Emery struggles to motivate a performance, again

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I watched the Arsenal game in New Orleans in a great bar call Finn McCool’s. I am very hungover right now. So bear with me kids.

We’re now into October and Unai Emery has only managed one decent performance this season, that was against a Championship side.

On the face of it, you can boldly look at the on-paper situ and say that we’re sitting in 4th, we’re ahead of two of our main rivals in the race for top 4, and we’re excited about some of the kids.

Or you could be a miserable but realistic person and realize that there are only 3 points between 4th and 11th, our main rivals are in deep transition / we’ve not taken advantage of their woes, and the kids are the only exciting thing because the rest of the squad hasn’t really shown up.

At the core of our problems is our beta manager. Unai Emery went to Old Trafford, a team West Ham bossed, and played with fear again. His midfield lacked ambition, he basically rolled with three holding midfielders, opting to push LT into a more advanced position he really can’t play. Xhaka is Xhaka, you know what you’re going to get and it’s always a different variant of beige. We all love Matteo, but he can’t do it all himself. I really felt for the attack, Auba was dropping into our own penalty box at times to create for the forward players. Petit summer up the side he picked.

‘It sends negative signals by picking 3 defensive midfielders against a team there for the taking’

We went a goal down, there were 9 Arsenal players behind the ball when McTominay fizzed a shot that Xhaka ducked. It was quite startling to be down to a side that’s been so inept this season, but not surprising, we give wind to any club in any sort of crisis. Xhaka ducking a header? Not shocking.

We clawed one back in VAR circumstances. Saka slipped Aub into the box with a lovely first-time pass, the finish was an arrogant little dink, but the linesman called it offside. VAR overturned the decision. De Gea looked like he’d broken the unwritten rule… play on regardless of what you see with you eyes and hear with your ears. The VAR ruled the goal legitimate.

Saka was the one bright spot in a game of darkness. He’s electric, he moves the ball with purpose, he’s extremely bright and he delivers. If we’d spent £80m on him this summer, we’d all be purring right now. What a bright future this guy has.

The rest of the game was pretty grim to watch. The manager tried to spice up our attack with the introduction of  Ceballos. I’m not sure it heavily altered the dynamic, though it did give us a bit more purpose.

We chased the win late on by bringing Reiss Nelson on for the dismal Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian superstar looked utterly lost once again. He has some lovely flashes, but he has no clue what he’s doing in the Emery system. He’s a lost his sparkle, he needs a goal, I also think he needs a hug, the guy looks very, very miserable.

1-1 was a fair result, but once again, it was a poor one given the context. What made it worse was the glee on Emery’s face, like he’d just taken Sevilla to Barca and nicked a point. It’s so meek.

I’m no fan of Mesut Ozil, but in a game as bad as that, he’d be handy to open up opportunities. The manager named him in his 5 captains, then dropped him from the squad. What does that say about your emotional intelligence as a coach? How do your rationalise that sort of thing? What does that message look like to the other players? It’s farsical considering how little magic was on show yesterday. As someone comically said yesterday, Emery would prefer to play a defensive midfielder as a #10.

Long and short of it. We couldn’t take advantage of Spurs when they were in freefall. We couldn’t take advantage of an OGS mess. We’re in 4th place, sure, but the reality is we’re not playing like a top 4 team and the hangover from last season has carried through. We are a very average team. Some fans aren’t paying attention to the performances becasue they don’t think the table lies. I have news for you, the table always lies, if you didn’t learn that last season during our 22 game unbeaten streak, I feel for you. Emery hasn’t moved us forward, he doesn’t know how to build a defensive structure, his approach to attack is painfully one-dimensional, and worst of all… the players don’t look like they enjoy playing his system.

