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Can Emery Turn Arsenal Around?

For months the mainstream media, pundits, bloggers and others have tried convincing us that Unai Emery is improving Arsenal. Over and over they lectured us, telling us that Emery simply needed more time and his own players for the club to surpass the achievements of his predecessor. By the way, have you noticed that the prior manager of 22 years is now a “man-who-must-not-be-named” by said same media-pundits-bloggers as they studiously avoid any serious analysis of Emery’s achievements compared to the recent past.

We have to thank @Orbinho for recently breaking with the mainstream and cutting to the chase when he tweeted:

“Unai Emery has won 78 points in his 43 Premier League games as Arsenal manager so far; the exact same amount as Arsene Wenger won in his final 43 Premier League games at the club as boss. via @OptaJoe

Orbinho obviously was running up against Twitter’s 240 word limit, failing to mention this was Wenger’s worse period as a manager versus the magnificent new era of exciting football promised by Emery and the Arsenal ownership and management at the time of his appointment.

Not only has there been a stagnation in points earned, which is important as a measure of competitiveness, but a decline in the quality of football put out by Emery’s teams.

It was very apparent as early as last January that the football was dire with the rare exceptions. However this was masked by an unsustainable rate of scoring by Aubameyang who at one point had scored seven goals from 8 shots as Arsenal enjoyed a 22 game unbeaten streak. Five months later it all ended in tears when Arsenal finished 5th, one point outside of the champions league places due to a poor finish to the season; one win from our last five matches and a resounding loss to Chelsea in the Europa League finals.

Despite all the favorable PR that Emery has had for up to the start of this season, less than 6 matches into the season the dam of excuses has broken. That small minority is no longer like the lonely boy in the crowd shouting that the “emperor has no clothes.” Even apologists have had to criticize the Spaniard. But as expected their criticism are limited to aspects of his tactics. The Guardian is a typical example. Two recent articles exemplify this.

Jonathan Wilson’s piece focuses on whether Arsenal’s strategy of playing out from the back too great a risk?”

A day or two prior to that they acted as a PR mouthpiece for Emery who in his “Blame me for Arsenal’s collapse against Watford” was simply trying to take the sting out of the universal condemnation of the poor team performance against Watford.

While Emery and the Guardian limited their concerns to playing out from the back, the fact is there are far deeper failures that they studiously avoided. Arsenal being outshot offensively and defensively by a team at the bottom of the tables is either a one-time exception or a systemic failure in both strategy and tactics, all of which is down to the coach.

For obvious reasons you wouldn’t expect Emery to admit to systemic failings on his part. But given the enormous resources the Guardian puts into their football coverage, surely one of their many well-paid hacks are aware of the flaws in Emery’s system and able to easily bang out something critical of his coaching. Instead they studiously evade the issue.

The fact is after 15 months of playing under Emery, there is lack of clarity about how Arsenal want to play. Week after week players are chopped and changed and the basic formation altered. Is it a far stretch to assume that there is similar uncertainty in players’ minds as they seek to implement the manager’s instructions on the pitch?

After nearly £200 million in spending on new players over three transfer windows the media narrative that he needs his own players is wearing thin. Not only are new players failing to improve the team but he is evidently unable or unwilling to leverage the talent of top-top players left behind by his predecessor. We had the spectacle last season of him refusing to select players of the caliber of Ozil and Ramsey, when they were fit. Somehow this manager could not set up a team that included one of the most creative midfielders in the world together with the PL’s best box-to-box player. Is it any wonder that fans are increasingly critical of performances and outcomes?

The figures don’t lie. While six games is definitely not a sufficiently conclusive sample size, most concerning to fans has been the unseemly number of Shots Against.

 

So far Arsenal have conceded 110 shots or 18.3 per game. This is a horrible statistic compared to our top-12 rivals in the league. The club is bottom place in shots conceded, yes dead last. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that conceding shots at this rate will eventually lead to conceding a higher number of goals compared than our peers.

Of that top-12, already Arsenal have conceded the second highest number of goals so far. Only the  young rookies of the Chelsea have conceded more (10 vs 13). Among those who have conceded less goals are defensive “giants” like Man United (6), Crystal Palace (7), Burnley (7), West Ham (7) and  Tottenham (8).

Some people are under the illusion that, because of the quality of the players available to Arsenal, top-6 is assured. But it is a virtual certainty that allowing rival teams to fire shots towards our goalkeeper at a rate of 24 per game will eventually catch up with us.

The only reason Arsenal is in the top-4 is because our offensive output is the 4th best in the league. The table below demonstrates.

