Wenger on FIRE + Time to call OGS the greatest fraud of all time?

by & filed under News Review.

via @Batdesprez

Well good morning to you all… today, I blog from LONDON.

It’s good to be back sitting on the train, being repulsed by a person eating a prawn sandwich at 7am. It’s just what the doctor ordered. I even made a pal on the flight… we took the front row of the poor people seats AND had a middle row free. We were Kings… for me, that’s the real first class. You can be 6ft 9 and still have ample leg room… you get out the plane first… you have all the smugness of a 23-year-old BMW 3 series owner.

So anyway, a really great day. It’s good to be back in the hood. I’m eating a Gregg’s sausage roll as I pick through the news of the day… most notable of course is that it turns out, OGS IS A MASSIVE FRAUD. After moaning about the term, I now love calling people fraudulent. I said it to my mum the other day, caught her off guard BIG time. So good. Anyway, it does seem like xG catches up with you in the end. All those flukey results weren’t the return of Fergie’s United… they were just flukey results. Now the glow of being welcomed to training with a ‘hello, friend, may we hug’, versus… ‘get your tracksuit on you fat c*nt’, has worn off… United are starting to look Mourinho-esque.

Fair play to Wolves though… they were tenacious, ambitious and they worked harder than United. I am a touch worried about heading there if I’m honest.

The race for top 4 is tipping so hard in our direction it’s making me feel a little uncomfortable… it’s now ours to fuck… and Arsenal LOVE to fuck things up. However, at least the cushion for fucking things is now a little plumper (not sure if that works?)… we can make the gap 5 points between United if we win our game in hand.

You still can’t write off Chelsea… but they do have United, Liverpool, Watford, Leicester, Burnley and West Ham to deal with. There’s championship winning spirit in that squad, I just struggle to see Sarri unlocking it.

You also can’t write off Spurs… BUT they have to play City 3 times in a month which is not only tough physically, it’s tough mentally. There is only so much focus you can give when you’re Spursy by nature, I’m not sure they are going to handle the run, they are in a belief sinkhole of death if I’m analysing this correctly. They have Palace tonight PLUS Everton and West Ham to deal with. Not to mention that a new stadium is rarely a gift.

It is LOOKING very good for us.

But don’t count those chickens… or empty tubs of SUPER STRENGTH WET LOOK GEL out of the Colney bins. Just believe real hard…

Arsenal are being linked with Ryan Fraser. A good player. Doesn’t leave me feeling too frisky I have to say. I can’t even be bothered to write about it. I’m draining at the thought of mastering a hot take. I don’t have one.

I tell you who does… Wenger. He’s turned into the ultimate soundbite after refreshing his words over the last 9 months.

This is my favourite.

“You’re loved when you’re born, you’re loved when you die, in between you have to manage.”

Someone find me the applause emoji… and that squirrel story.

“The animal is survival. High-level sport too. It’s me or the others. But in a collective sport it is also me AND the others. The squirrel shares his body between the head and the top. Football is that, manage with the brain and legs. But if someone does not get up very often, it will never make him a very good footballer. ”

BRAVO SIR WENGER. More please… get me motivated that you can ALWAYS grow as a person.

“I wanted to test myself and on a whim I went there in a Nagoya team that did not win a match. At 47, it changed me at all levels. In the first ten games, we lose eight and I have an anecdote about it. The president calls me to his office and before I go, I tell my assistant to pack his bags because we were going to be fired. The speech seemed clear: “The results do not meet expectations and what I am going to tell you will not please you. But we have to face this situation … We are going to separate from the translator “. I was surprised and I managed to keep him working with us, we saved his head. By the way, he’s in the room tonight (Monday). He became a friend. After, on the experience in Japan, it is the perpetual isolation. Your only company is yourself. With the players, something new happened to me in my life. I banned the ball in training or in the game because they were already dead. They were preparing before to be level and they were cooked afterwards. They had to be channeled. ”

Oh man… this is TOO much.

He’s on FIRE… just like my ticket purchasing game. I am seeing Arsenal with a pal in DC. Cannot wait to yell about soccerball and maybe see Robbie from AFTV. #Dreams

Anyway, time for me to go and be with family and shit.

See you in the comments. x

P.S. One of my total fave football/biz writers, Matt Scott, has launched a NEW website called Football DNA that you need to go and look at. As always, he finds the next level, is the next level with an excellent blend of words and rock solid data. Proper data as well… with insights. None of this singular-data-point-to-tell-a-story nonsense. Jump on it!

READ FOOTBALL DNA HERE where he eviscerates Spurs rep as a big club (mostly)… and also follow @ftballDNA

259 Responses to “Wenger on FIRE + Time to call OGS the greatest fraud of all time?”

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  1. Graham62

    Marko

    Who’s bringing up Hillsboro? Not me.

    What I’m saying is that many aspects of modern day football in this country restricts fans genuine enjoyment of the game, which creates a controlled and sterile environment.

    European fans are not use to all the Rules and Regulations we have to adhere to, hence they are far more open and vocal in their support of their teams.

