Wenger’s legacy is fundamental. Free flowing, attacking football by a club with integrity and class.

Of Arsenal’s Problems – Emery Probably Not One Of Them

Comedy of Errors (© Photo: Wikimedia)

Yesterday brought back a sense of deja vu. About two years ago, I was away in India when Arsenal played the same opponents as yesterday. We were doing okay and looked to be in control with the lead only to collapse in the second half. You can read the BBC’s match report here.

The match report refers to that Arsenal side as flaky. Xhaka & Kolasinac were in that side and Ozil came on in the 61st minute. Sadly Unai Emery wasn’t in charge of Arsenal then although the flaky reference is still relevant.

Fast forward to Sunday, I was again far away from home. Seven hours ahead in Malaysia, preparing to watch the game at 2330 local time. I was worried about the coincidence and also worried about some of our inconsistent play leading up to this match but i steadied myself and stayed up to watch the game.

Fans with zero knowledge

The usual noise about Emery getting his selection wrong was muted because he started Ozil. Again, I struggle to understand how lay fans with zero knowledge of football management can be so confident that they know how, when and where a professional football manager gets his tactics wrong.

Now that Arsenal drew from two winning positions yesterday, there are many Arsenal fans blaming the manager not for his selection this time but for his substitutions. But the problems were already there before Willock came on in the 60th minute. It is clearly a case that the manager cannot do anything right as long as the results go against the team. There are even many now who won’t be happy with a win. Any kind of win will be a flash in the pan or a lucky escape.

Many of these fans have started to sharpen their knives in the hope they can stick it into any of Emery’s body part. “He doesn’t have an identity”; “he doesn’t play the Arsenal way”; “his selection is wrong”; “his substitutions are wrong”; “he doesn’t speak English well”; “there are rumors the players don’t understand him” etc. There is just no knuckle duster they won’t use on him. In my opinion however these critics are the original knuckle heads. How the FLIPPING L do you not pause in your tracks and realize you are in the teaching a brain surgeon how to perform surgery territory.

Moaning for moaning sake

How do you hound a manager who is in the second and possibly the final year of his contract? What is the worst case scenario here? Arsenal will not be relegated. Back your team I say, back its players and manager and make a name for yourselves as the best fan base ever. This might actually attract a better manager in the future as Emery’s replacement when he and the club decides it is time to move on. Emery is not a bad manager. You don’t achieve what he did with Sevilla by being terrible. He will manage at a better club than Arsenal when he and Arsenal part ways. Insiders know what challenges and impediments he has as an Arsenal manager and will look to hire him if they can give him a better set of circumstances.

While Emery is still at Arsenal, by constantly criticizing everything he does, the fans are making whatever point they think they have worthless. This is moaning for moaning sake. The club’s current challenges are to be expected as the club has gone through huge upheavals in the last 17 months and even over the last summer. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and it is filled with bumpy rides. Be grateful for the wins, be upset with the losses without being destructive and take everything else with calmness. Losing your cool because of the way your team played or your perception of the manager is a tad childish in my opinion.

Emery’s attacking intentions

Back to the match. Alexandre Lacazette’s absence meant there was an extra space in the team and the manager handed it to Ozil. Torreira made way for Ceballos as the manager outlined his intent to attack but many who praised the selection forgot the implication of having a side more suitable to attack than defense giving Arsenal’s well known ability to expose its back four. Many of the critics have quickly forgotten their claim that Lacazette should have started against Liverpool. Now that it is clear he was carrying a knock, that criticism of Emery’s selection at Anfield has been forgotten. The critics also unreasonably forget their arrogant claims that Emery only sets up the team to neutralize the opponents once they saw Ozil in the line up. Perhaps this is the time to remind all of them that they do not know 5% of what Emery knows about football management. Not the critics and not the fans.

During yesterday’s match, I made a note to myself before the 16th minute that Watford was bossing the midfield and also bossing play. All of these despite the presence of Ozil, Ceballos and Xhaka. It wasn’t a midfield trio designed to retain the ball and it didn’t. Perhaps Emery’s approach was another smash and grab like last season and it worked until the 53rd minute.

