Scouting Report: Where we are, where we should buy

by .

Today, I’m handing over the keys to Mike McDonald. He’s going to keep you up to speed with the top talents from around Europe. Jump in and let me know your thoughts in the comments!


Where do Arsenal need an upgrade?

Are the upgrades already at the club?

Is it just the coach that needs upgrading?

Surely we need to sign someone in January and next summer, right?

We most likely do and of course we will in the summer as some will leave. Have a look at our options though and I’m thinking that perhaps for the first time in 15+ years we are ‘talent rich.’

Take a look at this…

GK: Leno | Martinez

Best collection of two keepers we’ve had in many years. One will get dissatisfied so a purchase will no doubt happen this summer.

RB: Bellerin | Maitlind-Niles | Chambers | Osei-Tutu

No obvious need to upgrade. Interestingly, many at the club see Osei-Tutu as having the highest ceiling.

LB: Tierney | Kolasinac | Medley

Have a feeling Tierney is gonna rock it. Is it fair to suggest that Kolasinac is about as good as you’ll get as a willing backup?

Medley must be the most athletic looking player in England. Needs a loan and may establish himself as a LB or CB. I’ve got a sneaky feeling he could be a fine CM.

CB: Holding | Saliba | Luiz | Chambers | Sokratis | Mavropanos | Mustafi | Medley

This is the debate…. there’s an argument that if Saliba hits the ground running and Holding is what we think he could be, then these two are a great pair. Supplemented by Luiz, Sokratis and Chambers then our options are rather good.

Totally depends on whether our first choice are ‘good enough,’ I’d say.

DM: Xhaka | Torreira | Guendouzi | Chambers | Luiz | Ceballos

Not all of these are true DM’s, right? True, but if you want your DM to be a playmaker rather than a destroyer then Guendouzi and Ceballos become options. I would’ve loved to see Chambers and/or Luiz used in the cup as DM’s to see if they can be options.

We all see Xhaka and most pine for Torreira.

CM: Guendouzi | Willock | Ceballos | Xhaka | Torreira | Maitland-Niles

Continuity players, creators, accelerators, destroyers and possession specialists. A good blend.

AM:  Ceballos | Ozil | Willock | Nelson | Smith-Rowe

If we were to play 4-2-3-1 then there is plenty of talent as you see

LW/RW: Pepe | Saka | Nelson | Aubameyang | Martinelli | Smith-Rowe

Big stench of talent here too.

CF: Lacazette | Aubameyang | Martinelli | Nketiah | John-Jules | Balogun

Goals for the present and an exciting group offering goals for the future.

I look at this squad and I feel good.

Hope for the present and hope for the future.

I believe it rests on one word though….’if’.

If Holding continues on the trajectory he was on. If Saliba can play PL at 19 and ifhe’s as good as we hope. If we find/select the athleticism in midfield to destroy and play the athleticism to accelerate the play too.

If Saka, Martinelli, ESR and Nelson work out we don’t need a ‘Zaha’ too.

If Nketiah and/or Balogun continue the way they are then we may have saved ourselves £100M+

Pete has kindly given me the opportunity to write periodically about possible signings. So, my eyes go first to the centre of the park as I feel that the other areas might well become ‘wants’ and not ‘needs’ IF all the ‘ifs’ come to fruition.

I see a good balance of youth and experience EXCEPT in one area: midfield, specifically a DM.

We have almost all the pieces needed except two. Experience and height. I’ve thought for a while that these are the two reasons that Xhaka plays. The others are all young and/or inexperienced and don’t offer aerial help at set plays.

Below are some potential DM targets to consider

The perfect choice… Thomas Partey 26 (Atletico Madrid)

There aren’t many DM’s in world football that can destroy, create and accelerate the play. Partey can. Mid 20’s, CL experience but due to recent upsurge in form his club are trying to up his release clause.

Potential fee: £75M

Specialist destroyers….. Wilfred Ndidi 22 (Leicester)

When you have some of the best tackling and interception numbers in the PL two seasons in a row you can’t be ignored. If you think he’s not good enough because he plays for Leicester then consider that Idrissa Gueye (formerly of Everton) had similar numbers and is now being considered as the vital cog at PSG.

Potential fee: £45M

Denis Zakaria 23 (Moenchengladbach)

Xhaka’s mobile, powerful and athletic partner in the Swiss midfield. Young and cheaper.

