Guest Post: A trip to Holloway Road

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This is the final instalment of Jonathan Blaustein’s guest post series. Please give him a big fat follow on the Twitter @JBlauPhoto

I was in North London a couple of weeks ago, staying just off the Holloway Road.

I hadn’t been back in 6 years, and the neighbourhood had certainly gentrified.

The London Metropolitan University put up a bunch of high-rise dorm buildings, since last I was there.

Shiny and modern, for sure.

I was walking along the Holloway Road, on a Tuesday morning, trying to figure out which lane led to the Emirates Stadium, as I’d only ever found it accidentally.

When I hit the first major crossroads, I looked to the left, but the road was curved, so I couldn’t see very far, and anyway, I didn’t see a stadium-top.

I was headed to buy some merch for myself and the kids, and when I looked across the street, those fancy new buildings caught my eye.

So much so that I raised my new iPhone to take a photograph.

As I went to snap the photo, a nice middle-aged Englishwoman walking behind me stopped, looked at the image on my screen, looked up, saw the buildings, and then said, “That’s a lovely photograph! So great of you to notice it. That’s really art!”

Of course that began a conversation, as I accompanied her to her office at the college in a building up the block.

I continued Southeast on the Holloway Road, trying to find the damn stadium.

I passed one intersection, because I couldn’t see it, and took the next one instead.

Finally, I saw signs, and followed them, dejected, as we seemed to walking just back where I came from.

(And I was in a time crunch as well.)

Sure enough, I finally saw the stadium gleaming in the London morning sun, and realized it was exactly where I’d just been.

I’d gone out of my way, and essentially walked in a circle, to get back to where I started. Only by the time I got there, I was annoyed, rather than excited.

Did I go into the Arsenal store anyway?

Yes, yes I did.

I bought things from the bargain bin, if you’re wondering, because all the cool new clothes were branded with the new marketing slogan “Kings of London.”

Kings of London.


Kings of London?

Are you fucking kidding me?

By what possible metric are Arsenal the best team in town? Let’s be honest.

Right now, we’re #3.

I know it. You know it.

And so do all the players who are going to sign for new teams this summer.

What kind of player, or better yet, what actual player will want to sign on for the Unai Emery era, if they’re also being recruited by City, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Tottenham?

Who would choose Arsenal over those teams, to join the Emery experiment, now that we’ll be in the Europa League for the 3rd consecutive year, and we just pulled a massive double-choke in the Premier and Europa Leagues.

So we’re clear, I’ve written a column here all year long. I was consistent. Let’s give Emery a year and see what he produces. Maybe his chokes at PSG were a thing of the past.

Maybe we were getting a bruised-but-still-high-end-talent who’s ready for redemption?

Like a Pre-Liverpool Klopp?

That was wishful thinking for a best case scenario, to mix my business jargon. And now, in early June, it has been proven farcical.

I know there were a few small green shoots this year, like beating Chelsea, Tottenham and ManU, and drawing with Liverpool.

And I guess PEA co-won the Golden Boot, and Laca emerged as awesome.

Guendouzi was fun, and Torriera had a few proper runs.

But now that I’ve gone through the pretense of looking at both sides, I’m here to say that if I were in charge of Arsenal, I’d be firing Unai Emery.


If Stan and Josh, much less Raul, want anyone to believe that accountability has returned to Arsenal, you can’t keep on a coach who oversaw that type of collapse.

Not after Late-Wenger.

Say this for the old man, at least he bagged those 3 FA Cups.

To choke as badly as Arsenal did at the end of the season, (not to mention PEA’s penalty choke against Tottenham,) will stain Unai Emery’s credibility forever.

He’s tarnished goods, for absolute certain, and his ceiling for greatness was likely limited to begin with.

Really, who was banging for “Emeryball” before he was hired?

Coach was a last-second panic hire by Gazidis, to get us out of the Europa League.

And it didn’t work.

So now, rather than wasting more time trying to slowly walk back the soft comfort that Wenger created, it’s time for a new, fresh, hard-working, grinder of a coach with a dynamic offensive AND defensive philosophy.

