… can we in the league?

by .

Thursday nights are party nights. Unai Emery has turned a pub level competition into a feast for the eyes. He’s taken Wenger’s post-2004 model for the League cup and amped up one of the least glamorous nights in the game. He’s turned Jumpin’ Jacks into an 80s night or decadence on the French Riviera.

Last night, we learned a lot during a brutal dismantling of a very average Standard Liege side.


This kid is electric. A livewire. A striking talent as clinical and exciting as Nic Anelka from 1997.

The Brazilian didn’t care about the rain, he just made it happen for himself. He scored his second header of his Arsenal career when he nodded a near post Tierney pass across goal. It looked simple, but my word he had a lot to do there. His second was all about archetypal Brazilian footwork, he shuffled his feet, created half a yard and stroked a simple strike across goal.

He was more than just goals, he helped gift Ceballos an easy finish with a dinked cross for our 4th. He nearly assisted a penalty when he eased Reiss Nelson into the box with an Ozil like piece of passing craft.

When Unai Emery bizarrely brought Auba on late in the game, Garbriel switched out to the left and managed to deliver more crosses to feet than Kola did all last season. I’d imagine he’s going to get the early days Thierry treatment, start out left, learn the trade, own the centre when it’s time.

Overall, I am VERY excited about this guy. If this is Edu’s magic, I implore you all to pen him a handwritten thank you letter, like those your mum made you send circa 1992.


Another game, another goal. The Englishman did himself all the favours with a very strong performance. He’s an all action hero. He passes well, he doesn’t dither, he has incredible instincts for sniffing out dangerous areas to stand. He also works really hard, he never stops running and for me, he gives us an edge when he’s on the pitch.

It’s tough for Emery, because he’s deeply in love with Xhaka and it’s hard to blood too many kids at the same time. The Swiss might have more experience, he might be less rough round the edges, but a good game from Willock gives us so much more than the rarity of a good game from our captain.


Emery opted for something that looked normal and ambitious. When the Spaniard is up against meek opposition, he makes smart choices. LT the deepest in the pivot. Ceballos, picking up the Ramsey sort of role. Willock marshalling ahead of LT. That’s balance. It worked. We looked good. We weren’t rattled.

The manager might not be able to roll with that midfield at the moment because of experience, but long term, that’s where it has to go. We have to prioritize energy and we have to let players do what they’re good at. We have to stop thinking Xhaka is going to come good.


The last myth of Unai Emery… the fullbacks. If we’re to believe some of the staunch believers, the whole system is broken because of two players. We knew tonight the team would have fun day out whoever played, so I’m not surprised Tierney and Hector made the managers last excuse look like a good one. Kieran T was immense, a chance creation machine. He’s fast, direct, aggressive and his delivery is elite. Hector was a little off comparably, but still gave us a better presence on the right. These two aren’t going to save Emery long term, but they’ll give a terminally ill patient a kick of life that’ll convince people Emery can fix Arsenal (like that unbeaten run). We have a lot of easy games coming up, those two coming back will make mincemeat of teams, but it’s not enough.


He put on a great show in a competition Raul called his comfort blanket. He’s still making bizarre decisions. Bringing on Auba when you’re 4 up against a pub team is negligent. Our season depends on him, mad that we’re taking risks AGAIN. Second worry is the inconsistency of his messaging on ostracized players. He gave Ozil one of the captains armbands. He didn’t even pick him in the squad. I am not fan of Ozil, but I am a believer in clarity of leadership. At the moment, what he’s doing looks like it’s spite driven.

‘Ozil deserves this’

Sure, as a fan, you have the right to think that. But players in a working environment likely do not see Ozil as the devil. He has status because of who he is in the global pecking order of football and what he can do on the training pitch. Good players want to play with great players. Emery picking on him might not bite him now, but it will at some point.

Consistency is a leadership virtue, if you are ostracizing someone because they wouldn’t leave in the summer, don’t put Mustafi in the squad. If you’re giving someone the captains armband, have them in the squad for a Europa League game. If your leadership lacks basic principals, whispers will start and you’ll let the demons into the camp. Big names can cause big problems. Emery had this at PSG and it killed him, it is shocking to see him make the same mistakes again, especially after the mess he created with Ramsey last year… and remember, before you go off at me on this one, none of this would be relevant if he didn’t give the armband to someone who has NOT been a leader. One of the most confusing contradictions I’ve ever witnessed in sport.

Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments.xxx

910 Responses to “… can we in the league?”

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  1. Peter12

    Here is what I am thinking: Among other things, making Xhaka the club captain and playing him all the time does not prove Emery clueless. But, bringing in Auba late on as sub in the Europa game (pointless when we are 4 – 0 ahead) and risking pointless injury make me think that there is something seriously wrong with this manager, seriously wrong! No amount of incompetence can hide this.

  2. Valentin

    Garry Neville was spot on on Monday Night Football about three weeks ago. Clearly the referees in the VAR booth are under instructions to not make overrule the referee on decision that can be construed as opinion based rather than fact based such as offside, handball.
    The problem is that also means that when the on site referee has clearly make a mistake, the video referee won’t correct it. I also think that if a Leicester player had fallen like that, the penalty would not have been given and it would not have been overrule either.

  3. Valentin


    Despite being both defensive midfielder, Rodrigo and NDombele are not the same type of player. NDombele is a much more front foot aggressive box to box player and I am not sure that he would fit the ManCity’s possession based game.
    Rodrigo like Fernandinho are more defensive and interception. They are not box to box player. They sit in front of the defense and leave the forward play to KdB and Silva.

  4. raptora

    I think it’s in the rules for VAR cause the commentators talked about it. When a decision by the ref is given, such as penalty, it will be overruled only if it’s a clear and obvious mistake. Like zero contact aka dive, or no handball or a foul that is outside the box. If it’s a 50/50 decision probably even 30/70 they will take the ref’s side. That leaves quite a lot of power in the on-field refs which as a whole is alright because if it’s a decision that 5 fans will say that it’s a pen and 5 other fans will say that it isn’t, then VAR cannot be 100% correct. And there are those type of situations. Where even after 10 replays you cannot be 100% sure. So what the ref decides originally is the only way to escape a situation like that.

    If it’s a clear and obvious mistake they will correct it though.

  5. Luteo Guenreira

    In the beginning of Emery’s tenure, it made sense to me to try and defend him via objectivity. It seemed a natural position to take — the club had moved on from Wenger, and however you felt about him, the coming season was going to be a difficult transition. It was just 12 months ago from now that there were question marks at almost every level of the club from ownership down, and fans were accustomed to having it all just be a murky mess. Considering the circumstances, to me it was expected that those factors be included in any assessment of the club’s performances, and that anyone who said otherwise or tried to singularly denigrate one man in an attempt at some sort of fruity revenge for the perceived past slights to their already departed fallen hero were sad, pathetic trolls.

    At some point along the way though, it became apparent that Emery was a busted flush. The reasons can be debated to hell and high water, but by now most fans will have some questions for Emery. The most glaringly apparent being his odd Xhaka obsession, but many others as well.

    Now, this doesn’t change the circumstance of 12 months ago in any way. The agenda driven trolls were exactly that, and still are. The fact that Emery is likely not the right manager for this squad moving forward doesn’t affect that truth at all.

    Except now, today…after the slow finish to last season, the cup final debacle…followed by the positive summer, our young players stepping up, all the clubs we thought we’d be battling for 3rd being utter shite…it’s hard to defend Emery now, with the data compiled since. The narrative for common sense and objectivity has moved on from “consider all the circumstances” to “Why Xhaka? Why not make smarter selections?” Objectivity has passed Emery by, and he has no one else to blame but himself.

    Again, this doesn’t change the fact that the agenda driven AKBs have had their agenda and pushed it since last summer and have continued to do so, even to today. But I guess my point is, seeing as we are where we are….what the hell is the point in trying to argue against them about Emery any longer? It’s agreed Emery is a busted flush, and he’s got a joker named Xhaka in every hand. The only way to win with a busted flush is to bluff. Let’s fold and move on to the next hand instead of trying to bullshit our way out of this situation.