Potential fee: £25M

Destroyer/Playmaker combo: William Carvalho 27 (Real Betis)

Remember the Arsenal rumours?

In his prime now but never played for a big European club. A fridge of a man who specializes in intercepting and adds supreme composure to dictate.

Potential fee: £40M

Danilo Perreira 28 (Porto)

Carvalho’s competition for the best Portuguese team in decades.

Very similar player but taller, added line breaking dribbling and aerial ability.

Potential fee: £40M

Almost perfect except….. Axel Witsel 30 (Dortmund) / Sergio Busquets 31 (Barca) and Javi Martinez 31 (Bayern)

These next three will no doubt be familiar to you but are all 30 plus and do not seem to be interested in leaving their clubs (who are all doing better than Arsenal).

If I was Sanhelli I’d inquire though.

All three can destroy and create. In fact they are next level so it’s fair to say that they can dominate a midfield. For those wondering if they can ‘do it in the PL at their age, I’d suggest that their class would say yes and their age isn’t far from two in a similar position at the European Champions in Henderson (29) and Milner (33).

Frenkie DeJong will soon limit Busquets minutes at Barca and Martinez has spent his entire Bayern career in and out of favour.

Other hope lies in Sanhelli’s ties to Barca and that all three of these guys may want to play in the PL.

Potential fee… never know how much aging brilliance costs. £30M/40/50M??

The trendy, modern, athletic, powerful and young.

Ibrahim Sangare 21 (Toulouse)

A frightening talent. Everything I’ve said on the tin and a 10 year player with huge potential resell value.

Legs that go on forever and a ‘Vieira-like’ ability to carry the ball.

Check out the video and you’ll find him hard to resist. Step back and you’ll wonder if he needs to play for Southampton first to see if he is as good as he looks.

Potential fee: £30M

Boubakary Soumare 20 (Lille)

Could be Sangare’s twin brother playing style-wise. Played at a higher level with Lille.

Potential fee: £30M

Play Torreira at DM and upgrade Xhaka and buy goals and assists….

Bruno Fernandes 25 (Sporting Lisbon)

Got buckets of goals and assists last season and drew close attention from Utd and City.

An all round natural footballer who senses opportunity. Similar potential to Ramsey.

Potential fee: £50M

Young and brilliant, Dominik Szoboszlai 18 (Red Bull Salzburg)

My favourite young player in Europe.

Remember that Dutchman that graced Highbury? He was a natural footballer. Made it look easy.

Szoboszlai is a CM/DM and he’s not Dennis but his ease reminds me of him. Joyful to watch him.

Needs to bulk up but that’s an easy fix.

Alternative plan:

I live in the US. I’ll find Stan and ask him for £200M for N’golo Kante 💪🏼

What would I do?

I’m of the belief that if we simply remove Xhaka we will improve 40% as the other current options are better.

I’d try both Luiz and Chambers at DM in cup games to see if the answer is found in-house and I’d use Torreira as first choice until he proves me otherwise.

I’d sell Xhaka (£35M) and put that towards a bid for Thomas Partey.

If he won’t come then I’d go for Axel Witsel.

I’d also buy Dominik Szoboszlai and loan him out to build his strength.

What would you do?

@mike_mmcdonald (give the lad a follow😉)

372 Responses to “Scouting Report: Where we are, where we should buy”

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  1. Chitom

    O couple observations:
    – Liverpool are a different proposition away and have never played well under Klopp away at OT.
    People saying United were lucky to walk away with a point must have watched a different game.
    Two tame shots straight at DeGea by Genie W and Firmino in first half, and two speculative shots off target by Ox in the second half. That’s it.

    Rojo, who was a late entry into the match because of injury, went missing in action for the Lalana goal, and Lindelof best impersonation of Mustafi’s -“after you, no after you” – Zaha play were two instances Pool troubled United all day.

    – the Origi foul no foul some on here are proclaiming was a nail on infraction was nothing more than the Liverpool player taking a heavy touch , losing the ball to Mc Tominay and going down at the slightest touch from Lindelof to bail himself out.
    Comparing this to any legitimate bad call, and there’s been many, is a joke and a total lack of understanding of the game.

    Whether OGS is shit or not United are in trouble mainly because their midfield hasn’t been pulling their weight scoring wise.
    They are even worse that our midfield ,which is quite pathetic considering Ozil, Xhaka, Guen, LT and Ceballos have all combined scored and assisted just about the same amount as Villa’s Jack Grealish but in three or four times more minutes in all competitions.