Manager not responsible for player error

How do you blame a manager for a senior defender’s inability to make a simple pass? This is a senior defender with almost 440 senior career appearances. This is on the back of his error for Tottenham’s first goal in the last league match and his Salah shirt tugging that allowed Matip to score in the match against Liverpool. How is Emery to blame for this? Are you saying he can’t coach a professional footballer to make a pass?

How is Emery to blame for David Luiz conceding a blatant penalty twice in three matches? Yes, his Chelsea record of conceding penalties are stellar but Arsenal’s style and strength of concentrating on attacking exposes our defense so Luiz will be under more pressure than in his Chelsea career.

Arsenal constantly exposing its back line is underlined by an incident before Arsenal scored the first goal. Watford had turned over Arsenal’s possession and were counter attacking, four of our players – Ozil, Aubameyang, Pepe and one other player were deep in the final third of Watford while a counter attack was happening. None was busting a gut to get back and support their teammates. Thankfully Ceballos and Kolasinac managed to nick the ball off Watford. Kolasinac found PEA and oh bam, it was a yang of a goal.  He later added a ying to it.

Yesterday’s match was littered with so many glaring issues that fans ought to realize this wasn’t an ordinary day in the office. Despite Emery not wanting to agree, perhaps Xhaka was right that the Arsenal boys were afraid. Afraid of Watford’s physicality perhaps as Emery himself said Watford was stronger than Arsenal.

Maitland – Niles gave the ball away all evening although he came up with the assist for the second goal following some wizardry from Ozil. When the second goal went it, I didn’t notice anybody complaining about FULLBACK FC despite the fact that the assist for both goals came from our full backs.  Guendouzi was not anywhere as influential as his second half self versus Tottenham. Had the senior call up perhaps taken too much of a toll?


Overall the team didn’t do enough to win the match. While some have chosen to focus on the manager’s substitution, his three substitutes contributed nothing to the draw. We drew this match because two senior defenders chose to be daft over three consecutive games. If you are the type that looks to assign blame, by all means, assign blame to the club from bottom to top. Please don’t single out the manager. Just makes you look like one of the mindless mob many spent years fighting in the trenches of the Wenger Wars.

While we are here bemoaning our draw, we should be quietly thanking our stars that Leno did his best to salvage a point for Arsenal.

We should also be very aware of our history as Arsenal fans

Newcastle 4: Arsenal 4

West Ham 3: Arsenal 3

Bolton 2: Arsenal 2

All of these are nothing to do with Unai Emery.


  1. So basically you are saying that 11 every talented players all forgot how to play? It’s ok to get out shot 31 to 7 because we once lost against Watford under Wenger. I bet the stats were nothing like that btw.
    If I went to word and every week my boss told me to do the job in a different way, it would give me a prob;e, I wouldn’t be very good and I would get the blame. But it would be because my boss is making my job difficult.
    The underlying stats have been getting worse since Emery arrived,
    We were battered. We look like a team with no plan, no idea and no leadership. And yes, it’s because Emery isn’t a good manager. Certainly not the standard a club like Arsenal deserves.
    And the condescending tone of this blog is annoying, to say the very least. We have had more attempts against us than we have had , since Emery arrived. And with what I consider the 3rd best squad in the league, that is disgraceful. Al the underlying metrics are damning, that’s not my opinion, its fact.
    You are defending the indefensible with a holier than thou attitude that is frankly embarrassing in the face of that performance.
    Our last 12 games-

    Win 4
    Draw 3
    Lose 5

    Goals for: 16
    Goals against: 20
    Goal difference: -4

    Defend that?

  2. Im with George. Plus add to the stats the EL final, lost 6.

  3. I don’t mind the pro Emery view. Just like I didn’t mind the anti-Arsene view. I have a problem when it comes from a position which is ill reasoned and delivered in a tone designed to kill debate. Whether I was (and still am) called an irrational Wenger lover, or now called an irrational Emery hater, it is one and the same thing.