We’re holding out for Tierney and Hector to save Emery’s vision, the same way many fans were holding onto the idea that buying wide players would make his style tick. It’s fantasy stuff. We were supposed to be hiring in a magician who could work with the tools he was given, we got a one-dimensional manager with less tricks up his sleeve than Wenger. The only thing that’s flexible is his indecision. The only thing that’s visionary is the belief that there’s a good player somewhere in the world of Xhaka. The only thing exciting are the moments of individual magic some of our talent can pull off inspite of the manager.

We hired in asset stripper, the asset he’s selling off is footballing joy and he’s utterly ruthless at it. Unai Emery doesn’t want to have a specific style. He just wants to crawl through each game and take the points any way he can. It’s like watching a mid-table team bar fight after 12 beers. He’s a bad pragmatist, he doesn’t believe in anything, so we’re always going to look confused. We get by at the moment because we have good players, or more to the point, we have an Auba.

That’s not a sustainable model. It didn’t work last season, I have my doubts it will this year. The only thing we’re hopeful of is that Chelsea, Spurs and United continue to be works of transition. That’s such a miserable outlook considering how good some of the talent is.

… but this is us for the forseeable. I can’t see the club doing anything unless things go really badly, we’re just going to aim for 4th and hope the manager finds some sort of rhythm.

A disappointing result, but par the course for Emery.


474 Responses to “Emery struggles to motivate a performance, again”

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  1. China1

    I don’t mind is having less tha beautiful football or having slightly different tactics than perhaps most people would expect, but so long as it’s effective.

    When we had that unbeaten run it was not pretty and a bit different from what we’d expected but it was effective. Now we’nore not especially effective or pretty to watch so I’m not sure what the point of it all is if I’m honest

    We just struggle for the sake of struggling. I don’t see the genius in the plan

  2. TR7


    I didn’t watch Spurs-Munich game to be honest with you. Through Le Grove comments did I get to know the final scoreline. Again you will say it’s yet another excuse but it’s true that Poch wants to leave and many Spurs players want to leave. How do you play well against a team like Bayern with so much instability ? In hindsight it looks like everyone has had enough of it. Winning the CL was their great dream and mentally they haven’t recovered from that shattered dream. I know you are not going to buy my argument but that’s how I see it.

  3. Batistuta

    Xhaka is toilet though, doesn’t matter what any other midfielder does or doesn’t do, he’s toilet end of

  4. Alexanderhenry


    ‘we’re not playing like a top 4 team’.

    Things have changed. There are two teams playing like a ‘top two’ side, and then there’s the rest.
    Largely due to the levelling of the sub city/liverpool playing field, arsenal actually have an excellent chance of making top four this seadon which, despite the profound irony, seems to be the club’s and most fans’ main goal post wenger.

    So, we’ll be back to that vaguely unsatisfying, annual scramble into fourth.
    Plus ca change then.

    I only hope the ownership and new management structure are not satisfied with this and do something proactive to lift arsenal to the next level.

  5. Batistuta

    Players have bad games which is expected as it’s not a video game but with Xhaka he’s almost guaranteed a mistake every game, i mean we’re not 10 games in and he’s already 1 game away from a suspension. Tell you all you need to know

  6. raptora

    Yet not a single word on how Chelsea dominated United for most of the game. Not a single word on how they struck the post twice, that they had 18 to United’s 11 shots, or that they had the ball in 53.8% of the time. Not a word on Leicester’s possession % of 58.3%.

    But cause Palace had the ball less, it must have meant that Manure were strong. Lolz.

    In their last 6 home games, they had 2 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses. The games they lost were vs okay City is understandable and then Cardiff City and Palace. Hardly world beaters.

  7. Batistuta


    We have to get back into the champions league though, that would be the first step, 2 consecutive seasons back in the champions league then we’d know more about the ownership and their goals

  8. Batistuta

    Yea no defending that performance at Old Trafford on Sunday, they were as weak as poor as we all thought and we somehow made them look good. Formation was a mess and was the starting personnel. We really do need a manager that knows when to be cautious and when to go for a kill and sadly Emery is afraid of every opponent we play

  9. Receding Hairline

    Raptora does not change the fact that Chelsea and Leicester left Old Trafford with no points. The team which left with three happens to be the ones that ceded possession and shots to them. The ones that played without fear left with nothing but the hollow moral victories every Arsenal fan should be sick of by now.