  2. Moe

    C’mon Bam, this United team is fucking garbage. Some massive rebuilding on their hands. If Emery doesn’t finish the season with a minimum of 10 points ahead of this shit United team, it’ll just reinforce what some of us already think of him.

  3. China1

    You can’t use one game to judge a team. This utd team is awful but utd standards. A complete lack of special players. Who in that entire squad stands out as an elite talent? Even 8/10 players are hard to find. An awful lot of average out there

    As for getting a result against Liverpool, this is a normal thing that the better team on paper doesn’t win every single time. Even the 100 point city team lost games and dropped points and they were favourite a in every match.

    This arsenal squad is a fair chunk better than Utd’s and we should expect the table to continue to reflect that until the end of the season. No excuses for emery

  4. China1

    As for klopp not having a great away record against them, dude just won the champions league so I’m not sure we’re in any position to mock them (top of the table and flying) for dropping points for the first time this season away against their arch rivals

  5. Sid

    “What based on today’s game? Tottenham struggled to beat a team that hasn’t won a game this season but you think they are going to beat liverpool at Anfield.”

    They had a draw vs man c, they struggled coz Watford is more physical than them but they generally give teams that are less physical than them a had time.
    Im telling you this for free!

  6. Gonsterous

    Here’s some positive news lads, if we beat Sheffield (which I think we will), we will be 7 points behind the leaders. Title push anyone??

  7. Globalgunner

    In reference to the post. Id add Ivan Rakitic to the CM/DM options. Rumours are that Barca might be ready to sell. He can still give us 2 years of service at least and would be the perfect mentor for our young players in that position.

  8. Sid

    “we will be 7 points behind the leaders. Title push anyone??”

    Yeah, you are damn right!
    But no thanks to rakitic coz its a new league at 31 yrs its a risk

  9. Pierre

    Sheffield weather tonight, no wind , no rain , a fully fit squad , most of the squad rested over the last 2 weeks so no excuses.

    It should all be about picking the correct personnel , formation and tactics for the game.

    The usual defence of Emery is that he has had Tierney , Bellerin and Holding unavailable for selection , which is fair enough though it is important to point out that generally throughout the team , injury wise , the squad has not suffered .

    Tierney, Bellerin and Holding were long term injuries so it would have been no surprise to Emery that they were unavailable for selection for the first 2 months of the season.

    Our run of games for the next few months is favourable, we could seriously cement a top 4 place during this period and dare I say , be within touching distance of the top 2.

    Of course, a defeat tonight would be a major set back as this is the time that we need to put down a marker and let other teams know that we can compete away from home.

    No one can predict Emery’s team selection, tactics or formation for tonight.

    There are probably only 3, maybe 4 players who are guaranteed a start tonight.

    and maybe Luiz.

    Until Emery has a settled side, consistent performances will be hard to come by .

    Most sides have a nucleus of 8/9 players that are definite starters , until we get a settled side ,dont expect any consistency in performance.

  10. Bob N16

    Agree with you Pierre. Emery loves to tinker to the detriment of the team’s cohesion. With more or less a fit squad to choose from, Emery needs to prove why he is one of the best paid coaches in the world.

    Tiernay, Holding, Torreira in front of the back four. If these changes are made, I would be confident not only for today but for the future. I think Tiernay will probably be the only one of these three starting.

  11. HighburyLegend

    Still amazed by Luiz’s comments, the ex-chav is persuaded that we can fight for the title under Emery, even this season….

    Dear David, maybe we could start by a win tonight at Sheffield, because any other result would be hugelly problematic.

  12. Nelson

    I don’t think Emery will start Holding, Bellerin and Lac. Only Tierney will get a start. As for guaranteed starter, I think Tierney will be one of them. Guen will start unless he needs a rest. A healthy Bellerin should also get a start.

  13. Bamford10


    “No one can predict Emery’s team selection, tactics or formation for tonight.”

    To the extent this isn’t a truism, it’s nonsense. He has deployed the 4-5-1 in every match for a month or so now, so it’s not like he’s all over the place.

    As for starters, that’s been pretty consistent as well.

    “The usual defence of Emery is that he has had Tierney , Bellerin and Holding unavailable for selection, which is fair enough though it is important to point out that generally throughout the team, injury wise, the squad has not suffered.”