Someone the players will go to war for.

If I sound a lot like Pedro, it’s because I agree with him completely.

Sweep the decks.

Start over before you walk too many blocks in the wrong direction.

Because the truth is, when that lady interrupted me on the Holloway Road?

I was 150 meters from the stadium, and my camera was set to video.

I never got that photograph, and I walked right past the stadium, because I got distracted by a cute and comfortable little moment.

It seemed harmless at the time, but it cost me twenty minutes of wasted walking.

That’s what this year felt like, now that it’s done.

A fucking waste, with no trophies.

Start over, and do it right this time, before we’re looking at Everton and Watford and Wolves thinking, “Wow, how did they get ahead of us? We’ll have to work pretty hard to make sure we qualify for the Europa League again.”

That’s the cold truth.

We need our own Sean McVay.

And we need him now.

Remember to follow @JBlauPhoto!

656 Responses to “Guest Post: A trip to Holloway Road”

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  1. China1

    I don’t think Sanchez stifled Ramsey. Ramsey didn’t start playing any better after Sanchez left.

    He only had one world class season before Sanchez came so I don’t see the connection

  2. China1

    If anything ozil has done more to harm ramsey’s contributions

    By having two CMs and an AM in ozil, we basically guaranteed zero work rate from the front of the central 3. This combined with having xhaka at DM in recent seasons meant that Ramsey doing what he does best (barnstorming drives forward and late runs into the box) left our entire defense protected by the world’s least mobile DM.

    In other words xhaka and ozil’s shortcomings meant that Ramsey doing what he does best brought risk to the team

    It’s for this reason that he’ll do well at juve, where if he decides to go forwards it will be of little consequence to his team’s defense

  3. China1

    Honestly you look at how poorly balanced a CM is of xhaka Ramsey and ozil and it’s no wonder that Ramsey never got close to matching his best season again

    Xhaka – a terrible DM who desperately needs a mobile defense first partner to cover his weaknesses

    Ramsey, a talented all rounder but who lacks discipline and wants to play to his offense strengths and deserted xhaka who needed him

    Ozil, a player who needs an entire team to be set up to accommodate his weaknesses, namely work rate and defense

    This as a central three is one of the most appalling unbalanced you could put together

    Between Ramsey and ozil you had plenty of talent but that’s a horrible combination.

    Xhaka has shown this season he has some qualities but can’t play without a disciplined CM so him with Ramsey is another horrible combination

    It’s just an awful core of the team irrespective of the talents the players possess

  4. Danny S

    Yeah that’s very true China.

    The midfield can’t afford 3 defensive liabilities.

    Hopefully this Praet Guy will add some discipline.

  5. Graham62


    Thanks for bringing up Sanchez again.

    Before Sanchez decided “enough is enough”, he was the only player willing and capable of pressing, tracking back and cajoling the other players. Yes he was greedy, but wouldn’t you be if you were playing with such a weak minded set of players who were incapable of motivating themselves.

    Remember watching those games where he would be running along the line, pointing at other Arsenal players to pressurise the keeper and opposition in general. Trying his best to lead by example. Agreed, he would make mistakes but not surprising really when you consider the system and players around him.

    Sanchez showed up all of Arsenal’s frailties and defiences. With Chile it worked, mainly because you had players who had a similar work ethic and a manager that wouldn’t be sitting on his ass trying to do his frigging zipp up.

    Ok, he got his financial rewards by going to MU( kudos to him) but those of you who think he is a “mercenary” are, imo, totally wrong. He was a fighter and a warrior that wanted to score, win every single ball and every single tackle when he played. At the same time, as we saw on numerous occasions, he frowned upon those who failed to show similar traits. That’s right, the lazy fudgers around him.

    One things for sure, he was too good for Arsene FC.

  6. Vintage Gun

    ;Wouldn’t say no to Carrasco at all. Iv’e followed him since he was at Monaco and destroyed us at the Emirates in the CL a few years back.

