Emery’s future: The balancing act

by .

Oh come on people, I’m starting Monday morning on a HIGH.

Arsenal turned around a one goal deficit twice against Aston Villa with 10 men.

You can’t knock that, you really can’t. That’s finding a next level that feels very much born of last seasons 22 game unbeaten run.

Matteo G was an absolute monster. I’ve always been a fan of his, but I was unsure what his special sauce was. We’re starting to see that. He’s a leader. He drives games forward, he makes elite passes, he’s a beast when he wants to be, he’s a goal threat… he’s the player other players more senior than him look to for answers.

He is captain elect.

To slip back into misery for a second, we were predictably dross in the first half. Our midfield was there to be bypassed, there was no real leadership from our captain, and our defence was typically ponderous. We went a goal down to McGinn, he ghosted in after a ball bypassed about 6 players, his grazed touch easily sailed past Leno.

To make matters worse, AMN, who complained midweek about playing as a right-back made a stupid challenge for his second bookable offence and found himself taking an early shower. It was dim, but honestly, this right back experiment has been awful and it’s clear the player hates it so much he’s willing to break plates in a dishwashing disaster just to rid himself of the burden.

The second half saw Calum C introduced for Saka (who was good). With 10 men, we still looked a threat, but Villa were probing. We won a penalty, Matteo powering into the box, forcing Engel to shove him to the ground. Auba let Pepe take the penalty, the largely impressive Ivorian slotted it calmly down the middle for his first goal.

You’d have hoped Arsenal would hold their nerve, but we didn’t, we let Villa in, before attempting another embarrassing short goal-kick that saw a poor touch from Calum eventually lead to a Wesley goal. We’re such a mess on the pitch, that sort of carry-on is inexcusable.

Emery pushed the nuclear button and subbed his captain and Ceballos off on 72 for LT and Willock. It was an inspired decision. He invited athleticism and hunger onto the pitch and it created an entirely different vibe, even with one less man.

We clawed our way back on 81. Matteo fed a teasing ball to the back post, Chambers didn’t do well with his first attempt, but he poked a looping shot over the keeper at his second go and made it count. Superb work, and the perfect remedy for his earlier mistake.

The second goal came from an incisive Auba freekick. He really is worth his weight in gold, his experience in front of goal is absolutely invaluable to us at the minute. As someone said on the Twitter website, he’s a success key, when he’s in your side, you always have a chance.

The players celebrated the win like we’d just won the World Cup. I could be petty about the levels here, but to be honest, after the last few weeks, it’s nice to know they still care.


Granit Xhaka:

The team were booed off at halftime, Granit was booed off as a sub. Terrible. Awful. I hate to see it. But really, I don’t. He’s not our captain. He’s a joke. He is the single worst decision Emery makes each week without fail. I don’t care that it’s not nice, I don’t care that Arsenal class seems to generally be geared around beta males celebrating mediocre ideas and hearting cute Wenger allegories on Twitter, the reality is, Xhaka is a poor player and we need him to take gardening leave.

Bellerin would be a better captain… so would Matteo.


Emery has a weird thing with hierarchy in his squad. Everyone could see that Saka was a better prospect than Reiss, but Reiss starts. We’re opting for Xhaka in our midfield despite three years of average. Let’s just call a rabona a rabona… our best midfield is Willock, LT and Matteo. It lacks experience, it’ll have bad days, but that’s the most explosive we can be. Emery needs to wake up to this. We need hunger, pace, power and output. Those three made a statement today in a short space of time, let them have a crack at United. Could it be a worse idea than 31 shots against Watford or getting shoved around by Villa for an hour?

Unai Emery:

I’ve been getting a mixed bag of messages on the manager from people that know. Some think he could be in danger. He’s clearly not connecting with the players, his ideas are average and though the table is telling a story… the story is a fucking lie. The table lies all the time, and if you think where we are now is a true reflection of what we can be, we’re OVER.

Others that I speak to say there is no chance of him leaving.

The rationale? He’s where he needs to be. The table is all that matters to Raul and Edu. The gut feel amongst a lot of people is this: We’re a better shade of shite when you look at the others. United are a mess, Chelsea are not a worry until next year, Spurs are having problems, and Leicester is a mirage.

The leadership team just want top 4 and they’re going to gamble that those around us are so bad, Emery will come out where he needs to be.

Hard to argue the logic.

