5th place. Expected, but were we worth more?

by .

The football season was laid to rest. RIP first-year transition. It’s been well worth it whatever the last dregs of the AKB tell you.

It was a mixed bag of fortunes, we have the glorious 22 game unbeaten run. We had some dark patches, we had some resurgent moments, we fixed playing against the big boys, then we bottled top 3 in embarrassing fashion.

But when it all shakes out, the Emeryista will champion the fact that we were two points off third place.

‘Would you have taken 5th at the start of the season?’

Well, this is what I wrote.

‘There’s pause for concern. I think the reality of the new regime is you don’t quickly fix a house that’s been left neglected in woods for 14 years. There are so many agenda items the new backroom team need to address in a short period of time just to bring us to elite parity from a setup perspective. The dream that we’ll be chasing down Manchester City in season one are fanciful, if we’re totally honest, 5th is probably a fair expectation of where we’ll finish, 4th would be the stretch target.’

So the good news for me is that I was correct with my prediction, the bad news is that we gained context as the season went on and now we’re at the end of it, it looks like we blew it.

Things that changed:

  • United were shite and managed to get worse
  • Sarriball never really materialised, they were dross all year
  • Spurs lost 13 games in the league, an abject season considering the hype at Christmas
  • Emery started like a fu*king BEAST

I think a team that is capable of 22 games unbeaten is capable of finishing in the top 4. We showed resilience, we showed guts, and we had some sublime moments if you think back to games like Fulham and Leicester.

So, you can judge the season based on what you thought at the start, or you can judge it on what actually happened. We took 4 points from 18 when 7 could have had us in 3rd. We dropped those points entirely to teams below us in the league, and would likely have shipped more had Troy the boy not been sent off for Watford.  ‘But Brighton are a handy side and they’ll give City a good game’ never really materialised, did it? All of those sides were beatable. Bad tactics, poor rotation, and possibly too much desire for the Europa (we shall see).

Arsenal should have improved towards the end of the season, not crashed and burned like a beginner learning to drone in Chicago.  But even if you just want to accept those games as a blip, for a man that was hired as a coach, it’s tough to see where the major improvements have come?

This was him before the Chelsea game at the start of the season.

“Defensively: first it is to be organised, recover the ball quickly. But in these two moments in the match we need to work.

“To say it here is easier than doing it on the pitch. We also need time, but now I am happy because I think the players are improving.

“We need two things: quality players, which we have, and then organisation. Together I think we can improve, to win in our way. I repeat: organised, then play.

“When we are thinking in an attacking moment, I want the goalkeeper thinking for that, he is the first.

“The same when we are thinking defensively, I want our strikers to be thinking: ‘We need to protect the goalkeepers.’ I want those two moments to feel the same for all players.

We conceded the same amount of goals as we did last season after adding a brilliant keeper, a good centre back and a defensive midfielder we all love.

We scored one less than last season. For a coach we were hoping would unlock us moving forward, we’ve actually gone backwards. Our play is one dimensional, outside Auba and Lacazette, our top scorer is Mikhi with 6. Our conversion rate is the highest in the league from the lowest amount of shots, a great thing to boast, but that will correct itself at some point.

Finally, there’s no defined style. The football is dull as dishwater. Compare to what Liverpool were offering up at the end of their first season, it’s chalk and really tough algebra (what, I like chalk).

We can celebrate 5th as progress, honestly, we can… but for me, that’s a bit like the time we celebrated 2nd when we finished behind Leicester. Given the context of the season, the excellent early season form and the absolutely dreadful run-in of those around us, I really had hoped for more. Interesting to note that we’d have finished 6th last season with the same points total and goal difference. Those 7 extra points this season cost us £10m a pop.

You could say £290m more and we’d be Champions… but I have my doubts, and so do you if you were being really honest.

