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Emery vs Ozil, Beauty vs The Beast

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It is now the perceived wisdom that the relationship between Unai Emery and Mesut Ozil is broken and the club is trying to move the German on. There are rumors of a possible loan deal in next January’s transfer window but it could be absolute bonkers given the history of fake news in football especially anything to do with a big club like Arsenal. Both mainstream and social media smell blood in the water and almost every arsehole trying to generate clicks and views for their website or twitter account has an incentive to fabricate any story relating to Ozil’s relationship with his current employers. For example, there is a so-called ITK on twitter who has garnered much attention peddling a rumor of Ozil paying off his team-mates on the training ground so they would lie about his failure to complete the club’s stipulated training regime.

Rumor or not, there is definitely something amiss in Ozil’s relationship with the head coach. It is self evident and really no need for me to go over ground covered in a previous blog. Despite being the most decorated member of the squad, despite his medals, despite being the highest paid Arsenal player, Ozil is rarely selected, not even making the squad for both league and cup games. The manager speaks of other players “deserving it more” and Ozil needing to prove himself in training. Language like this is code for a breakdown in player-manager relationship.

Ozil a regular in the 4-2-3-1

Yet when Emery started his tenure as manager of Arsenal Football Club, between August and November of last year, Ozil (and Ramsey) were regular fixtures on the team sheet.  For most of the earliest matches the manager adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ozil playing as a #10 behind Lacazette. In an interviewed he explained:

At first I used information from last year or the last two years. Mesut can play like a No 10 player, or starting on the right or left, in a different system, and he has a good mentality.”

Despite losing its first two games of the season to arguably stronger clubs, Manchester City and Chelsea, Emery was able to right the ship and subsequently went on a 22-game unbeaten run, albeit the beneficiary of a remarkable goal scoring streak by Aubayang who at one time had 7 goals from 8 or 9 shots.

But by November 2018, when Arsenal was at home to Liverpool, there was clear signs the manager was losing faith in the 4-2-3-1 formation. He surprised many, including yours truly, with a 4-3-3 set up versus the Scousers. Previous games had seen much tinkering with the line up half-way through games and sometimes before. Early substitutions were being made, demonstrating a lack of faith in the original game plan but Emery was being praised by many, fans and pundits alike, for his tactical flexibility in contrast to the rigidity of his predecessor. Drawing  1-1 with the very in-form Liverpool, then league leaders, was the occasion for much back-slapping and praise of Emery’s tactics. He himself was very keen to justify his constant tinkering to the press:

“I think we are taking a good performance using a different system and different players.

“For example, we started the last two matches playing 3-4-1-2.

“But we finished it playing 3-4-3, with players helping us in the 90th minute with a different system and different positions.”

Liverpool seem to have been the trigger for Emery to ditch the 4-2-3-1 and ultimately limited the need for a genuine #10 via the selection of Ozil. The EPL website provides the crucial evidence.

November 25, 2018: Bournemouth vs Arsenal. Formation 3-4-2-1. No Ozil.

December 2, 2018: Arsenal vs Spurs. Formation 3-4-3. No Ozil.

December 5, 2018: Man United vs Arsenal. Formation 3-4-2-1. No Ozil.

December 8,  2018: Arsenal vs Huddersfield. Formation 3-1-4-2. No Ozil.

December 16, 2018: Southampton vs Arsenal. Formation 3-4-3. No Ozil

It was only after the unbeaten run was ended by Southampton did Emery return to 4 at the back on December 26th in a game at home versus Burnley. This coincided with a recall for Ozil who was thrust into a 4-3-1-2 formation, a set up which was hardly to the liking of the German as he was the sole offensive outlet with three DMs behind him.

Coach without a clear philosophy

What is evident from November-December 2018 is how Emery revealed himself as having no clear tactical philosophy. He implemented five, yes five, different formations, none of which were suited to the role of an attacking #10 like Ozil. Instead we had a variable, inconsistent tactical system from week to week which gave emphasis to attacks down the flanks by the wingbacks. In retrospect it was during this period when Arsenal finally earned the identity of Cutback FC.

When your star player is frozen out of the team it is inevitable there will be a reaction. In the modern era the favorite medium of both player and management to vent and to get fans on their side is via a favorite  agent or agents in the media. It is very noticeable that Emery and the club were the first to get their story out. In December 2018 after Arsenal lost 2-0 to Spurs in the Carabao Cup fans started grumbling and questioning why Ozil wasn’t playing. At first Emery was tight-lipped when asked by the press. But by mid January Ornstein had been briefed by the club and was doing the rounds. Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

They’re not just rumours. Unai Emery has suggested to Mesut Ozil that it would be best for him to leave the club. And the hierarchy of the club feels that they would like him to move on.

“I think that’s mainly financially driven for a player earning £350,000 per week but also related to that is the fact he is not performing anywhere near the level when he has played on a consistent basis as we know he can produce from the past.

