, sanagoals and the like. Even our first mega star signing can’t stay out of the limelight for controversial and negative reasons

    That’s why he lost respect. Most of us tolerated the early years because frankly he’d earned it and we did have a lot of very exciting young players. It was pretty easy to buy in to that project the same way people do with spurs now. The trajectory looked good as it does with spurs right now (whether that is maintained we’ll soon find out)

    But perspective is everything. If between 2012-2015 wenger had picked up a league title I think we wouldn’t be judging our banter years harshly but as a stepping stone to somewhere better. Hindsight tells us that they were not. They were the start of a systemic decline in his managerial ability and the club’s ability to compete in the league.

    So of course it’s not fair to make direct comparisons between Poch now and wenger then because Poch is still in the early stages of this development arc of the club, whereas we are comparing him with wenger who we can patently confirm crashed the development arc and never fulfilled it.

    A couple of years from now we’ll have more concrete comparisons as to whether Poch builds on this and continues up the curve or does a wenger and fails.

    Basically wenger’s clown rep is based on the entire last decade, not just the first couple of seasons at the emirates. Poch’s Rep is based on a couple of years before the move and we have no idea what will happen next. That’s why there’s optimism about Poch and ridicule about wenger.

  5. gonsterous

    Big, good touch, pact, ability to handle himself in the middle of burly defenders, qualify as English trained, somebody will go for him.

    I don’t know if it’s arsenal fans or just le grove posters, but damn, you guys like to hype up players that leave arsenal.

  6. China

    Basically if poch stays for many more years, dismantles this team, loses the fans and starts telling the fans that random, shite players are like messi as the club crashes out of the CL spots repeatedly then he will have matched wenger’s development curve and I’m sure he will be absolutely lambasted for that the same way wenger is/was

  7. gonsterous

    Pierre hindsight,wenger should have left as well and his legacy would have stayed intact and he could have let some other mug to try and complete against unlimited wealth of city,Chelsea and man u..

    geez, let it go. Wenger had two options, leave or get the cash that would make him wealthier than uncle scrooge. He chose the money (while you are pretending he did for free). So basically the choice was his and the mistake was his, and here we are today where half of the fans hate his gut and know the sort of money pinching guy he was…

  8. China

    If Arsenal’s trophy haul from the last few years is good for a club of Arsenal’s size, why did the manager get fired and lose the fans?

    Apparently only a small group of fans think the record was good enough

  9. China

    Also I’m sure it’s not just me who feels really embarrassed whenever people talk up us coming second in a season in which we DID NOT compete and the title was won by Leicester fucking city whilst every other team tanked.

    That was NOT impressive. Our points tally was shite for a 2nd place team. But sure, convince yourselves we had a good season. 2nd sounds good until you actually open your eyes and see we were just the least shit of the runner ups

  10. China

    Bragging about coming second one time when all the good teams fucked up is like coming second in the Olympics 100m sprint with a finish time of 10.5 seconds when all the top 5 rivals tripped over their own feet or disqualified themselves with false starts

    Congratulations? That silver medal is one to cherish!

  11. Black Hei


    In your own words, he was a clown only in the final quarter of his tenure.

    If that was his only problem, that final stretch, I think your constant criticisms is a little disproportionate right?

    In his 5 year clownish tenure, he got us 3 FA Cups and 3 top 4 finishes . I haven’t found a clown that came even close.

  12. Black Hei


    Pierre is not saying that Wenger should stay.

    I think the consensus is that he should go. All the AKBs, me included, felt he should go.

    We just don’t understand why you think he is THAT bad. Like an older Steve Kean kind of bad.

  13. China

    Not really

    He got given a free pass for his shortcomings in the early banter years (which he earned) because we had reason to believe it was just a phase and that he would turn the corner for us.

    *Hindsight* tells us that it wasn’t just a phase and that our good will in those years was misplaced. So back in the moment I extended him a fair amount of slack as most fans did understandably. But the proof is in the pudding, he was finished as a serious manager after the Eduardo leg break season. That was the last time he made arsenal look serious.

    As for the last few years trophies – I actually like the FA cup and charity shield. But the numbers speak for themselves, we did compete once in the league or CL since Eduardo. What looked like early years promise (that one season aside) was actually a complete mess. We just couldn’t see it for what it was in those days

  14. China

    We think he was *that* bad for a few basic reasons

    1) He lied to the fans and treated them with contempt (this for me is unforgivable from the manager)

    2) He literally made us a laughing stock of top level football. The entire Chelsea team laughing about playing us. Bayern 15-3 over 3 consecutive games. This kind of shit *hurts*

    3) we were so predictable that our decline was forecast for such a long time and for all the reasons that turned out to be true. The fact that the guy with the ability to do something aimed to preserve himself rather than deliver for the club was unforgivable

    But I’ll say this – if by some magical chance he went to Utd to replace Mourinho and trashed them too I would restore my love for him 100% lol. That much is a promise

  15. gonsterous

    Wenger had to go. We were slipping into mid table in the PL. if he stayed this year could have been worse. We could have maybe come 10th. That was how bad Wenger was, he turned us into a mid table cup team.

  16. Wallace

    “Arsenal starlet Reiss Nelson is set to sign a new long-term deal – and then join Hoffenheim on a season-long loan.

    The Gunners have reached an agreement with Nelson, 18, after months of talks over a new contract. His previous deal, signed in December 2016, was due to expire next summer.

