Case for the defence

by .

This is the monthly post from Jonathan Blaustein. Make sure you follow him @JblauPhoto

I’m laying in bed on Christmas Eve, hiding from my kids.

The holidays have just begun, and I’ll be on stay-at-home-Dad-duty for the next 15 days, so I’ve got to catch the quiet when I can.

Outside my window, snow covers the tops of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the dead, brown grass in my pasture looks like something from Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting. (I announced last night that the raven was my current spirit animal. I suppose everyone’s entitled to a mid-life Goth phase.)

It’s winter, and Unai Emery was appointed in May. That means we have half a year to judge him on, and the state of the Arsenal rebuild in general.

In my last two columns, perhaps I’ve gone light on the analysis and heavy on the humor. Everyone’s always ready to have a laugh, but this month, I decided it was time to dig into what I’m actually seeing, in bigger picture terms.

Why now? Why Christmas?

Well, yesterday was the 21 year anniversary from the day I met my wife in a coffee shop here in Taos. (It’s still there, and in business, but has changed names and hands 5 times since.)

It got me thinking, we’ve been together since we were 23 years old, and now we’re 44. We have two children, one who’s soon to be a teenager.

It’s the entirety of my adult life.

And still, it’s not as long as Arsene Wenger was in charge at Arsenal.

Arsene’s methods won him titles, fans and acolytes over his term, and though it was before my time as a fan, by all accounts he was once incisively sharp.

I knew him in the 2011-18 phase, when like an old boxer, he could still summon the random haymaker to win a big game, (Bayern, Manchester City away) or shoot a tight window to take home a trophy, (3 FA Cups,) but it was clear the ruthless hunger to win it all had left his belly.

Because if he’d still had it, still been willing to look hard at himself in the mirror and change, he’d have put more work, innovation and resources into the defensive part of the game.

And he just couldn’t be bothered.

In my time as a fan, I watched one genuinely competent, really high level Center Back pairing, and that was Koscielny and Mertesacker, in the one year plus that they were both healthy.

That’s it.

From the decline of Thomas Vermaelan to the dim-bulb that was Gabriel, there was not much quality back there, beyond the French-German pairing.

Fullbacks would play high up the pitch, and few were defensively sound, save Nacho Monreal. (Who’s now succumbing to Father Time.)

What I’m saying is, neither the philosophy nor the players were particularly attuned to defensively sound football.

And it went on like that for years.

Unai Emery inherited Wenger’s squad, and the only real addition has been Sokratis, who has clearly been our best central defender by a fair margin. (Rob Holding being #2, before he got hurt.)

As a rebuilding parable, I should say that I’m a life-long fan of the (now) Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets are in Season 3 of a full-blown re-build, and are finally on the way up, winning games and getting attention. They have the right kind of athletic slashers and sweet shooters that are crucial in today’s NBA, in particular for their ability to play defence. (3 and D)

Two years ago, I read a quote by Coach Kenny Atkinson that said that while he’d love for his team’s defense to be better, it was impossible as he didn’t have any good defensive players.

No excuses. He just said, we’ll be better on defence once we churn over the roster our way.

They did. And now the Nets can play defence.

So what has Arsenal’s obvious problem been under Unai Emery? And why did we blow that game to bogey-team Southampton? (Another regular occurrence in my time as a fan.)

Defence.

If you accept that Emery knew he was dealt a bad hand, and is doing the best he can until reinforcements arrive, it makes his preferred systems and choice of players a bit more obvious in hindsight.

If you know your defence is crap, and you want to win games and succeed in your first year, then you employ systems that make the entire team defend from front to back.

You utilize pressing, or in our case, a lot of counter-pressing.

You want forwards who are athletic, hardworking, and will track back and tackle.

Has he used players like that?

Of course he has.

Danny Welbeck when he was available, and Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan throughout the season.

Who didn’t make the cut?

Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, who don’t play defence. (Or in Ramsey’s case, haven’t in 5 years.)

If you have a shitty defence, and need to employ team defence, how can you include players like Ozil and Ramsey, who either get pushed off the ball and don’t win it back easily or often, or are so obsessed with getting forward that they forget to track back consistently?

In midfield, you’d want to have steel to balance the precarious backline.

And what have we seen? The emergence of Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira.

Why does everyone love them? Because for all their youth, energy and skill, they’re both obviously tough-as-nails.

Where does Granit Xhaka come into this equation?

Well, let’s say that Mkhitaryan and Iwobi are the two model wingers so far this year.

They provide graft, pressing, energy, good pre-assists, and the very occasional piece of end-product.

But there is little clinicality, and even worse, no genuine master-level creativity, a la Ozil or occasionally Ramsey, with his flicks and headed assists. (Let’s put a player who offers both aspects of the game on our shopping list, right fellas?)

Xhaka, for all his mistakes and slowness, is a regista-style pass master, and he’s big and tough to boot. So Xhaka’s passing in general, and long-passing in particular allows for another method of advancing the ball quickly to the strikers.

That’s right, the strikers.

I don’t care if you call them forwards, center forwards, strikers, or number 9’s, Arsenal have two goal scorers in good and great form in Alexander Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Not only are they clinical match-winners, (as I’ve written previously,) but they are also willing to press, and in Lacazette’s case, harry like a bastard. (All props to PEA, he does the work too, but I might include Lacazette on our growing bastard list.)

Right, the bastard list.

That’s another thing I’d do, if I were Unai Emery, and I knew my defence was crap. (Athletically, technically, etc.) I’d bring in a bunch of bastards to help toughen up the team, stave off physical beatings, and protect my offensive players since we’ll need them to outscore our opponents.