    Sorry Baba, you are being Grumpy at the wrong thing. Great if you enjoy watching that football. How about you say something nice about it. Talk about the positives. This is whataboutery, sanctimonious at that.

    Every professional in any field knows more than an amateur (supposedly anyway). So should no one ever be judged in their job. If a bank clerk does his job poorly resulting in causing you hassles, you should just say, ‘what do I know about his job anyway. It must be really difficult.’ If a movie comes out, you pay to watch it, you must not complain because so much effort goes into making the movie that you don’t know about? This appeal to authority is nonsense. Emery is out there to get his team to play football, and it is our position and right to judge this output. That is a right you are trying to take away.

    I don’t doubt Emery’s effort. I do doubt his suitability. And I feel this conjecture of how he’ll go onto bigger and better clubs is laughable. He failed at PSG, and he’s failing, badly, at Arsenal. No big club is going to hire him. We shouldn’t be hiring him. I say it without malice, with some sadness, but with complete and total conviction based on the evidence in front of me.

  4. Hooray a bit of sense. Piss poor excuse of a fan base acting like demented toddlers because they don’t like the style of play and Arteta didn’t get the job. Well i didn’t enjoy the football losing 10.2 to Bloody Bayern but i supported my team and manager. If Emery fails to get top 4 this season then he will be gone simple as. I think some people want the club to fail just to say told you so. Well with a fanbase as entitled as this no decent manager will want the job especially Arteta who wants the City job anyway. The lolz when Emery gets sacked and Mourinho comes in. God if you lot had been fans in the Terry Neill era.

    • But Jay, you laughed about Ramsey being injured to make a point yesterday. Ramsey being injured does not mean he was not a great player.

      You also have not defended anything that Emery has done, you rather being up Wenger and put down anyone who has an issue with the rubbish Emery is serving up. Outshot 31 to 7 by Watford, pegged back by the likes of Huddersfield. You need to have a reasoned argument to support Emery on his merits. Defend him.

      As for Bayern Munich, this tram dismantled Barcelona, they get all the top players in Germany plus add some top class players. Lest you forget we also gave them a rather difficult time under Wenger, almost beat Barca, maybe if not for that corrupt ref.

      We have not fared any better against Chelsea or Pool but supposedly we have better talent, with a manager that has his own players and knows how to sure up the back. That means we ought to be doing better, no?

      A defense or emery based on what he has done thus far?

    • Also, the idea that people want Emery to fail is weak and childish. Why would an Arsenal supporter want Arsenal to fail. Arsenal is one if the worst clubs in the EPL at present on present form. That is failing .

      Ironically it was the Wenger out people that wanted Arsenal to miss the top 4 and now we are on a roll with that, said people have a problem.

      I have known the people on this blog for years on top of years and I can tell you that that is not the spirit of these people.

      You see it’s not about Arsene leaving, it’s about the current trash that Arsenal are playing under the new manager.

  5. Forgive my typos

    • I was a Wenger supporter who thought he was treated appallingly. If you can’t see how you sound like the reactionary AFTV lot then god help you. As i said Emery will be gone at the end of the season if we fail to get top 4. You could always start a petition, have a march or hire a plane. Coz this club doesn’t sack managers willy nilly. Or do you want that?

      • I don’t care if you were a Wenger supporter. You are trying to belittle him to support Emery, while you have not offered anything in support. If that is what you call support god help you.

        I’m not sure what you are calling reactionary. Arsene is proven he made Arsenal what it is today, what is Emery doing but making us worse by the match.
        Reactionary? Bro I knew he was the wrong fit since the middle of last season. You don’t change formation every game, you don’t leave your best players on the bench, you don’t start a 19 year old over them, you don’t drop a player in Xhaka into the defense when he is not good a defending, you don’t continue to play a high line when teams keep exposing it and then go unto to say that they new they would score (Man United), you don’t play a defensive set up against the Huddersfields of the world, you don’t drop players who are playing well (Iwobi, Lacazette and Torreira), you don’t put two central defenders together who are both loose canons. No I’m not a manager but don’t tell me this is all good.

