This is a guest post from the excellent @Jblauphoto enjoy!
Have Arsenal executed a peak-late-Wenger-level collapse in the Premier League, viciously choking away any chance at the Top 4?
Yes. Yes, they have.
They’ve Arsenal-ed it up in the most Arsenal way possible.
Oof. Ouch. Oi. Yikes!
Sorry, lads, but that’s what happened.
And yet. And yet?
If you’ve been reading my column since August, you’ll know that I firmly predicted that it was near impossible for Arsenal to make the Top 4, and win the Europa League.
Never thought it would happen. And now it won’t. But why?
Why did I never believe?
Because I don’t think Unai Emery is a coaching genius, and our squad was clearly too thin to make it until the end in two major competitions.
That’s what I thought, and it’s what’s transpired.
How might this scenario have been avoided? Well, if none of the long-term injuries had popped up, and we had a full squad of first teamers.
If you add back Welbeck, Holding, Hector, and Ramsey, I think that team might have done it.
But when has Arsenal had a full season with no major injuries?
And when has Ramsey made it through a season without twanging one (or both) of his hamstrings?
It’s the reason Arsenal didn’t re-sign him, for sure. I actually said that to my son, the week before he did his hamstrings again. I broke it down thusly:
“Sure. We love Aaron. He brought us 3 FA Cups. And he’s probably our best player right now. But he always, always does his hamstrings. Every season. You can’t count on him, and we can’t afford to pay that much to a part-time player going on 30.”
Now, I’ve got a witness to that conversation, and you guys (if you’ve been reading,) have seen me promote the Liverpool ownership group as a model of how to win it all, and I high-lit the Brooklyn Nets rebuild, which is now the darling of the global sports universe. (Yes, I said it here 6 months early.)
I’ve also tried to be the voice of reason, most of the time.
Time and again, I’ve said, let’s see what Emery delivers.
The man is a Europa League specialist if ever there was one, and we might just win it yet. If we do, and he makes the Champions League, he’ll have succeeded in his mission, even though it will have been a decidedly ugly march to get there.
It’s a big if, but still, we have to wait and see.
(The other side of that if, if we don’t win the Europa League, is too ugly to contemplate right now.)
If you want some good news, it’s that Stan and Josh built the Rams and the Nuggets, and right now, that’s looking good. These teams are winning, and are set up for sustained success.
What if they hired Emery BECAUSE he’s a Europa League specialist? I mean, this one has Ivan’s fingerprints all over it, and he’s been gone for so long we don’t talk about him anymore.
Arsenal are about to finish up an ORGANIZATIONAL rebuild, with a new technical director aligned with Josh and Raul. (At least we finally know who’s running the club.)
And I’m telling you, if you look at their American mega-properties over the last few years, I’m beginning to suspect that Josh might know what he’s doing.
This club needs a vision from above, and it needs a full defensive rebuild. I’ve said all along we’ll need to sell some people we won’t want to, for money, the way Liverpool have, and I just read on ESPN that Barcelona might be coming for Alex Lacazette.
That’s the way it works. They don’t come for the shit players, unless it was Wenger Voodoo. (Song, Vermaelen.)
So that’s where we’re at.
Mourinho (God I still hate him) went Europa League or bust with ManU, and it worked out for him.
Now our man Unai is in the same boat. And even if he succeeds, I think the bosses above are already looking for the next big coaching thing to battle Pep and Klopp.
Good luck, Unai Emery.
I think you’ll need it.
Give him a follow on Twitter @Jblauphoto