As a result we are the 5th best team in goal-scoring. Significantly Aubameyang is again our top goal scorer with practically a goal in every match. Apparently Emery is intent on proving Einstein’s definition of insanity which “is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.

Conclusion

While Unai Emery may have blown a huge sigh of relief after last Sunday’s remarkable comeback by 10-man Arsenal to defeat Aston Villa, football-wise, there is no sign after 15 months of his leadership that the club is heading in an upward direction. While many fans are no longer drinking the media-driven Kool-Ade that performances are better than the worst years of his predecessor, there is still a large section of Gooners who reflexively defend the manager against any criticism and will stand with him to the last day of his contract. Many still hope he can eventually steer the ship afloat and at least grab that once derided top-4 trophy. One wonders where the management and ownership stand as they have been especially quiet, especially Don Raul, who is no longer hamming it up with the fans as results have gone south. That is perhaps the key data point.

Of immediate interest is how we perform in our next League game against once formidable rival, Manchester United, now floundering in mid-table. Very interesting days lie ahead.

 

18 Comments

  1. Einstein never said that, but if he had, he would have been right in this case.

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  2. He can turn it around by resigning.

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    • Something I notice that people conveniently drop from Emery’s resume is that Spartak Moscow fired him after 6 months following a humiliating loss to Dynamo Moscow. Then he went to Sevilla. We have a lot more patience than the Russians. Are we hoping to win the EL title?

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      • Good blog Shotta, other than being (at times) as interesting as watching paint dry, I find that during Emery period we have been so poor that the pgmol boys haven’t even had to bother ripping us off with the fantom calls, non calls or blatant offsides that result in the opponent scoring. I would like to be surprised next game by seeing Emery being a bit more adventuresome in his selection.

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  3. Emery spend 200M+ in two summers (two transfer windows that many say are one of our best in recent times), fans backed him to full, no one brought bed sheets and A4 papers at Emirates demanding the Manager to spend, no booing at Emirates, one of the best midfield and strike force in premier league and still somehow we are exactly at the same points with no football style, even worst defense and only helped by much better offensive output even though our creativity has taken a sharp dip.

    Now, compare that with Arsene Wenger’s last 2 seasons which had more focus on the outcry in the stadium and outside it rather than results. And even then, it produced more silverware, better style of football and a philosophy and Arsenal club that we can feel proud of.

    One was labelled as failure and the other as successful progression!

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  4. Also one the the stats arent showing is the immense pressure Wenger was under and had been for years. No fly-over banners for Emery, or banners at games, or protests outside the ground before matches and after, plus their torch marches. And the endless media and blogg hatred. Im not sure Emery could handle all of that? To me, Emery could also not have guided the club through the years of the new stadium and transfer limits. The two central defenders he brought in seem a bit ropey to me. Or at least badly managed? Tuesday didnt seem an Emery night, perhaps that’s why we were a bit more happy ( in part?).

    Einstein was a genius but wasnt the outright genius that we think(dont get me wrong, Im shit on his shoe), much of the special relativity theory was the works of others( who are mostly forgtotten)* plus, the equation (E=mc 2)is only from a standing position. I think its closer to E2=(pc2)+(mc)2.
    So E=energy, p=momentum, c=speed of light m=mass. If you take out momentum you basically have E=mc 2.
    This gives us a hint at a couple of things, one why star wars is wrong with “hey lets go light speed” because we would need infinite energy to get to that speed. Maybe they found it but perhaps Lucas could explain how?
    Also what price would it be? And why would the scapes of SW look like that in a world that had infinite energy
    Two perhaps this is why looking at computer all day/phones etc has a relative new sense of time? In the past there was no standard time(each town and village had its own time/clocks which were all different), not even by the solar idea of time. So this was unified and made into a standard time, which doesn’t even have the same time as any solar calendar.But the online system has another way of sapping our strength, reading is different as is listening. Plus we read, listen and absorb the phenomena at a much higher concentration level than ever before.
    Problem is in many forms of physics the equations look really hard. If you can get them doors open up, and many things you can test yourself.
    The weird thing is, its not 365/52/24/7, as time is longer in the solar day/night. Leaving actual factual dates in history different to those in standard history books.

    * this happens alot, Fleischers was the first to do a sound cartoon a few years before Disney claimed and promoted with Steamboat Willie, plus Fleischer’s also did the multiplane before Ub Iwerks, who did it before Disney.

    Sorry got a bit off the subject.

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  5. Ok something I forgot, once we get to light speed mass will have increased, so this would have a massive affect on the flying machine (how would you cool it down?)etc. How would that be contained ? Its also odd in that how could any human deal with 186,000 miles per second? What would be the affect of speed like that on body and mind?(10years to one human year in time dilation although time has been seen to go slower with higher g’s?) Plus does out own mass get affected and to what degree?
    Sorry, back to football, although all is related.