We all saw the Burnley game, and over the course of the season, it’s been well-documented that Emery has removed the pushover label from the Arsenal official uniform.

2018-9 Bastard List: Lichtsteiner Sokratis Holding Torreira Guendouzi Xhaka Lacazette The spent husk of Laurent Koscielny Kolasinac

That last name, the Bosnian Tank, brings me to my final point about Emery’s strategy in his first six months: make use of a 3-man back line more often that we might have expected.

The injury bug hasn’t been kind of late, and it has hit the center backs worst of all, if you consider the general unavailability of Kos, Mavrapanos, and now Holding for big chunks of time.

Given that Nacho has also been crocked, (and now Hector,) that has forced Kolasinac into a larger role than he’s had perhaps his entire Arsenal career. And everyone knows he’s a better attacking wingback than he is a defending fullback.

So to empower/develop him, and help him become an important part of the Emery machine, (he’s been gangbusters lately,) we’ve seen some funky-ass combinations of 3 non-natural CBs, including the backlines at Southampton and Burnley.

Oh yeah, I’d have one last trick up my sleeve: bring in a sweeper keeper. Bernd Leno.

So there you have it. My long-winded analysis of how we got here, when HERE is level on points with Chelsea for 4th on Christmas Eve, and undefeated in the Europa League qualifying round.

As I wrote in August, making the Top 4 AND winning the Europa League will be a tough ask. It’s still possible, which is exciting, but I wouldn’t change my prediction that it’s a long shot.

Right now, I’d say the question is, can we beat Chelsea either in a Europa League Final, in the race for fourth place?

Can we do one or the other?

And to that question, I’d say yes. It’s certainly possible. We might have a direct path to the Champions League this season.

But then again, most rebuilds take years, not months. Just ask my fellow NY Giants fans, who just saw that going from 3 wins to 5 wins, instead of worst to first, is the normal way of things.

We may have lost our unbeaten streak, and will probably lose in Liverpool next weekend. (I’m not worried about Brighton.)

With our current defensive lineup, I don’t think it’s realistic to win at their place. Top defenders, like what they have in Virgil Van Dijk, have size, athletic ability, technical skill, and toughness.

Arsenal have Shkodran Mustafi.

So for now, I say, Trust the Process. Let’s see where this season ends up, and give the Swen/Raul/Unai team a few transfer windows before we see the true incarnation of Emeryball.

I wish you guys a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I’ll see you again in January.

  1. I forgot to make fun of Jose Mourinho, now that he’s been sacked. RIP Jose. Hope you have fun managing in Scotland. I hear the winters are brutal up there.

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190 Responses to “Case for the defence”

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  1. jwl

    “I knew him in the 2011-18 phase … ”

    Wenger was semi retired for entire time since Kroenke took over the club. It wass unbelievable about how half assed the club did things – no tactics, no scouting, no strategy – and we pay enormous salaries to middling players who don’t have fire in their bellies to win at all costs.

    I, too, think rebuilding process will take some time because a lot of our players were happy to tolerate Wenger methods in exchange for being overpaid and that not kind of players we need.

  2. jwl

    I wonder what’s happened to Mourinho? Manure should be dream job and he cocked it up badly, he always seemed very angry and purposefully antagonized many players on his squad. I wonder if he finished as top tier coach or will get decent job in Italy.

  3. jwl

    Joke Friday –

    On New Year’s Eve, Marilyn stood up in the local pub and said that it was time to get ready.

    At the stroke of midnight, she wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living.

    Well, it was kind of embarrassing.

    As the clock struck, the bartender was almost crushed to death.

  4. jwl

    On New Year’s Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home. As he was wobbling along, he was stopped by a policeman.

    ‘What are you doing out here at four o’clock in the morning?’ asked the police officer.

    ‘I’m on my way to a lecture,’ answered Roger.

    ‘And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year’s Eve?’ enquired the constable sarcastically.

    ‘My wife,’ slurred Daniel grimly.

  5. Pierre

    Joe ….posting an article from” Arsenal Truth”

    “This is great article. Sums up posters like Pierre etc”

    Below is just a snippet from a poorly written article .

    ” “As for the poor performance yesterday, I put it down to fatigue and injuries, which are linked. That’s the reason why we witnessed so many passes going astray, the physical drop off and ensuing inability to dominate.
    Why aren’t more chances being created? Because we had no ball playing defenders, so the midfield had to come deep to retrieve possession leaving too much space ahead of them. ”

    I would have thought the article would mention that a possibility of why the players are so fatigued is because the manager treats the players like work horses and consequently they are dropping like flies….

    The scenario we have now was very easy for me to predict at the beginning of the month .

    It can’t be the amount of games they have played because the first team have hardly been involved in the European or league cup games …

    Surely he should be asking the question as to why Liverpool and spurs are not fatigued after playing competitive European football …

    Maybe the “arsenal truth” writer should look to improve his analysis of the game …To blame the negative play on fatigue and tiredness is a cop out …

    he should try looking into the minds of the players to get an understanding of why, after such a positive start v Brighton , the players went into negative mode. I made the point before that having both full backs so advanced looks like a positive move but in fact it achieves the opposite

    .Our midfield and central defenders were afraid of losing possession as they knew that in an instant Brighton will hit the channels that our full backs have vacated.
    Consequently our play became more and more negative as the first half progressed …our midfielders were scared too play any balls between the lines so consequently our attack attacking 3 were starved of the ball …our only out ball was the ball over the top to Aubamayang.