    “Winning the CL was their great dream and mentally they haven’t recovered from that shattered dream”

    Spurs did not start last season looking to win the champions league, Spurs did not loose 13 games in the league because they wanted to win the champions league, Spurs would have been playing in the Europa league if Inter Milan did their job against PSV, Spurs have been on the decline for some time now and the only ones who didn’t see it were just those in awe of potless Pochettino

  10. Paulinho

    Raptora – Chelsea have much better technical midfielders, that are mobile and move between the lines.

    Downside? Not many of them can actually get in behind, so once United showed some resolve they didn’t have anything else to offer.

    Ross Barkley hasn’t made an off the ball run into the box in his entire career. Ditto Kovacevic/Jorginho. Neither of them would be comfortable playing like Torreira did the other night. Torreira himself probably wasn’t doing cartwheels, but he consistently looked to run stay in advanced positions.

  11. Receding Hairline

    Last nights game did not look like a 2-7 Thrashing but the record books will show Spurs lost 2-7. No one cares about your performance in a result based sport.

    Saka finishes Chambers cross on Monday rather than leaning back to sky it over we will be talking about “a very tactical” away victory. Football coaches exist to win games not necessarily entertain you.

  12. Batistuta

    Not sure there are Emery supporters to be fair, just differing views on what and what to criticize but a general consensus that moving foward, it’s best for everyone if he moves on after his contract expires

  13. Batistuta


    Agree results are all that matter but can’t just trudge along and not have occasionally good performances while winning, we barely even control games which we play and there’s no discernible pattern to what we’re trying to do too

  14. Marko

    Only been fixated with Wenger for a decade on here you fucking haribo, and how often his last two years were you flapping your gums?Thought so, back in the bag.


  15. Marko

    Again you will say it’s yet another excuse but it’s true that Poch wants to leave and many Spurs players want to leave.

    He has a contract and a job to do. The excuse that he wants to leave isn’t much of an excuse. Why didn’t he leave if that’s what he wanted. Oh that’s right money. I know you think that’s a fair excuse but it’s genuinely bullshit. Gotta be said though really fucking weird how you are making excuse after excuse for the failures of the Spurs manager but since 12 games in you’ve been all over the current Arsenal manager. It’s the consistency I like

  16. HighburyLegend

    “Not sure there are Emery supporters to be fair”

    I used to be one.
    But all my hopes have fallen apart.

    A bit like the spurs fans about the Champions League.

  17. raptora

    So Cardiff won 0:2 cause they defended and attacked better than us. Cardiff!
    So Palace won 1:2 cause they defended as bad as we did and attacked better than us. Palace!

    It’s not black and white you know. But it is certain that in the long run of a season if you were shit for most of the season it’s going to show. And United have been shit for a while and you can easily see it in their results. One game they luck out, next game they are punished. Truth is they are shit and you can see it in their squad, in their team, it’s visible to anyone’s eye. And they certainly did not improve on their team of last year.

    Now if you think we are as shit as them and we are not a better team and a better team aka us, would try to win every game where they are playing versus a weaker or same skilled team aka them, then fair and square. But say it.

    Say that the worst United team in the history of the Premier League, managed by the worst United manager in the history of the Premier League, is an equal or better to this Arsenal team and this Arsenal manager.

    Then going for the draw in away game would make sense. If we feel we are facing an equal or better side.

    I feel like this Arsenal team should have won. Our midfield and defense is equally bad but our attack – Auba alone, is MILES better than anything they have.

    But if you feel that it’s not the case then say it.

  18. Marko

    How is a team “unlucky” to lose by not 1 or 2 but 4 whole goals?

    Yeah we were shite for drawing at United but Chelsea were unlucky to lose 4-0. Again it’s the consistency I love