We have a lot of easy games coming up, if Emery can shake things up, we will no doubt be in a threatening position when December lands. If we’re within spitting distance, he’ll keep his job. I think he’ll comfortably be in the mixer by then, because we have a lot of very, very good players.

Today’s turnaround was in spite of him… not because of him. I know that sounds petulant, but I think most get what I mean. Emery spent most of the second half rooted to that bench, twitching out like someone had dropped 2Gs of MD in his WKD at a Carl Cox Space reunion. That is not a good look. He has fear in his eyes, but I think the players are good enough to work around him, just like they did at PSG in season two when he basically gave up.

That doesn’t mean the inevitable fail won’t happen

… but that will only last so long, sustaining it until May is a longshot. But the club is risk-averse, Raul was a big part of Emery’s hiring, and things aren’t bad enough on paper yet to make a move.

I can see the rationale, but for me, the sooner we move him on the better. Skanking your way to 4th is not progressive. Betting your future on an average manager with conservative ideas will not take you to the promised land. The longterm damage a top 4 Emery will do to Arsenal is unthinkable, but there’s every chance it’ll happen.

That said, don’t underestimate Spurs and their ability to bounce back. Chelsea has a lot of good players, I think you’ll see a strong finish from them. United are a disaster, but they have good players, so a clever caretaker could be a threat.

I will celebrate the win today. I am very excited by the players we have but I cannot abide by this manager. He’s rank average and the win cannot disguise the performance, the decisions, or the consistency of bland we’ve seen over a season and 7 games.

On reflection, if the brief to replace Arsene was a pragmatist that could improve the defence, we really should have hired Conte. If that’s still the brief, then we should look at Allegri who now has a good grasp of English. Rip the plaster now… because no amount of tinkering will save us in January.

We won’t though… and that worries me.

See you in the comments.


797 Responses to “Emery’s future: The balancing act”

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  1. TheLegendaryDB10


    He most certainly is a hard worker. But…. to have not found a system that works so far is pretty shocking. This is where he is a one trick pony. It’s his system or nothing. And his system will never work out in the PL. You cannot win 5-4 in the PL. This league is a different beast as was displayed with our final 20 mins vs Villa.

    It’s all about speed and power and we have none of these attributes unless UE finally decides to play a higher tempo game and a line up that matches these attributes.

    We need a manager who can acknowledge this and play to our strengths.

    Who this manager would be, I don’t know. But this is why Edu is our DoF. This is his remit to scout and find this manager who can bring this sauce to our team.

  2. Thomas

    “Have we sacked that daft bastard yet?”


    Nope not yet. Hang in there though. Let see if Man Utd can finish him off.

  3. TheLegendaryDB10

    I should add that I don’t mind getting Allegri purely on the basis that he could get our defence sorted out.

    For me this is the crux to us achieving. We need to get this defence sorted out followed by our midfield.

    And I don’t mean just buying players. There is a real need @ The Arsenal for this to be coached into our current players.

    What UE has failed to see is that our team lacks proper coaching in these departments. If he had acknowledged this we would have done so much better.

  4. Marko

    Starting XI: Martinez, Chambers, Holding, Mustafi, Tierney, Torreira, Willock, Nelson, Ozil, Smith, Rowe, Martinelli

    Subs: Macey, Bellerin, Bola, Burton, Ceballos, Saka, Balogun

  5. TheLegendaryDB10


    As much as you are right (Martelleni is still unproved) it may shoe that UE has finally understood to not focus on such a lame competition.

    Our main focus must be top 4 in the PL.

    Whether UE gets this will tell us what kinda manager he is. (He already failed last season with his stubborn focus on winning the EL vs consolidating a top 4 position last season).

  6. Pierre

    Martinelli , apparently a left winger who can also play right winger ,let’s hope he has a decent striker who he can cross the ball to.

  7. london gunner

    oddly enough looking forward to holding play the most.

    If he comes good are defensive woes may decrease dramatically.

  8. Pierre

    Leg db10
    “Our main focus must be top 4 in the PL.”

    Forget it, the manager is a dud .

    Just sit back and enjoy the ride of watching schoolboy football .

  9. Graham62


    Emery would have to be completely brain dead not to see that the team lacked proper coaching.

    Where he has failed, thus far, is to work on simple systems and structures to enhance belief and confidence amongst the players.

    He has, imo, over complicated things.

  10. Graham62

    Is it my imagination or are the fans at the Emirates becoming far more vociferous.

    After years of acting like Churchill( the nodding insurance dog) it seems that the Wengeritis is finally wearing off.

