All eyes on Emery’s tactics

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courtesy @allthatchas

The final hurrah of Nacho Monreal sadly will NOT be scoring a 32-yard screamer against Spurs tomorrow. The Spanish left back will instead be heading back to sunnier climes, choosing Real Sociedad to see out his career.

I think I speak for most Arsenal fans… no… ALL Arsenal fans, even you @BREXITGOONER1 (my dad), when I say: Bit of an odd one, this.

We’re banking on Kola learning how to defend, and we’re putting a lot of chips on Tierney  1) Adapting to the league like VVD 2) Breezing past his fitness challenges of the last year.

Still, it is what it is. Nacho is getting on a bit and his hamstrings and body parts will all be a touch more brittle than in the past. I’d imagine he’s at that age when you grunt when you pick up a slipper and he’s at that age when the slipper is probably his. He’s also probably wearing those slippers to the newspaper shop as well. Age is a bitch, but damn, we’ll do it in M&S levels of comfort.

I get the logic behind not having 3 left backs as well, we can’t keep pumping money into the ether. I just thought that if anyone set a great example for professionalism at the club, it was Nacho. He never let us down. He was a true warrior. He was an excellent player.

I remember about 5 years ago, Arsenal let a bunch of us interview him. His English was a bit broken and he was asked a question about what he thought we needed.

‘Someone who can score more than 20 goals a season regularly’, then his agent whispered something to him and he backtracked as hard as his words would allow. We went off the record so as not to cause a stir. But today, I’m causing a stir because Giroud is at Chelsea and who really cares this far out?

Manchester United drew with Southampton today. A great start to a big weekend for Arsenal. Only thing that’s bothering me there is that OGS is going to end up getting sacked before Christmas if he doesn’t pick things up a little. Would love him to have the whole season. Give him a chance, Ed.

The news coming out of the Spurs camp is delightful. Poch is unhappy. His team is disrupted. He has four players angling for an exit, names like Aurier, Eriksen, Vertonghen and Toby. Their squad is finally picking up injuries, there should be no Ndombele, Dier or right back tomorrow. The press were asking if he’d leave this week.

Spurs are there for the taking.

My hope is that Emery can avoid being timid in this game. I don’t want to see us lined up with a deep block on the edge of our box. I don’t want to see us persisting with playing out the back if it looks like Spurs have that sussed. I don’t want us playing for a quick counter-attack at home.

We have the tools in our squad to play to win. Spurs are in a bit of a hole, if we gift them too much respect, we’ll make it hard for ourselves. When confidence is shaken, strike hard and strike first. Test their collective resolve.

I talk like Spurs are totally shite, chances are they’ll turn up because of the magnitude of the game. I just hope we’re positive. Emery plays with too much fear and indecision in big games. I hope that’s just Liverpool jitters… because the fans are not going to gift him a 50/50 split on tomorrow regardless of what he does tactically. It’s a must-win against a team that finished 1 point ahead of us last season.

Win this, and we’re telling the league that we’re here for the top 3 this year, lose, and you’ll start to worry if Emery has the beans to push the squad forward this season.

Our underlying stats have been poor this season. You only have to take a cursory looks across the numbers sites to see that we’re not in great shape. This from Statsbomb.

‘It’s well known that shot rates tend to increase as matches progress, so even when you see a 30-plus shot beatdown, most of the time, the shots get racked up in the second half. And that’s true here. Only four times in 2018-19 did a team reach the half time point having allowed 15 or more shots.’

That number above is quite staggering to read when you’re setting up to stifle attempts at your goal. Add to that, Arsenal has turned the ball over in their own half more than any other team in the league, and you can see a problem brewing. I say brewing because Liverp0ol was a particularly bad execution of what could be passed off as a new strategy against a new rule (I am reaching so badly for the Emeryista here).

A pal in my ArsenalMensSupport chat groups pointed out, Arsenal’s lack of expenditure at the back this summer points to a club not taking defence particularly seriously. The statistics early on this season point, mapped against last, point to a manager not capable of creating a defensive structure that can serve an elite team.

I don’t know what the exact solve is, but my amateur thoughts have led me to this:

  1. Be less predictable. If you play out the back every time, you make it easy to set up against. Being dedicated to an idea is commendable, but if it’s not working, mix things up. It shouldn’t take 80mins for a keeper to go long once. Even mix up the variety of how you do it. You can play from the back and have a more vertical approach.
  2. Do it faster. If you are slow and methodical at moving it out the back, you let teams reset, which again, makes it easy to play against you.
  3. Stop playing staff that are prone to being targeted. Xhaka is well known to be awful when put under pressure. Stop playing him.

Let’s see what Emery has in store tomorrow. He’s a tactically flexible coach, he needs to think a little deeper about what he wants from his defence this year. Hopefully, there’s a simple solution he can adopt.

In other news, Elneny is off to Turkey. Nice guy, about as useful to the squad as a motivational bus driver. Mustafi did not leave, an absolutely disgraceful indictment on his passion for the game. I really hope Emery doesn’t start using him. Keep him frozen out. Mesut Ozil also didn’t leave, he’ll be a bit part this season until he moves on to DC. Say what you will about the German, he’s at least useful.

Finally, listen to our pre-Spurs pod.

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1,818 Responses to “All eyes on Emery’s tactics”

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  1. raptora

    Don: “He (Lacezette) is our main man and we are blunt without him”

    And yet our strongest period in the game was after Laca got subbed. We scored 4 mins after he left the pitch with Auba playing in the middle and had a string of good goal scoring opportunities.