    Go to Turkey to watch a game and you’ll understand.

  2. Valentin

    @Receding,

    I never said that Özil was more marketable than before. I was answering to Marko assessment that Adidas was going to drop as he had no marketing value.
    My point is that he may have lost value for the general public but that for a non negligible part of the public and in particular for the Muslim world he is still an icon.

  3. Nelson

    I always wondered why Wenger talked like a priest. He came from a small Alsatian village where life revolved around religion. According to his own word, a football game has to be treated like a religion, it alone dictates your decisions.

  4. Marko

    European fans are not use to all the Rules and Regulations we have to adhere to, hence they are far more open and vocal in their support of their teams.

    There’s also violence at these games flares and homophobic/anti-Semitic/racist chanting. I really think you are talking shite when you say health and safety regulations and the PC brigade are to blame for a lackluster atmosphere at the Emirates for example. Are you suggesting allowing flares and saying whatever you like as an alternative?

    Go to Turkey to watch a game and you’ll understand.

    Yeah no thanks

  5. Receding Hairline

    Yes Valentin a footballer not getting picked by his team runs the risk of getting dropped by addidas ..I dare say he will eventually get dropped by them seeing as he has quit the German National side.

    His only saving grace is the fact the club has signed a deal with Addidas but for that to work in his favor he will need to get picked to play.

  6. Luteo Guenreira

    I have no problems with statements like “he is still an icon in the Muslim world” because as far as I know it could be true, it probably is true.

    But to jump from that fact to all the bullshit you spewed earlier shows the disparity between conventional logic and whatever it is that goes on inside that head of yours.

  7. Marko

    I was answering to Marko assessment that Adidas was going to drop as he had no marketing value.

    Just to make it more simple for you when he was originally signed up by Adidas he was playing at the top of his game for Real Madrid. What do you think is going to happen when he’s 31 and not playing for Arsenal? Is it the same? Think about that and I mean really think about it

  8. Marc

    One of the major contributing factors to the loss of atmosphere at matches in the 1st division / PL was the introduction of all seater stadiums. The terraces were not dangerous if common sense was used.

    Hopefully we’ll see some used with the introduction of safe standing areas.

  9. Marc

    Marko

    That’s why I’ve made the comment previously that Ozil might take a cut in pay to move if brand Ozil is being hurt. Lose £5 million here to keep £6 million there, not saying it’s going to happen but it’s a possibility.

  10. Marko

    But to jump from that fact to all the bullshit you spewed earlier shows the disparity between conventional logic and whatever it is that goes on inside that head of yours.

    Luteo get off my dick this is exactly what I’m saying with this guy so much of what he says sounds smart and informed in his head but just lacks common sense and logic to me a mere human being living in this reality.

  11. Marko

    Receding just so you know what you just said is why I think he’s off in the summer. The notion that at 39 he’ll just sit on his ass and get paid is short sighted. It’s bad for his brand if he stays and doesn’t play. Hence why it’s not impossible to get rid of him and why he’s likely gone this summer

  12. Valentin

    @Luteo,

    What disparity?
    My point has always that you have to separate the player from his marketability.
    Kournikova was a mediocre tennis player, but she was a marketing goddesses.
    Özil is savvy enough to be able to use the social media to his advantage.
    Marko keep arguing that Özil will be gone when everybody knows that the only way Özil is gone is if Arsenal were to pay his contract and that is not going to happen.
    He keep arguing that he has no marketing power because he plays badly for Arsenal. My view is that he has a followers who don’t care about his “poor” performance.

  13. Luteo Guenreira

    Valentin

    I didn’t read your whole post. Your view is your view that’s fine. The problem is, you’ve shown habit to take your “view” and then jump to non-linear conclusions/assertions, like you know how large companies such as Adidas will behave toward a footballer several years down the line when you in fact have no clue, the only thing you have is your view.

    Which today has proven quite worthless.

  14. Luteo Guenreira

    Sorry, that “disparity” is what I meant in terms of your intelligence and ability for reason compared to conventional logic.

  15. Marko

    Marko keep arguing that Özil will be gone when everybody knows that the only way Özil is gone is if Arsenal were to pay his contract and that is not going to happen

    Again not the only way. He’s so marketable that even if he’s not playing football he still gets huge endorsements because he can juggle gum and yet no one would sign him? I mean if he’s that marketable surely someone would try to sign him?

  16. salpardisenyc

    And the Ozil drum beats on.

    If Ozil wasn’t on the ridiculous wage he was, pretty sure another club would of signed him. When your in the top 10 of highest earners in the game that drastically limits clubs you can move to.

  17. Marko

    Do people not think he’d take a pay cut at all? No scenario where he takes one? Not playing football? Losing out on lucrative sponsorships? All while just 30.

  18. Words on a Blog

    Sure Özil, is marketable, definitely in Turkey and amongst Turkish-Germans, and perhaps in parts of Africa and in the Middle East.

    But in the Arab Middle East, Salah is way, way, way ahead of him (Arabs not too keen on Turks, prefer other Arabs) and in Sub-Sharan Africa there are any number of (African and European) players ahead of him.

