It’s been very interesting watching the back and forth on Emery over the past few days.
I am just a mediator these days.
A deliverer of the facts.
One of my friends told me I needed to be nicer to Emery, so I will be.
He’s taken on a hard job. The squad had too many drossy players left in it. He’s made improvements.
The interesting thing with the improvements, is they aren’t as data-driven as they were a few weeks ago.
The man thing he’s addressed this year is competitiveness in the big games.
He’s also shown that he can outthink big managers.
Our tactics aren’t always great but be fair, there are tactics, which is a huge advancement at Arsenal.
The interesting thing to look at for me is the flip of coin that’s going on with how to look at the season.
If you compare Emery’s season to the penultimate season of Wenger, things look very similar. Now, I compare him to that season because it was Wenger’s second worse season ever. Comparing to last season is a softball. Also, the season I’m comparing to earned Wenger a new deal, his last earned him a red card.
We are already two goals worse off from a defensive standpoint.
We have to score 9 goals to be offensively better.
We have to win all three games to match the points total.
Add to that: Our defensive xG maps almost perfectly to what we’ve achieved… we are as bad as it looks. There’s no luck involved.
Look at our attack, and we have been ruthlessly efficient. Literally the best conversion rate we’ve ever had. That is going to be hard to sustain.
Then look at our away record and we’ve kept one clean sheet all season.
The flip side of this is you could say we should only be comparing Emery to last season. Sure, things are better than the year the squad basically gave up on Wenger. Let’s be a bit more ambitious than that.
The other valid argument Emery backers can have is this:
NONE OF IT MATTERS IF WE MAKE TOP 4 OR WIN EUROPA.
… and that’s the rub of it. Exactly what I said when everyone was crowing about points a few weeks ago. It’s all irrelevant if you don’t meet your objective.
We can still make top 4 in the Premier League. That would be epic. I would dance partially clothed in the street if that happened.
We have a very good chance of beating Valencia. Then it’s a roll of the dice in a final against two sides I’d fancy us against.
So when assessing Emery, you have to decide what you think is greatness.
Tangible improvements to tactics, defence or attack.
Or just STFU we qualified for the big boy European trophy.
It’s going to be a very interesting scorecard come the end of the season… and to be clear, I think it’s a blend of both. If he makes the Champions League, he deserves all the love we can give him. If he doesn’t, I think we’ll have an uphill battle next season, because £45m is getting us nowhere.
Arsenal and Emery are perched on the precipice. Another chance at relevancy… or a further decline into the pit of mediocrity.
Chelsea, United and Spurs will not stand still. This is our chance. We have to make something of our last 3 Premier League games and we have to do something special in the Europa.
Huge month ahead, strap in. x