    What does this even mean? The point is that we will be a better team with Tierney, Bellerin and Holding in the XI, both defensively and in attack.

  14. Bamford10


    I think that comment tells you something about how good the spirit and the belief is in the team. And that is a testament, in part, to Unai Emery. He gets very little credit for anything around here, but the spirit and belief and attitude in the camp and in the team is excellent, and he should be commended for this.

  15. Nelson

    Sheffield United has a very organized defense. They play 5 3 2, with three CB’s at the back. They almost stopped the Pool at home. Auba may not get much opening. I hope that Pepe can finally score one from outside the box.

  16. Bamford10


    “Until Emery has a settled side, consistent performances will be hard to come by.”

    Sure, but most of what is “unsettled” about our XI is down to injuries. If he had had Lacazette, Tierney, Bellerin and Holding from the outset, all of these players would have been in the starting XI from the outset.

    What would that have left to be “unsettled”? Very little. Whether Xhaka should continue to start? Sure, but that’s a question that would’ve bothered many managers. Whether Pepe should continue to start despite underwhelming showings? Sure, but that’s a question that would’ve bothered many managers. Whether Martinelli should start? Maybe. Whether Ozil should start? Maybe.

    In truth, the above is an attempted dig at Emery that largely misses the mark.

  17. WengerEagle

    Christ shows you the dearth of midfield quality when a bunch of basic athletes are being touted at 45-75m fees.

    Sangare is fairly ordinary once you get past the freakish athleticism.

    Bruno Fernandes is a baller, likely out of our price range though.

  18. raptora

    To be frank Liverpool have won only 2 of their last 14 games away to a big six team. City have won 7 and from less games. Even Crystal Palace has 5 wins for the same time period. Wolverhampton has achieved 2 wins in 7 tries. That’s equal to a quite a lot of lost points for Liverpool.

    They are phenomenal at home though. Their last home defeat was in April 2017 vs Palace. 2 and a half years ago… Mane has never tasted defeat at Anfied and he is currently on an unbeaten run of over 50 home games. Insane.

  19. Cesc Appeal

    Very happy football is finally back!

    But not feeling that confident ahead of tonight, I think we’re looking at a hard fought draw.

    You can feel what’s coming, slow tempo, ineffectual midfield, Xhaka way too deep, a low block formation, the fans getting behind the underdog home team with each shot.

    We could have a discussion on approach but we know Emery’s selection will basically tank optimum efficiency in terms of performance.

  20. Samesong


    We are expected to beat them but this adds more pressure on the lads in my opinion. We don’t usually fair well against these type of teams.

  21. Emiratesstroller

    Some interesting stats concerning average age of squads in EPL.

    Man City 27.0 [24 players]
    Liverpool 27.3 [24 players]
    Spurs 26.5 [25 players]
    Chelsea 26.2 [25 players]
    Arsenal 24.9 [25 players]
    Man Utd 26.1 [25 players]
    Everton 27.1 [26 players]
    Leicester C 26.3 [26 players]
    West Ham 28.5 [24 players]
    C.Palace 28.9 [24 players]
    Wolves 25.4 [25 players]
    Southampton25.8[22 players]
    Newcastle U 27.6 [28 players]
    Brighton 27.4 [27 players]
    Watford 28.2 [29 players]
    Burnley 28.6 [25 players]
    Bournemouth 26.1 [27 players]
    Aston Villa 26.7 [25 players]
    Sheffield U 28.0 [26 players]
    Norwich 27.2 [25 players]

    So Arsenal now have the youngest squad in EPL. That is in direct contrast with
    last season when we had one of the oldest.

  22. HighburyLegend

    So Xhaka Captain disaster playing tonight ??

    He wanted to take some time with his child, but finally he decide that he will feel better on the pitch ?? Make up your fucking mind, Granité!!

  23. China1

    That is interesting re squad age but there’s something else on this topic which is the average age of the players on the pitch in each given match, for which spurs are apparently the oldest

  24. qna

    Emirates. Brilliant post. Couldn’t sort it first 😉

    Not only that, our youngsters are bloody exciting for the first time in a long time. This has the feeling of building something very special. Regardless of whether you like or dislike Emery, Ozil, Xhaka etc. Actually that list of divisive people is quite short now. Can see a unified Arsenal in the not too distant future. Happy days.