    In taking Lacazette and Ozil off ( 2 possession based players) and replacing them with iwobi and Ramsey ,we played right into Brightons hands….. .Because we were so poor in possession in the 2nd half Brighton Sat back and waited for us to squander possession and then hit us down the channels and they were by far the better team after the break.

    So maybe the writer of “Arsenal truth” needs to think again instead of blaming the performance on tiredness and fatigue ….There is nothing remotely analytical in suggesting that …..a cop out.

  6. Leftsidesanch

    Not much hope for tomorrow. With holding and Bellerin out who has shown glimpses of improvement we’ve looked even less solid than usual.

  7. Globalgunner

    Fully agree with the post. 2/3rds of our squad are fully useless. Useless to the point that no top team would ever bid for them. How do you overcome a fatal handicap like that?. Wenger needed firing circa 10 years ago.

  8. Marko

    Maybe telling the full backs to sit in might help but what do I know….

    Maybe having full backs good enough might help. Maybe if they weren’t clueless and so offensive but rather defensive would help a great deal. Anyway who signed them?

  9. scotsgooner

    I think the whole team is lacking something – if i was to pick out a starting 11 –

    Bellerin Sokratis Kolasinac – holding maybe but out for the season lol

    Ramsey Torreira

    Aubamayang Lacazette

    Those are the only starters for me – the rest are shit/lack belief/are a liability.

    We don’t even have a proper starting 11 lads – wtf is going on?

    Leno has made mistakes that has cost us points and ozil is well enough said about him already.

    I don’t want to be too negative because we are 5th after all but this pool game tomorrow is make or break in terms of realising the gulf between what is required to compete at the top of the table to what we actually have.

  10. Pierre

    Marko
    So is your answer to let them keep bombing forward leaving a massive gap down the channels for the opposition to utilise …

    I can’t ever remember both full backs in George Graham ‘s back 4 being so advanced at the same time …can you …

  11. Marko

    So is your answer to let them keep bombing forward leaving a massive gap down the channels for the opposition to utilise …

    No my answer is to get better full backs. Take Kolasinac for example his strength is going forward (not great at that either mind you) but defensively he’s absolutely a liability and he’s our full back. In fact all our full backs are liabilities defensively bar Monreal the past few years but now he’s declining with age.

  12. Upstate Gooner

    What a ridiculous post. If the OP and perhaps other people think that we can make it with the likes of Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, and Xhaka then we’re in serious trouble.

    Btw, there’s another post from Pedro this morning that people are commenting on, and it’s a lot better than this one.

  13. Pierre

    Globalgooner
    “Fully agree with the post. 2/3rds of our squad are fully useless”

    Yet we managed to go 22 games unbeaten ….maybe they are not as bad as is being potrayed…

    Maybe the manager needs to go back to doing what he was doing during that unbeaten run .
    Lacazette was up top
    Aubamayang was attacking from the left
    Hate to say it but ozil was regular starter during that unbeaten run .but if you want to put Ramsey or iwobi in there to keep everyone quiet then go for it.
    Play xhaka and Torriera together in midfield .

    At this present time play with wing backs with 3 central defenders especially for the Liverpool game and you have a decent side .

    If we play tomorrow with a back 4 and the full backs advanced it will be a very difficult watch I’m afraid.

  14. Pierre

    Marko
    I am not saying for one minute that our full backs are particularly good defensively but I would rather they were alongside our centre backs than in the opposition box struggling to get back .

    Lichsteiner can easily play as a solid right back instead of being asked to get up and down the line all game ….tell him to sit in alongside the centre back and the defence improves in an instant.

  15. Pierre

    As long as we get someone decent in I don’t really give a toss if he stays or goes ……it’s obvious that Emery has made his choice

    in my eyes , Ozil isn’t the problem and we will find out within the next few months where the problem lies …..

  16. Graham62

    Pierre

    Let’s be honest here, Ozil has always been a problem.

    It’s in his DNA.

    It seems your patience has snapped. What gives?

    Is it that your frustrated by what’s going on.

    Never mind, only nine and a half years of catch up to go.

  17. Pierre

    Graham
    I haven’t lost my patience with ozil

    Let me just say this ..

    Jose left pogba out of the United side for 3 games on the bounce….Jose leaves and now pogba has a manager who appreciates him and you can see it in his performances .
    I have no doubt that Sanchez will come back in to the side when fit and we will see a completely different Alexis.

    We

  18. TheBayingMob

    “Because if he’d still had it, still been willing to look hard at himself in the mirror and change, he’d have put more work, innovation and resources into the defensive part of the game.

    And he just couldn’t be bothered.”

    I don’t agree with this at all. Wenger still had the will to win, I think it killed him piece by piece that we no longer challenged, the thing with Arsene was this:

    He was an analogue manager in a digital world.

    He didn’t understand why the methods he had employed all his life stopped working; if there’s one thing I’d say about Wenger is that you have to respect how he was a slave to his principles to bitter end, he expected it all to come back together and work again; there was always an excuse: oil money, oligarchs, hair pills!? He wanted to buy players then tell them to go play the beautiful game. He never accepted (IMO) that it was the Adams, Keowns and Parlour’s that energized his early teams to that early phase of success (aided by the brilliant Bergkamp who wasn’t afraid to put the boot in when required!).

    When they drifted away into retirement Wenger tried to replace them with artisan players, often they just didn’t have the stomach for the Premiership but this was also undermined by a poor scouting setup and further compromised by a dithering fuckwit who’d lost his way hoovering up shite and expecting remarkable results (Denilson as a prime example).

    It’s not that he just couldn’t be bothered any more, far from it … he was just an old man dithering around the football maze unable to find his way to the middle or his way out again …

  19. Sancho Monzorla

    Pierre

    Your prediction of turmoil backed up by your “it won’t be long now, we will see” argument is so, so convincing.