    I’m pretty sure that if Pedro we’re launching a campaign in Africa and was thinking of using an African player, he’d use someone like Auba, not Özil.

    I’m late to the party, but why are we discussing this?

  19. Samesong

    Whether Ozil is at Arsenal or wherever he still very marketable. I work with adidas and he does so many campaigns that surely brings in some good change. Kids love him and he does a lot outside of the game too.

  20. salpardisenyc

    Marko

    At moment its a moot argument as he’s playing and were winning.
    Not a soothsayer but i’d imagine same for next season.

    Don’t know what makes you so confident he’s off, club have invested heavily and Emery seems to of found terms with that and to his credit is managing situation to his/clubs benefit.

  21. Samesong

    Words the debate wasn’t about who is more marketable. More that Ozil wouldn’t be that marketable if he left Arsenal, I think?

  22. Luteo Guenreira

    Words

    I believe the discussion started with what Marko just said, whether he would take a pay cut, whether he would risk it affecting his marketability, I think Valentin then came and said Ozil was a god in Kenya so Adidas would give him a lifetime deal today regardless of what happens in the future, and here we are.

  23. Luteo Guenreira

    It’s about whether Ozil would move or not. His wages being an obvious issue to that. Meaning he would need to agree to take a pay cut in order to move, most likely.

  24. Luteo Guenreira

    At moment its a moot argument as he’s playing and were winning.
    Not a soothsayer but i’d imagine same for next season.

    This really is it though. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t deserve the wage, if he’s playing and we are winning then it doesn’t even matter if he’s not playing all that well, really.

  25. Marc

    Sky keep talking about it being an emotional night for the Spud’s. I’m sitting here thinking why? It should be an exciting night, it should be an about fucking time night but emotional then I got it – We just paid over a billion fucking quid for something that resembles a fucking toilet seat night.

  26. Marko

    At moment its a moot argument as he’s playing and were winning.

    It’s hardly a moot argument if he’s not wanted not playing well and if his leaving actually benefits the club. His staying doesn’t it hinders us. This isn’t a Ozil vs Emery debate that some people think it is this is about us continuing to improve as a football club.

    Don’t know what makes you so confident he’s off

    Well I’m confident that a club that’s 132 years in existence and worth about 3 billion dollars can be able to get rid of a player that they don’t want. A supposed marketable player too

  27. Marko

    I honestly don’t think they emphasize enough that it cost over a billion and that that is actually embarrassing. They basically paid an 600 million to have 2,000 seats more than us. Real smart that

  28. salpardisenyc

    “Well I’m confident that a club that’s 132 years in existence and worth about 3 billion dollars can be able to get rid of a player that they don’t want. ”

    That same club put Ozil on this wage little over 12 months ago, you sure they want to get rid of him? Don’t answer that, we’ve already been down this dirt road.

  29. Marko

    That same club put Ozil on this wage little over 12 months ago, you sure they want to get rid of him?

    Yep. Difference between when they signed him and now is Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis. And if you think they don’t want to get rid of him you haven’t been paying attention. Tried shopping him in January and he’s on about 1,300 minutes for the season.

  30. MidwestGun

    I think the only way Ozil could have been moved was for the Club to freeze him out in an effort to make him mad enough and for his sponsors to put pressure on him to move to get game time.. Ozil then requests to leave. It would have gotten uglier and uglier And in fact that’s my assessment of what was tried earlier this season under the guise of “Ozil is sick.”. It didn’t work.

    But as it turned out it may have worked out in both parties favor if it motivated Ozilnand he can keep up the better productivity . And we keep winning.

    His wages will hinder us in the next transfer window.. but not as much if he is productive and that’s pretty much what everyone wants as that is the best case scenario. Anyhow.. his situation has now taken on the Epic … Le Grove .. Walcott versus Hazard debate territory.. where I really can barely even read about it anymore.

  31. G8

    I think the spuds can win all their remaining games par man city of course..
    5 home games against poor teams guaranteed maximum points
    Unfortunately I can see them finishing above us !

  32. Dissenter

    Spuds can’t even fill their first ever home game at the soup bowl!
    Their attendance declared is 59,215 for the “emotional” game.

  33. Jamie

    Even City can’t fill their stadium, and they win trophies every year now. Spurs won’t find it easy to conjure up 10k extra supporters every [other] week.

  34. gnarleygeorge9

    Spurs built a stadium, whereas The Arsenal built a stadium complimented by a magnificent precinct, with gr8 approach concourse that makes the whole home ground experience the best in North London. Shite Hart Lane is really just a 21st century Kennington Oval, bounded by roads. The Arsenal is far more metropolitan compared to the northern suburbs!

  35. Thomas

    The Tottenham obsession has been amazing on here today with their new stadium. I mean for a club who is “not even a threat” there’s sure a lot of talk about it.

  36. Words on a Blog

    Thomas,

    In case you hasn’t got round to listening to today’s sports news, Tottenham have just played their first match ever in their fancy new stadium, which cost quite a lot of money, and which may cause them a few financial problems in the near future..