  11. TheLegendaryDB10


    No disrespect but you contradicted yourself.

    If he is not that brain dead why the hell has he not structured us without Xhaka or AMN when he should know that they are/ were a detriment to our team structure?

    This is for me a manager who still does not know what a solid spine our team should have.

  12. Chukwudi

    The win worth celebrating not because of Emery’s tactics but be a use of the players resilience. Good write up as always Pedro.

  13. PieAFC

    Get set up tonight.

    I honestly think Emery loves the pairing of Wilock and Torreria.

    Chance for Ozil to show how great he is at home against a lesser side as per and then not show up again for a month hahaha

  14. azed

    “I’m not sure if you realise it , but a winger is regarded as a forward as is a striker is regarded as a forward .


    That’s somewhat false… In a 4-4-2, Wingers are part of the 4 in the middle and would b classified as midfielders not forwards.

  15. Pierre

    “I honestly think Emery loves the pairing of Wilock and Torreria.”

    Obviously you are not being serious, then why does he always start xhaka and Guendouzi…

  16. Marko

    Good or bad , it makes no difference when you have manager that everyone agrees , is clueless.

    Everyone also agrees that Ozil is a pile of shite too. So there’s that

  17. Goonah

    Would rather Martinelli on left wing and Balogun up front. Nelson right wing

    Play them at there most natural positions

    Besides that, nice lineup and good to get a glimpse of Tierney

  18. gazzap

    Forest have a very good defensive shape and get forward when they can. Look good for a championship team. they will tire though. Arsenal just need to keep the ball and keep probing and the goals will come.

  19. bennydevito

    What a great young striker we have on our hands in Martinelli, he really does look like he has it all; pace, dribbling, shooting and heading. He’s going to be brilliant.

  20. azed

    I wanted Chambers sold in the summer but he has impressed me every time he has played this season.

    He should be one of the starting center backs.

  21. Gommit

    I must say.. I am watching the game at bar in Basel, Switzerland as I am here for business and I am beginning to understand why our captain is so slow and badly timed… There was a 10 minute delay in the broadcast and on the 29th minute they jumped 6 minutes ahead.. I missed the goal and am still watching a very delayed broadcast.. At the only bar showing the game… Just had to share since it reminded me of Granit..

  22. Jaffa

    Luteo, great stream thanks mate. The manager is blind if he does not see torr as our defensive mid. Sadly may well be the case. Loved the goal.

  23. Batistuta

    Hey Pierre

    What was that about not having a striker? Dude looks so natural put there making those runs off the back of defenders…. I know there is a consensus that Emery is not good enough but my goodness some of you go over and beyond. I’m sure you’d bring up the Nketiah stuff again soon though

  24. bennydevito

    Our defence is looking great even with Mustafi. I think going forward our back 4 should be Bellerin, Chambers, Holding & Tierney.

    Midfield 3 should be Torreira, Guendouzi and 1 of Ceballos and Willock.

    Front 3 of Pepe, Laca, Aubameyang.

    Ozil, Saka, Nelson, Martinelli, Luiz, Sokratis, Kolasinac and AMN on the bench makes and excellent bench too.

    I’m liking this squad a lot. Plenty of room to upgrade on Luiz, Sokratis, Mustafi and Xhaka too and we are good to go.

  25. crimson

    Smith-rowe off with a face / head injury. hopefully just precaution by taking him off. Saka on and he will rip it up with Tierney on the left.
    Spurs drawing. hehe, good luck Colchester!!!

    Be good if Ozil makes more of an influence on the 2nd half.
    Holding = class

  26. TheLegendaryDB10


    I like that line up.

    I’d sack that twat UE and put you as manager.

    (No. I am not completely pissed. For those who don’t know the Ems we now have a Camden town brewery here. Finally some good beer at the Ems!!!)

  27. Gommit

    Yes Marko. All my experience with Swiss and football (Granit and this game in Basel) suggest that there is a correlation.. And since I only have two observations the corr is 1 (or 100%).. 😉

  28. Goonah


    AMN Sok Luiz Kola

    That back 5 has the combine brain capacity of a toddler

    football retards the lot. even if a coach drew them pretty pictures, he would be met with blank faces

  29. gazzap

    Very odd to take Ozil off. No need TBH. Torr or Willock surely more chance or playing at united and therefore shouldn’t be playing 90

  30. Danny

    Ozil will be 31 in a couple of weeks, no shame if he leaves in January for China or the USA, either way he should just go, he’s finished.