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The Squad is good enough to get Arsenal back into the Champions League but is the Coach?

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After the stagnant and stale management of Arsene Wenger towards the end of his reign, I initially considered the arrival of Unai Emery to be a long overdue breath of fresh air. Even putting his poor early team selections down to him finding his feet and instead choosing to focus on his ability to make effective and early substitutions and enjoying seeing him cajoling his players from the sidelines. All of which, were of course, extremely refreshing after having a manager who would wait until the 70th minute before making changes and spent the majority of games either sitting on his hands or struggling to do up the zips on his oversized coats.

However, it didn’t take me long to realise that the changes Unai was making early in games, were often the ones that he should have started with in the first place. And with Unai now 5 games into his second season at the club, I’m seeing far too many, worryingly similar managerial traits to what we saw from Wenger in his later years. In terms of poor team selections, substitutions and tactics.

Throughout last season, I was frequently reading and hearing about how much of an improvement Emery had made since his arrival. One that I believe was exaggerated by many supporters in an attempt to justify having wanted Wenger gone. At this juncture I’m sure some will point out Emery reached a European final and achieved 7 more league points than Wenger did in his final season. In my opinion these stats are vastly misleading and it’s as if some people have forgotten our limp exits in the two domestic cups as well as the very Wengeresque capitulation in the Europa League final. I’m of course referring to the way we often rolled over against the top teams under Arsene in his latter years and capitulated to the extent where we were on the end of heavy score lines rather than cup final defeats themselves.

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Wengereque mistakes

It is fair to say that Unai had a distinct advantage from the outset when you consider that he had the luxury of having Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang available for a full league season, unlike Wenger who only had him at his disposal from January and that he also had Pierre available for the Europa League too. The above coupled with us facing Valencia in the Europa League semi-final, opposed to Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and the stronger squad available to Emery, following the additions of Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Lucas Torreira to our squad, ensures that any comparisons between Wenger’s final season and Emery’s first, would be unfair and that is coming from someone who was very vocal about wanting Arsene replaced.

If we have to draw comparisons then perhaps it would be worth noting that we scored one league goal fewer last season and conceded the same number during Emery’s debut league campaign as we did in Wenger’s final one. Aubameyang for a full season, yet bizarrely, we score one league goal less? We may have conceded the same number of league goals, but it could be said that we are worse now defensively than we were when Emery took over. Particularly so far this season.

Whilst it will quite rightly be pointed out that we have been missing Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney, all better players individually than who we have had available for selection, and that the majority of the goals that we’ve conceded so far, have been down to individual errors, it will take time for them to regain their form and fitness and we haven’t been defending well as a team. The number of shots the opposition has had on our goal to date, 96, is representative of that and an appalling stat when 3 of our games have been against Newcastle, Burnley and Watford. I’ve also yet to see anything from Emery that suggests him and his coaching team are capable of coaching our defence into a solid unit, regardless of the playing personnel available.

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Individual errors

Although the players need to start looking up and engaging their brains, this obsession with playing it out from the back at all costs tactic employed by the manager has been putting us under increasing pressure by the week, especially now that teams have worked it out. It looks good when it works but there’s a time and a place for it and the new rule change allowing goalkeepers to pass to teammates inside the penalty box, has only intensified the problem. If it keeps on, I’ll need to ensure that I pack a change of underwear for every game.

When we signed David Luiz, I was sceptical about him being the right man for us due to the way Emery sets our team up. To get the best out of him, you need to play him in a back 3 or in a deep lying midfield role, so far Emery has done neither and you also have to question why Calum Chambers isn’t getting much of a look in despite having a decent game at Newcastle and Luiz and Sokratis failing to impress so far. With Sokratis being another one who received ridiculously rave reviews that his performances simply didn’t deserve last season.

Admittedly, he’s better than I thought he might be but still not as good as some consider him to be. He’s very clumsy at times and loves a needless shirt pull. The signing of Luiz seemed to suggest we were desperate and you have to question why a top class centre back wasn’t signed earlier during the summer by the powers that be.

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I’d love Emery to do well but I’m yet to see any improvement under him, despite what others say to the contrary. We still don’t appear to have any real identity in our style of play and bouncing around energetically on the sidelines might look good because he’s passionate but it he’s not transmitting his message to the players then it’s a waste of time. When a manager doesn’t even get the basics right, supporters have every right to ask questions too.