“He has no desire to leave, Mesut Ozil, so he won’t be leaving in the January transfer window. I’m told he’s working extremely hard to get himself fit. Reports coming out of London Colney is that he’s now doing extra gym work and he has a positive demeanour. He’s determined to work his way back into the side.

“The word was he wasn’t doing a lot of the extra work most players were, and he is now. I’ve heard positive things about his behaviour, his commitment, his relationships with the teammates.

“I don’t think that’s ever been a problem, but he’s clearly out of favour with the manager and that’s a very expensive problem for the club to have.”

By the way this entire quotation is from Arseblog News who made a transcript of this Ornstein audio in its entirety. Hmm.

It seems to me that Ornstein was the vehicle to sow the idea into the heads of Arsenal fans that Ozil’s salary was a problem. The secondary anti-Ozil theme was he wasn’t working hard enough in training.  Unlike what you would expect from an unbiased journalist, Ornstein never discussed Emery’s inability or refusal to fit him into his tactical setup. No wonder journos are held in such ill repute today.

After December 26th versus Burnley, Ozil was not to start another PL game until two months later when, on February 27th, he scored the 1st goal as Arsenal romped to a 5:1 win over Bournemouth. He ended the season with 24 appearances (4 as a substitute) with five goals and 2 assists, the most unproductive year as an “assister” in his six years with Arsenal.


The virtual non selection of Ozil in the first 8 matches of the 2019-20 PL season is simply the continuation of a long-term strategy by Emery, now openly backed by Don Raul, to get rid of the German. Ornstein’s talking points of January 2019, was confirmation the club wants to be shot of Ozil on the grounds that he is too much of a drag on the wage bill. I maintain it is more because Emery cannot fit him into his system, whatever that is.

As long as Ozil is around the place there is pressure on Emery to play him especially when results go against the club or the grumbling among the fanbase gets louder as the football becomes more unwatchable and unattractive. Moreover, as long as Emery is head coach of Arsenal there is no future for a traditional #10 in his team. He is either afraid or unable to implement a tactical system that can take full advantage of the special skills of someone like Ozil.

A great man once said:

“People are very harsh with Ozil because he’s a player who’s always very easy on his play but when you watch the game again after, the next day, you see what a player he is. Everything he does is intelligent.

“The timing of everything he does is absolutely perfect. You never catch him giving the ball too late. The number of players you catch giving the ball too late is unbelievable. You never get that with Ozil.

“The timing, he’s like a guy who plays the music, the timing of what he does is perfect, you don’t get many players like that.”

Too bad pearls are lost on swines.


  1. I thought that people were being harsh on Emery by calling him Bruce Rioja in his first season.

    But to be fair to Bruce Rioch I don’t there is a line of former players and fans from all bar one of his clubs calling him out as a bumbling buffoon.

    Is the unholy alliance of:

    Josh Kronke

    Daddy Raul Montana AKA Sharkey

    Davide Bremery

    Gunner Gavin Blog

    Are these parasites turning the Arsenal into something that mimics Blackpool under the Oystens? Or the mighty glorious Tottenham under Levy?

    • Based on what I have read, it is sacrilegious to compare Emery with Rioch . The Englishman was dedicated to getting Arsenal to play more attractive football and was successful in persuading the Board to make what was then an expensive but trans-formative signing in the form of Dennis Bergkamp. Emery’s idea of a creative player was Denis Suarez whom he rushed into the first team bringing him ahead of Ozil in a game when both were on the bench. It is amazing the bullshit Emery has gotten away with over the past year.

      • Shotta it is sacrilegious to compare even the local U-11’a coach with the crap we have seen from Emery.

        How predictable was his second failure in his efforts to get one of the better technical squads (or was before Daddy Raul began his degradation) to pass the ball out from the back? What kind of idiot would inisist their team do that on every single play in the premier league? It’s almost as if they don’t know Football…

        Emery is a complete and total fraud. As Shard has recorded, he bullshits and lies in interviews and press conferences.

        The man is not Arsenal quality. He needs to work harder. Train some more. And maybe come back to the job in another life in a parallel dimension. That would be a small mercy.

  2. Nice one Shotta. Every word, every fucking word.

  3. Omair JavedOctober 17, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    At the time of his appointment Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey were the two best players at Arsenal and it was not surprising to see that Arsenal wanted a manager who could develop a team around them. We all thought Unai Emery was that man. We were told that he is that man both by the club and the man himself. But fast forward to now and one has already left the club while the other has been pushed on the brinks. If this is not the total failure of the said appointment then I don’t know what is.

    Unai Emery has not been able to use the best out of Ozil and neither did he used Ramsey properly. As a club I don’t know in what direction we are going. If you appoint a manager to implement a Plan A than you just don’t stick with the manager and start implementing his own plan B which is shit anyway and in the process start selling your best players at the club because your manager values donkey workhorse players over technical players capable of standing among the best and be the best.

    I personally feel the issue is neither Ozil nor Emery but rather the board that is backing Emery despite his failure to implement a system and style worthy of Arsenal Football Club to date. And no, just playing youth players doesn’t cut it.