    He’s Young fast, skilful, direct, both footed, can stretch play and finishes well. Plus despite being in China is still a Belgian International.

    And if the reported £20-£25m fee is genuine then this is what i would call a ‘Smart’ transfer move.

  7. terraloon


    I find this whole Callum Chambers saga quite amusing.

    When he came from Southampton he had a few decent games and played a couple of games for England.

    He has had two loans one at Middlesbrough and one at Fulham both clubs were relegated with him playing for them.

    Leicester supposedly offered circa £20million for him but instead they signed Harry McGuire for £12 million rising to £17 million.

    Wenger supposedly wanted to keep him for the 17/18 season as he saw him as a first choice . He made 12 PL appearances.

    After Wenger left he signed a new contract. When details of the new contract were released Emery said this” I’m delighted Calum has extended his stay with us. He played an important role last season and will be part of my plans this season,”
    Some thirty one days after making that statement Chambers was sent out on loan to Fulham where as I said they were relegated.

    I cane see any PL club paying anywhere near £20 million for him and yes this market is crazy but he is flawed goods.

  8. China1

    You can say what you like about Sanchez at Barca and we can laugh a lot about him at utd, but at arsenal he was top quality and was dragging the club to results by himself on countless occasions

    He was a great servant to the club.

    He was greedy especially on his later years but when you’re much better than your team mates and you can best players and score goals you’re probably going to be.

    If we had sold ozil instead and replaced wenger a year or so before I suspect we’d have seen more of the same quality from Sanchez and he wouldn’t have gone off a confidence cliff as he did with utd. He would have won us 6 more points this season and we’d have been 3rd place easy.

    Make no mistake, Sanchez was by far the best player we had from the time he joined until he left

  9. Jamie

    Agree with the general consensus – Carrasco at £25m is the kind of ‘risk’ we should be taking (assuming he’s on no more than £100k a week).

    It’s relatively low-risk if it doesn’t work out (we’ll still be able to move him on without taking a huge hit at worst, or break even/small profit at best), but there’s room for significant upside if he finds his feet in the PL.

    Zaha for £80m is insane. He is not an £80m player, no way, no how.

  10. Pierre

    “This as a central three is one of the most appalling unbalanced you could put together”…xhaka,Ramsey and ozil.

    I agree , by far and away our best balanced midfield in recent years was cazorla and Coquelin with Ozil CAM , Sanchez on the left and Walcott or even Ramsey on the right..if we had Aubamayang as striker in those days instead of giroud , we would have scored for fun …

  11. Jamie

    Found myself nodding along with some of Pierre’s content this morning (fair play, Pierre), right up until ‘Ramsey on the right’ was mooted.

    He’s a central player, always has been, always will be. He doesn’t have the dribbling ability to play on the flank. It’s his attacking movement without the ball and finishing off an attacking move from midfield that makes him dangerous, imo. The rest of his game isn’t up to much.

  12. Pierre

    “If we had sold ozil instead and replaced wenger a year or so before I suspect we’d have seen more of the same quality from Sanchez and he wouldn’t have gone off a confidence cliff”

    It’s my belief that both players have never been of the same level since they were parted..they complimented eachother perfectly at Arsenal….Ozil has not been the same player since Sanchez left last January.

  13. Pierre

    By choice, I wouldn’t play Ramsey on the right but he did have some decent games there, the FA cup final v Villa was a superb attacking performance with Ramsey on the right ,Walcott up top, Sanchez on the left and Ozil as CAM..

  14. Jamie

    Pierre –

    Perhaps, but those days are long gone. We have to look forward, not backwards. I think we should be going for round pegs in round holes, rather than trying to shoe-horn a central player into the starting 11 on the flank.

  15. China1

    Pierre I don’t disagree

    What matters most isn’t if a player is flawed but that their strength compliment their team mates and cover their weaknesses and that their own weaknesses are covered by their team mates or the formation/tactics

    You can play ozil, a player who I obviously hate – but then you must built a top quality defensive unit behind and around him.

    We never did that.

