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

Transfers – Hope For Emery and Arsenal

By @ShardGooner

Even in this era of wall to wall, 24/7 coverage, transfers seem to dominate football news and the fans’ imagination. I include myself in this. When the rumor of Nicholas Pepe signing for Arsenal first surfaced from a credible source, I found myself getting excited for the season ahead. Not only was it a big money signing, but an attacking one, offering the promise of many goals and beautiful football.

Of course, the primary purpose of transfers is to improve the team. Arsenal’s transfers this season, both confirmed and rumored, certainly do that.

The Protagonists

Pepe – A modern wide forward providing a goal threat and dribble penetration, something we sorely lacked at times last season. He seems like he’s got good technical ability, and speed. His presence should widen the field and help provide overloads when on the offense.

Ceballos – A technically gifted midfielder who can help us retain possession, and add some creativity and quick vertical play. After the loss of Ramsey, he addresses a real need. A bit of a shame it is only on loan, but if he helps us get CL football it would be well worth it. Also gives time for someone like Willock to grow into the role.

Martinelli – Quick, young, technical Brazilian forward. I get the feeling he will make a contribution this season. Worst case, it’s a low cost risk on potential. That he was acquired despite young attacking talent not being an area of urgent need, might signal how much we believe in his ability.

Saliba – Almost as excited by this as Pepe. Unreasonably so. But it’s a good feeling to sign a tall, young defender, who has broken into the 1st team in France and done well. He looks confident. Won’t be here this season, but I’m guessing many of us will be watching some Ligue 1 games to assess and track his progress.

Tierney – He is merely a rumor but he would be a good, young, addition at LB.

If we pull off a decent Center Back as well, it would have been a fantastic window.

The Antagonists

Of course, transfers only provide the tools. It is all about how they are used. In this regard and that is a worry with Emery from last season.

Too much tinkering – Half time substitutions and constantly changing formations and lineups were a feature of last season. It was his first season at the club though, so hopefully it was just him trying to get a better grasp of the team. Rotation will be important, but some consistency will help.

Poor personnel management – Seemed like he was struggling to manage some individuals in the squad, which ended up compromising Arsenal’s results. However, he seems to have buried the hatchet with Ozil, and pre season has seen us play more through the middle than most of last season. The issue with Koscielny seems more to do with the club than with him as coach so we can’t hold it against him. But managing a squad with new faces and young players pushing for game time might prove a challenge again. Hopefully adding Freddie to the coaching team will help communication between him and the players.

Not playing to team’s strength – This is the biggest worry. Can Emery get out of his own way and play to the team’s strengths? We should have too much firepower for most teams, so hopefully Emery will not repeat some of the errors of last season where his conservative set up or changes ended up putting more pressure on Arsenal’s defense. Of course, structural issues with Arsenal’s defense remain and pre-season doesn’t provide evidence of it having been addressed. A question mark remains over his ability to do this.

CL qualification is the minimum

This time around, Arsenal via Josh Kroenke has explicitly stated that they expect to achieve CL qualification. Last season’s results were not good enough and performances poor. Issues such as low shot creation, low possession and increased chances for our opponents plagued our season. These failings were often masked the superior finishing of our forwards. If Emery can improve our performances, normally results should follow from that.

Safe to say, a repeat of last season will not fill the board or the fans with confidence he is the man to take the club forward, especially after the investment being made in the squad, and with newly appointed Technical Director, Edu, highlighting the importance of an identity and style of play.

Hopefully the time for using the previous manager as a shield has passed. The current regime now ought to exist on their own merit. Perform or perish. This transfer window has given me hope that it will be the former. Over to you Señor Emery.


  1. Very apt
    While not having the best defense in the league I feel we can concede less goals if we have better tactics and play to the strengths of our potent attack.
    The English media however should let this team be with all the sprouting of negativity around all things Arsenal not to talk of our boo boys who claim to be arsenal fans on social media

  2. Nice Shard.

    Plenty to be excited about for me, and plenty more questions. Be hard pushed to go into a season with more uncertainty for me.

    We can assume plan is for Lacazette and Aubameyang to continue to play very regularly, and Pepe to join them in that… then Leno surely has firm grip on no 1 keeper spot, but as for the rest?

    Well, I think coach relies on Xhaka, but in what system and with what partner/s I don’t know. Centre back is even more up in a air. Full back/wing backs also not settled, though if Bellerin’s recovery goes well he should get the spot on right.

    The contrast is gigantic with two best in league at moment in terms of settled team/style.

