Laughter, The Best Medicine & The Future

Well, if you can’t laugh at Tottenham this morning, you never will. When they went one-up, how many of them were preparing to lay into their work colleagues or mates who believe in the righteous side of north London? At 4 – 2, they thought, “Thank god for that! It can’t be 5-1!” or something similar?

7-2. Seven bloody two. Excuse me for a moment. I just need to savour that for a moment. It has truly brightened my day.

It brightened Hector Bellerin’s evening as well. There was already a strong case for handing him the captain’s armband anyway but he added to that.

Granit Xhaka probably didn’t comment. He’s too mature, too statesman-like; David Squires captured the captaincy issue perfectly in his cartoon in The Guardian.

But down, deep in the darkest recesses of a bunker under London Colney, plans are afoot to return football to its rightful place: the Arsenal.

Someone somewhere at the club is planning something, surely, to get this side playing football again. It is, after all, a half-decent squad. Some improvements to be made but stepping in the right direction. You wouldn’t believe that having witnessed the turgid performance at Old Trafford.

We all know it was timid and lacklustre in equal measure. I’m sure Unai Emery does as well. If he didn’t, someone on his team should be reading social media. Not many gave the players any credit for a point against a Manchester United team so poor that the stories about Ole no longer being at the wheel are surfacing.

Prepare yourself for the whooping and howling when Max Allegri joins United and Arsenal don’t exercise the break clause in Emery’s contract.

Which I can see being the situation.

Seven Dwarves? No, There Were 14 Last Night

If the season ended now, Emery has met the primary target: a top-four finish. No question about it and that will be enough to see him continue as head coach. Add in a trophy, even the League Cup, and he’ll probably get a new deal.

While we perceive the lack of character of the squad, others who are paid to decide the club’s future, do not necessarily agree. We’re not privvy to the conversations behind the scene but I would be surprised if anyone is considering Emery’s future just yet.

In footballing terms, it’s too far ahead to be planning a new boss. Momentum is building for Freddie Ljungberg to take over from Emery. The returning hero, etc.

It’s a flawed plan, just as bringing in Mikel Arteta was flawed eighteen months ago. There’s a lot to be said for new blood at the highest level of the game but until this squad is pruned and refined, a new coach isn’t going to improve our situation. And by new, I mean untested.

Arteta has learned a lot from Guardiola, I’m sure. He’s probably better equipped to take over at Arsenal now; a bit of pressure on City, instead of having everything handed on a plate.

Even then, I think an inexperienced head coach is still a risk but invariably an experienced one has been sacked to become available. Do we instead look for someone who is at a smaller club, e.g. Howe or Rodgers, and bring them in?

If Arsenal want to make a play about the ‘British Core’, the crassest marketing tool ever, then why not bring in a British coach? That genuinely highlights the absurdity of the ‘British Core’ more than anything.

Still, Myriad Problems To Be Solved

The most problematic of which is Mesut Ozil. Or rather, Mesut Ozil’s wages. This morning sees what looks to be a club-leaked story about the German being available for loan. His salary remains the issue.

Emery admitted he dropped Ozil for the trip to Old Trafford; the German’s face doesn’t fit any longer at Arsenal and he isn’t going to play unless there are injuries or it is a Thursday night. Even the latter is an optional extra.

There’s a sense that Ozil is suffering at Emery’s hands not only for the obvious issues surrounding him, i.e. fitness, attitude, but also the way Neymar bent Unai over a barrel in Paris. Emery took on the player and lost, leaving him neutered in front of the rest of the squad. That isn’t happening at Arsenal. Not yet, anyway.

Ozil played 140 minutes so far and this after a pre-season when he looked like he was going to feature heavily when the action began. It’s been a curious turn of affairs with some of the events being nothing anyone could have predicted.

However, it’s clear the club want shot of him and are actively looking to get Ozil to a new home. It’s going to cost us, either through subsidising wages on a loan deal or a big pay-off but it’s got to happen. Forget the FFP concerns; this is a hit for the benefit of the club.