  20. Pierre

    Typical le grovellers..

    So many things to talk about regarding Arsenal and all they can do do is make snide remarks about Ozil.

    Why don’t some of you try working out Emery’s tactics and why it is going tits up.

    We have won only 3 of our last 9 games and we are hanging on by our fingertips to be in the race for the top 4…..

  21. gambon

    I agree with BayingMob

    Wenger wanted desperately to win, he was just out of his depth enormously

    I’ve said many times, by the end he was a prisoner of his own thoughts.

    I bet he would watch football 24 hours a day, and players like Takuma Asano and No Elneny were the best he could find.

    He would probably be at the training ground for 3 weeks planning how to play against Chelsea in his 1000th game, then be utterly bemused at why his side are getting destroyed

    He was just a relic.

  22. Marko

    We have won only 3 of our last 9 games and we are hanging on by our fingertips to be in the race for the top 4…..

    It’s technically 5 of our last 9 games but don’t let facts get in the way of a good bullshit.

  23. Marc

    “Jose leaves and now pogba has a manager who appreciates him and you can see it in his performances .”

    Pierre that’s about the most ridiculous comment you’ve made. It’s been two matches one against the bottom of the table team and another who are 4th from bottom, with a reasonable chance both will be relegated. All this under a manager so good he’s only here for a few months before he goes back to his day job.

    I reckon it’s going to take an exorcism to get you off Wenger and Ozil, Christ knows who you’ll latch onto next once Ozil is sold off.

  24. Pierre

    Compared to the same number of matches last year Arsenal are shooting less (243 vs 336), creating less scoring chances (30.8 vs 37.8) and less clear cut chances (34 vs 50 big chances). On defense things have gotten worse as well. They have given up more shots (234 vs 176), more expected goals (24.5 vs 22.3) and more big chances (33 vs 29).

    And last season was our worst for 22 years ….worrying times and it ain’t gonna get any better .

  25. Marc

    Pierre

    Again you are picking your stats and not using strong ones at that. Last season scored 74 in 38 matches which is 1.95 per match this season so far it’s 2.16., we conceded 51 in 38 which is 1.34 whilst so far this season it’s 25 in 19 which is 1.32.

    So we’re scoring more and conceding at almost an identical rate.

    Give it a rest dopey.

  26. Pierre

    I was worried about Emery and his tactics after the first couple of weeks and I have to say ,I am even more worried now…..he started to right a lot of the wrongs during the unbeaten run ,now it’s back to messing Lacazette around ,his tactics are all over the place and if anyone can explain what system he prefers then I can’t wait to hear .

  27. Marc

    Pierre

    “if anyone can explain what system he prefers then I can’t wait to hear .”

    It’s easy he prefers not to have all but one of his first choice back line out injured. He’s always been quoted as a manager who will alter his set up according to the opposition, our problem at the moment is two fold. One we need a better squad, the second is the problem at the moment we are missing too many players that we can’t cover for.

  28. Marc

    Pierre

    How’s this for a dopey stat we’ve picked up 7 more points so far compared to last seasons corresponding fixtures.

    Funny how x=bollocks is more important to you than points on the board.

  29. Marko

    Compared to the same number of matches last year Arsenal are shooting less (243 vs 336), creating less scoring chances (30.8 vs 37.8) and less clear cut chances (34 vs 50 big chances).

    Ozil is getting worse isn’t he.

    And last season was our worst for 22 years ….worrying times and it ain’t gonna get any better .

    More points than this time last year. Already a vastly improved away record and a 21 match unbeaten run suggests that you may not know what you’re talking about. Look micro P I know everytime someone criticizes Ozil it’s your natural instinct to turn it around onto Arsene’s replacement but you gotta try better pal. Talking about Emery doesn’t make Ozil any less of a sponge

  30. Marc

    Marko

    Pierre seems to be a bit of a limpet – I really do wonder who he’ll have as his next unfairly targeted hero, Ozil’s on borrowed time.

  31. loyika

    TheBayingMob

    Beg to differ on the Adams, Keown statement as regards Arsene not accepting their worth to his early success. First off it was Arsene that kept them around and extended their playing careers with his change in methods. If he didn’t appreciate what he felt they could bring then he would have shipped them out from the start with no hassles from David Dein.

    I believe Arsene can’t teach/coach defence and so saw no need to change what GG and Don H had already instilled in our DNA at our backline and so decided to focus more on the MF and offenseive part of our game (As Adams rightly said, he never learnt anything on defence from Arsene)

    The issue came down to Arsene’s pettiness in involving them as members of his back room staff after retirement, for example there was no need to push Keaown out after 2006? Especially with the work he did with the squad and how we got to the UCL final with the best defensive record regardless of the personnel we had at the back. However it must also be said Adams was offered some chances to come back to Arsenal FC and I think Sol as well if not mistaken

    He replicated that back line with warriors like Sol, Lauren and Kolo (and Cashley). However except for Mert and to a little extent Kos, he has found it difficult to replicate the purchase of Defenders that didn’t need much coaching (as he sadly couldn’t do that and don’t know if he allowed Bouldy a free hand to take charge?)

    That like the Keeper situation/fuck ups were unfortunately part of his undoing in the end.

  32. loyika

    Also beg to disagree to an extent on the “Will to win” part.

    I agree more with the Poster that he couldn’t just be bothered and just did the barest minimum required as Stan K was a “Hands Free” Owner.

    Arsene is a very stubborn amd egotistic Man who holds on to his principals till the end even if it leads him to his grave.