Next season, all the teams around us will spend money (bar Chelsea, LOLOLOL). The clubs behind us closed the gap this year, they’ll get better as they push to spend their money in sharper ways than Arsenal. xG has us in 7th, a whopping 11 points better off than we should be. xG predicted the luck would run out with Emery and OGS and it was right.

We’re in a Bruce Rioch moment without the leadership to see it.

Even worse, we have absolutely no idea what the club is going to do this summer. Our head of recruitment is Cagigao. Have we made an internal promo because he’s the best candidate, or is it a kingmaker hire with puppet strings attached to Raul? I’m not for one moment doubting Cagigao is a talented guy, I’m just a little worried that Raul moved Sven on partly because he believes in contacts wheeler-dealing. Would a winning interview answer for Raul be, ‘I’d love to invest in talented young players 20-21 with one or two years left on their deal, ideally from unknown markets so we get the best, then elevate them early’… or would it be, ‘I like your idea, Malcolm, Banega and Nzonzi seem like a very good humans that will elevate us.’ Time will tell, but I am concerned we have the Spanish Harry Redknapp at the wheel.

Edu doesn’t start until after the Copa America, and he’ll likely be busy with his actual job until the end of the tournament.

It seems to me like we’re a little rudderless.

Good news is we have a cup final to look forward to, where we ‘could’ find our way to the Champions League via the backdoor. That would be very good for us because it would reduce the dire need for us to cull our wage bill. Let’s pray Emery goes big for his favourite competition.

P.S. I’d say congrats to Arteta on his second Premier League win, but I’d get in trouble, so I’ll just pretend that monumental feat didn’t happen.


357 Responses to “5th place. Expected, but were we worth more?”

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  1. Words on a Blog

    Elite mediocrity (late era Wenger) = Lack of intelligencd (flawed vision, no tactics) + somewhat less money (a few less top notch players)

  2. Words on a Blog

    Mid table mediocrity (Emery?) = limited intelligence (incoherent vision, flawed and shifting tactics) + no money (no top notch players)

  3. Redtruth

    Guardiola is elite at spending money.
    He flopped with Bayern failing to take them to even one Champions league Final.
    You’d have to be retarded not to have success with the richest club in England

  4. jwl

    Words on a Blog – your Colgate Kid comment made me laugh.

    Pedro – English premier league sells itself because of high intensity and aggressive football, it has nothing to do with managers who come and go.

    Also Arsenal have multiple employees who are responsible for data, if their analysis is superficial like you suggest than we need new data people. Emery, the head coach, has nothing to do with data analysis.

    The only ‘metric’ that matters is that Emery has done better this season than Wenger did last season, everything else is nonsense.

  5. jwl

    I have never understood the love for Guardiola, he has only managed the best team in different domestic leagues. Mourihno won multiple trophies with lesser teams while Pep struggles to achieve expectations with elite teams.

  6. Marko

    I’ll just pretend that monumental feat didn’t happen.

    Pep Guardiola is the manager of Manchester City Pedro. His is the monumental achievement

  7. MidwestGun

    Lol Red you crack me up… you judge managers on CL’s titles when it suits your purpose and player’s on World Cup titles when it suits your purpose..

    I though you hated the CL and wanted it to go back to being Champions only.?. In that case Pep would be one of the few managers eligible since he pretty much wins the League wherever he goes.

  8. Guns of Brixton

    I though you hated the CL and wanted it to go back to being Champions only.?. In that case Pep would be one of the few managers eligible since he pretty much wins the League wherever he goes.