    Trying to argue about Emery at this point is simply arguing for the sake of it, arguing about who’s an AKB and who’s not and who said what since last year. Objectively, if you want to say bollocks to that kind of pettiness and move on to talking about what’s best for Arsenal…let’s hope for a manager that will appease most of the fans and unite the fans together again. Is it gonna be Paddy? Is it Freddie? I hope it’s someone good. This in-fighting has gone on too long.

  6. raptora

    Great comment, Luteo.

    “It’s agreed Emery is a busted flush, and he’s got a joker named Xhaka in every hand. The only way to win with a busted flush is to bluff. Let’s fold and move on to the next hand instead of trying to bullshit our way out of this situation. Trying to argue about Emery at this point is simply arguing for the sake of it.”

    How well put. I hope RH and Bamford read it.

    It’s one thing to be aware that Emery is a stop-gap manager and not expect wonders from him as in to be elite and that we will win the title under him, a lot of people who were balanced/well towards Emery knew that in the first place, but to keep defending him after the obvious idiotic decisions he’s been making game in, game out, and even off-field with his gigantic lack of balls towards some players, then obvious bad manners towards others.. It’s just too much incompetency.

    One of them being Mustafi publicly humiliated by Emery and how our manager has told him 3 times to basically fuck off out of our club, but Xhaka, in the meantime, becomes the club captain. I don’t believe that any other manager in the world would have given the armband to this confused footballer. (Okay maybe Wenger but that doesn’t speak well for either) And I don’t believe that with all their stats and video analysis they haven’t realized where our midfield and defensive problems start of. Maybe they won’t get fixed by removing him from the starting 11, but bloody hell, Emery isn’t even trying. He names him the club captain and plays him whenever he can. He’s the first name on his team sheet and he’s benched Ramsey, Torreira, Ceballos and Willock for him.

    He’s changed for the worse as well. In the beginning he would switch around just like that if things weren’t going as planned. He’d make double changes at half time, in the 60th minute. Fearless and also determined to influence the game in a positive way for his team. Now, that he has picked his favorites, his approach looks stale and impotent.

    In May he might manage to take us to a top 4 finish, but it won’t be pretty and not because we would be a really good, solid team, but because the other teams were more dire than us. Was about to do it in last season but pooped the bed. Now that there isn’t a single serious team outside the top 2, and our team realistically is 3rd-4th in strength, he has 0 excuses to not qualify for the UCL but even if he manages that, I woundn’t touch him with a barge pole.

    I still, however, have hopes that he, although clueless, isn’t brain-dead so I’m secretly hoping that he will see through some of the problems in our club. And during the course of the season, will marginally improve. It’s the only hope we can have at the moment.

  7. Chris

    Unfortunately how I perceive the narrative to mostly be on here is that you are made to feel silly for having had any objectivity about Emery at any stage, and that if you hadn’t seen that he would be a failure from day dot you do not know much about football. That is obviously wrong and to be level headed and acknowledge his flaws whilst also taking note of the positive aspects he has brought in is a perfectly reasonable mindset.

    In a way however I do think that Emery was on a hiding to nothing as instant success post Wenger was unlikely for many reasons. It was always going to take some time to evolve the club into a modern structure and for the fruits to bear. I also hope that the fan base can largely quit the petty squabbling at some stage because it has gone on too long. On some level with modern social media etc this seems common for any club not winning everything in sight but it would actually be nice to see our supporters once more together singing from the same hymn sheet. Not likely under Emery as much as it was under latter era Wenger, but the next guy? Let’s hope so!

    Enjoy the game wherever you are today, I’m off to the game today for the first time this season so looking forward to that and a few beverages! UTA

  8. Valentin

    People keep talking about the positive that Emery has brought like getting rid of Wenger’s player and brining better replacement. I thought that he was not involved in recruitment. He is the headcoach not the general manager. So he should be judged only on the quality of the football and the result based on the squad he has at his disposal.

    I am afraid on those points he has failed. The only narrative I can see is people who have been taken by him initially and now try to accuse those who spotted the flaws pretty quickly of agenda.

    I would say that whoever came after Wenger was on an easy Street. After the Moyes fiasco at ManUtd, everybody was already playing the difficult succession card. All he had to do was to play half decent football and get results. Nobody would have complained. However after an initial lift, the results have been poor (defeats against bottom half team) and the football dire.