    He made the same mistakes with Monaco when he felt insulted at what he percieved as Marseaille being allowed to buy their way to success and how people turned a blind eye to it. Rather than adapt he stubbornly stuck to his way and felt the football gods would smile on him and his way would eventually come good.

    The same template was followed when Roman came to Chelsea, Arsene ssw that as an excuse not to adapt with it being easy to blame “Money in the Game” and UEFA for not competing. (also used the Stadia move when it suited him)

    Unlike him Fergie (who is also a proud Man) adapted to the new reality and faced down every challenge with United that Chelsea and Citeh threw down.

    DD also leaving gave him too much power and another excuse not to be proactive.

    Where Arsene will not be forgiven by almost all supporters will be us not winning the League the year Leicester won it. There are no excuses he can give for us not winning it that year.

    Another was the 2008/9 season starting with the “Meltdown” by Gallas at Brummie that led to us not seeing that title run through to the end.

    As said, I just feel he felt too comfy in his position and didn’t see the need to push himself further tban what was required.

    If we had a more ambitious owner I am sure he would have been forced to try harder and in reality probably been sacked way before he was.

  33. potter

    Getting Ozil to do what is. not in his nature is an impossibility . Naturally he doesn’t react to defending,he knows that he has to but he is slow to pick up on it.
    So the problem falls to Emery if he wants to keep,him he has to adjust and find a way to do it.

  34. Ishola70

    Upstate Gooner
    “What a ridiculous post. If the OP and perhaps other people think that we can make it with the likes of Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, and Xhaka then we’re in serious trouble.”

    lol he stated Xjaka as tough as old boots. He ain’t got a ‘kin scooby this boy.

    Defence as a whole is not good enough and this is just compounded by a lack of dynamism in midfield. Torreira is a start but need to dump the Swiss who plays like he has a tampon inserted firmly up his anus.

  35. Ishola70

    Lack of patience by quite a few on here and predictably a fair few of them are past Wenger sympathisers/worshippers.

    Emery should be given as long as the team has been out of the CL which is two seasons before his arrival.

    As it stands team is within reaching distance of Chelsea so it is not as bad as some make out. Unlikely most probably to get in top four come the seasons end but in with a shout at least at the half way point.

  36. HillWood

    Presumably Steve Bould role at the club is to coach the defence
    If so is the shambolic state of our defence ( baring injuries) not on his shoulders ?

  37. Marko

    Worth pointing out Potter (Pierre?) the general criticism the wet sponge faces doesn’t stem from a lack of defensive work but rather a total lack of effort and declining influence on the offensive side of things. Basically he’s a bit shit these days and he’s got no bottle

  38. Ishola70

    I’m ok thank you Marko.

    Have been having a look at the blog now and again but been having quite a lot on for a good few months so no time for the footy.

  39. bennydevito

    People just dying to criticise Emery when they were silent about Wenger for 10 years of utter shambles is a fucking joke. It’s going to take Emery 4 transfer windows more not 2 to sort out the shit Emery inherited.

  40. Ishola70

    Yes some things never change though eh such as Arsenal and poor defence and not just the back line of the team. Team as a whole.

    Hope you are well Samesong.

  41. Marc

    Marko

    Xhaka or Mustafi? Mmm he’ll pick the one he thinks will be here longest so I’d hazard a guess on Xhaka.

    You’d sort of hope the nursing staff would see just how bad he is and gently smother him in his sleep.

  42. Marko

    If he ends up not being in the squad for yet another big game surely that means that we’re actively looking to get rid this January? The fanboys will be up in arms

  43. Marc

    TR7

    No real surprise there. I really get the feeling that rather than Emery trying to make a point to the board the “club” are trying to get Ozil to decide he’d be better off finding pastures new. Why try and sell a player you don’t want when you can get his agent to do the sales work for you.

  44. potter

    Hi Marko ,It’s Potter .
    I will tell you a story.
    I had a coach that lined the team up in a line blew a whistle and then made everyone run 5 yards.
    He then lined us all up again and said to the slowest go when you are ready . He won the race.
    It’s about reaction… Ozil does not naturally react when a move breaks down and it’s those 5 yards that meant he lost the Brighton scorer.It’s a fault in his game but one that can be compensated for if you have the right system. .

    Emery’s decision is whether to have the benefit of the man that can open defences as opposed,to a runner that will get back and chase.
    Sometimes less is more.

  45. GuNZ

    Rest easy fellas
    The German equivalent of the National Adoption Agency has permitted me to approach Mesut. After my success with Nougat Boy I’ve been given the green light. I even bought my wife a blow up rubber Ozil (complete with kebab accessory) to ‘get her in the mood’ as it were but she didn’t know what it was and emptied a can of bug-spray over it.

  46. TR7

    Marco/Marc

    Yeah , omission from the team due to ‘tactical reason’ was as clear a signal as it gets. Ozil is on borrowed time at Arsenal. Not a fan of Ozil , never have been but I still think he should have been part of our squad. It’s not that our team is brimming with talent. For all his faults, he is still miles better than the likes of Iwobi.

  47. PhD2020

    If your mate asked to borrow £1000 and then proceeded to set it on fire, you wouldnt lend him £2000 a week later.Hopefully with real professionals like Sven and Raul in place, Stan will have more faith and release some good funds

    ———-

    This example is indeed true..So,begs the question-why did Stan continue to provide Arsene with ample funds,only for Arsene to set about ritually creating a bonfire night with the money through every transfer window(12 transfer windows) over the last 6 years..?