    You can let Ramsey do his rambo shit and win us games with his flicks and late runs. But then you need him either alongside a defensive beast like kante or put him at AM and let two defensive players cover deeper

    We didn’t do that until he already signed a pre contract with juve

    You can let xhaka dictate play with lovely passing from deep. But then make sure his ass his well and truly covered by a defense first partner. We only did that for half of one season before tor got injured and lost form

    You can’t just put players on the pitch and hope they do well because they have some good strengths. It’s like some world war 1 shit where they’d just send several thousand troops over no man’s land straight into machine gun fire and land mines hoping that my several thousand soldiers > your machine gun nests.

    I highly recommend anyone to read the extremely brief (maybe 50 pages) treaties on war ‘The art of war’ by sun tzu. It is such a well written book that covers the foundations of effective strategy and can be applied to countless walks of life, whether it be war, sport, business or whatever

  16. Jamie

    Remember shoving Santi out left? One of the best CMs we’ve had in recent memory being totally ineffectual out wide. It doesn’t always work when you start your strongest 11 players, irrespective of their attributes in the positions they’re being asked to play.

  17. Gentlebris

    We may go for Zaha or we may not, but this is not the time.

    Imagine us going full blast with a solid £70m bid….and then the bid fails.

    Yes, yes….. suddenly £70m will be tagged to Ziyech, Sarr and other fall-back options.

    The case is……you have the money…..we want the money.

  18. bennydevito


    I suggest you head over to Transfer market and see the sheer quality of the players Rsul signed for Barcelona between 2008 – 18 before you start with your unsubstantiated scaremongering.

    Thierry Henry, Pique, Fabregas, Akexi Sanchez, Zlatan, Yaya Toure, Neymar to name just a few….

    Yeah… awkward.

  19. Bob N16

    Loved your post China. The lack of balance in our midfield has summed up our malaise. Both Wenger and Emery have made countless poor decisions with the midfield three combinations.This weakness can be fundamentally faced up to, by the removal of Xhaka, Elneny and Ozil. All three players who have glaring weaknesses in their games.
    Replacing these three with players who have ‘all round attributes’will significantly improve our chances.

  20. Leedsgunner

    If we can nab Carrasco at a decent price, it’s a smart signing for a person coming into his prime.

    I’ll believe it when I see it though.

    Ziyech would be another smart buy for about £25m if stories are to believed… and our talented youngsters would have solid professionals to learn from.

  21. Champagne Charlie


    I know why Carrasco went to China mate, you can’t tell me that doesn’t leave him open to questions as far as his motivations go?

    I don’t think he was on minimum wage at Atletico, and any player with ambition to achieve vs ambition to earn, would’ve tried elevating Atletico or seeking a move to a bigger European side. Fucking off to a Chinese farm is questionable at 24.

    Hearing some noise that Arsenal and Zaha want to work something out this summer, player plus cash deal. Zaha prefers staying in London and we want him….just not for the money Palace are after. Could drag, could dismiss it, but seems we want Zaha in addition to the likes of Carrasco.

    Zaha – Auba/Laca – Carrasco

    That would be a potentially frightening front three, though a CF would be sold for sure.

  22. Dissenter

    If we get Carrasco then the Zaha deal is gone. I don’t think it was ever on in the first place.
    Zaha is not a 70 million transfer player even though I’m one of his fans.
    Reiss Nelson needs to get a proper go next season.

  23. Danny S

    If we could get Zaha for 30m plus some players that would be well worth it. Maybe Chambers thrown in and Another.

  24. Jamie

    Zaha for big money would’ve been more likely with CL participation [revenue]. No chance we’re getting all these players on our supposed £40m ‘war chest’.

    Palace really don’t need to entertain any low-ball (or player-exchange) offers for their star player on a long-term deal. He’ll probably end up back at Utd! They’re the only club crazy enough to pay what CP are demanding.

  25. Paulinho

    Reiss Nelson needs to go on loan again and actually string together a few ninety minute performances for the first time in his career before he can be judged as a serious option.

  26. Cesc Appeal

    I can see Nelson getting some chances and then being loaned out in January after failing to really establish himself as a starter or reliable impact player.