    Cornered him there. No doubt he ll evade

  9. HillWood

    I thought the move to the Emirates was supposed to enable us to compete with the ‘elite’ European clubs
    Never really happened though did it

  10. MGooner

    Neglected for 14 yrs 🙂

    For some perspective

    During which we went to the CL final and lost because of a stupid red card
    An English record of qualifying 19 times since 1998, matched only by Real Madrid in Europe
    First English club to beat Real Madrid galacticos of Zidane, Carlos & co with a backline comprising Ebway and Flamini
    Lowest net spend of top 6 clubs in England (incl Totts) https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/7n20uz/epl_net_spend_for_top_6_clubs_over_the_last_15/
    We stopped selling our best players in 2014 and bought instead (Ozil, then Sanchez etc) – 3 FA cups followed
    Our level dropped when fans turned the atmosphere toxic because apparently we were hoarding cash and not spending.
    Our Gaffer said he would buy but only top players (asking owners for money which he did not get)

    Disclaimer: I am not a Wenger fan. in fact I wanted him out since we started the stadium debt thing as he was shielding the new owners impotence.

  11. Up 4 grabs now

    Sorry Pedro, disappeared off to watch game of thrones.
    Made what up?
    The fact that only arteta and the ex barca dude was the only one throwing there hat in the ring.

    Who else?
    Anybody of note wanted a big war chest otherwise they would have been banging on the door for the job.

  12. HillWood

    For some perspective
    Champions League Final was thirteen years ago
    19 years in the competition was mainly for the cash

  13. jwl

    MidwestGun – all Pep has done is meet basic expectations.

    Pep is hired to win double – league and champs league – but he has not done that since Barca when he was managing one of best squads ever.

    Pep is massively over rated because he does not cock things up while managing best squad in domestic league, but he does not exceed expectations like other managers do.

  14. Redtruth

    One out of 19 seasons Arsenal actually make it to a Champions league Final lol.
    It does help playing 2 consecutive non league sides on the way to winning the Cup.

  15. MidwestGun

    Daenerys reminds me of Wenger in a way… Instead of trying to facilitate a smooth transition maybe integrate some former players into the Club. Go out with a win.. maybe not a convincing win..but still a win.. nope … Ill just burn it all down around me and give you guys Mustafi. Be careful, what you wish. for.. 😀

  16. salparadisenyc

    “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

    Green eyes next.

  17. jwl

    MidwestGun – Pep made his reputation coaching Messi and others who will go down in history as one of greatest squads in history. Since Guardiola left Barca he’s coached the best, most expensive acquired teams in their domestic league but has not won Champs League. I agree that Pep is decent manager but all he’s done is not cock things up at best clubs in world, he has not exceeded expectations.

  18. MidwestGun

    Yep… Radio hard to say.. For somebody who kept saying how much he loved Arsenal aka the 7 kingdoms.. he sure didn’t act like it for many years. and especially at the end. Oh you all want a outfield player, do you? . I give you Elneny.. and like it bitches.

  19. HillWood

    The conversation on here all day was about Arsenal being an elite club
    19 years in a competition without winning it doesn’t make us an elite club

  20. MidwestGun

    Jwl.. He has won the champions league twice. only a few have won it more. He ran into Zidane and Real Madrid.. they have a fair bit of money too. I can’t really judge managers based on CL victories. Imo, he is the best manager in the modern era. Yes he is has been fortunate but he made his own luck as well and delivered League titles wherever he goes. Also has a ridiculously high win percentage.. he doesn’t lose to the Brightons of the world very often.

  21. MGooner

    @Hill Wood

    Sure. I am already enjoying our first steps towards becoming elite.

    Starting with a wonderful transfer budget for next year to support the gaffer, whoever he might be.

  22. MidwestGun

    Put it this way .. if anyone else besides Pep.. had managed Bayern and City… Klopp would be a pretty highly decorated manager right now. lol So does Klopp overtake Pep as best manager just because he wins the CL yet has no domestic titles? I would just say they are both at the top of my manager list as the best.

  23. Danny S

    I always said I would judge emery on next season. Steady the ship, clear the wage bill of all the dross in high income and start making better signings. I thought if we got 5th it 6th it would be a decent first season with all the work he had to do.
    Well, we finished 5th, and we are in a Euro final to boot so I’m very happy with that.