    If we are being generous ,in terms of underestimating how many transfer windows-Arsene systematically butchered,we could conservatively say(circa 2012)-12 transfer windows…

    Why then was Stan,still giving Arsene all this money over 12 transfer windows,and extending his contract twice(2×2 year contracts)?

    You highlighted earlier,the players Arsene bought,and the financial loss we incurred upon selling the players,then why tolerate this financial incompetence over 12 transfer windows?

    How could Stan continue to oversee and sanction this kamikaze behaviour for nigh on 6 years(conservative at best)?

    At what point,is Stan culpable for us being where we are today?

    What was Stan’s vision for the club?What was his blueprint?

    The owners of Man City seem to have a blueprint/vision for the club.
    The owners of Liverpool seem to have a blueprint/vision for the club..
    The owner of Chelsea seem to have a blueprint/vision for the club.
    The owner of Spurs seem to have a blueprint/vision for the club.
    The owner of Man Utd seem to have a blueprint/vision for the club.

    I just don’t see any of the above owners tolerating a Bonfire of the Vanities saga with their managers for 12 consecutive transfer windows..

    We,have not made a legitimate challenge for the EPL title in fourteen years(save the season Leicester won it)..Our concern has always been securing top 4.

    We have not reached a CL Final since 2006,every other season,we have just been happy to qualify through to the group stages and get ceremoniously dumped out of the knock out stages habitually…

    We appease some of the fanbase with FAC wins..

    The above owners of the clubs I mentioned,would not have such ambitions curtailed,or reduced to the ones we have shown over a decade?

    Would they continue to shower money at their manager’s behest for nigh on a decade,only to achieve FAC’s,top four finishes and no EPL titles?

    I think we all know the answer,as after 4-6 transfer windows,majority of those managers for the clubs mentioned would have their contracts rescinded,or their heads put to the sword,for far less managerial endeavours or pursuits..

    Again,I ask-what is and has been the vision or blueprint of the owner of Arsenal ?

    At what point,is Silent Stan accountable for allowing Arsene to leave such carnage or devastation behind him?

  48. Pierre

    Not one comment of note about Emery’s tactics and formation from the marx brothers ( they were comedians as well)……all they can do is reduce themselves to childish remarks about Ozil ….

    Emery would have done better to put ozil in the side for tomorrow’s game …at least he would have had someone to blame if it goes tits up.

  49. Marc

    TR7

    No one ever argues about the technical level of Ozil it’s always the level of commitment / work ratio.

    And that leads to the difficult question who’s better a fully committed OK player or a 35% committed talent?

  50. Cesc Appeal

    Interested to see how we get rid of him though.

    His final stinker could be a loan where we pay half his wages.

    I really cannot see who is going to buy him for any sort of serious amount.

  51. Marc

    PhD

    Not going to go point to point with you but “The owner of Spurs seem to have a blueprint/vision for the club.”

    Er what’s that – fuck up a stadium build and put the club into a £1,000,000,000 (and counting) debt? People talk about all their great players – they have some good players but if you sold off Kane, Dele Alli and Eriksen to a drunk buyer and got a combined £350 million you’d only be covering a third or so of the debt.

    Then you’d have to replace them.

  52. TR7

    Marc

    If that fully committed player is Iwobi, then I would rather we had 35 percent committed Ozil. I can’t even begin to describe how useless a player Iwobi is.

  53. Cesc Appeal

    ‘If that fully committed player is Iwobi, then I would rather we had 35 percent committed Ozil. I can’t even begin to describe how useless a player Iwobi is.’

    Why do we play these games though? Do you want the piss soup or the shit sandwich?

    Why can’t we just go out and buy better food whilst selling our unwanted meals tot he desperate and stupid?

    I would rather have a talented CAM who is fully committed to working for the team. Let’s go out and find and buy that. We look around at our rivals and they’ve got them. De Bruyne, Erisken, Silva, Alli etc.

  54. Marc

    Cesc

    How do we get rid of Ozil? Well my thought is he’s s tied so up in his image etc etc that you make him decide to leave. You let his agent do the sales work – unappreciated talent, club’s a bunch of tossers, squad’s a fucking waste of space and below his level yada yada.

    He agrees to take a hit on wages (poor dear accepting £200,000 per week) and we might salvage something. His commercial thing might just attract a club in the far east / USA etc.

  55. gambon

    The big question is….how do the rest of the squad feel about the treatment of Ozil?

    If they like him this is not a great idea from Emery.

    That said, he’s in such a comfort zone that maybe harsh treatment is the only way to motivate him to leave.

    Mustafi and Kolasinac seem to be mates with him but they’re useless so maybe they can go as well.

  56. Pierre

    “The big question is….how do the rest of the squad feel about the treatment of Ozil?If they like him this is not a great idea from Emery.”

    someone is looking at the wider picture and realising that the supposedly amazing team spirit that we have could be about to implode,especially if Lacazette keeps getting messed about ….the players will be wondering wtf is going on …

  57. TR7

    Cesc

    ‘I would rather have a talented CAM who is fully committed to working for the team. Let’s go out and find and buy that. We look around at our rivals and they’ve got them. De Bruyne, Erisken, Silva, Alli ‘

    I have been a vocal critic of Ozil so I would be more than happy if we replace him with a quality CAM. My limited point was Ozil should have been part of our squad for tomorrow.

    Expecting both Auba and Laca in the starting line up – essential for us to have any chance of a win/draw.

  58. Marko

    Emery would have done better to put ozil in the side for tomorrow’s game …at least he would have had someone to blame if it goes tits up.