    It’s been all over the press, in case you hadn’t heard.

    That’s why we’re discussing it.

  37. Graham62

    Receding

    I wouldn’t look too much into Napoli losing to Empoli.

    They’ll be up for us next week. I reckon we’ll need a two goal buffer to take back to Italy

  38. Words on a Blog

    MidWest,

    He lives under a rock? Who knew?

    I thought he was suspended over the surface of a pond…..

  39. Thomas

    Words on a BlogApril 3, 2019 21:27:41
    Thomas,In case you hasn’t got round to listening to today’s sports news, Tottenham have just played their first match ever in their fancy new stadium, which cost quite a lot of money, and which may cause them a few financial problems in the near future..It’s been all over the press, in case you hadn’t heard.That’s why we’re discussing it.

    ___

    So what? They’re not a threat right? So why the obsession over what they’re/they’re not doing?

  40. Words on a Blog

    This is the Telegraph/WySCout article on Emery and Arsenal that I mentioned the other day, for those interested.

    Inside Unai Emery’s coaching playbook: A breakdown of Arsenal’s resurgence
    Charlie Eccleshare Daniel Zeqiri
    Unai Emery’s coaching playbook
    Unai Emery has already matched Arsenal’s Premier League points tally from the whole of lasts season
    Telegraph Sport uses WyScout, the professional platform for football analysis
    After Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Newcastle, Arsenal sit third in the Premier League. It would be hard to argue that their squad is the third best in the division, and so much of the success can be attributed to Unai Emery’s coaching.

    Here, we examine how Emery has improved the team this season.

    On the pitch

    On the ball

    Emery’s Arsenal are curiously shot-shy

    Only Manchester City and Liverpool better Arsenal’s 65 league goals, so at a superficial level Emery looks to have engineered a well-oiled attacking unit.

    Look beneath the bonnet however, and things are more complex. Arsenal are registering considerably fewer shots per game than last season, and their Expected Goals per game number has fallen from 1.74 to 1.53. It tells us little about the quality of the attempts, but relegation certainties Fulham have had more shots than Arsenal this season as a raw total.

    That suggests Arsenal have benefitted from a season of hot finishing, something that might not continue in the long-term. However, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 0.65 goals per Premier League 90 minutes is only slightly better than his ‘expected total’ of 0.57 per 90. Alexandre Lacazette has experienced more of an over-performance with 0.51 goals per 90 from an expected return of 0.39.

    So have Arsenal and Emery got lucky or are their methods undetected by the numbers? Arsenal have certainly taken a more measured approach to shooting this season, taking shots from almost a yard closer to goal on average compared to last season (17.54 yards to 18.4).

    Arsenal are also attacking through wide areas and crossing more under Emery, firing 15.57 balls into the box from the flanks compared to 14.13 last season. This passes the eye-test too, with cut-backs from Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac becoming an Arsenal trademark and one of their most fruitful routes to goal.

    By their nature, these low crosses are high tariff with only 32.1 percent finding an Arsenal man. However, those that do come off tend to result in a very high quality chance.

    This might be why Arsenal’s shot numbers are less than impressive, even in games when they attack well and look dangerous. Kolasinac’s two first-half crosses against Manchester United are a good case study. Both flashed across the box without registering a shot, but had an Arsenal player connected it would have been a near-certain goal.

    Less horseshoe passing

    Wenger’s Arsenal were renowned for their lengthy spells of possession in the final-third, looking to pick the lock through the kind of short combination play exemplified in Jack Wilshere’s goal of the season against Norwich City in 2013.

    Emery’s Arsenal by contrast, have been far less concerned with keeping the ball at all costs. Arsenal average 514.9 passes per 90 this Premier League season having racked up 598.95 last season, while their average passes per period of possession has decreased from 5.86 to 5.03. Passes into the final third has fallen from 77.13 per 90 to 59.13. Their average pass length has also increased marginally, hinting at more directness.

    This shift away from a possession-heavy style could be the natural product of changing personnel with artisans Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky all departing from Arsenal in the past three years.

    The presence of Lucas Torreira, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi has given Arsenal a different feel, all players who come alive in transitions more than elaborate sequences of pass and move triangles (though they are more than capable in these situations).

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal against Leicester was typical of a subtle change in Arsenal’s play Credit: Getty Images

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    Emery appears to be keen to draw opponents out, including those in the bottom half of the table, and creating phases of broken play is one way of doing this. Against Southampton and Bournemouth at the Emirates last month, Arsenal were able to pounce on their opponents’ mistakes and cut through with swift counter-attacks.

    Even their more elaborate team goals, like those against Fulham and Leicester in the first half of the season, were sweeping, direct attacks from one end to another.

    Arsenal can therefore give the impression of quite a sporadic attacking force, not always camped in the final third like the Wenger teams of old, but more dangerous in the moments they do attack when defences are not set.

    Playing out from the back an attacking weapon

    It may induce gasps of anguish from supporters, but Arsenal’s ability to play out from the back this season has been a key component of their excellent home form.