Against Spurs for example, we started with the front three of Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang like supporters had hoped for but the midfield trio of Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka and Torreira didn’t have the creativity to feed them. It wasn’t a surprise that we looked more cohesive after the introduction on Dani Ceballos. This isn’t being said with hindsight, myself and many others pointed it out before the start of the game and don’t even get me started about Unai taking off Ceballos against Watford.

I’m not saying Emery out, but I’ve certainly not warmed to him yet. Our squad is good enough to get us back into the Champions League, the question is, is the manager? Before you ask, no, this isn’t a knee jerk reaction to a disappointing result at Watford and I’ve been questioning Unai for months, as anyone who knows me personally or follows me on social media can confirm. I’m not as easily convinced as others, he needs to start showing me something and soon.

Preferably starting tonight….

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9 Responses to The Squad is good enough to get Arsenal back into the Champions League but is the Coach?

  1. Callum McAlindon September 19, 2019 at 7:32 am #

    You write like a 12 year old that learnt english as a second language. Your analysis, sadly, is not even that mature. How does crap like this get published?

    • Dave Seager September 19, 2019 at 7:34 am #

      We are an open forum mate so feel free to submit an article if you feel you can do better. Dave

    • Nick Birch September 19, 2019 at 7:39 am #

      Aww bless, someone is obviously an Emery fan yet can’t respond by expressing their own view in a sensible fashion.

      For future reference, if you’re going to criticise someone’s English, maybe use a capital E when you spell it you moron.

    • James Parkins September 19, 2019 at 9:17 am #

      Callum, why don’t you enlighten us with your own pearls of wisdom instead of ironically behaving like a child yourself and spouting nonsensical nonsense? I’m a fan of Nick’s writing style and agree with what he’s said, football isn’t a mathematical equation and doesn’t need to be discussed like it is one. You’ve made yourself look a bit silly with your comment because you have obviously decided Nick is wrong but don’t actually know why. Time you grew up pal. Keep up the good work Nick!

    • Malina Kowalewska September 19, 2019 at 9:37 am #

      Callum, seriously mate, you must have had a long day in Australia… I’m also assuming you’ve never been to the game in person if all you can do is criticise Nick’s style of writing. I’d love to read your attempt to see if you can do better though. Kindly share your analysis with us, we would like to judge your writing skills. I’m also curious about your opinion on the subject Nick’s written about, but to be perfectly honest with you, I’m pretty sure you’re going to hide in a kangaroo’s pouch because the real one with an immature brain of a 12 year old here – is you.

  2. Mark Marsh September 19, 2019 at 7:43 am #

    Well written nick.i agree with your assessment i am more than a little worried

  3. Rufai September 19, 2019 at 9:11 am #

    Emery out is not a coach, any coach that knows his problem yet can’t b solve is not a good coach giving him more time is kind waste because a fool at fouty is a fool 4ver

  4. rufai September 19, 2019 at 9:21 am #

    If we can’t have Wenger back fine there are order coach out der that’s good enough for the job, coach like allegro formal juv coach, arteta is der in man city assistant coach mist expectially Arteta he knows much about the team as a legend. Loot at the way lampard is trying to organized Chelsea because he knew much about the team so is not difficult to him

  5. Victor Thompson September 20, 2019 at 1:18 pm #

    Callum, most sensible fans will agree with your critique of Emery. I said in one of my articles, that I was aghast to hear that we had signed Luis. I said he would cost us penalties because he was reckless. Yo and behold, he has alrady cost us two. I mentioned Xhaka as a danger in our box and he has caused us a penalty. Xhaka still cant make a clean tackle when he goes to ground.

    It is too late in Luis`s career to try to coach his recklessness away and I don`t think that tackling properly is ever going to be an attribute of Xhaka.

    When Jonny Evans played for W Brom they were a solid mid-table team. Without him, they got relegated. Maguire left Leicester and I am sure the fans thought they were not going to be able to sign a decent replacement. They signed Jonny and now they are a top 4 challenger.

    £12m would have got Jonny two years ago and our defence would have been tightened up. The likes of Chambers and Holding would have been coached effectively by him and even Socrates could have learned from the man who was voted the best CH in the Euros 2016. What a blunder to have missed him instead of the likes of Luis masquarading as a footballer in an Arsenal shirt.

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