On Xhaka, Mesut, Monreal, and Geoff Woad

I wonder how Unai Emery surveys the room at his press conference? Sitting behind the desk, earnestly giving his views but refraining from saying anything controversial, does he look at the assembled hacks and wonder about them? Does he view John Cross with horror as if he encountered Geoff Woad?

His head must weigh fifty pounds on its own! Imagine the size of his balls… imagine getting into a fight with the f*cker! “I’m going to pull your head off.” “Oh no, please don’t pull my head off.” “I’m going to pull your head off, because I don’t like your head.”

If he’s thinking along those lines, I’ll have a cup of whatever he’s drinking.

His body language doesn’t betray those thoughts no matter how fleetingly they cross his mind. Instead, it’s Newcastle, Özil, and Monreal. And where he leads, dear reader, we follow. The question is do we start low and build a crescendo or come thundering in before fading into the wind? Let’s see where the caffeine takes us.

The stragglers returned to training ahead of the trip to Tyneside. Granit Xhaka received plaudits for his performances for Switzerland. Can he perform in the same vein for Arsenal? He hasn’t been at his best for Unai Emery, has he?

Subbed at Chelsea to save himself a red card, he is some way off being the player he can be. Partly because, like the rest of the team, he is adjusting to the new demands but also with his country, Xhaka has someone to take on the defensive duties. Were Lucas Torreira in the side, I’d hope we would see more of the good Granit. The one we know is in there screaming to get out. The one which is frustrated, bringing snarky Granit to the surface.

Let’s Just Wing It

The simple solution is to play Lucas Torreira alongside him. So far, the Uruguayan’s impact is mixed while he ‘adapts’ to England, Arsenal, and a new style of football. This week will see him unleashed, either at St James Park or in the Europa League.

While the latter will be a gentler introduction, I’d prefer to see him in tomorrow’s XI. The issue is where? Guendouzi is the answer in midfield at the moment but we’re disjointed between defence and attack. Putting Torreira with Xhaka and the Frenchman doesn’t have to leave us with a narrow focus on attack; 4 – 3 – 3 or 4 – 5 – 1 allows two wide players to slot in without hurting the XI.

It comes at a cost, however. Özil isn’t at his best and shifting him to the flanks marginalises him before kick-off. Which means the reality of our situation, for tomorrow at least, is a choice between Torreira and Guendouzi. At any other club with top four ambitions, the answer to midfield problems is not a 19-year-old from Ligue 2. It just goes to show how one size does not fit all.

Emery was pleased the German didn’t travel for international duty this week:

“Mesut is important for me also, this focus every day with us, a relaxing three days off at the weekend.

“Like other players, works very well here and also working the ties and also together to improve things. Mesut, I look at him with the focus totally here.”

Whether there is a benefit in missing the internationals becomes clear tomorrow. Has this break been the catharsis for him? No German media scrutinising his every move or questioning his motives? Just coming into work and training, preparing for the match? If that doesn’t improve his performances, I struggle to see what will.

And Breathe…

Emery certainly thinks the break did Özil the world of good:

“The first time, maybe, he could feel different but every day with us in the work, I look at him and he looks well and happy, working with our demands every day.”

No such questions over Nacho Monreal. Emery wants him to have a new contract ASAP:

“After two weeks, after two months and now, I can say that I am very happy with him because he is 32 years old but I think physically, with his performances with us in matches, he is playing with a very good level.

“The rest of that, for me, is very important. I think we need to find a new contract with him to stay with the Arsenal team.”

Sign da ting, indeed. Not that we expect Arsenal’s contracts team to deliver quickly. Are they still overwhelmed by it all or are we heading for a mass signing? Another photo of the new Arsenal core with Aaron Ramsey, front and centre? Not British this time, just a core of players who want to do well with the club.

They’ll do so without Ivan Gazidis and Unai kept schtum on that one. I understand the concern about new personnel coming in and having an unsettling effect on Emery, Mislintat, and Sanellhi. But this was the kind of void the new set-up was designed to avert.

