Villa Preview: Time For Emery To Step Up

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang claimed we were giving away goals last weekend and then for 85 minutes looked like he couldn’t hit a barn door in Frankfurt. Tom Cleverley was stunned by our “stubborn” refusal to change our tactics. Will any City player claimed to have been stunned by Watford’s “stubborn” refusal to defend yesterday?

A week is a long time in football. The fates always find a way to bite you on the Arsenal when you least expect it. When you ought most to expect it.

Aston Villa pitch up at the Emirates, ready for their role as sacrificial lambs at the altar. That’s ready as in ready to deliver us another bloody nose.

Where last week we looked confidently at being third with a win, this time, no-one is surely looking more than hopefully at three points. We might win and be no better than sixth; four of the seven teams on eight points play today.

And in any case, if last week taught us anything, setting this Arsenal squad a target or thinking hopefully of what might be, is a waste of time.

Watford remain bottom of the table despite our gift of three points but Villa will move out of the bottom three with a point and into the lower reaches of mid-table with three; they are motivated.

Unai Emery faces some tough choices. If Rob Holding doesn’t play today, we’re going with the Keystone Kops in the centre of defence here and at Old Trafford one week tomorrow.

It is madness to think a player can return from a lengthy spell on the sidelines into the hurly-burly of the Premier League on that occasion. Especially as it was the ground where he suffered a horrible injury.

Party Chambers

Home, to the team third-bottom in the Premier League? We’re talking the ideal match for Holding to return. Calum Chambers might be miffed at missing out in the central role but he is looking at Nottingham Forest for his next outing.

There is a lot of pressure of the coach, however, in all this. Not invented pressure, the sort defined by a big club losing a game but the sort where players aren’t performing. How long will his loyalty to individuals last?

The issue at the centre of the defence is a key example. Yes, Sokratis and Luiz are by far the most experienced members of the squad. However, in every game they played together as a pair, one or both made a cock-up which led to a goal being conceded.

Granit Xhaka. Did well for Saka’s goal on Thursday, leading the charge from Martinez’s simple roll out of the ball. Exploited the space in front of him and passed well to continue the attacking momentum. Horrendous against Tottenham, invisible against Watford.

These are just two examples of the decisions Emery must make. In defence, he was hamstrung by injuries and left with Mustafi as the likeliest replacement if he made a change. It’s not much of a choice, is it?

In midfield, has he the same excuse? Did Lucas Torreira come back with that much of injury after the international break? It didn’t stop him playing a significant role as a substitute at Watford. If you’re fit for 23 minutes, as a substitute, you have to be fit for 83; injuries don’t work to a convenient stopwatch during a match.

Back to Reality

When does Emery shuffle the Premier League pack to end our winless run of three games? Today has to be that day. A raft of players found themselves rested or on the bench in midweek. I still shake my head in disbelief that Aubameyang played 90 minutes but there you go.

It’s not as if PEA can be rested today; Lacazette isn’t back until some time next month – and that’s a maybe according to the latest injury update. We don’t have another striker ready to step into Aubameyang’s shoes at this level.

Essentially, it’s time for Emery to show leadership on the pitch as well. Make tough decisions. How many games must pass before he drops an error-prone defender or underperforming midfielder?

Honestly, the only player whose position in the team is safe is Aubameyang. And Kolasinac, if only because Kieran Tierney isn’t yet fit and we don’t have anyone else.

I don’t expect nine changes. I do expect Emery to be ruthless when it comes to fixing the myriad problems we face on the pitch.

Somewhere in that squad is a good team screaming to come out. Instead, it is suffocated by Emery’s loyalty to underperforming players and his unhealthy obsession with footballing chameleons.

The XI to win today is:

Leno; AMN, Holding, Luiz, Kolasinac; Torreira, Guendouzi, Ozil; Pepe, Aubameyang, Nelson

That won’t be the one which starts, before you ask

I assume, by the way, that Mesut Ozil is fully recovered from his arduous 71 minutes at Watford. Or does he need to be a substitute today to ease him into the season?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

145 thoughts on “Villa Preview: Time For Emery To Step Up

  1. C says:

    Ay the advantage and Torriera wins a penalty!!

    Aubameyang fucking does what Aubameyang does!!!!!

    3-2!!!! Set up shop and see this out

  2. Bufallo says:

    Let’s not f it up from here. Banging by Auba
    Whatever this team better get a grip soon or trouble for Emery you’d hope

  3. C says:

    Give that money what he wants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Say what you want about Emery but the moves he has made have paid off in this comeback for sure.

  4. Bill says:


    We hired Emery to rebuild the defense. We all hoped everything was going to change once the players had a proper manager and they were coached up. We have a new GK new CB’s new RB and almost a completely new midfield. We can’t blame Arsene anymore

  5. C says:

    Pepe gets a card for walking back clearly trying to stretch his leg!! Moss is a fucking cunt and has been poor

  6. C says:


    Changing culture after 20 years with a dictator takes more than a season or so….ask Manue.

  7. phil says:

    C, i don’t think any of our defenders with the exception of Bellerin would get a game in the top 5 clubs,
    So it’s also personnel.

  8. C says:

    Guendouzi has been nothing short of brilliant since half-time and with Willock and Torriera.

  9. Ras says:

    Emery does not merit being Arsenal Manager .

    The Spanish Inquisition is going to gather pace.

  10. C says:


    Its personnel and not now nor have I ever said otherwise but at the same time, its also mental. Really can’t wait to have Bellerin and see what Tierney brings but have to say, Sead hasn’t been overly poor like our CB’s and Xhaka who are the real problems with mental lapses.

  11. C says:

    Our Captains should be Aubameyang and Lacazette full stop.