    New Arsenal boss Unai Emery is a big fan of Nelson, has high hopes for the England under-19 attacking midfielder and told him he will get his chances this season.

    But Nelson is keen to play regular first-team football, something Germans Hoffenheim are willing to offer.”

    – Mirror

    could be good for us in the long term, but leaves us without a recognised winger in the squad.

  17. Black Hei


    I think we will just have to let that slide.

    No way we can agree on this. Kind of like arguing over steak.

    You order for medium and it comes well done. Your reaction can vary from “This steak is shit, I am not paying” to “Its edible but I am not coming back next time”.

    The only factual conclusion is that its not medium and we are not happy.

  18. grooveydaddy


    Yeah, the new contract + loan scenario is much more palatable than him just leaving outright.

    But you’re right, it leaves us short in an already threadbare position.

    A lot riding on Welbeck’s fitness and productivity now…

  19. TitsMcGee

    All the AKBs, me included, felt he should go.”


    There are many AKBs that are still passive aggressively defending Wenger on here.

  20. Michael24

    Let’s make things perfectly clear, Arsene Wenger started to lose fans trust and faith after 2008.

    He only started to become “shit” when he began to consistently show disrespect towards the fans.

    These fans then divided into two sections, aptly named AKB and WOB.

    The AKB’s continued to have faith, irrespective of Wenger’s obvious flaws, whilst the WOB’s saw the bigger picture.

    For me personally, anyone who said that Wenger should go but continued cheering the course, specifically after 2012, was not a true WOB activist.

    It is a fact that many who said he should leave, but kept supporting the regime right to the bitter end, continue to take great pride in mocking those of us who wanted Wenger gone years ago. For me personally, it was 2008.

    We predicted the car crash and the consequences of the car crash. Whilst those that sat and pretended to enjoy the ride are now preaching to everyone that we were in the wrong for predicting the disaster.

    I just can’t get my head round it.

    Then again when posters like @kb Pierre arrogantly promote to us all, their ” superior knowledge of the game” ,what do you expect?

  21. Terraloon

    And let’s get it right ,Arsenal have never,and I mean never ,been a big club when it comes to competing in the transfer market.

    The trouble with this type of comment is it’s just not correct.

    Ok we are talking of a time before most, if not all of us were born , but Arsenal were called the Bank Of England Club for good reason and on several occasions broke the transfer record during what was a purple patch in Arsenal’s history.

    For me the biggest example of mis management in Arsenal’s recent history falls smack bang in the laps of the Arsenal board and not Wenger.

    The descion to keep AW in post was within the remit of the board.

    The descion to keep him in post was the boards and theirs alone. That board failed to act, they kept AW in post.

    It’s no different than any other entity that allows an underperforming employee to remain in place the decision makers fail miserably. The responsibility for dealing with the situation and hence 100% of the blame is with senior club management .

  22. Black Hei


    I think you have to look in the mirror and understand that your definition of “AKB” is really broad.

    The first is that you have to take the happiness out of everything, FA Cups included. So by your definition, China, Pedro, Ian Wright, are AKBs!

    The second, is that you can’t reason anything with Wenger. The Invincibles are actually shit. George Graham won Wenger the league. Wenger is this evil being, who actually has a mammoth budget but refuses to spend anything. And all other weird conspiracies. If you disagree, you are AKB too.

    Everyone who disagrees with you is an AKB.

    I haven’t seen any reply to Terraloon; bet you think he is an AKB too.

  23. Pierre

    “Then again when posters like @kb Pierre arrogantly promote to us all, their ” superior knowledge of the game” ,what do you expect”

    I think some of you need to get a sense of humour …

  24. Pierre

    “Let’s make things perfectly clear, Arsene Wenger started to lose fans trust and faith after 2008…for me personally it was 2008.”

    Champions league quarters
    League cup semis
    3rd in the league

    Champions league semis
    fa cup semis
    League cup quarters
    4th in league

    Champions league quarters
    3rd in league me that many were spoilt by the success from wenger’s early years and regarded winning trophies as an entitlement if you believe the stats from those 3 years are a reason to abuse wenger,especially as he was finding it hard to keep his best players as the club.

  25. Frost

    Literally the worst post i’ve seen this year that Valentin rant on Sanogo.

    Convincing myself it was a tongue in cheek comment.

  26. Valentin

    Sorry Frost to disappoint you, but Sanogo post was not a rant nor was it tongue in cheek. It was a detailed explanation why abusing Arsène Wenger for Sanogo was ridiculous. Yes Wenger did made mistakes, but criticising Wenger for Sanogo does not make sense.
    Financially he did not cost us much. He helped us win an FA Cup. He was creating havoc in the penalty box. After two years ravaged by injuries he was released. He is now rebuilding his career in France in ligue 1. Wenger took a punt that did not pay off. If he had paid off, everybody would call the move a genious move.
    Before he joined us, Sanogo was in the France U20 team who won the World Cup. Out of that team 4 players were expected to have stellar career: Kondogbia, Bukambu, Pogba and Sanogo.
    Bukambu is now chasing the money in China. Kondogbia’s career took a nosedive after some club’s bad choice. Pogba is Pogba. Sanogo joined us too early and was injured.

  27. Valentin

    I note that people write on my Sanogo’s post but have no arguments against my comments on Emery.
    Everybody were so happy to get rid of Arsène Wenger that they did not consider that we could replace him by a worst manager.
    This is exactly what we have a petty mediocre coach, who is now upsetting half the team.