    Even the most creative attacking sides struggle to break down massed, deep-lying defences that have little to no intention of coming out of their shape. Playing out from the back is an effective way of tempting opposition forwards and midfielders to briefly vacate their stations in the hope of nicking the ball.

    Once they have done so, the half-spaces open up for players like Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to get on the ball and launch attacks against opponents that are now ever-so-slightly out of shape.

    Bernd Leno’s distribution has added a new dimension to Arsenal Credit: Reuters
    Bringing in the ball-playing Bernd Leno last summer has been key to this tactic, but it is also testament to Emery’s coaching prowess that he has got defenders like Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny looking so assured on the ball.

    The premium paid for getting this tactic wrong is extremely high, so it is not a strategy that managers enter into lightly. Only those with an an obsessive amount of attention to detail like Emery and Pep Guardiola can feel confident they will be able to train their players to employ it successfully.

    Drawing fouls to relieve pressure and manage the game

    Arsenal are the most fouled team in the league, with central midfielders Torreira, Guendouzi and Xhaka ranking among the 15 most fouled individuals (Torreira is fourth behind only Richarlison, Wilfried Zaha and Eden Hazard).

    Those prone to conspiracy might say Arsenal have been unfairly targeted, but the foul count could be seen as a positive and something they have added to their game.

    New arrivals Torreira and Guendouzi are comfortable receiving the ball under pressure and taking it into contact. Even the slightly flat-footed Xhaka has followed their example, dribbling past Paul Pogba and drawing a yellow card in the recent league meeting with Man Utd.

    Arsenal have sometimes wilted when pressed in central midfield in past campaigns, as some miserable trips to Anfield and White Hart Lane attest. While there is still room for improvement, Arsenal look to be keeping their heads when pressurised and making smarter decisions, aided of course by their more methodical and structured build-up play that starts with Leno.

    Drawing fouls also slows the game down, and Emery’s Arsenal have proved quite canny at managing games when they get their nose in front. The closing stages of home wins against Chelsea and United were perfectly uneventful from Arsenal’s perspective. The next step in their progression is to take the sting out of away games in similar fashion.

    Off the ball

    Allowing teams the ball and pinching it in dangerous areas

    One of the most striking elements of Arsenal’s play this season has been their willingness to sit off and allow their opponents to have the ball.

    Under Wenger the fetishisation of possession was such that when Arsenal beat Manchester City away four years ago despite having only 35 per cent of the ball, the reaction at the club was as if they had just robbed Fort Knox. Winning a game when not dominating the ball? What sorcery is this?

    The reality is that for most teams – even the biggest ones, Real Madrid especially come to mind – winning games when ceding possession is fairly unremarkable. Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United’s teams would do it so routinely to Arsenal in fact that the sight of Park Ji-Sung and co galloping towards another counter-attacking goal became grimly routine.

    The tactical magpie that he is, Emery is not wedded to a deep-lying possession-averse system, but he is happy to do it when required. In the 2-0 win against Chelsea for instance, Arsenal enjoyed just 35 per cent of possession – trusting that their defence would be well-organised to repel Maurizio Sarri’s sterile domination. They also had less of the ball in the home win against United, with Emery again backing the defence to hold firm and the front two of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to do enough with the chances that fell their way. Overall Arsenal have averaged 58 per cent of the ball in Premier League games compared to 62 last season.

    A secondary part of this less possession-hungry strategy is preying on the opposition when they have the ball to win turnovers and set up quick counters. Lacazette is particularly effective at doing this – just ask the dithering Southampton defenders who he caught out to create a goal for Mkhitaryan in February’s 2-0 win.

    Improved shape

    As referenced above, one of Arsenal’s most damaging habits in the later Wenger years was pushing forward and leaving themselves vulnerable to the counter attack.

    The image below, which bear in mind comes from the 53rd minute of a two-legged tie in which Arsenal were only losing 1-0, pretty much sums it up.

    Arsenal had 127 minutes to find an equaliser in their 2015 Champions League last 16 tie, but pushed forward to such an extent that they conceded this goal on the counter-attack Credit: ITV
    Emery has worked desperately hard to avoid Arsenal being exposed on the break, and after some early teething problems, the results have been positive. Only Manchester United and Wolves have conceded fewer counter-attacking goals this season.

    Part of Arsenal’s improvement in this area is down to Emery’s obsession over shape and the hours spent drilling this into his players on the training ground. Then there is his use of Aaron Ramsey, which underlines how concerned Emery is at Arsenal suffering from turnovers.

    One of Emery’s first selection decisions upon arriving at Arsenal in the summer was deciding that Ramsey couldn’t play in a central midfield pair if the team was set up with a back four.

    Instead when Ramsey has played it has been alongside two of Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torreira, or with the safety of three centre-backs behind him.

    Great player that he is, Ramsey’s wanderings were a key reason why Arsenal would leave a vacant central midfield area for their opponents to saunter into. This season, the system has rendered Ramsey’s meanderings less costly, while at the same time allowing him to flourish further forward. Round pegs in round holes, I think that’s called.