  27. Marc

    If Zaha was foreign and playing for a similar level team to Palace, producing the same performances etc and we offered £70 million for him everyone on here would go fucking mental – the worst offender being CG tossing out racial insults on Sanllehi and Emery about pissing club money up the wall.

  28. Valentin

    Is Zaha really on a long term deal?
    I thought that he only had two years left on his contract.

    I am conflicted with regard to Carrasco’s transfer rumour.

    Moving to China at such young age paints Carrasco as a mercenary more interested in money than in trophy and being successful. However wanting to come back after one year could also show sign that he has grown up. Somebody who suddenly realise that maybe there is more to life than money: family, success on the pitch.

    From a purely footballistic perspective, I have also questions but no definitive answers on Carrasco. Will he be motivated at Arsenal or will he consider us just as a stepping stone, as he did at Monaco? Toward the end of his stay at Monaco he was showing sign of not putting 100% effort. Will he be able to handle the rough side of the EPL?

  29. Marc


    Unfortunately we won’t know the answer to your questions unless we buy him and see how he works out. The only definite I would put in is not to judge him on his first 30 minutes – not suggesting you would but there are others on here who will if we sign him.

  30. Jamie


    I think he signed an extension a year ago taking through to 2023. That said, he’s only valued at between 30-40m euros on CIES, which some have argued is right on the money for player valuations.

  31. Valentin


    The last balanced central midfield pairing Arsenal had is Coquelin-Cazorla. Since we always lacked either defensive cover: due to ability (Xhaka, Elneny) or discipline (Ramsey). Going forward, we never had anybody who can receive the ball under pressure on the half turn and break lines.
    In the French and German League, every team has at least one of those. Some have even two.

    BTW, until England starts producing that type of players they will never go further than semi-final of tournaments. At that stage, teams are organised and know tactically how to inflict pressure at sensitive points. England may initially score via a set pieces, but then they wilt. Nothing psychological, just not enough talent in the middle of the park.

  32. TR7

    Not a big fan of Zaha but if I were to choose between him and Carassco, I would go for Zaha. Carassco is a skillful player but I can see him struggling to adapt to the league especially early on. Chinese league and the EPL …we are talking chalk and cheese here. Zaha although unpolished will be playing at his best level right from the word go. Ideal scenario would be to sign both of them and perhaps we could have afforded it had we qualified for CL.

  33. CG


    Rauls record at Barcelona is chequered to say the least.

    He left their finances in a sorry state.

    Why a Barca man whose only claim to fame is his infamous contacts book is in complete control of Arsenal Affairs is mind boggling, to say the least.

    Is in not the hard Truth – as it stands today we have Raul and his Woolworths Pick n Mix Transfer Policy and a lame duck coach who wants to play his Chameleon Football next season..

    Raul has no strategy whatsoever…( hence the Emery appointment in the first place)

    He is making this Up as he goes along..

    I am 100% confident his tenure will cause Arsenal with insurmountable problems in the seasons ahead.

    Own only hope is if Josh finally comes to his senses.

    And replaces him with Proven Premier League Administrators.

    We are totally bereft of identity,vision or even a basic plan.

    Maybe – you can tell me…
    What are our targets for the next 3 seasons??
    Win the League?
    Win the FA Cup
    Loosers Cup ?
    Top 4 every season?
    Great football?


  34. Pierre

    Zaha is 26 not 28 , it is a gamble to spend big money on him but if we get 3 good years out of him then there is a good chance we can recoup a good percentage of the money if he is in demand, so to me, it is a gamble worth taking.

  35. Gentlebris

    ‘Zaha for £80m is insane. He is not an £80m player, no way, no how.’

    If Hazard is £130m with a year left on his contract, then maybe Zaha is £80m.

    He was definitely £80m against us in our last home game vs Palace.