  25. China1

    *granit answers phone*
    Emery “Good ebening”
    Granit “oh hai unai. What can I do for you?”
    Emery “I miss the way you look at me when you needlessly wrestle opponents to the floor without reason on the halfway line. Please come play tonight!
    Granit “I don’t know unai. The wife is still struggling with the baby”
    Unai “please! It would make my ebening complete it you come”
    Granit “ok unai but you have to stop with these daily phone calls. My wife will get suspicious”

  26. Bamford10


    First, other than selecting Xhaka, where do you think Emery is getting his selections wrong?

    Second, imagine he didn’t select Xhaka tonight and instead selected your preferred midfield three: how much more confident would you be about the result tonight?

  27. raptora

    I want to see a midfield 3 of Torreira, Guendouzi and Ceballos.

    I’d play these 3 for a while so I could see if they could build an understanding.

    The problem that Emery doesn’t somehow see, other than Xhaka’s presence in there, is that we haven’t started with the same mid trio in two consecutive games this season. He’s obviously trying to find the balance, but he won’t be able to get much out of players who are finding themselves in a always changing situation, due to players around them being different every single time.

    Football is about forming understandings with your teammates in different areas of the pitch so he we’ll keep struggling in midfield until Emery sets his mind on a trio he likes and is willing to start in most games.

    He needs to make a decision and stick with it for a while to see if things would click in time.

    Right now our players don’t have a clear idea in their head on what to do when they get the ball and they have an opponent close to them. They don’t have these robotic insticts that you develop when you play with the same people time and time again. Feelings where your teammates are or will be at, how do they like to receive the ball, do they go for one-twos often, do they like to receive the ball on foot or ahead of them, the exact zone you can always find them, off-the-ball movements in attack and defence…

    The improvement that a good on-pitch understanding compared to when you can really tell that a player isn’t really 100% integrated and eased is so huge.

    It’s understandable to feel that in new players like Pepe and Ceballos. But I can really feel it in Torreira which is understandable because Emery has really sidelined him.

    I’m getting the idea that Torreira and Guendouzi + one of Ceballos and Willock is the key to the bank. If only Emery could try that for a while…

  28. Pierre

    “Football is about forming understandings with your teammates in different areas of the pitch”

    Maybe you should educate Bamford on the importance of relationships on the football pitch .

    He doesn’t quite get it …bless him.

  29. Paulinho

    “Football is about forming understandings with your teammates in different areas of the pitch so he we’ll keep struggling in midfield until Emery sets his mind on a trio he likes and is willing to start in most games.”

    I disagree. Good players that compliment each other don’t need to play a lot of games together to form understandings on the pitch. Whenever top players in top teams are asked whether they practiced certain stuff on the training ground they always say no. Thierry Henry said it again recently when asked whether he, Pires, and Cole worked on certain moves in training and he said they didn’t: it all came naturally as a consequence of their quality and the fact their games styles naturally complimented each other. Fabregas, Hleb, Rosicky linked up beautifully from day one.

    I remember when Diaby, Song, and Denilson used to stink the place out years ago when they played without a Fabregas, Hleb, or Nasri, and fans would say they need time to form an understanding. But they simply were not good enough, individually or collectively, and that would be case whether they played together five times or a 100 times.

  30. Bamford10


    Yeah, I’m well aware of that. And I’ve been saying for some time now that our football will improve the more settled the XI becomes, the better the players understand their roles and one another. Meanwhile you’ve been making other (less relevant) points, e.g., “we need Ozil”. No idea what you’re on about.

  31. Emiratesstroller

    There are now only 4 players in our squad aged 30+ and that includes Ozil
    who is rarely playing.

    I anticipate that the age of the team could drop further next year assuming that Nketiah and Saliba are included and possibly a couple of the older players are offloaded.

    What is significant is that players leaving the club in the future will be of an
    age where we can generate a transfer fee. Too many of Arsenal’s older players
    in the past reached an age and wage levels rendering them unsaleable.

  32. Cesc Appeal


    Xhaka is a massive error on his part.

    I also think his placement of Pepe in the early stages as more a ST was bizarre. The midfield diamond was also terrible.

    If we had the midfield 3 I wanted, Torreira at CDM, Guendouzi and then Dani Ceballos/Willock completing the midfield, Tierney at LB, Holding at CB and then Martinelli playing wide I would be much more confident.