    Off the pitch

    Improving individuals

    Emery’s more prescriptive approach on the training pitch seems to have benefited a number of Arsenal players, particularly those still starting their careers.

    Rob Holding, Alex Iwobi and Hector Bellerin all found consistency and a structure that best displayed their attributes. Holding’s distribution was vital to Emery before his season-ending knee injury, Iwobi has been more persistent and aggressive while Bellerin fits the requirements of an Emery full-back perfectly.

    Danny Welbeck and Henrikh Mkhitaryan may not have improved per se, but are both the type of flexible and hard working wide-forwards Emery likes, particularly in his base-line 4-2-3-1 system. Granit Xhaka looks so much more comfortable with an orthodox midfield partner, while Lacazette has exuded authority and presence up front. He took some time to gain Emery’s trust, but Sead Kolasinac is a lock for left wing-back should Arsenal play with a back three and his defensive work has grown in diligence.

    Alex Iwobi’s ball retention and dribbling is valued by Emery Credit: Getty Images
    If Arsenal’s conversion rates are a measure of good fortune, then Emery was desperately unlucky to lose Bellerin, Holding and Welbeck to serious injuries in his first season.

    The road has been bumpier with the more experienced names. Emery’s use of Aubameyang on the left in the season’s early weeks was an awkward accommodation, but the striker has since done what he always does and score plenty.

    Ozil was used sparingly, with Emery broadly hinting that he wanted greater availability for matches and training from the playmaker, but has been reintegrated and is quietly finding his best form. There might be sound financial reasons for not renewing Ramsey’s contract, but his form has rubbished suggestions he could not fit in an Emery team.

    Tactical flexibility

    Arsenal had strong runs of form right up until Wenger’s final season, but often their prospects seemed to rely on the presence of key individuals and partnerships to balance the team. Cazorla and Francis Couqelin’s midfield axis worked well for example, but their attributes were not replicated elsewhere in the squad and neither had another compatible partner. As soon as one was absent, the whole house of cards came down.

    The autumn 2016 front three of Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Iwobi had a nice chemistry, but the next cab off the rank was Olivier Giroud – a fine player in his own right, but one who utterly altered the balance of the attack.

    By contrast, Arsenal’s good run under Emery seems to be underpinned by something more permanent, above and beyond the qualities of any individual player. Arsenal are achieving consistent performances despite constant alterations of shape and combinations. Everything is changing, yet things stay the same.

    Emery likes to have a horses-for-courses approach designed for the opposition, and for a while it seemed Arsenal’s players were struggling to take in the extra information. They are now starting games more seamlessly, which hints the balance between analysis and instinct is being struck.

    In Arsenal’s home win against Tottenham, they started in a 3-4-2-1, switched to a 3-4-1-2 at half-time, before going to a back four late in the game. A 4-4-2 diamond did the trick against Chelsea, 4-2-3-1 should have produced a win against Spurs at Wembley while it was 3-4-1-2 against United. Arsenal have gone from the leopard that never changes its spots to the chameleon of the Big Six.

    This rotation has another benefit: Arsenal look fit and fresh and Emery’s fondness for dividing games into chunks means no individual has been overburdened with minutes. Apart from the impact injuries to Holding, Bellerin and Welbeck, soft tissue problems have been kept to a minimum.

    Meritocracy and the end of over-indulging favourites

    Xhaka, Lacazette, and Iwobi. All three have been key players under Emery, and all three have been hooked at half-time at one time or another this season.

    The two are not mutually exclusive, with Emery merciless when it comes to sacrificing individuals for the good of the team. Ozil has probably been the starkest example of this, and Emery deserves great credit for how improved Ozil’s performances have been since the manager essentially said: stop missing training and matches with illness, and I’ll play you.

    Part of the Arsenal squad’s receptiveness to Emery’s meritocractic approach can be traced back to the end of the Wenger era when players like Sanchez and Ozil – despite their reluctance to commit to the club – were essentially undroppable. Ramsey and Koscielny were said to be especially infuriated with the way Sancez was indulged.

    In the great Wenger teams, there was a tradition of fringe or young players coming in and making a first-team place their own – Ashley Cole, Edu, Sylvain Wiltord – and that has been the case for much of this season. Iwobi, Rob Holding, and now Ainsley Maitland-Niles have all done something similar since August.

  41. MidwestGun

    Thomas-
    Wtf? who says they aren’t a threat besides you? I mean I know you only root for Chelsea.. but Spurs finished 3rd just last season.

    How is that Jose Mourinho neck tat, by the way? Probably needs a little touch up work by now , huh?

  42. Jamie

    Thomas comes on and Arsenal blog to troll because he feels threatened by us. Why else would he be constantly be talking about Arsenal? Sad.

  43. Luteo Guenreira

    Thomas

    Ask yourself why you constantly find yourself commenting on an Arsenal blog and you may find your answer, it’s probably not that different.

    Also the game of semantics you’re trying to play is childish. What’s your point, that an Arsenal fan caring about the rivalry gives significance to Spurs? And then you point and laugh at us because we cared?

