Emery struggling to see past reputation

by .


Well hello and welcome to what is, in fact, my Monday, because we all had a day off yesterday.

A lot of the chatter I was reading yesterday focused on Granit Xhaka, who is officially the new poster child of the collapsed Wenger apologist regime. Never has a group of people been so misguided in who they attach their loyalties to, but one thing is for sure, you have to hand it to them, their arguments always incredibly sound on paper.

The big fear a lot of people have at the moment centres around an isolated statistic call xG build-up. The definition of xG Buildup is comes from the very interesting Statsbomb site.

You’ll note, however, that for a lot of players, the values are still dominated by xG from shots and xA from assists. You get a little extra credit for your buildup play, and some unexpected players are still able to shine through. But the fun starts when exclude shots and assists from the possession chains, so we can concentrate just on buildup play. It’s okay if you ultimately make the assist or shot yourself, but you also have to be involved in the earlier parts of the move to get credit. I originally called this pre-xGC (pre as in pre-assist, you see), but the world knows it now as xGBuildup.

Now, the reason people have their panties in a twist is because Granit ranks pretty well for this statistic (play here).

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 19.04.11

The masters of this statistic and people that outrank Granit are midfielders like Busquets, Weigl, Alcantara, and Kroos. Iwobi, Ramsey and Mesut also score very well here, but it goes without saying, Granit, being a mainstay at the base of our possession-based approach is going to score well for this particular statistic.

The issue I have with internet stats folk (the amateurs) is the absolute lack of context they give when chucking out isolated numbers they’ve seen in a radar graph. Granit Xhaka is never critiqued for being bad at passing. He’s being taken to task by fans who actually watch the game with their eyes and spot the glaring weaknesses in what he offers the team holistically. Namely, he’s easily rattled under pressure, he makes at least one goal gifting mistake each game, and he lacks mobility in a system that requires an intense pressing philosophy.

We’ve been defending his errors for 2 and a bit seasons. During that time, he’s sat at the base of our midfield as we’ve been humiliated 10-2 in the Champions League. He’s been part of relegating ourselves to Europa League. He’s reinforced the idea that we’re soft through the middle and easy to bully in midfield. Is it all his fault? No. But you can’t doubt he’s a chunk of the reason we are where we are.

Unai Emery has an extremely unbalanced squad at Arsenal. He doesn’t have the basic component pieces you need to win a Premier League title, and the most frustrating challenge is the problematic parts are his most expensive. The manager is trying to ring in the new era playing his best players, not the right ones.

Granit Xhaka might be a formidable distributor of the ball from deep, but he’s a doughnut when it comes to defending, he makes unforced errors on the regular and his lack of pace and power make him a weak point to exploit.

Aaron Ramsey is a force to be reckoned with on the pitch and ideally, you’d have him leading the press, but in a more advanced position, he lacks creativity and discipline.

Mesut Ozil is the most precious of flowers, he needs to be correctly watered, manicured and fed to be able to exist in the modern system. Even then, he doesn’t like tough games away from him and he hides in games against the top 6. He doesn’t like playing out on the right and when he does it stifles our fullback, but when he’s playing in his favoured #10 role he can’t cope with defensive duties.

The manager also needs to make a decision on a keeper who rattles the defence. Seeing the Telegraph write things like ‘Ignore your manager’ is why the British sports press is dying. What needs to happen is the manager needs to make the tough decision, and it’s clear that Cech is not going to adapt to the passing game at 36 years old.

Emery needs to make decisive decisions that are going to look odd from the outside, one of them is going to have to be putting Xhaka on the bench and opting for a more mobile centre midfield. His challenge is that MG and LT would give us better cover, but they both lack experience and possibly the passing range Xhaka offers us. But ultimately, they’ll give us power, pace and the aggression we’ve lacked with Xhaka there. We could also operate with Aaron Ramsey playing a more central role next to LT, but Ramsey would need to do things like not bomb forward and play up front in the last ten minutes of a game you’re hanging onto by a thread.

My fear is the manager is caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s hanging on the past with his starting line-ups, then ruffling feathers with early changes. He needs to go hard at what is right. As G Nev said the other week, don’t go half arsed and back your vision.

Let’s see where that goes.

See you in the comments where I’ll be giving you all xG ratings for agreeing with me.



481 Responses to “Emery struggling to see past reputation”

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  1. Up 4 grabs now

    Yes one game at a time is right, I think emery can make up that gap as well. There’s no way we will lose as many away games this season as well.