Releasing those funds are seen as important for new offers for Lacazette and Aubameyang. But there’s more to it, certainly with the former than the latter.

For Auba, I suspect this one last big payday given his age. For Lacazette, any ambitions for winning titles and premier trophies won’t rest easy with the club being in a transition spell. A lot will depend on whether he genuinely believes in Emery as a coach and his philosophy, presuming he knows what the latter is.

Maybe he does and wholeheartedly agrees that until we get the squad corrected, this is as good as it gets.

Unai, for one, would be happy to hear that.

’til Tomorrow.

18 thoughts on “Laughter, The Best Medicine & The Future

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    Serge Gnabry hey?

    So remind me why he left us for less than £5million? Oh yes… top earner Theo Walcott was in his way; he was sent on loan to play under Spewlis; a new deal was put on the table too late…

    In a nutshell that is what went wrong under Wenger & Gazidis.

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  2. andy1886 says:

    Tottenham Surge 2, Arsenal Serge 7….

    Morning all. With a run of relatively easy games (we thought Watford would be of course) this is a great time to revamp the defence ready for the rest of the season. Let’s hope conservative Emery is prepared to start the process soon rather than stick with some of the more established names.

    As for Ozil everyone knows I’m not his biggest fan, but there is a good argument for ‘resting’ the captain (hard to type that if I’m honest) and playing a more advance creative influence instead backed by two of Guen/Torriera/Willock. Again, time for Emery to have a rethink and find a settled effective first XI over the next few weeks.

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  3. Bufallo says:

    Wasn’t Gnarby the player who wasn’t good enough for Tony Pullis.
    He played a blinder last night, error to let him go but these things happen to
    every club, i’m far happier to see young players progressing and playing wherever. Good for him for not accepting being second fiddle to walcott, no wonder he got out. it’s good to see a lot of young players now demanding to play first team football rather than accepting being loaned out or waiting too long for a chance at a big club, and it should spread the money around a bit more

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  4. Ferkov says:

    Injury , then loaned to shite English clubs sealed Gnabrys fate with us. At least we seem better now. Loan attackers to German sides where the physicality isn’t so important , and injuries get time and space to rehabilitate.

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  5. C says:

    Gnabry on why he left:

    “[Arsenal] had so many wingers at the time – [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain], [Tomas] Rosicky, Theo [Walcott], [Santi] Cazorla, Alexis [Sanchez], Mesut Özil – so I just had to go,”

    “I was still confident I could’ve got in the team but I didn’t want to wait. I didn’t want to be fourth or fifth choice any longer.

    “It was the hardest decision I had to make in football, leaving a club like Arsenal – the fans, the players – but to keep playing I had to take a step back and it was the right decision.”

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  6. Ferkov says:

    Watching Coutinho back on form, and taking the piss out of the hurly burly spud pressers, highlights what Ozil lacks these days. Ability to think and move quickly ,whilst protecting the pill. He didn’t need to do too much defending because he struck so much fear in the defence that they weren’t prepared to leave him behind them. Hopefully Ceballos or Joe can create that aura for us. But not til we start moving the ball with purpose and confidence. Too late for tiny steps. Big stride required.

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  7. C says:

    Ferkov,

    He also has to players in Kimmich and Tolisso who did the dirty work, closed down space and fed him higher up the pitch so he didn’t have to deal with being crowded in midfield and could play between the lines.

    I would love to see Torriera and Guendouzi or Torriera and Willock behind Ozil or Ceballos in a similiar sort of midfield.

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  8. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Rumour has it that some extra marital shenanigans has decimated morale & split the dressing room at our neighbours. Long may it continue.

    Good luck to Gnabry. He looks like he could become top drawer & at least he actually played for us unlike Messi, Ronaldo , Ibra etc who we ‘almost’ signed.

    I’m not surprised the club are looking to take a hit on Ozil. Imagine working your knackers off whilst he saunters around on daft money looking like he can’t be arsed. It’s not great for squad unity.