  2. Un na naai

    It looks to me like everyone is tiring of emery and his inability to change anything from the wenger days
    Still over reliant on attacking players but with a boring and pragmatic “style”

    Still calamitous in defence
    Still soft in the middle.

    I don’t see any difference between now and wenger’s last two (worst) seasons.

    What a waste of time emery has been

  3. raptora

    I like Laca of course but you’d do anything to push an agenda lol. And I don’t know what is your problem and why do you even bother with the subject at all. “Laca is better than Auba”, “Auba can never score a goal like that”, “Auba scores vs Burnley Laca scores vs Pool”… Like you are the only person I know would bash one of our strikers just to big up the other one. We love them both, end of…

  4. Un na naai


    And you attribute that to lacazette going off or our midfield actually getting hold of the ball for half an hour?

    Very strange take

  5. Un na naai


    I’m not bashing auba at all. He scored a crucial goal. What I’m saying is that our attack is loses its ferocity without lacazette

    If the midfield does its job then he doesn’t have to keep coming deep to win the ball and he doesn’t injure himself again.

  6. raptora

    Don: “Aubameyang scores and yes it’s valuable of course but for me lacazette improves the team. Not just the team but he improves aubameyang himself.”

    Yet Auba scores 4 mins after he moves in the center and we have our best period in the game. I just checked and you have a gazillion of comments on Laca vs Auba when nobody else bothers cause we appreciate them both.

  7. raptora

    If he improves the team then surely he matters to our display as a whole. If he improves Aubameyang then why was Auba pretty inefective until Laca got subbed. He moves in the center and 4 mins later – BOOM.

  8. Valentin


    The issue is that Aubameyang is not suited to the left winger/inside forward role. He comes alive in the penalty box with his clever movement. He can’t swap their role, because Lacazette is also not a left winger. He keeps Lacazette centrally because Lacazette brings more intensity and defend from the front.

    Emery has a choice to make either play them together in some kind of 4-4-2, or 3-5-2 or pick one of the two.
    Right now that trio of Lacazette, Aubameyang, Pepe does not gel as much we would like. Later when they have practiced a more fluid front three, Emery may be able to use all three together in that 4-3-3 formation, but right now it is not as effective as it could be.

  9. Pierre

    With a little bit of luck and more composure pepe could have scored 3/4goals against liverpool and Tottenham.

    2 difficult games for him to start when he is still getting used to his new team mates so fans just need to be patient with him .

  10. N5

    I’ve never been a fan of Luis and I was really concerned when he was brought in! It screamed of a panic buy to me!! Very Kim Kallstrom!

    Since he’s joined he’s been terrible! He doesn’t need to adapt to the league or the city so that’s not an excuse. I’ve always felt he conned a career!! So often erratic and crazy than dependable and decent!!

    Sok was terrible too and his fighting was embarrassing!!

    Our defence has been awful for far too long now! That should have been the priority not getting in another winger!!

    Emery renewed hope but so far nothing has changed and yesterday was a massive highlight of our deficiencies!!

  11. Un na naai


    I do appreciate what Aubameyang brings. But he frustrates me
    He’s much better with lacazette around him creating space

  12. Emiratesstroller

    The more I watch Arsenal play and defend the clearer becomes our vulnerability.

    Yesterday’s game highlighted the problem and is clear to the managers of almost every team we play.

    We have two wing backs in Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac who are effectively
    playing as ‘wingers’ with minimal responsibility to defend. More often than not these two players are out of position at the same time bombing upfield and leaving us vulnerable to counterattack as was the case far too often in yesterday’s game.

    If you want to play with these two players then the only option is to operate with THREE and not TWO Centre Backs.

    There were occasions yesterday where our midfield and defence was split asunder with the two centre backs totally exposed.

    I assume that when Bellerin and Tierney are match fit these two players will
    start in first team for EPL games. Let us hope that they adopt a more disciplined approach in defensive department of game.

  13. Valentin


    You will find that the same issue will rear its ugly head even with the recovered fullbacks. This is a consequence of how Emery wants to play and not having a diligent central midfielder. We don’t have a central midfielder with the tactical and defensive instinct to know when to automatically drop and cover the space.

    Against Spurs, Xhaka was trying to fullfil that role but because his tackling is so poor he ended up just fouling people. Putting us under more pressure with the free-kicks.

    Even when one fullback remains in position, if one of the CB goes on a walk about (fails to intercept or clear) because nobody in midfield tracks runners, a single diagonal run across the penalty box open our goal. On Spurs first goal, AMN tracks Lamela, but Xhaka does not track Ericksen who then have a simple tap-in.

  14. azed

    On Spurs first goal, AMN tracks Lamela, but Xhaka does not track Ericksen who then have a simple tap-in.

    Sokratis is the one who doesn’t track Erickson. Xhaka told Sokratis to fall back and let me contest the header with Kane. If Sokratis had listened, he would have gotten the second ball but instead, Sokratis joined…

    It’s was Sokratis who let Erickson run not Xhaka.

  15. Moe

    Socrates was crap, Xhaka was his usual blundering self, Laca was poor till the goal, Kola was really poor in the first half, pepe too nervous in front of goal all game and some really poor decisions.
    Guen, Auba, Niles and Torreira were the only ones at the race, and Luis was decent. Emery with his selection again proofed to me that he’s no better really.

  16. Moe

    Correct Azed. Socrates had no reason to contest that header in the first place, then he let Erickson run by him like a statue. His lumbering self then almost gave away a last minute penalty.