  36. Dream10

    My issue with Carrasco is I’m not sure if he will be a consistent 7/10 performer on a weekly basis. Bit of a maverick. Can see him making an impact in big away matches when we are boxed in. He’ll be able to carry the ball 40 or 50 yards to relieve pressure. We’ll be seeing less of Lacazette away to Liverpool, City. Carrasco will pair up with Aubameyang in those matches

  37. Graham62


    What were our targets for the past twelve years?

    What was the vision and identity?

    “What exactly?”

    Over to you CG.

  38. Up 4 grabs now

    Afternoon, I’m pretty sure zaha said he wants champions league football which rules us out.
    Other than the spuds where else is he going?

    70-80million is more than he’s worth and 25 million for carrasco seems the better deal. Especially when we need all the cash we can keep for the defence.

    Building a team is like making a cake.
    You have the base, the icing, then the cherry on top.
    We have half a stale cake that needs sorting out before we worry about anything else.
    80 million for him is the cherry. Not much good without icing and a Good cake.

  39. Graham62

    Unable to answer?

    Difficult isn’t it?

    And there lies our problem. No plan, no accountability, no structure.

    You expect a decade of cock-ups to be overturned in one season.

    Welcome to planet earth CG.

  40. Valentin

    Emery is a Cup specialist, that means that it takes every game individually. You care about today’s game rather than the rest of the season. It is tactic over strategy. That partly explains why he let Ramsey play when the medical staff told him not to. That also is why he does not slowly integrate youth team player, as he does not see any immediate benefit.

    However you can’t do that in the league, you have to make sure that today’s victory is not done to the detriment of the future (squad injury, …). It is strategy over tactic.

    Unless he has a first assistant who can challenge his way of thinking and whom he is willing to listen, he is bound to revert to his familiar method. Freddie may be that contrarian who pushes him out of his comfort zone, however that could also lead to friction.

  41. Up 4 grabs now

    Wouldn’t worry too much about going to China for the money.
    If your on €50-60k at athletico and a club in China says we’ll Times that by eight you would be hard pressed to turn it down.

    You try it for a year or two, It doesn’t work you come back at 25-26 with seven extra years worth of salary paid up front and still with a long career in front of you.

  42. Jamie

    Yep, if we could get him in the range of his CIES valuation, he’d be a solid asset. Buying star players from other PL clubs isn’t possible when the league is awash with cash.

    CP don’t need to sell unless they receive a monster offer. Zaha is under contract until 2023. I don’t get why players’ agents don’t insist on buy-out clauses when they negotiate new deals. Unless a club coughs up £70m+, he ain’t going anywhere. Take a slightly lower basic wage and add the clause. Think longer than beyond the next 6 months..

    Not sure if buy-out clauses are actually a think in the PL. If not, they should be.

  43. Marc


    Agree – how many summer did we have back in the day with a player being tapped up. Put in a buy out clause and if Barca want Cesc and Cesc wants to go – that’s £200 million thank you very much.

  44. Gentlebris

    ‘SampNews24 name a £44million bid for Praet and Andersen landing in the coming hours – and club president Massimo Ferrero is reportedly happy to green light the sales.’

    …. reportedly happy to green light the sale’

    Club presidents are mostly happy selling shit players.

  45. Cesc Appeal

    The club are trying to offload Chambers apparently.

    Rumoured there’s going to be a large scale defensive revamp.

  46. Valentin

    The reason why most players don’t have clause is that most players see playing in the EPL as an objective not as the stepping stone.
    Some of Spurs players who don’t want to miss any big move due to Levy’s negotiation tactics have clauses in their contract. Aldeweireld in particular.

    Also a lot of clubs are not so keen on having clauses, because of market inflation and if the player is successful then the clause may become relatively low compared to current market rate.

  47. Cesc Appeal

    Seeming like this Andersen Praet thing is going to happen.

    Looks likely the start of the summer will be Martinelli, Andersen, Praet, Carrasco.

    Certainly interesting.

    I really do want Saliba though.

    Tierney strongly linked as well.

  48. Chitom

    Just saw the Mezut Ozil wedding pic.
    Looks a bit like a hostage picture if I’m honest.
    Pierre looks happy enough though in his flashy red coat 🙂