    However…….. I do agree that we seem to lack any kind of style and the neglect to the defensive side of the game is criminal.
    We should have had 3rd wrapped up, but then I bet spurs and Chelsea both think they should have had it tied up sooner than they did.

    Now my expectation for next season regardless of champs league qualification is a top 4 finish, no excuses. I’m really hoping emery was using this season to tinker and that next season we will have a clear game plan, and some more players that can work to it.

    If we still see mustafi and xhaka lining up with iwobi as our main winger next season then I’ll be pissed off. But I’m hoping the transfer team has some aces up the sleeve

  24. MidwestGun

    Kroenke.. Is Bran he just sits in his chair and stares off into space when you know if he wanted to he could do something.

    ***Not a spoiler alert that’s what he does every show.***

  25. CG


    “””We all complain about wengers demise over the years, but in truth he was the only one providing any sort of leadership and structure to the club.””””

    Great post.
    Absolutely correct.
    Wenger always fronted up

    Raul -our over promoted and underqualified DOF- has been in his post- for over a year.

    Has he ever done an interview?

    I want to know what his thinking behind endorsing the Emery appointment?
    Was it because he was pliable?

    Why was Jens Lehmann sacked?

    Why was our best player allowed to leave for nothing.? Is this wise? A mistake?

    Why was the highly thought after scout ( Dortmund Eye) allowed to leave so quickly after his arrival?

    What was the thinking behind the Lich signing?

    Does he still think Emery is our best bet as coach – even though clearly attainable better quality coaches are and will be available?

    Why do we have be so few British players left after his purging of them .( ramsey chambers, Welbeck) etc.

    What are his plans- to get the crowds back at The Emirates?

    Off course – he can’t answer them.

    Because he is a spiv, a conman or as PedRo states more gently – the Spanish Harry Redknapp.

    How the billionaire Kroenkes have allowed this man to be in charge of footballing policy at AFC- is indeed of one lifes mysteries…

    The day him and his stooge Emery leave our prestigious institution- Arsenal- the better we will be.

    Herbert Chapman will be turning in his grave..

  26. Radio Raheem


    Haha nice one. Must have a lot of under that duvet he wraps himself with. Skittles, hand lotion, fags, pack of crisps, dollars, dollars, pounds, dollars…

  27. RodneyKing

    In today’s game, it’s almost a rule of thumb that the best managers demand the best players.

    People complain about our football being bland. But that has mostly been the case for the past few seasons. I’ve watched football long enough to know that’s what you get when your spine is made up of slow midfielders who would rather pass backwards or sideways and no natural wingers and fullbacks who can beat a man or cross the ball.

    I can only think of a few mangers currently out there who have proven to be elite – Carlo, Mourinho, Pep. Allegri and Klopp deserve a mention, even though they both haven’t won the Champions League (the latter is in his third final).

    In the EPL, Poch, Nuno and Hasenhuttl have shown potential and may go on to become elite. We will never know until they go to bigger clubs where winning titles and trophies are expected and failure to do is instantly rewarded with a sack,

    As for Emery, he and our “live-within-your-means” Arsenal are a match made in heaven. He’ll be here for a few more seasons or until he drops a clanger or gets bored. If he gets in his own players and manages to get Arsenal competing again, all well and good.

    Whatever happens, he’ll always be able to point to his previous records as proof of what he’s capable of achieving – which is why he got the job in the first place.

  28. 5am

    Wow, so many Pedro posts of moan moan and moan……

    Trying to liken to Rioch just cos of the same colour hair 🙄

    Can’t even take genuine pleasure by the fact that a 22 game unbeaten run was achieved, regardless of anything else.

    Failing to recognise a run in factored by defence injuries and playing more games than “lesser” opponents , notwithstanding some error prone and weaker mentality players that you don’t beat out overnight…..

    One paragraph out of the whole post with a sprinkle of btw we have a cup final – so busy being negative that can’t even get duly excited about even that.