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  6. The Ghost of WengerSeptember 27, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for posing the question Shotta. I almost don’t know we’re to start or stop with this one.

    [deep breath]

    If I were a gambling man, I’d bet the entire farm that Emery cannot turn Arsenal around.

    I have been struggling to rationalise why a manager as experienced and celebrated as Emery always seems to be making rookie mistakes. Okay, I am not a manager nor I have never played the game professionally – I am merely a layman and a student of the game.

    Like Gary Neville, Carragher, et al, Emery comes across as a wannabe artist whose lack of talent makes him more suited to be the art critic rather than the artist. He excels in post-analysis but lacks the vision to be creative.

    “But he’s won the Europa” they say. Having watched (read endured) Emeryball for 15 precious months of my life, I am beginning to suspect that Emery’s Europa achievement could actually be an underachievement. For example, I don’t think any intellectually agile football fan would argue with the view that Emery could not have led Liverpool to Champions League glory if he was their manager last season. Also he wouldn’t have won the Prem with City’s team either. But it is easy to see how he might have won the Europa with City’s team. This, given the wealth of talent at City, would be an underachievement.

    Shotta, you also highlight the lack of media scrutiny of Emery’s failings through last 15 months. The media is quite cautious in how they assess Arsenal’s performance. It’s almost if they are afraid that they might alert the less intellectually agile Arsenal fans (the ones that idolise those fan TV blokes) that we have a charlatan at the helm.

    Take for instance the 1-1 draw at home with Brighton last season. This was a game that we should have won. If memory serves correctly, an unnamed midfielder made a mistake, gifting Brighton a penalty. Towards the end of the game with 20 minutes to go, we finally got our Arsenal back. It was great and Brighton were clinging on. Then Emery made a triple substitution. From that point onwards Brighton were safe. The Evening Standard wrote:

    “Emery has made far more impact with his changes this season than Arsene Wenger ever did, but a triple substitution in the midst of that pressure seemed to kill Arsenal’s verve”

    No shit Sherlock. You don’t see many triple substitutions in professional competitive football. It is the act of a manager that is bereft of ideas. But the media and pundits steered clear of the outright issue least they wake up the fan tv twats.

    We’ve seen Arsenal get targeted with unfair coverage and decisions for the past two decades. Was the target Wenger or was it Arsenal? I dunno. Based on current events it still could be either. Or both – Wenger’s legacy is still a prime target.

    I cannot imagine any circumstances in which Emery’s approach to football could deliver results commensurate with the skills of the players. Emeryball will always underachieve. Some managers are artist. Emery paints by numbers.

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    • A triple sub when chasing a goal that did not include any goal scorers amongs the subs sent on. Not saying he’s the next Romario but he is a goal scorer yet Nketiah was left on the bench…hard to see anyway back for Emery’s reputation within and without the squad after the end to last season as evidenced by the actions of Koscielny and others not forgetting the recent constant leaking etc.

      the Big Blaggers have already turned the worms loose upon Emery. “He was only ever Daddy Raul’s stop gap, Daddy knows what he is doing…” if their gibberish wasn’t so predictable it would be almost funny.

      As it is I’m terrified of what will come after Emery, hopefully my concerns are proven to be baseless. In the meantime I’ll enjoy the little football we get as on Tuesday. Aubamayang. The kids. The new LB looks like he can pass the Football, that’s also encouraging…

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      • The Ghost of WengerSeptember 28, 2019 at 12:00 am

        That triple sub was just one of many bizarre things Emery’s has done over the course of last season.
        The mistakes cannot be blamed on his “newness” to the league alone, some things were just batshit crazy.
        Note that the Evening Standard was praising him for the impact his substitutions make in comparison to Wenger. This completely overlooks the fact that time and time again Emery’s subs were to correct his own tactical errors!
        If you begin a game with the best team and tactics suited to their strengths, it is unlikely the subs will have huge impact. Especially so when you consider the relative weakness of Arsenal’s bench in the Wenger years.
        Emery’s subs and tactical changes have huge impact because he got it wrong in the first place. The Evening Standard’s lauding of Emery’s subs could be summarised as “Emery shat the bed again. Cleanup made big impact”.
        Arsenal are being trolled by the media.

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  7. In support of the comments made by Fins, Ghost and George concerning this media driven narrative that Emery makes superior use of subs than his predecessor, ask yourselves the question:
    “Which top manager in the world would fail to start their most creative player or the best box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League?”
    Give Emery City or Liverpool and and I would give none of them a chance of winning the PL or the Champions League as they did last year. That is a damning indictment of his ability to manage a truly big club with aspirations to win big titles.