    As for Ozil, forget about him. Unai Emery has not been able to get the best out of any playmaker at Arsenal. Mkhi struggled, Iwobi sold, Cazorla and Wilshere found not good enough without hitting a ball under Emery and Jeff also sold. The only playmaker(Ceballos is not one and if you think that he is than what’s the difference between you and Emery?) left at the club apart from Ozil is maybe ESR and even he has found himself either playing out of position or getting sidetracked for players more capable to play out wide or putting in a shift.

    Under Emery PSG signed Julian Draxler. If you just care to look back on his journey under the Spaniard you will find many interesting story path much similar to his German counterpart at Arsenal. He is a playmaker capable of playing as a No. 10 and out wide. But Emery struggled to fit him in his team of 3 DM’s and only sparingly played a 4-2-3-1 formation with Draxler as 10 even in farmers league. The result, his PSG side was so negatively put on pitch against Barca that they surrendered a lead than no one in the modern history did before.

    People talk a lot about his Europa League successes at Sevilla but fail to mention that Sevilla under Emery never even made past the group stages of Champions League when they qualified. They also fail to mention his Sevilla’s side performances in the league.

    I have always found that managers are best described by their first instinct. How they react to a certain situation. In what way they perceive it and think about it. While Arsene first instinct was always to score and kill the game, Emery first instinct has always been found to be negative. He is a pessimist thinker on pitch who always anticipates that his team is the worst and that there are minefields all over the pitch. Give any attacking pure No. 10 to Emery and he will fail to get the best out of him because Unai Emery is not the coach to play attacking football. He is the coach that you get to try to save you from relegation.

    The issue with Ozil is Unai Emery’s use of our midfield. If Unai Emery can make his midfield become a source of springing attacks and creating chances with the idea to dominate, Ozil will again find himself in the team and playing like a player that we remember him for. But if Emery continues to use his midfield as a defensive shield and a focal point to provide good passes for his fullbacks/wingbacks then really there is not much hope.

    Unai Emery is an appointment made wrong. If we back board and Emery, we might as well say Good Bye to classy Arsenal and the Arsenal way. Ozil is just a metaphor, the real issue is something that no one is talking right now.

    • “Give any attacking pure No. 10 to Emery and he will fail to get the best out of him because Unai Emery is not the coach to play attacking football.”

      He’s not the coach to play defensive football either. Basically, wallahi he’s not a coach. Best assessment of the coach from our best player.

      It’s not the board. The board is essentially defunct. The old men are too old to protest and have been pushed out by Kroenke’s son. Wenger said the club was being political sometimes. That’s who he meant. Raul is Josh’s man. It’s Raul who is doing this. It’s Raul who broke with Arsenal’s tradition of keeping their word in negotiations, when he reneged on Ramsey’s contract. It’s Raul trying to push Ozil out. It’s Raul who pushed Kos out and chose to try to destroy his legacy. Who pushed for a loan deal for Denis Suarez which meant Barcelona got to protect their asset, make some money, and a subsequent transfer fee, and Suarez and his agent got a new contract.

      Arsenal? What did we get? We got to send ESR out on loan, never use Willock, and badmouth and get rid of Sven who was arguing for promoting them instead of bringing in an avg player. Even when Suarez was brought in he was misused by Emery but that’s hardly shocking.

      Raul is the problem at Arsenal. He’s a parasite who will keep feeding on us. Emery, hardly innocent, is his scapegoat. The players will be made scapegoats. Edu will be made a scapegoat. As long as Josh is happy, Raul gets to feed on Arsenal’s soul. The Dementor.

      PS. Kind of strange that two of Wenger’s biggest backers at Arsenal – David Dein and Stan Kroenke – have spawned two of the people who decided to screw him and Arsenal over. Insecure sons wanting their own legacies while using Daddy’s clout?

  4. “Emery is a complete and total fraud. As Shard has recorded, he bullshits and lies in interviews and press conferences.”

    And on cue:
    “Five times in his briefing with the written press Unai Emery was asked about Mesut Ozil. Five times he answered a completely different question.”

    A sloshing bullshit artist.

    Nketiah is the player he left on the bench against Brighton less then six months ago knocks in a hat trick for the England u21s.

    The evidence for this frauds paucity is there and no one can deny it.

    If he’s this predictable off the pitch for the likes of you and me, if his promotion of Gunedouzi and his agent over other players again this season was predictable, then how predictable was it all for Sarri in that final knowing that the fraud didnt have Rambo to save his Arsenal.

    Let’s be clear:

    The man is a total fraud.

    • The crazy thing is, Sarri in the pre match conference said he knew how Emery would play and that his team was prepared for Arsenal to play 3 atb. Emery played the exact way. Maybe he thought Sarri was trying to psyche him out and went with the same. But then what happened after half time to our tactical genius? It did lead to a good moment on a human level with Sarri looking at his first winner’s medal in a contemplative fashion. So Emery’s not all bad on balance. Just bad for Arsenal.

  5. New post up. I just ripped Omair’s brilliant comment.


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