    I do think though that this team looks like it lacks confidence big time away from home and they will play Sheffield as equals. This stems from Emery I think, he can be indecisive.

    One of my biggest criticisms of him is that he has essentially abandoned his pressing philosophy because the squad is ill suited…in particular his golden child cannot do it. We have this weird deep block thing now which just invited opponents to attack. Which with an unbalanced midfield is asking for disaster.

    I’d have more respect for him is he had dropped players/demanded certain signings which fit in with his pressing style and high line style as opposed to caving and actually doing the total opposite of that. I read somewhere we’re pressing less than we did under Wenger for fuck sake, and that defence is so deep you need to be stoned to see it!

    I cut him a lot of slack because losing your best CB and having no full backs for 10 months and no wingers for a whole season is not the easiest conditions to work in.

    But he’s also making a lot of mistakes now and his stubborn refusal to change what is obviously broken is very Wenger like. His entire defence of Xhaka, for example, is basically non-football related.

  33. Bamford10


    I think both things are true. Good players can establish an understanding very quickly, but players also build understanding over time by playing with one another. For example, Ceballos, Martinelli and Tierney are players that seemed to understand one another the first time they stepped on the field together. The same can’t be said of Pepe or of this or that other player. Such a player can and should improve his understanding with others over time, though, and even players who understand one another from the get-go improve their understanding of one another over time.

  34. Paulinho

    Bamford – I would argue that’s more of an individual issue. Pepe’s best game for us was his first game, and he looked to have an understanding then, yet with every game that’s gone by he seems more and more lost, which doesn’t make sense from the time = understanding POV. Obviously time is not a hindrance when it comes to working out where players are going to move, so Pepe will learn more by playing with certain players for longer periods, but ultimately he needs to start striking the ball properly/work on delivery, stop making a mess of quite basic crossing/shooting opportunities, and the rest should fall into place.

    Pires, Ljungberg, Henry all took a few months to settle in, but it was more executing the fundamentals of their game, and once that was addressed, they began to look outward at other teammates because they were confident with their own level. So, it was more acclimatisation than understanding between teammates per se.

  35. Bamford10


    “I also think his placement of Pepe in the early stages as more a ST was bizarre. The midfield diamond was also terrible.”

    Yeah, I agree, but that was two months ago. Seems he has moved on, learned from this, no?

    “One of my biggest criticisms of him is that he has essentially abandoned his pressing philosophy because the squad is ill suited …”

    Yeah, I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is true. We press in many if not most first halves. That is still his preferred approach. Why we’re not continuing to press in second halves is an open question.

    “I’d have more respect for him is he had dropped players/demanded certain signings which fit in with his pressing style and high line style …”

    OK, but he has dropped Ozil, so that is something. I agree he now needs to drop Xhaka, but that could still come with time, no?

  36. Bamford10


    “But he’s also making a lot of mistakes now and his stubborn refusal to change what is obviously broken is very Wenger like.”

    OK, but other than Xhaka and mistakes he made two months ago, what mistakes are we really talking about here? What is he being “stubborn” about at the moment? Xhaka. Nothing else. I get that that’s frustrating — it’s frustrating to me as well — but I feel like your frustration over this one mistake — granted, it’s a big mistake — is leading you to over-generalize.

  37. Cesc Appeal


    I think you’re cutting Emery way too much slack.

    Pepe looks totally lost as a player now, I can’t prove that was to do with his handling when he arrived,but he turned up to the EPL and was likely shocked by the intensity and then was asked to play ST where he struggled for Lille in front of an ineffectual midfield diamond.

    Pretty shoddy. Especially when we were crying out for width.

    As for the pressing. Sorry you’re wrong on this. Stats show that Arsenal are massively ineffectual with pressing and currently Arsenal under Wenger during his last season were pressing more efficiently and more often than Arsenal currently.

    As for your Xhaka point, pretty weak, what is he waiting for? What is the threshold of errors that Xhaka has to make? Is there a decibel level of booing needed before he’s removed? I don’t know what Emery needs to see to realise Xhaka detrimentally impacts the side.

    It’s not even an AMN or CB situation where injuries causes selection issues. He has a legitimate CDM in the team, best we’ve had for years and yet he’s using a statue as CDM and asking Torreira to be a dynamic box to box player.

    Emery’s side is totally unbalanced at the moment. Some players press from the front while a gap opens between some of the midfield and Xhaka who is playing almost as a CB. There isn’t a clear avenue of attack in the team either.

