Arsenal came out of the West Ham debacle without a win in 5 away Premier League games. A truly miserable statistic that capped off another Emery disaster class.
We’re rapidly moving into a new territory where it’s not just the defence, the stagnant attack and the lack of style that are proving to be embarrassing. Now the big talking points seem to be centered around how badly he’s managing two of his best players. Mesut Ozil is no doubt a massive whopper behind the scenes, he’s tough to deal with, he’s precious and he can be incredibly uninterested (according to my sources). I’m sure that’s irritating, as it would be at any club, but that’s Emery’s reality. His most expensive player, who doesn’t want to leave, is annoying. That means it’s the managers’ job to work out a way of motivating him, to find a position that works and to get him into a side that is desperately lacking quality in the final 3rd.
Same for Aaron Ramsey. Our midfield lacks anyone who can run with the ball, it has no spark, it is essentially art free. Who gives a fuck if the Welshman is going to Juve? Give him a start. Work out a way of slipping him into the system. Can he be greedy? Yes. Does he infuriate sometimes? Yes. Is he capable of creating magic? Yes. Then fucking play him.
Emery’s stubbornness with his approach has gone from admirable to ignorant. That performance yesterday was the first time I’ve seen Arsenal feel sorry for themselves. The players don’t look like they understand the merits of the system they’re playing in and it’s absolutely clear whatever the coach is telling them isn’t working.
We are a slave to a system that doesn’t have the right players to work. Why would you not look at the best players you have at your disposal and build an approach that allowed them to flourish.
Lacazette and Auba don’t work in the same side together, or at least the way Emery is trying to work it. Guendouzi and Xhaka is the real axis of evil on this planet, it’s too ponderous, and it’s desperately lacking in power and pace. Our approach from wide positions is rank average. I know people think Iwobi is the second coming of Hleb (aim low), but his final ball and touch is not up to scratch. It doesn’t matter that he was the best attacking player we had yesterday, if anything, that compounds the issue. We have two of the best finishers in the world and they’re not getting chances in front of goal. Yesterday, we were clueless moving the ball forward, we started resorting to long balls. We couldn’t muster a single shot after the 67th minute when we were chasing a game.
The goal was ridiculous as usual. Granit Xhaka, the last man standing of our 5 captains opted to head the ball to a West Ham player from the front post. It wasn’t untypical of Xhaka to drop a fucking howler in a game, it was just unusual that it was so amateur. We can’t even offer style in our fuck ups.
LT and Rambo made a difference when they came on. The ball started moving up the pitch, we were more of a threat, West Ham sat back a little more, but it was to no avail.
Here’s the crazy thing about the West Ham team. Pelligrini took over an absolute shit show of a side. He’s given them a style and purpose, he had a group of shite defenders rocking an offside trap so tight, George Graham would have firmed up watching it. He had players pressing and taking individual responsibility. Felipe Anderson, a player who caused us issues all afternoon was doing loads of dogs bodywork. Why? Because the manager convinced him that the team was more important than his feelings.
We’re now 7 months into the project. Our shots per game average is the lowest its been over the course of the last 18 years, our defence makes Brexit look organised, and we’re still no nearer having a footballing identity. What makes this last month even worse is looking at the general intensity of the team, it seems like we’ve dropped off massively, there was next to no pressing yesterday and we simply didn’t look at the races. West Ham bullied us all game. Factor in the hike in injuries we’ve seen this season and the picture doesn’t look rosy.
The manager needs to sharply improve what we’re seeing on the pitch with the players he has if he wants to avoid serious questions being asked about his continued tenure in the summer.
Good coaching fixes defences. There is no excuse for what we’re seeing here, especially as he bought the keeper, the center back and the defensive midfielder (forget Lichtsteiner). We’re struggling with absolute basics like proper clearances and balls over the top. There are too many individual errors and not enough know-how between the players. This can’t continue.
We have no sauce moving the ball forward. We’re very one dimensional in our approach. We’re easily rattled with a press. We’re predictable. The opposition knows if the ruffle Xhaka, there’s very limited ability for us to move the ball forward. We have a shot at fourth, it’s a long one, but the manager needs to put his ego in his pocket and work out a way of integrating Ozil and Ramsey more often. We’re paying for caviar, and dipping our belini’s into Branston pickle. It’s getting ridiculous now. Make it work.
Emery needs to imprint a style on the team. That’s hugely important. Who are we? What do we want to be? What are the players supposed to be doing? What are the fans getting excited about? Even in Wenger’s darkest days, he was trying to offer something up. Remember that United game at home that we lost last season? Some of the most scintillating football of the last 5 years, a game we lost because of a De Gea masterclass. Emery should be able to give us more than 1 good game in a season (Spurs, fatigued). I’m not pining for him, I’m merely pointing out that there was an attempt at something even when we were shite.
It is not insanity to be talking this way. It is not taking a controversial position for the sake of it. It is making sure the expectations at Arsenal football club are always sky high, because you know what, we are in a fucking dangerous position as a club. This Emery tenure is going to be as bland as a ham sandwich, of that there is no doubt. The big issue is what comes next… the fans will demand a winner, just like they did at United, then we could quickly fall into absolute mediocrity with no way out. We have an owner who can see clear as day that it doesn’t matter what he does with Arsenal, commercials grow exponentially, so do gate receipts. There is no reason to act.
That shouldn’t mean we give up. Arsenal can’t spend the next 5 years leaning on the excuse crutch of Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis. Time to put that shit behind us and time to take aggressive actions towards pulling ourselves back up to the elite levels of the game. That means making ruthless decisions. Cutting expensive players to raise cash, bringing in a coach with special sauce, and doing everything possible to make every fucking penny count.
We can climb again, but only if people are honest about where we are and what we have to do to climb to the top again.
… and here’s the thing, being honest with the fans is a fucking good start. Emery said there are no players, I bitched for 5 minutes, then accepted it. If the club came out and said, look, Champions League is a 3 year job, and here’s how we’re going to do it.
We’re going to slash the wage bill. It’s too expensive. That means you might see some of your faves go.
We’re going to build the greatest club on the planet to be at if you’re a young elite player. We’re bringing in the best 17-23 year olds and we’re going to grow them into superstars.
We’re going to hire in the most exciting developmental coaches on the planet. We’re going to play the football of 2027. These are coaches that will train their minds and bodies. We’re in the business of making superstars.
That means we’re shooting to sell these players so we can start investing in the team with bigger bets, just like Liverpool. Our advantage over them is we are Arsenal and we’re based out of London.
Would you get behind that? I would. It’d be better than attempting to fight with the big boys when you’re 5ft2 with a gammy leg.
Back to the now.
Emery has a lot of work to do. If he takes the club backwards after spending £70m in the summer, we should try something new, because this is Arsenal, not PSG. There won’t be an Mbappe and Neymar purchased to cope with tanking a season. We’ll be removing talent. Our manager has to show that he can improve what he was left, because though it wasn’t pretty, it was nowhere near the disaster made out.
We are better than this. We should not be writing off regression as part of the transition. The only way is up, always. Don’t accept anything less, because the dark demons of medicority are circling the club, and if we let them in, it’s a long fucking way back.