On Fiorentina, Edu and Unai Plus Transfer Gossip

Junior got the message. Whether he chooses to listen is another matter but a succession of positive speak out of Highbury House via the USA!USA!USA! suggest he did. Maybe he is just giving us the old ‘soft soap’ until he can send the squad back whereupon Unai Emery can put things right. That seems to be a popular preoccupation in some quarters.

Before then – as in tonight – Fiorentina await. It isn’t the same Viola which beat us 1 – 0 at Wembley; last season they finished three points above the relegation places. That after Kanu missed a penalty in Florence which proved decisive as we dropped into the Europa League. It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago when Batigol thundered the ball into the roof of the net.

It’s a by-the-by thought. If we played Fiorentina twenty weeks ago, it would have no bearing on tonight’s match, let alone 20 years ago. Unai is expected to field a strong line-up, sharpening the squad’s fitness ahead of the trip to Newcastle in a fortnight.

Which XI will start at St James Park is another matter. Without a new centre-back, I’ll be amazed if we don’t go with a back five. Not the most universally popular decision, I know; it means Mustafi plays for a start unless the club and Koscielny kiss and make up. Which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. Questions will be asked on whether he is properly focused. Questions that can only be answered on the pitch, which can be a costly place to learn.

It would be good if Emery fielded some of the youngsters this evening, to give the likes of Nelson, Willock and Nketiah the chance to shine.

Don’t Do As I Do, Do As I Say

Willock, Mesut Ozil reckons, has what it takes to make the grade. Self-belief rather than arrogance; a solid work ethic which is an amusing area for the German to talk about. Looking like a secondary cast member from a Luc Besson film, Ozil said his relationship with Emery is good. Present tense, not past; Mesut, all newly-wed and loved up, is more relaxed. More focused? Let’s see if he turns up at Newcastle, both before the kick-off and during the match.

Meanwhile, the transfer talk focuses on Willy Saliba. The soon-to-be-departed Sage of Salford confirmed the youngster rejected Tottenham’s interest, launching a thousand meme’s in the process. Arsenal’s interest in Pape Abou Cissé emerged just as Senegal lost to Algeria by a fluke deflection. As the ball looped into the net, I thought that’s got to be our man; it turned out it wasn’t but such is our school of defending, you can’t blame a man for thinking the worst.

Cissé did come on as a substitute, but Senegal’s lack of composure with the final pass and in front of goal meant they lost. Those and the referee overturning his original – and extreme interpretation of the handball ‘rules’ – decision under advisement from VAR.

For those who didn’t see it, the defender kept his arm close to his body but overran his position, close to his byline. The cutback cross hit him, leaving the referee utterly confused. He took the easy way out; better to be corrected for a harsh decision than pulled up for not giving it in the first place.

Mike Riley already announced English officials wouldn’t enforcement UEFA’s prime directive on handball. That will cause problems in the Europa League at some point, as well as consigning the PGMO brigade to the bottom of the refereeing barrel.

Flippin’ Heck!

It’s back to Edu, to finish off. The Brazilian respects Unai Emery which may help. The Spaniard, Edu remembered, worked hard; still does. Clear demarcation lines exist with Edu looking short, medium and long-term; Emery is constrained by the fixture list.

He “has to look after the very short-term [challenges], and that means Wednesday, Saturday, training sessions, looking after the opponents and the strategy of the games,” Edu observed. “I have to give him time to look after that situation, and he has to give all his energy to that very short-term, he has to look after that and I have to help him with it.”

The biggest change for both is the flip in their relationship; Edu the player is now the boss. El Jefe; Emery still the trainer. Maybe he is happy with that and prefers the relationship that way. Absolve the coach of unnecessary paperwork; Arsene wanted the all-encompassing and powerful role. To run the club.

Unai, with his clipboard, pen, and stopwatch, looks every inch the technocrat. Someone more comfortable with the intricacies of the upcoming ninety minutes than dealing with the cleaning contract. For Arsenal’s sake, I hope Edu and Emery find the chemistry both believe they had in Valencia.

’til Tomorrow.

13 thoughts on “On Fiorentina, Edu and Unai Plus Transfer Gossip

  1. andy1886 says:

    No signings yet? Sold anyone? No wonder Edu asks for patience, if we conduct our transfer business at glacial pace then the behind the scenes revolution could take decades to bear results. You have to admit though, buying a player that will take a year to arrive has to be record of some sorts even for us. And to rub salt in the wound it’s at the very position that we most need new blood right now.

    YW is right that we’ll probably be playing a five with wing backs on account of us not having any genuine full backs that can actually defend. At least until we have a fit Hector and hopefully a fit Tierney so we can go to a four. Unless we pull our fingers out and actually make changes to the squad though it’s not looking too promising.

  2. Paulie Walnuts says:

    We’re in the same boat of plenty of other clubs in that we need to sell before we can buy (thanks Stan) , & moving players on appears to be extremely difficult. I can see several moving out on loans if we can’t get buyers as the squad is hugely bloated.

    There’s also a hint that UE wants an English captain with Holding & Chambers mentioned. Sounds like BS to me but an interesting ‘story’ all the same.

  3. foreverinourshadows says:

    Chambers moved to midfield last season for Fulham and earned Fulham’s player of the season, he was a midfielder at Southampton, I would have him ahead of the hapless Xhaka who still is a liability and not a game changer. Chambers like Ramsey has a great engine, so why not, the likes of Mustafi,Ozil and Xhaka are a disgrace and a joke, as for the turncoat Koscienly, stick him in reserves and make him see out his year contract unless someone can come out with £9 million, what a disgrace, never was a fan, still remember the clown getting sent off last game of the season so he missed the FA Cup final with Chelsea which was a blessing. It’s about time clubs started to grow some balls as players are getting away with murder

  4. Woolwich Freddie says:

    I’m not a fan of five at the back, especially when it seems to be the result of a lack of options rather than the coach’s true preference. I think 4-3-3 (or something roughly similar) is Emery’s formation and he should be provided the players to use it as a sort of minimum “fair go” after a year. We’ll see.🤷🏻‍♂️

  5. Woolwich Freddie says:


    I’ve never really been sure about Chambers one way or another but he’s always looked more of a midfielder to me and, as you point out, we could use reinforcements in that area.

  6. Two Owls says:

    I am not sure if I have ever seen five at the back in professional football. Perhaps I did see it in youth football but I don’t remember.

  7. andy1886 says:

    Two Owls,

    26th May 1989. George Graham opted for five at the back using David O’Leary as a sweeper. We reverted to a back four later in the second half but the game worked out okay for us I think we’d all agree.

    Graham used the sweeper system on a number of occasions that season.

  8. Blue Yonder says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    Chambers also started out well with Arsenal but was moved to CB when injuries occurred. Then he was played at FB, again due to injuries.
    I hope Chambers gets a shot again.Or sell him so everyone moves on.

  9. C says:

    Reports have Saliba’s medical set for Tuesday.

  10. YW says:

    Is that before or after M’Vila is seen by the quacks…

  11. andy1886 says:

    I thought we’d sent our medical team to see Everton? Probably best to believe it when you see them in an Arsenal shirt.

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