    I’m waiting to see what happens when the full backs arrive but honestly I’m getting pretty sick of Arsenal playing at the level of their opposition 90% of the time and squeaking a win.

  38. Bamford10


    Yeah, sorry, but I disagree with a decent amount of that.

    On the issue of pressing, I will try to say something more substantial about this later , but I do think you have this wrong. We start many if most games pressing — i.e., he has not “abandoned” this, as you suggested above — and our pressing, when we do it, is pretty good, actually. I don’t agree with the claim that there are massive gaps when we press, that it is ineffective, etc., although I do agree that Xhaka is a problem when we press because of his lack of quickness.

    Further, you stated: “As for your Xhaka point, pretty weak, what is he waiting for? What is the threshold of errors that Xhaka has to make?”

    Well, again, I agree that he is getting this wrong, and I agree that he should have seen Xhaka as a problem a long time ago. But can I ask you a question? If it’s so obvious that Xhaka should not be in the XI — in one sense I do think this is obvious — why then did Xhaka’s teammates select him as their captain? Second question: is there a chance that Emery continues to select Xhaka in the XI for the same reason his teammates elected Xhaka captain? I think there is. Now, that doesn’t mean he’s not getting it wrong, but it might mean that his mistake is a little less unforgivable than you regard it to be. After all, aren’t all of the players making more or less the same mistake?

    “I’m waiting to see what happens when the fullbacks arrive, but honestly I’m getting pretty sick of Arsenal playing at the level of their opposition 90% of the time and squeaking a win.”

    I’m not in a terribly dissimilar place, but I think I see more improvement than you do.


  39. Words on a Blog


    Your exchange is quite telling.

    What seems to be happening is that quite a large number of people who cut Emery a lot of slack last season (poor/unbalanced squad, legacy Wenger issues, new to the EPL etc) have lost patience with him. On Le Grive every few days, another erstwhile defender/apologist falls.

    I am still on the fence, primarily because of our performances in the cups and the Europa, but if we don’t give a decent performance/get a win tonight I think I might snap.

  40. Spanishdave

    Xhaka will get a yellow tonight so he will miss a game or two.
    We will lose tonight if he plays as we will not be able to counter attack at speed with him pissing about in midfield.
    He will be Emery’s downfall

  41. Words on a Blog

    What I think Emery desperately needs is for him to put together, starting tonight, a string of good performances for Arsenal IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE.

  42. Cesc Appeal


    I don’t agree with any of that really.

    Our pressing is awful, I don’t really care why players might have selected Xhaka as captain as Emery is the manager and should be the one making the tactical decisions. Again, if you listen to the players just as with Emery they say Xhaka trains hard, good attitude, always on time etc which is seriously telling.

    I actually found Emery’s whole 5 captains thing and allow a captain election as part of my growing issues with him as to his indecision and evading difficult choices.

    We’re basically at different ends on this. I would like to see Emery succeed, I would like to see his approach come to fruition when all the injured players return. I did believe that was going to happen but I’m starting to doubt it more and more.

    I would like to be wrong tonight. But I’m fully prepared for an exhausting watch where we look like a team on Sheffield’s level with no clear game plan and a porous midfield.

    I’ve had sympathy for Emery, I’ve cut him slack, I’ve defended him but really now my patience is thinning. I’ve always seen him as a stopgap manager, I think a lot of fans do, and I’m already starting to think about who should be next and improving.

    I will say, even if he left tomorrow I think he deserves credit for wrangling with a total unbalanced squad and being a steady pair of hands while we rebalanced literally everything. The squad has got younger, better, more balanced, more valuable, the wage bill has been cut etc.

    Emery deserves his share of credit for being a cog in that.

  43. Words on a Blog


    On the pressing thing, what seems to be happening, in the PL at least is that we press quite hard in the first half of matches.

    If we establish a lead of one or two goals, we revert to a defensive (overly)deep block, invite attacks and hope to score on the counter.

    If we don’t establish a lead, or we fall back, we continue to press.

  44. HighburyLegend

    1 stupid mistake (at minimum) ?
    Yellow card ?
    2 yellows ?
    1 direct red card ?
    A penalty ?
    A red card + a penalty ?

    When the Granité circus comes to town…

  45. Paulinho

    In terms of pressing in the second half, it’s partly as a consequence of being unable to control the game with possession, and that consistent giving away of the ball leads to the team tiring themselves out attempting to get it back, and then not being in position – literally and physically – to rouse themselves to do it again.