        Reactionary my foot.

        Stop attacking people and defend Emery, that is what you have not done.

  6. Yesterday Jay you were slagging Wenger off. Today you say you stood by him.Dont forget we also beat Bayern, and Barcelona during those final AW CL years. Not all the TN era was shite, four of his years were great, some of them much better than the GG years, and better than anything Emerys done so far.It was tougher after Brady went. Dont you remember how strong our left hand side was? The first post Neill years were worse in my memory, sometimes only 25,000 of us turning up at Highbury. I started in 77/78. Some of the Neill moments were brilliant and there was some horrible moments. But still the Wenger years shadow it all.
    Not sure about your logic though. What is there to praise in the football at the moment, being crushed by bottom place Watford? 31-10 shots is a crushing.

    You come across yesterdayas a Stoke fan or a Spud so you will be used to poor football?

    And if you are an Arsenal supporter and you truly did experience the Neill and later years then you would know why Emery is also even worse to watch? Arsenal under TN played as a unit, even when they lost.
    Anyone who wants the club to fail to say I told you so, cant really be an Arsenal supporter but a Wenger supporter. Who is towing that line here? Not me, Ive always put the club first.All the people I see are the same.

    People want better, not throwing a game to draw with the Spuds, or to draw with a poor Watford side or narrowly beating outfits like Newcastle.

    Thing is I dont get why youre so angry. All seems a bit extreme? Whatever football was, it isnt now, maybe fans are entitled, and thats a flaw, but what to do, go back to the creepy 70s and early 80s to toughen everyone up?
    Some people settle for egg and chips and think its hard and real and others want something more nourishing knowing that a pure diet of that is life threatening making you soft and dead?
    Baba wants to just be a spectator and take it all in his stride. Fair enough. Others are more committed emotionally. Whose right or wrong? Where can people go and have a talk about it? If they cant talk what then?

  7. How come everybody is fair game, Wenger who moved on, Ramsey who moved on, Gazidis who moved on, the players but Emery should be spared criticism? What exactly has he done at Arsenal that bought him this charity?

    I don’t want him to fail, geez man, I want Arsenal to qualify for next seasons Champions League because I doubt knock will stay different for too long if we stay in purgatory.

    Leno and Xhaka, although diplomatic about it, shared their concerns about the tactic. Why should we just watch this as if it some soapy.

    If anybody doesnt like any opinion wanting Emery to do better then they are free to ignore it. No need for the ‘at least it was better losing 8-2 to Manutd’. Arsenal finished ahead of Manutd on the PL log all but once the last 6 seasons. But its guess their fans shouldn’t worry because they beat Arsenal 8-2 eight years ago.

  8. This article, and your responses on Twitter, Baba Grumpy, just show that your basic premise is wrong. This is not a pro-Emery article at all. There is nothing here which suggests why we’re wrong to blame Emery or suggest he’s not up to the mark. Nothing which says why he’s the right man, or what he’s trying to achieve. It is simply premised on the notion that no one among us has the right to criticise Emery. That’s your starting premise, your underlying belief, and that is why this article is flawed in both tone and content.

    I’m putting it bluntly, since you seem to be a fan of that approach too. I do not mean offense.

  9. If this is the best defense that Baba Grumpy can put up for Unai Emery then his Arsenal era really is on the brinks.

    If the manager can not be blamed or criticized for anything that he is responsible for because players are International and they should not be committing individual errors and should be good enough to win football matches than I wonder why we have a coach in first place or why anyone would need one if they already have international players.

    I really love the way you referenced three games that happened in a span of 22 years to try to make your point valid that this is not something new that has happened at Arsenal (which in itself is comical way to try to defend Emery) when in fact it is something new that has never happened before before 31 SHOTS HAVE NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. Arsenal got battered by a team lying at the bottom of the table and for some reasons you are saying it’s not managers tactics. WOW!

  10. When all else fails people can always say “Wenger lost 8-2 against United.

  11. Off Topic, but Baba Grumpy, I’m interested to know what you thought of India on your travels. Hope you had a good time. Where all did you visit?


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