  2. Up 4 grabs now

    Playing with a flat back four with no wingers we always end up pushing the full back up for width.

    Every team that plays against us sees thats one of our weaknesses, so when we get hit on the break where does the ball go, left or right flank.

    With three at the back one of the center halves can move across to stop the attack if our defensive midfielders can’t deal with it.
    It also means laca and Auba can play together.

  3. Pierre

    The Newcastle forwards are probably already licking their lips at the prospect of closing down cech if we continue with the policy of playing it around at the back .

    Emery needs to abandon this tactic until the team has a more settled look …all we are doing is giving hope to the opposition fans and players especially away from home.

  4. raptora

    Valentin:”Pep did not inherit a a great Barcelona team. He made it. He promoted Messi from the youth team. I think that Iniesta was a fringe player.”

    Pep started managing Barcelona’s A team in 2008.

    Messi: 2005/06 – 25 (17 in La Liga) apps, 8 goals, 2006/07 – 36 (26) apps, 17 goals, 2007/08 – 40 (28) apps, 16 goals; That’s a 18 yo Messi at the start of it don’t forget. In 2004/05 he was still in Barcelona B team.

    Iniesta: 2004/05 – 46 (37) apps; 2005/06 – 49 (33) apps, 2006/07 – 56 (37) apps, 2007/08 – 49 (31) apps. The definition of a fringe player!

    After praising Sanogo’s skills and Wenger’s decision to acquire him, the guy is trying harder and harder to claim the idiot of the year award. Making real progress as well.

  5. Up 4 grabs now

    Gonsterous problem with 442 is we don’t have pacy wingers to play it.
    And would still see the fullbacks being pushed to far up.

  6. gonsterous


    best to ignore valentin. Guy came from no where and hasn’t contributed positively to any conversation as far as I know. Just plucks things up like, everyone who comes into contact with arteta claims he’s great or the famous, only arteta stood up to Wenger Bs

  7. DivineSherlock

    Emery sees something in Xhaka that no other player has , Passing range . Problem is that he is slow , painfully slow. He is explicitly not a DM . That is why we have Guendouzi covering his ass. Ramsey lacks discipline in the no.8 role. This January we need a pure no.8 , someone like Cesc was back then . Torreira as Dm ,new no.8 plus Ramsey/Ozil would be a great midfield.

  8. Guns of Hackney


    Woodward version all the way. Genuinely one of the more creepy movies ever made.

    The Nic cage version was so hammy! Cage chews the scenery in every shot.

  9. Up 4 grabs now

    Every time we won the league we played 442 with wingers, what I would give for a Freddie, overmars or limpar right now.
    Even a marwood or perry groves!

  10. Guns of Hackney


    Let’s not change system…let’s play our new ultra shitty GK. What a novel idea.

    Seriously, how bad must Leno be???

  11. gonsterous


    We could try playing bellerin RW and welbeck LW. Only problem, they are too one dimensional. positive, they got pace and can help defensively.

  12. Up 4 grabs now

    Hammy acting is pretty much Nicholas cages whole career!
    Face off and con air were two of his best though. Great films.

  13. gonsterous


    xhaka has got passing but he’s reading of the game is shit. Doesn’t know where to be or when to pass…

  14. raptora

    Don: “Oh you mean like arteta did when he was at arsenal? You don’t think he’d have taken a similar philosophy to Wenger and improved upon it?
    pep reinvented Barcelona and created completely unique brand of football. Tika takka was his.”

    The roots of what would develop into tiki-taka began to be implemented by Johan Cruyff during his tenure as manager of Barcelona from 1988 to 1996.[13] The style of play continued to develop under fellow Dutch managers Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard and has been adopted by other La Liga teams.[13][14] Barcelona’s Dutch managers made it a point to promote from their youth system, and Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy has been credited with producing a generation of technically talented, often physically small, players such as Pedro, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fàbregas and Lionel Messi;[15][16] players with excellent touch, vision and passing, who excel at maintaining possession.[17]

    Johan Cruyff started it all. Not Pep. Don please…

  15. Guns of Hackney

    Up 4 Grabs

    Face off! Con air!!!!

    What about the: Ghost Rider?

    Nic cage is bizarre but would definitely not pick Xhaka and Ozil.

  16. Up 4 grabs now


    It might work for a few months until the window reopens, you need your wingers to weigh in with some goals and the problem with welbz and bellerin is there not exactly great at that.
    Maybe as wing backs in a 352?