    Again, something proper full backs should help with in lieu of a dysfunctional midfield. Tierney especially is comfortable being brave on and off the ball and will provide an out-ball for midfielders and help sustain any momentum we build up, which will conserve energy for more effective pressing late in the game.

  46. Chris


    I think the Watford and Spurs games were a turning point for a lot of people, myself included.

    One doesn’t have to be a militant Emery Out but fair enough at this stage to voice concerns with our overall direction.

    The performance we produce tonight will be very telling. If we are all at sea like we were against Watford it will be extremely disappointing.

  47. Words on a Blog


    I agree with your point that Arsenal’s inability to press in the second half is largely a consequence of the team being unable to control the game with possession.

    Pierre no doubt would say that this is a consequence of the lack of Ozil playing time, which might be partly true, but then again he is just as prone to fade away. But I do wonder why Emery’s Arsenal teams, regardless of personnel and formation, seem to struggle with controlled possession so much.

  48. Words on a Blog


    If we play like we did in the second half against Watford then even I might become a militant Emery-outer!

    Oh God, I’ll have to brush up my vocabulary and start talking about sauce, Football philosophy, and Arteta’s enticing combination of managerial genius and perfect hair…..

  49. Graham62


    The Watford game was pivotal.

    Against Spuds, as we’ve all seen, they were for the taking.

    Emery’s image was severly dented, so tonight it will be interesting to see what materializes.

    Over to you Mr Emery.

  50. HighburyLegend

    WHERE’S PEDRO ?? lol

    More seriously, the result tonight will be far more important than the manner.

  51. Paulinho

    WOAB – It just destroys morale – as well as the gas tank – when you commit players forward and poor combination play leads to loss of possession, and everyone has to leg it back. Do it that four of five times and the team slips into survival mode mentally, confidence further eroded.

    I think Emery is waiting for Ceballos to click so he can be the one that will show for the ball either side of the opposition’s central midfield when the temptation is to batten up the hatches and all drop off. Ozil usually needs a oxygen mask at that stage.

    You just know Sheffield are going to take liberties tonight, their central defenders galloping down the wing, and we need to keep them honest by showing similar dynamism in return. Not confident tbh.

  52. Nelson

    Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka have quite different style of play. Martinelli is a bit like Ronardo. He’ll go and try to score. Saka is more a team player. I like his centering, his short passes to Auba and the way he turned Young to act like Xhaka.

  53. HighburyLegend

    “Ozil usually needs a oxygen mask at that stage.”
    Same mask as the one he wear when he plays video games.

    Big question for tonight, did Granité will wear the armband, or an artificial milk breast prosthesis ??

  54. Words on a Blog


    “Not confident, tbh.”

    Sadly, neither am I.

    Pinning all my hopes on St. Tierney of Glasgow and praying he helps us to perform a miracle, turning low possession water into controlled possession wine.

  55. Nelson

    Tonight is another good test for Ceballos. The opposing managers are aware of him now. Klopp has eliminated him completely. Let’s see how he looks like against an organized defense.

  56. Marc


    “Oh God, I’ll have to brush up my vocabulary and start talking about sauce, Football philosophy, and Arteta’s enticing combination of managerial genius and perfect hair…..”

    It’s worse than that Pedro will make you stand on the naughty step for disagreeing with him!

  57. HighburyLegend

    Pedro still not around….

    To be honest, it’s very difficult to run a blog and to be Xhaka’s babysitter at the same time.

  58. Words on a Blog


    I’m feeling that a spell of exile to the naughty step is pretty imminent.

    Not very fair of Pedro though, as after an, ahem, reappraisal, I now firmly believe that Poch is the 3rd manager in the world.

  59. Words on a Blog

    If Xhaka plays tonight and we lose, can propose that Le Grovers organise a Xhaka Extinction Rebellion group?

    We could chain ourselves to Emery, or better still, Raul, to stop Xhaka from being selected.

    I know it’s prettty extreme tactics, but it’s for the good of the planet. Ok that’s pushing it, but it would be for the good of North London.

  60. Marc

    “I know it’s prettty extreme tactics, but it’s for the good of the planet. Ok that’s pushing it, but it would be for the good of North London.”

    I would add that it’d also be for the good of my sanity but it may be too late for that.