    He’s trying to avoid that hence the binning of Ozil

  59. Marko

    Wonderful thing about team spirit and morale is it comes with winning and our record this season is better without Ozil than with so we’ll be fine. And it’s going to take more than a recent strop from Lacazette to upset the apple cart

  60. Marko

    TR7 I understand what you’re saying but he’s been part of the squad’s recently and he’s doing fuck all at the moment. Right now it’s hypothetical when people talk about Mesut Ozil making a contribution to Arsenal football club.

  61. gambon

    I think Ozil must be out the door.

    If we get to the end of Jan and Ozil is still here then I will have to say Emery has royally fucked it up.

    You can’t treat a £350k pw player of that quality like this without an end goal.

  62. TR7

    Ornstein : This was recorded at 6pm but we now know Mesut Ozil is out of Arsenal’s game at Liverpool tomorrow. He trained with the squad today but complained of pain in his knee and was withdrawn from the travelling party #AFC #LFC

  63. Marko

    This was recorded at 6pm but we now know Mesut Ozil is out of Arsenal’s game at Liverpool tomorrow. He trained with the squad today but complained of pain in his knee and was withdrawn from the travelling party- Ornstein.

    So the wet sponge pulled out. Same injury he had the last time we played Liverpool. What a cunt

  64. BacaryisGod

    R.I.P to Peter Hill-Wood.

    I heard the funeral staff wanted him to die as he had lived so they buried him with his foot in his mouth.

    Too soon?

  65. WengerEagle

    Istanbul Basaksehir are on record saying that they would give an arm and an leg for the mopey one, they’re topping the Turkish league so he could do worse for himself. Turkish link must be attractive too if he loves Turkey as much as he lets on.

    Wages the obvious stumbling block, will say a lot about his character if he refuses to budge on a salary cut in order to play regular football.

  66. WengerEagle

    Don’t even get me started on Iwobi, absolute nothing player.

    If he weren’t an Arsenal player/Nigerian international he would be the subject of mockery and meme-age from our fan base.

  67. WengerEagle

    Don’t even like Rashford but he’s miles better than Iwobi.

    Martial being miles better than Rashford, Dembele/Coman being better than Martial.

    M’Bappe bitchslapping them all.

    Levels to this here game, and Iwobi is bottom of the barrel.

  68. WengerEagle

    Love Isco, he’s won 4 CL titles and La Liga already though so you would have to question his hunger a bit given his dip this season.

    Quality-wise he rivals any CAM/wide playmaker on the planet though so I would give a left nut for him personally.

    Non-starter imo, Real Madrid aren’t stupid enough to sell him.

  69. HighburyLegend

    “If we get to the end of Jan and Ozil is still here then I will have to say Emery has royally fucked it up.”
    @gambon, you already thinks Emery has fucked it up anyway, so what the point ?

    (And by the way you’re right, get rid of Ozil is soooooooo much more important than to strengthen the squad… idiot.)

  70. HighburyLegend

    I’m really well aware that selling Ozil is obviously linked to the opportunity of strenghten the squad, but I was just making a good reminder of the fact that you’re a dick.

  71. HighburyLegend

    “You are of the opinion Emery has been perfect so far?”

    Of course not, but he’s human and has the right to make mistakes.
    Wenger was allowed to make tons of mistakes during the last decade, but you jump to Emery’s throat at every opportunity, very embarassing from you…
    Almost as embarassing than to think any other manager would have done a better job with our current squad…

  72. gambon

    Don’t think we will be after a true AM in the #10 role.

    Think Emery will want more of a CM who can play a bit further up…a Banega, Aouar, Ceballos type.

    Cesc in 2009 is the perfect representation of what he wants I think. Just with a bit more intensity.

  73. HighburyLegend

    A decade of (huge) mistakes from wenger, but it was fine.
    Just one Emery’s half season, you want him out already.

    I’m afraid tomorrow could be the perfect game for you to attack your favourite prey, and if that akes you happy, then good for you.

  74. Marc

    “I think Ozil must be out the door.

    If we get to the end of Jan and Ozil is still here then I will have to say Emery has royally fucked it up.

    You can’t treat a £350k pw player of that quality like this without an end goal.”

    You assume Emery is pulling all of the strings, he’s not he’s only pulling the strings he’s given and told to pull. This is more Sanllehi than anything else.

  75. Paulinho

    “Don’t even get me started on Iwobi, absolute nothing player.”

    Still remember the poster a couple of months ago pasting some link to a transfer market article about Iwobi being the highest valued Nigerian at £45 million or something in response to me saying he was shit and the whole ‘improved under Emery’ narrative was a crock.

    Watching Felipe Anderson the other night – playing in Iwobi’s position – was depressing.

  76. Marc

    The club looked to make a statement under Gazidis last January having swapped Sanchez. We made a record signing and gave Ozil a record contract, whilst I don’t expect anything of quite that level it would be good to see the club make a statement of support for Emery. An all round solid CB would be a good start, anything else would be manna from heaven.

  77. gambon

    It’s absolutely mental that a lot of serious quality wide players have moved to PL clubs in recent years, and we didn’t sign one of them.

    Mahrez
    Sane
    Sterling
    Mane
    Salah
    Son
    Felipe
    Martial
    Richalison

    Not one of them.

  78. WengerEagle

    Paulinho

    Felipe Anderson is quality, wanted him here for ages and was surprised that he was overlooked by everyone bar West Ham. Has had a Payet effect on WHU who look a different team to the one under Moyes.

    Yeah I remember that too and the hyperbole after he scored a brace vs Argentina, round the time that Spain were spanking them 6-1, Argentina are a washed up side that are mentally spent after losing 3 finals in a row not to mention an aging one.