  17. Up 4 grabs now

    Guns it seems only emery and Wenger would pick xhaka! Even nic cage ain’t that mad.
    I was always partial to the rock with Sean Connery as well.
    He had a spell of good films, then just everything he touched turned to lead!

  18. China

    I’m not sure how he can be called wengemery when within 4 games he’s been willing to haul off underperforming big names, he’s had a reported bust up with ozil and he’s changed his starting 11 to include laca and auba despite his initial reservations

    I don’t know what’s going through his mind and I strongly feel he needs to do more on the team selection front but we also must be aware that if on day one he dropped ozil, Ramsey, Xhaka and Cech he would more than likely be sowing the seeds of major discontent in the dressing room before he’s even had the chance to win the rest of the team’s respect.

    I don’t know if this is on his mind and a factor or he actually thinks those guys deserve to be starting. Even if he comments one way or the other we won’t know if it’s true

    But arsenal are a fragile mess and if he wants to at least have a cohesive squad buying in to his ideas the guy has to manage the egos carefully. As well, he may not even realize the extent of fan frustration at those 4 players.

    I don’t think he’s reading footballing blogs in his spare time so probably as far as he’s concerned, ozil, Ramsey, cech and xhaka are highly popular with the supporters and he’d put a crosshair on his back by shitting on too many of them.

    In reality I think many of us would give him free reign to go firing squad on the team right now but does he know that? Would the ceo and board let him be a tough guy with them? Is that considered beyond his remit as a manager who is supposed to stable the ship and get us back in the top 4?

    We don’t know the answers to any one of these questions so we’re only able to guess. My point is that it’s over simplistic to think the situation only consists of the manager having free reign to bitch slap our squad around and is choosing not to do it because he’s like wenger.

    Maybe it’s true but it’s probably not.

  19. China

    He also may be trying to give the players a ‘fair’ chance to prove themselves

    We’ve been saying these guys suck for years but he probably hasn’t watched every minute of football we played over the last 3 years. He probably just focused on the last 6 months and may feel he can get more out of our biggest ubderperformers before giving up on them

    You and I say it’s hopeless but he may or may not be on to something and he may or may not simply be working to a different timeline of what constitutes a reasonable chance to prove themselves

    After 4 games we say enough is enough because we’ve seen this for years but maybe he’ll persist for 10 games before deciding this or that turd cannot be polished.

    The guy is settling in. Give him a proper chance

  20. raptora

    Guardiola recalled the first coaching job of his career. After losing his first friendly on a small artificial pitch against Banyoles, his Barcelona B side opened up with one win from their first three matches in Spanish football’s fourth tier. The whispers began and the Catalan media were not the only ones wondering whether he was cut out for the job.

    “On Monday I thought I had to change because we could not play in that way,” he said of the week that followed the third of those games, a 2-0 defeat to a tiny Manresa side who were relegated at the end of that season. “I doubted for two days. It was an important moment because I was new, I was not experienced. Aged 37, never trained with big players. I had many things I believed but I had to prove myself.”

    He disbanded the C team and merged the two groups. He allowed a limited number of older players to join the squad and brought added professionalism. Fines were introduced. In-depth opposition scouting, practically unheard of at that level, became commonplace. It quickly became apparent that the B team was better run than Frank Rijkaard’s first team.


    Pep went through so much in that one year. Pep had growing pains in the 4-th tier of Spanish football losing games to never before heard minnows. But you a lot of you would feel comfortable Arteta’s growing pains to be with our team?! Seriously?

  21. Emiratesstroller

    Personally I am not bothered whether Gazidis stays or goes. Paid management
    and staff in football always move on either for a fresh challenge, for promotion or for the money.

    There is no shortage of people in the market place that Arsenal can recruit if
    Gazidis leaves. Frankly I don’t think that he is indispensable.

    Gazidis arrived at Arsenal when there was a very small management team at
    the club and most of the decision making was handled by Wenger. That is no
    longer the situation with much better delegation than in past.

    The only concern would be if there was a mass exodus of senior management
    following Gazidis out of the door, but somehow I don’t think that would happen.

  22. Un na naai

    Up for grabs

    He was great in family man though and kick ass


    Yeah mate. Love the old version. Modern horror makers should take note.

    Saying that I thought there are some truly horrific elements to American horror story. Shame that it lets its buddy the vampire slayer story lines get in the way too often

  23. Edd

    Diversherlock,the solution to the number 8 problem is already in the squad though injured at the moment. Come forward AMN.