    You’re like my nephew that gets upset when I ask if he thinks someone is pretty.

  44. Leedsgunner

    Andoni Zubizaretta, wasn’t he one that sanctioned the transfer of Hleb, Song and Vermalaen from us to Barcelona?

    Not really encouraging is it?

  45. Marko

    That fucking thing cost about the same as the Dallas Cowboys stadium. And theirs is bigger and it holds over 100,000 and it’s got the largest screen in the world covering the length of the pitch. They paid a billion for that.

  46. MidwestGun

    Well if Zubizaretta was at Barcelona from 2010 – 2015.. That would include Macherano, Fabregas, Suarez, Neymar, Alexi Sanchez, Jordi Alba and Rakitic.

    Not really fair to pick and choose the bad names. But I don’t know much about him. We wont have a Barca budget that’s for sure.

  47. Charlie George

    Fascinating reading tonight- that Marco Reus states that Ozil is the best player he has played with in Germany.

    That is indeed ,high praise.
    Dortmund have produced some sensational players over the years.

    Reus, interestingly- would be an apt Replacement Arsenal ( if Rambo does depart).

    (Having said that – we are top heavy with ex Dortmund players)

  48. Tony

    Is Mike Dean Jasper Carrot’s brother? He definitely is a joke of a referee!

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-6881351/Mike-Deans-best-worst-moments-finally-dished-100th-Premier-League-red-card.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_JQDfuMZi0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbTQ8SqpRw8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eedH28a4Fus

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DdofvSKhgM

    A real comedic prima donna on the pitch with all the flamboyancy of a member of Village People.

    Anyway some fun to wake up to. Jasper Carrot is one of the UK’s funniest observational comedians.

    For me his insurance claims was possibly his humorous sketch:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxMjeWj3O7g

    Although not as funny as Pierre’s trolling and priceless stats

  49. Leedsgunner

    Why don’t we try to offload Elneny and Jenkinson to Leeds United if they get promoted? They will be hungry for EPL proven players and if we could receive £15m for both of them that would be money we could add to our transfer kitty.

  50. Tony

    Leeds
    United looking to offload 6 players being reported today; their 6 are certainly better than Elneny & Jenks.

    We couldn’t get rid of players last summer, probably not going to be easy this summer either.

  51. Tony

    Overmars being reconsidered? Didn’t he turn us down?

    Do we really want dinosaurs like Andoni Zubziaretta?

    We need a younger dynamic TD not some guy verging on extinction.

    Actually we need a real footballing CEO first or a CEO with a proven successful track record in sports teams or produce background.

    Not a power hungry rolodex guy who can’t attract the right people to the club.

    The latter is very telling.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-6882553/Arsenal-interviewing-new-candidates-technical-director-role-missing-Monchi.html

  52. gonsterous

    Reus is RVP Mk 2.0
    talented but just as injury prone, don’t want a player that plays half a season.
    We need to really look for a Ramsey replacement though. Ramsey has been good. Though if he had gotten his contract extension, I doubt he would be playing like this. All to do with his motivation.

    Another question, if arteta had gotten the Job, would he have handled the ozil situation and would we be where we are ?

  53. China1

    I believe ozil is still very marketable

    He’s still the biggest name in our squad. He’s still the one the non arsenal and non football watching people know. He also still shows up here and there with a genius performance to top up his sliding rep

    In or out of our and the German team, he’s still ozil and that’s not changing any time soon imo

  54. Graham62

    We live on the South Coast just 60 miles south of London.

    3 bedroom terraced house here costs in the region of £325-350k. Same house in and around London in the region of £750k upto £1m.

  55. Pierre

    The arrival of Emery has helped some of the players in a positive way ..

    I would say Bellerin has benefited with his final ball ( not so much
    Positionally and defensively)/
    Kolasinac is slowly gaining defensive awareness and is very good offensively.
    Ramsey in the last 3 games has shown that he is capable of playing a disciplined central midfield role which I believe should be attributed to Emery.
    Mustafi any improvement is negligible.
    Iwobi is slowly improving tactically because of Emery’s help.

    I would say our offensive players have always been at a good level . There was a period in the season when offensively we had lost our way and Emery was having a negative effect on them.
    However, recently they have regained their confidence and we now have a very potent front line.

    Personally, I would like to see our recent defensive stability carry on with the improvement.
    Monreal should be given a new contract immediately.

  56. Dark Hei

    “Andoni Zubizaretta, wasn’t he one that sanctioned the transfer of Hleb, Song and Vermalaen from us to Barcelona?”

    I think he is calling in the favours……

  57. Mr B

    Hard to replace first team and squad players. Also some of our biggest natural winners in Aaron and Petr.

  58. Graham62

    Don’t forget AMN.

    Big improvement over the past few months.

    All down to Emery.

    Ramsey and Ozil have also bought into the new philosophies.

  59. Paulinho

    “Fascinating reading tonight- that Marco Reus states that Ozil is the best player he has played with in Germany.”