    I’ve always been consistent towards Iwobi, never fancied him from the first 10 or so times that I watched him.

    What does he even contribute if you break his game down?

  79. WengerEagle

    We haven’t had a really good 1 vs 1 forward/midfield player since Arshavin of 2009 and to a lesser extent, Nasri back in 2011.

    Amazing really. Also took us 5.5 years to get a top notch CF after RVP.

  80. bennydevito

    Personally I don’t see the logic on going for Benega at 30 – we may as well try and bring Cesc back who at 31 and knows the club would be much better imo. Also we could do a lot worse than Cahill on the cheap too, certainly better than what we have currently.

    We should also try and get Anderson from West Ham, Perreira and Chilwell from Leicester and Digne from Everton. I expect Man City and Chelsea to be sniffing round these players soon.

  81. WengerEagle

    benny

    Banega’s still performing at a high level in Spain, Cesc on the other hand has been rotting on the bench for years at Chelsea and isn’t even a factor internationally.

    No real reason to bring Cesc back past sentiment, he’s a spent force sadly at the highest level.

  82. Paulinho

    WE – A poundland Hleb. Can have some games when he can take the ball on the half-turn in crowded areas and play the simple ball to someone who can actually do something in the final third.

    He had a couple of good games when he first came into the team and had two good games the following season against Chelsea and PSG (in the same week), but every season so far he just grinds to a halt. It’s like his limitations become too much after only a couple of months and he hasn’t got the energy or will to compensate for it.

  83. WengerEagle

    Should probably qualify that with a spent force at the highest level in the PL.

    I still think that he could thrive in Italy or even Spain, Milan supposedly are in for him.

  84. gambon

    Problem with Banega is he’s the definition of a Europa League player.

    I’m not sure how were supposed to get into the CL with this blueprint

  85. Batistuta

    Gambon

    That’s probably our level at the moment without any significant injection of cash, that’s just the truth, so much trash to dispose of who will bring in so little cash so maybe the Banega’s to help get us back into Europe through the Europa League as that seems our most realistic route back

  86. WengerEagle

    Paulinho

    Yeah his lack of athleticism hurts him too, hasn’t got a turn of pace or the zip to beat his marker which could compensate for his poor/unreliable end product.

    He’s decent at 1-2’s and the subtle probing and combination play high up the pitch with the attacking players as you say but once he gets sight of goal or isolates a defender he hasn’t got the quality to exploit the opportunity as he’s not a gifted striker of the ball or 1 vs 1 dribbler.

    Can’t see how he improves much in this respect, Welbeck has similar issues but at least he has an outrageous turn of pace and is a big and impsing enough figure that he causes all sorts of bother for centre halves and full-backs, a real nuisance to play against.

  87. Batistuta

    Rather Banega than El-Neny or Ramsey or any of these absolute wank crap we have as midfield options bar Torreira and Xhaka to an extent

  88. WengerEagle

    gambon

    I know that Whoscored can’t tell you the full story but from watching him in the groups for Sevilla and looking at his stats, he’s been excellent for them in the CL.

    Underrated player in my book, more of a short-term solution to a long-term issue than anything though so I would be happy to look elsewhere.

  89. Batistuta

    Ozil fan boys saying he ended our trophy drought on social media is an absolute disgrace and slight on the actual match winner against hull… Ser Yaya of Sanogo….

  90. Paulinho

    Always concerned me that Banega has never been able to command a regular place in a crap Argentina midfield. Sampaoli was a clown in the world cup but even before that he has struggled to be a regular.

    Quality technician but something lacking in his game(intensity?), similar to Kovacic. Will have some games where he looks great then the next he will be a passenger.

  91. WengerEagle

    In 9 CL apps last season, Banega averaged a 7.72 rating which is exceptionally high for a CM.

    1 goal/2 assists, 3.7 key passes per match, 3.3 dribbles with only 2 dispossessions a match, averaged over 100 passes 88pc completion rate, 6 long passes per match average.

    Lad can ball is the point.

  92. bennydevito

    I’m not so sure. I think Cesc could do a good job for us and would relish being back with us and would be the leader we’re missing. I think he’s wasted at Chelsea and is better than Jorginho and Barkley and,Willian but that’s just me. I’m just not convinced on Benega and he doesn’t offer much long term value at what would be quite a high fee. I personally think both Cesc and Cahill could be could whilst we bring through some youngsters and help Guendouzi.

    In terms of good young centre backs, ams and wingers who’s out there? What about the Dutch league? Is Bergkamp still at Ajax? Any good ones there worth taking? What about Thorgan Hazard, is he any good?

  93. Batistuta

    Also if we’re doing short term fixes for our defence till the summer, I’d rather have Pepe in there than Cahill

  94. TR7

    Banega is technically sound but is one paced. You can’t expect him to change a game.for you. Kind of a steady player with flashes of brilliance once in a while.

  95. Paulinho

    TR7 – Yeah, I agree with that. Him, Torreira, Xhaka is still too stodgy. Banega will have some games where he provides the outlet but he will have too many where he is too static and wants to sit, and they will get in each other’s way.

  96. bennydevito

    So what do we realistically think the score will be at Anfield? I’m genuinely concerned at how bad our defence is coupled with injuries and how off the pace we are in the first half that we could seriously be 3 or 4 down by half time.

    Thoughts?

  97. WengerEagle

    Ajax have a superb team but they’re going to be ravaged come the end of the season, maybe even January.

    De Ligt, De Jong will be picked up by big clubs and Ziyech/Tadic might want a crack at the big time, more visibility now with their performances in the CL.