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  9. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Great write up YW as always. Munich did the same to us. So it’s no surprise. I hope they don’t bounce back against Brighton. Long may the spuds suffer

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  10. Blue Yonder says:

    Even if Arsenal do enter upon a more convincing run of form (though I’m hard-pressed to see that at present) the reality at the club is we have under-performers (yes, you, too, Unai), players played out of position, poor (if any) strategy, lack of confidence and players continually picked no matter how badly they play.
    You couldn’t get away with this in the real world but it seems you can in football.
    Would Freddie do the job? I don’t know, but he might light a fire under the team. I would also like to see what someone home-grown like Eddie Howe could do for Arsenal. And if he brought Ryan Fraser with him, even better.

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  11. Blue Yonder says:

    “In footballing terms, it’s too far ahead to be planning a new boss. Momentum is building for Freddie Ljungberg to take over from Emery. The returning hero, etc.”

    I wonder if the plan is for Emery to get his option year while Freddie cuts his coaching chops. But, if Emery doesn’t get his extra year (and right now it doesn’t look good) is he too inexperienced to get the job?

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  12. Las says:

    Evening. Good post, thanks YW.
    I think Arsenal has a very good squad if all are available. Even without Özil we can send out a strong and talented first eleven. Certainly injuries are not helping to do so but on paper and theoretically we are better equipped than MU or Spuds. I just hope that the first choice defense line availability gives Emery a kick to rethink his strategy. Against midtable team like Watford and the recent ManU we should give a good go. If we look only the PL results of the last 4 games these are not food at all, 1 win and 1 draw at home an two draw on travel, its just not good enough. And the performance in three of these games was simple frightening, like WTF …. it was clear that we don’t know what we are doing.
    Emerys strategy has to be cristall clear now for all the players anf if not that is on Emery now. For our sake I whish he finds his balls now.

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  13. Blue Yonder says:

    Las,

    I agree that we have a strong and talented first Xl. That’s what makes the on-field performances so head-scratching and that puts it squarely on Emery’s shoulders.

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  14. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    We really did miss one with Gnabry and I was wrong about him. The problem was he was just one of literally hundreds of heavily hyped youth players who have come thru the academy and we can’t keep them all. If we had tried to be patient and given all of them chances we would have been relegated years ago. 15 years off watching these players has proven the its very difficult to pick the 1 out of 100 who might become a difference making player and anyone who tries to suggest they knew all along that Gnabry would become the first outfield player we wished we could have back is misleading themselves and us. Back when we had Gnabry we were still waiting for Ox to come good and Arsene clearly rated Iwobe higher then Gnabry so I can understand why he felt he needed to leave. Good luck to him.

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  15. Bill says:

    Las

    I think as fans we tend to over rate our own players talent level. We have a very strong prescription for our rose colored glasses. We have Auba and Lacazette but after those 2 our teams talent level is 6th place. Fortunately for us the football Gods have given us a chance to finish in the top 4 because Spurs, ManU and Chelsea are all in a down cycle and we need to take advantage of our good luck

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  16. Papa Bear says:

    Xhaka will excel in his right position as a deep lying midfielder ala Nuri Sahin in Klopp’s Dortmund years. But he must be paired with a good pure DM ala Ndidi Leicester as double pivot. That’s why Emery must have doubts to put his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation to accomodate double pivot to be applied in PL since he saw that Klopp always uses 3 defensive minded midfielders all the time (Wijnaldum, Fabinho, and Henderson) to succeed but Emery forgot that Firmino always helping the team by dropping deeper as a #10 role, and Firmino is doing it well cause naturally before in Hoffenheim Germany he played as a #10 attacking midfielder not a pure striker.

    So basically Emery’s so confused right now and using 3 DMs in Guen, Xhaka and Terrier but do not have similar player to play Firmino role, even Lacazette can not compete Firmino’s performance in that role. So Emery’s failed with that 3 DM’s trying to copy Klopp’s recipe but he doesn’t want to take a risk to use a pure #10 role to link up the current missing link transition from defend to attack problem that he faced right now and left our 3 forwards wandering around without enough services from our midfielders.

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