    Not really surprised. Not a whole lot of competition when you look through their squad in the last decade. Muller, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, are all good but tend to get overrated. Functional more than anything. Lahm is probably the elite player out of the rest of them. Not surprised he went for Ozil.

  60. Charlie George

    Mr. B

    “”If it was up to me I would extend Aaron, Petr and Danny’s contract””

    Totally agree.

    All brilliant professionals
    Hugely popular amongst their peers
    All experienced and proven internationals
    Winners. ( They have many medals.)…….
    … count them – if in doubt.

    We need all these attributes.
    Let’s hope they stay with us.

  61. HighburyLegend

    I think we can forget the “we need time to be acclimated to this new stadium” factor for the Spuds… the new darlings of the kingdom.

    C*nts.

  62. HighburyLegend

    I see that all the Ozil lovers are here this morning.

    The post above from CGF is absolutely priceless.
    Let’s see what Mesut will show us when we will play Napoli (or Chelsea/another big one if we pass the next round)

  63. Pierre

    Paulinho

    I note with interest that you are not that impressed with Marco Reus choice as best player he has ever played with .

    I also note your high regard for Aaron Ramsey , so Just out of interest, do you think Marco Reus would have chosen Aaron Ramsey as the best player as he has ever played with if he had ever played with him .

    In fact , do you think any other player ever would say that Aaron Ramsey is the best player they have ever played with .

  64. Sid

    Just read an article on goal about how Renato Sanchez is frustrated with lack of minutes at Munich and wants a move.

    Could be a decent shout on the cheap (since he seems to be actively looking for a move to play more football), he was great at Benfica.

  65. Leftsidesanch

    Typical day on LG’s comment section:

    -Pierre (probably knows what Ozil’s bathwater tastes like). Constantly feels he has to defend and talk about Ozil, and froths at the mouth when Ozil is mentioned in less than stellar terms.
    -GOH with his daily nonsensical remarks then makes a bad joke when he’s called out for his nonsense.
    – Then comes Steve (or Thomas as he’s calling himself now) to talk about how much disdain he has for Arsenal and criticise Arsenal fans on an Arsenal blog for talking about..you guessed it…Arsenal!
    – CG blabbering on about nonsense (best one so far was that we should resign Aaron Ramsey) even though he’s leaving to go to Juventus in the summer.

    Add in Bam somewhere to tell Legrovers what to discuss and to talk about how wonderful Ole Gunnar is and the United team and we have a complete day.

    You guys are wonderful, keep up the humour it makes for good reading when I want a break from my work.

  66. Paulinho

    Pierre – Whenever they ask these questions to players they always choose someone with a talent for making things look easy, and always refer to the things they did in training etc, along with on-pitch performances. Ozil is always going to stand out next to a functional midfielder like Schweinsteiger and a hack like Muller. They remember the flicks rather than the off-the-ball runs, no matter how effective those runs were.

    It’s why Bergkamp is always the favourite answer of ex-Arsenal players even though Henry was clearly the better player when it came to consistently delivering over sustained periods.

  67. Pierre

    Leftsidesanch

    I am here to educate people like you who don’t understand the finer points of the game.
    The negativity that spews from many of the posters on Le Grove about our own players is something that I like to address.

    There are some that are beyond redemption but I will continue to give my words of wisdom in the hope that they can see that football is a game to enjoy and watching players with sublime skills is what the fans want to see ( hence the ovation Ozil received v Newcastle when he was substituted).

    To my relief, our manager has seen the light and realised that football is not just about who runs the furthest.
    The old adage of ” let the ball do the work” still stands true for me

    Let’s hope our manager continues on his more recent path , his team selections, tactics and substitutions have been spot on since the Bate defeat ( Rennes away the exception)

  68. Words on a Blog

    Leftside,

    Lol, I hadn’t realised that Pierre was “here to educate” us miserable ignorant people…

    Now I know I can rest easy.

  69. Pierre

    Paulinho
    Personally I would play Ozil v Everton and Napoli ,leave him out for Watford away and play him Napoli away …..after that ,see how things go …

    I have always said it should be horses for courses with Ozil ..some games he is ineffective but Everton and Napoli away , no problem.

  70. Words on a Blog

    Pierre,

    I’m going to Restaurant Gordon Ramsey this evening.

    Would you please Give me some advice on what fine wine to have?

    I was thinking of a Turkish-German Chateaux red wine, subtle and smooth

  71. Mr B

    We may not be able to resign Rambo but we can definitely resign Cech and Welbz

    LeftsidesanchApril 4, 2019 09:44:53
    – CG blabbering on about nonsense (best one so far was that we should resign Aaron Ramsey) even though he’s leaving to go to Juventus in the summer.

  72. HighburyLegend

    “Does Emery trust him for away games yet …I’m not so sure.”

    Thank God you are not Arsenal head coach.

  73. Leftsidesanch

    I am here to educate people like you who don’t understand the finer points of the game.

    How you’ve managed to conclude your understanding is superior to “people” like me I don’t know. Go on, tell me what I’m going to have for dinner this evening and what my future will look like in 5 years.