    I have hope, due to quality of attacking options, defenders not by any means being as bad as some say (though we are miles from a top, settled defence), the plethora of exciting young players, and the possibility a combination of prem shock/surprise and, erm, the target being so palpably close in latter stages were Emery and the team’s undoing last year.

    No getting around the fact we flopped badly with target in sight at end of year, though, which made the abandoning of the nascent playing from back style in favour of, I think, something intended to be more conservative and pragmatic…look distinctly unimpressive… and it has to be better this time around.

    Will it be? I hope so, but I haven’t a clue if it will. There’s a chance the attack, given the calibre of front three, and possibility of on song Ozil and potentially superb Ceballos being prominent, breaches a tipping point, whereby we become dangerous enough to seriously improve attack, and worry opponents enough to make them fearful of committing to own attacks.

    I’ve certainly got my appetite back to find out what’s what.

    • I completely agree with you. In theory our attack ought to be good enough that any sort of settled, competent, defensive plan should be sufficient to overpower most teams. We’ve also added some technical play in midfield with Ceballos, and I’d include Willock there too.

      But that is theory. It should have been the case last season too. But when theory meets reality, Emery’s plans seem to get found out. Not just at Arsenal by the way. Personally, I doubt he sees out the whole season unless we’re just super cheap and don’t want to pay him the severance. Basically giving up on the league. He might win us the EL though. It’ll be our 3rd go in the competition. Young players should offer more chance of rotation. There’s a deeper first team squad too, with guys like Torreira and Guen in their second season. So yeah.. My pessimistic/rational side says we’ll be pushing for the Europa League title, but will falter in the league. The optimist says our talent will see us through in both.

  3. Antagonist.

    That’s the word I was looking for!!

    Unless he wins some baubles this season it’s all over for Emery.

    Odds are: it’s all over for Emery. Unless Raul’s little black book has all the Mike’s in it too. Let’s be honest, it probably does. But even that won’t save Unai. Transfers of managers can be just as lucrative you know…don’t believe me just check out Woodward at Utd. Montana must’ve almost snorted out the green eye of envy when he heard of the Ole plan. “Bringing back the Boot Room after your first act was to smash it to pieces”. God they must think the avearage football fan is very stupid.

    What has Raul lined up after the gibberish monkey that is Emery?

    “Football is a dirty business” said a cunning linguiist to their gullible audience.

    Deliberately forgetting that we many Arsenal fans know why GG was sacked by Dein (& others). Yet they are packaging and branding Raul as the new Dein. This all helps to explain how and why their PR campaign against Ozil was so successful. Hehe.

    As the above data informs, objectively:
    There are some nasty parasites feasting upon the host Arsenal football club.

    It has created a horrible atmosphere around the Club and not even three cups in four years or the odd title Gee or there can return the club to a place where managers like Mourinho or Wenger will be praising the fans or the support. IMO.

    • WeCareDoYou supported the abuse in Colorado aimed at the Kroenkes and Raul sitting up in the balcony. One Jorge Mendes led transfer later, it’s back to ‘I really like Raul’.. And more in fact. He’s being praised to the high heavens, with some even calling him a real football man who knows his midfielders (ie why he got rid of Ramsey and got Ceballos on loan instead)

      Ornstein spoke about how Arsenal have a ‘two pronged Arsenal’ to deal with transfers. Raul knows everybody and Fahmy (him of Sky fame) brokers the deal with contracts. Saying it like it’s something novel or new. Strangely, he didn’t mention Mendes in the deal at all, but did mention that Pepe is deemed to be too expensive. Gee.. I wonder why??

      I don’t mind paying a little more for players we want. But it’s something to look out for if super agents are going to be involved regularly. We’ve seen how they can gut a side. The closest we got to it was Darren Dein – the messiah’s son. But these guys are him on steroids. And again, who or what is Raul Sanllehi? Watch this space..

  4. Thanks Shard, a shard post is always a good post.

  5. […] While transfer addicts around the Football Club are high on every piece of business conducted by the club they are entirely incapable of any critical thinking. How will this wheeling and dealing make Arsenal more competitive next season compared to the last? Last summer this time they were giddy with optimism as the club acquired Sokratis, Leno, Torreira, Guendouzi and Lichsteiner, convinced that those transfers by itself it would guarantee a top-4 finish.  While the club was going through a 22-game unbeaten run, many were willfully blind to the poor football on the pitch as Aubameyang frequently bailed out Arsenal with a streak 7 or 8 goals on an equivalent number of shots. Is there any evidence the manager has stopped tinkering, gotten better at managing his personnel and willing to allow the team to play to its strengths (as explained by this blog)? […]


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