  12. Ras says:


    Yes Guendouzi has flourished second half. It shows clearly that after a year this man has no idea of his first eleven.

    Anything can happen in the last 4 minutes. Should We win serious questions have to be asked of Emery.

  13. Spike says:


    Thank fuck!!! Yes!!!

    Was axhaka off the pitch when we scored the 2 goals ????

  14. C says:


    Defenders I get given our injury situation but midfield should be sorted: Guendouzi and Torriera at the base and the 3rd midfielder should be Willock, Ozil and Ceballos depending on the match.

    Front 3 we know with the likes of Saka, Nelson, Gabriel until Nketiah comes back or we bring in another.

  15. phil says:

    Yes, my oversight.
    Rate Holding very highly. Something very Tony Adams about him.
    Look forward to seeing what Tierney brings.

  16. Spike says:


    Agree with that

    I’d also like to see a back 4 of Bellerin, Holding, Chambers and Tierney given a go.

  17. phil says:

    Well , credit given. Takes some character to win after being a man and goal down.
    That ,and playing an average team.

  18. Spike says:


    When they’re all fit obviously!!

    Then perhaps AMN can have a go in midfield?

  19. phil says:

    Almost forgot,
    10 posts , and I haven’t mentioned the Ashes!

  20. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Pleased we got the three but it changes nothing except to give Emery even stronger hints as to what his selection should be. I don’t think he’s going to fix anything and I think we should not waste anymore time on the possibility. If we cut him lose now we might retain Champions League given the troubles of those around us.
    The referee was abysmal today but so were we, for the second week running, again against a poor team, this time at home. We would not have won against most Prem teams or if we had been away.

  21. Spike says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    We could easily be sat in 2nd spot right now, with 15 points, had the manager kept faith with the players who started this season and brought Torreira in instead of his love child Xhaka.

  22. C says:


    So am I, and that is nothing against Sead who has shown growth.

  23. C says:

    Also, you can see Pepe growing and getting more and more comfortable. Was a constant outlet, willing runner with and without the ball, and was a constant thorn.

  24. Woolwich Freddie says:


    It’s possible, if we had also retained some of the more conservative tactics from the Newcastle game when needed. Certainly we will regret not snatching available points against weak teams whilst our immediate rivals floundered.
    There is something to be said for retaining in form players. If nothing else, others have to raise their game when given a chance. Rotation is a complicated game.

  25. Woolwich Freddie says:


    I was pleased to see Pepe get his first but I thought it was a bit of a risk to change penalty-takers at 1-0 down. Nice gesture from PEA (but how about passing to him when he’s in on goal?) and Pepe took it confidently (if not with Auba’s technical ability). The supportive and competitive partnership between Auba and Laca is one of the few recent success stories. I’d love to see Pepe brought into that.

  26. G4E says:

    Glad to see us pounce back and win all 3 points…

    But, why does it have to be this hard?

    I didn’t watch the 2nd half, so I’m just going to be happy with the final result.

    I guess we Arsenal fans should settle for now a days. Just the Bottom Line, the result and don’t care how we got there.

    We made to 4th. It is true then when Wenger said: Fourth is a Trophy? 🙂

  27. Adam Singh says:

    Strange old game. Somehow we are now joint 3rd with Leicester and West Ham and not that far off 2nd.

    Big game now next Monday against Utd who are there for the taking. Although so are we I guess….

  28. C says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    Its sort of what Aubameyang does, he gives his strike partner a goal (remember last season with Lacazette). Aubameyang was NEVER gunna pass it and I’m not even sure he saw Pepe given when he sees goal, his focus is sharp. I agree, would love to see Pepe added to the Lacazette and Aubameyang force and everything looks like it….once Lacazette gets fit and they feature more regularly together.

  29. Bill says:

    Full credit where it’s due. That was quite a come back with only 10 men.

  30. Woolwich Freddie says:


    It was but I’m concerned with how much responsibility is being heaped on Guendouzi’s shoulders at 20. Having said that, he seems better supported by his fellow youngsters than by our supposed senior professionals. Ultimately, though, I can’t help feeling they all might flourish more in the long term if we bring in just two proven leaders to help them out.

  31. Ras says:

    Just watched Emery’s post match Conference. To say . His facial body language tells you all you need to know.

    He knows he got Of jail today.

  32. consolsbob says:


    Very percipient, old friend. The fact remains, as in Wenger’s later years, that we are simply not very good. Fourth is, was and ever will be, a loser’s position.

  33. Las says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    It wasn’t really a risk. Pepe scored 9 from 9 last season. And they might agreed before te game on the change of the penalty taker

  34. Blue Yonder says:

    Watford’s performance versus City underscores how inept Arsenal were against them last week.

  35. Papa Bear says:

    The long extremely overdue constant problems since Wenger were and still to this team that Emery’s very stubborn like Wenger to persist with his love child Xhaka and CBs pairing of Luis and Soka are, quality well proven Defensive Midfielder (DM) to shield the back four and a no nonsense high quality Centre Back (CB).

    We need our own Fabinho and Van Dijk, but I wouldn’t trust them in the hand of Emery with his constant baffling tactics.

  36. Papa Bear says:

    I used to laugh when somebody were screaming for Benitez than Emery in the beginning of Emery’s time. But with Emery’s failure to adress the rotten defence problem, now I can see the reason why Benitez might be better to address our calamity defence problems.

  37. Dukey says:


    Very percipient, old friend. The fact remains, as in Wenger’s later years, that we are simply not very good. Fourth is, was and ever will be, a loser’s position.

    I can imagine you telling that to one of your grandkids as they finish 4th out of the whole year in the cross country!!

  38. Ferkov says:


    2nd is 1st Loser after all. My daughter knows that well. 2nd child see.😂😂😂

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