The fears being aired suggest we’ve swapped one all-powerful man for another. Personally, I don’t care whether he goes to Milan or not. If he does, good luck to him but never forget, he’s just the CEO. When you start worrying about the suits as much, if not more, than the players, it’s time to step back and take a deep breath.

’til Tomorrow.


16 thoughts on “On Xhaka, Mesut, Monreal, and Geoff Woad

  1. M says:

    England allowed xaka the room and he did little with it, get rid of him

  2. YW says:

    Fair enough 🙂

    He also played well against Iceland, though…

  3. ferkov says:

    The obsession with what the fuck the CEO is doing just demonstrates the void Arsene departure has left in the anti Arsenal press cordon.
    The Withnail narrative is good, but I think Unai is a football obsessive and probably looks at them and thinks , you bunch of wankers will write anything, what the effin geoff do you know. Now fuck off and let me work.
    He’s gotta be playing Torriera. He must have made the call to hook him against Mexico…

  4. Pete the Thirst says:

    Nacho has been our most consistent player for the past 3 seasons. Unspectacular, gets the job done. Just what Arsenal need right now – make him captain!

  5. Pete the Thirst says:


    Nice name! Gazidis is a man who works in the shadows. To me he appears to have done very little apart from massaging the egos of Kroenke and Wenger. He took far too long to get rid of an underperforming manager. ‘For that reason – You’re Fired!’

  6. ferkov says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    Aye he can do one , and fuck off while he’s at it. Maybe it’s the interlull curse, but I can’t fathom why it’s news, and even less why they ask Emery about it.
    Then there’s Ozil and the Gardener, two separate fairytales I hope. One day I dream Mr Emery will fix the moron in a stare, he has a good stare, and tell him it was Arsene . Then exit stage left . Write wot nonsense you like .

  7. C says:

    Good stuff Yogi.

    I would actually play Torriera and Guendouzi this against Newcastle and play Xhaka and Elneny in the EL as they have returned later. I saw that Sokaritis is facing a late fitness test and I actually wouldn’t be opposed to one Mustafi playing against Newcastle and Sokaritis playing the EL with them partnering one of the youngsters, Mavrapanos and Holding.

    Ozil, its interesting that Emery continues to say how important he is but also that both he and Ozil recognize that Ozil can give more and improve while being more lethal. Against Newcastle I want to see:


    That way you can sub off if necessary. For EL


  8. Adam Singh says:

    “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now!”

    I might watch that film tonight. Haven’t seen it for ages.

    As for the game tomorrow. Tricky tie. There will be goals. Hopefully we can score more….

  9. Blue Yonder says:

    Excellent point about Gazidis. He is a back-room boy and, while he pulls a lot of strings, he doesn’t recruit players and he doesn’t get the wins on the pitch. In fact, if he has done his job well, he should be able to leave and be replaced without any affect whatsoever. For that reason, I’m indifferent to whether he stays or goes.

  10. ferkov says:


    Best video clips of training session on Arsenal.com. Papa not prominent, but definately in initial warmup.
    Looks like our keepers need less Fine Wine and Cake.
    Down to the quality of striking let’s hope.

  11. ferkov says:


    I’d like to see Welbeck playing a consistent role, so developing his support striker identity, in the EC. Supporting Eddie. He can then do the job for either Laca or Auba in the PL, as he does whenever he comes on.

  12. Paul says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much if it’s just a late fitness test. If the prescribe a fit lateness test it could be a bit more serious, especially if the late part refers to being pregnant or dead. Ancient Greeks worried about such problems quite a lot, yhey say.

  13. Paul says:

    Which leaves Mavropanos out of it.

  14. C says:


    I would LOVE to see Eddie leading the line with Welbeck playing on the wing but in the first couple matches wouldn’t mind Welbeck getting some time at CF to build his confidence.

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