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    • In this context I can imagine Ferguson. Ferguson was an authoritarian to the point of extremism regarding the club (him) first players second (Stamm/ Beckham/refs/ loads of others etc etc ).
      To me there’s one of two things here. Either UE thought/thinks Mesut and Rambo were kack, in which case he shouldnt be in football management.
      Two, hes an authoritarian who wanted to have no bs from anyone. New boy in after a long time Wenger world, which was pretty impressive, and wanted to make a mark and show hes the man. Despite failing at PSG.A club that invited him to make them the best in the world. He didnt.
      Somehow these players(and everyone who left/transferred out on loan) have resisted or gone against his methodology, (chaos scraping by) even if that meant severe masochism and throwing away CL place.
      To me both prove he wasnt the right manager in the first place. Im still not that sure about some of our signings that hes made and if they are playing to their utmost abilities, but thats just me. I even think the clubs inner ideologists are promoting Guen as the new messiah (there’s one every week when we win), some people like to be led up the garden path? Im not convinced, even that he will be a great player in the future. Sorry. Doesn’t mean Im right, or wrong, just by bullshit opinion. I hope he is. But he wont stay if he is. He’ll be of to Barca or Real, PSG or Bayern etc.
      Emery hasn’t a clue about setting up the midfield. Guen seems a big part of that: silverfish circles and then wiped out. Ok he was ok against the Spuds and got a pen against Villa. I don’t think thats enough. We shall see against ManUre, this is a very very big test for us against them. And they will be up for it, burning with pride and anger and if they win it will put them right back in it.
      Losing to Watford, psychologically was a massive blow. looked at where we would be if that would have happened.
      Ok here’s a question. IF the managers a masochist or has those tendencies, how will that not rub off on the team? Look at the capitulation at the endo f last season. It was smoothed over by the fact the Spuds ManUre and Chelsea also win Bristols up.

      Another problem with the subs against the Seaweed was it smacked of desperation (as Ghost said). Should a guy who supposed to be this good be so desperate? Brighton knew if they can contain it for a while, and that would be it. Staggering them might have been better, a build up of pressure. I think the media had a hank because Weng mostly did his subs at the same time and as the Ghost pointed out it looked like some new and fresh was here. Batshit crazy sums it up.

      Personally I feel very nervous about going up to Old Toilet. If we dont win then we are still in the same place as last April. Hopefully Luiz and the ref wont give them a penalty.

      Got to admit though, I dont like slagging our players or manager off too much.

      PS did you know the way we are pronouncing Ljungberg is wrong?

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      • “Got to admit though, I don’t like slagging our players or manager off too much.”
        Of all the very excellent points you raised this is the most sensitive.

        I have been accused by friends and foes alike that UnCensored is simply duplicating the various anti-Wenger sites, that we simply have an axe to grind and refuse to give Emery time. Frankly I don’t see any parallels with us defending our greatest ever manager from extremists using aircrafts, bedsheets and A4 banners to totally unsettle and undermine the club during his tenure. We are using facts and data to show the club is going in the wrong direction. Arsenal is like the Titanic; with a major hole under the waterline but for sake of appearance, to protect the owners, to not trouble the rich heavy spending guests and to keep in ignorance the plebs mindlessly cheering the maiden voyage of the greatest ship ever, those with knowledge of the impact of the iceberg are pretending that all is well until it is too late. Rather than be quiet, I would prefer we be the man on board crying SOS and getting the liferafts ready. Maybe this time the rescue boats will arrive before the ship goes under.

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        • Great analogy to the Titanic. Emery was the iceberg? Who forgot to bring the binoculars?
          For me its wanting them all at the club to do well, and they arent; so you start looking, collating data and looking at the patterns.
          Im bored of being in what feels like one horrible hangover that started against the Sotonists last Xmastide or so. Thats what made Tues such a break, a breath of fresh air.
          Emery doesnt help himself for the benefit of the club, the bigger picture, its too much about him. Ferg could pull it off, with the aid of nefarious means, but Emery cant.
          I want to go into a game, thinking we have a fighting chance here, not “oh no its Twatford oh no its Villa” ” oh no its Minnow fc”. Throwing away games to the Spuds is a bit suspect to me( they are super shaky so far). Plus if we are going to park the bus as was attempted at Liverpool, could he please find out how to do it! Plenty of evidence.

          Lets face wouldnt we all want to cheering club on and having real heroes again?

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  8. ooh look, the mighty Wolves who were second from bottom beating the Orns, who we gave a point to because we share London Colney.
    The Sotonists putting real pressure on Northumberland Rovers, stats show a different game than the scoreline.

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