    Sad…but maybe that’s what all the bloggers and readers come for, so they can dump whatever criticisms as someone else’s door instead of actually being appreciative about something.

    As AMN says – “man, that’s poor James, that’s poor”

  29. Nelson

    Reports in France claim that Hazard, 28, will become Madrid’s first ‘Galactico’ signing of the summer after the Spanish giants reached a €100 million (£86m) agreement with Chelsea for the attacker. Madrid are expected to make an official announcement following the Europa League final at the end of this month. Hazard, who made history by winning every prize at Chelsea’s end-of-season awards, informed the club of his decision ‘weeks ago’. The Belgian has been pushing for a switch ever since Zinedine Zidane – his childhood idol – returned as manager in March.

  30. englandsbest

    The heck about 5th, Who cares? Like I said, top 4 qualification would have brought yet more humiliation in the knock-out rounds. More money for transfers? Forget that too, with Stan’s bottom-policy.

    The Europa Final, now that is something to get excited about. Beating Chelsea? Sheer bliss.

  31. bennydevito

    salparadisenycMay 13, 2019    21:13:56

    “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

    Green eyes next.


    Nice. Bill Cooper or Revelations?

  32. Dark Hei

    england isn’t the best. And if the objective is to qualify and compete in the Europa league, there isn’t any point in sacking Wenger.

    I think we got Emery in for the precise reason of qualifying for the CL through the Europa Cup.

    Do not forget that we are THE ARSENAL.

  33. Gonsterous

    Well GoT was shit. And now that old man is minted and won’t finish the books. What a let down life is, this is my goodbye note lads

  34. Leedsgunner

    Does everyone realise that the transfer window actually opens in 3 days time?

    We need to be selling the likes of Elneny and Jenkinson as soon as the window opens so we can use the money.

  35. Batistuta

    Do not forget that we are THE ARSENAL.

    One that hasn’t won the league or competed for it since 2004… Revenue stream and all that fincacial stuff that doesn’t matter to us as fans yea sure but on the pitch where it matters most to us, we are just a club in London that throws money around at average players

  36. Receding Hairline

    And this from a team that has an alleged world class academy, when do they get to play??

    And some want to crucify Emery for not playing some of our youth players who will be lucky to have league one careers

  37. Receding Hairline

    “If Mauricio Pochettino was a Tottenham player he would have been widely castigated for his behaviour at the end of last week, Champions League final or not. Why does he keep talking about his future at Tottenham? More specifically, why does he keep talking about not having one?

    In the aftermath of an incredible night in Amsterdam, suddenly it was all about Pochettino’s intentions again. What if Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen had used such a special moment to cast a shadow of doubt across the club? They would have been accused of self-indulgence, of selfishness, of undermining their team-mates.

    Pochettino can hardly complain now, if he has to field more questions about his intentions. He can hardly be surprised if his motives are regarded cynically. A sabbatical? At a time when Manchester United might be regretting their latest managerial appointment? Well, isn’t that convenient?

    If Daniel Levy makes good his promises of investment, there really isn’t a better club for Pochettino than Tottenham right now – yet frequently his public utterances serve only to challenge that view. What is going on? This seems as strategic as any of his game plans. ”

    Martin Samuel is bang on the money

  38. Valentin


    There is a massive difference in quality beween ManCity squad and Arsenal. Their youth team players are trying to displace world class players such as David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, KDB. Ours are trying to displace Lichsteiner, Elneny and Xhaka.
    Clearly our manager has more scope to make use of the youth team players as the expected drop of quality and experience is likely to be much smaller.
    Yet despite that ManCity academy players such as Phil Foden have more minutes than Willock and Nkethia combined!

  39. Pedro

    Some newspaper did a chart of teenagers that play over a certain amount of games and likelihood of success.

    The conclusion was basically if you can hack it in the PL at that age, you’ll be worth investing in.