Emery Enters a Crucial Stage of the Season

Usually after a defeat, there’s a day or so’s introspection but we pick ourselves up and look ahead to the next match. That’s how it used to be but Arsenal – modern Arsenal – don’t make that at all easy. In fact, they make it impossible.

That said, if you think Unai Emery has a tough job then it is nothing to the one Sol Campbell is taking on at Southend United. 7 – 1 home defeat last night, followed by a visit of the league leaders on Saturday? If he turns the Shrimpers around after succeeding at Macclesfield, he may just be cut out to be a manager in English club football.

Which is not a charge being levelled against Unai Emery at the moment. Few believe he is the man to turn Arsenal’s fortunes around. Even fewer believe he is steadying the ship, which is a harsh judgement.

I don’t see us as being any worse off than under Arsene’s last two Premier League seasons but that owes as much to ourselves as the fortunes of others. Statistics might say otherwise but they do not explain the fragility on the pitch, simply measure its’ output.

On Monday night, Patrice Evra referred yet again to Arsenal being “babies”. Granit Xhaka took exception: “We have to stop speaking about mental or bull**** like this,” he said afterwards.

It is, he said, far simpler: “You have to show big character.” Which, of course, is a manifestation of mental strength, the very point Evra made. So, Granit agreed with him.

That willful misunderstanding explains some of Arsenal’s problems. Emery’s English is frequently cited as the root cause of our failures. The players don’t understand him. I think they do; what they don’t get is the constant changes to the basic framework of the side.

False Identities

Emery wants us to play that way but it is obvious the squad don’t buy into this strategy. He doesn’t make major changes to the side every week; the core of players he selects are the same so they should know what each other is going to do.

However, they are rudderless. There is no leader of the team, no creative force driving the players forward nor a defensive seargent-major organising the troops. Yet we have five captains.

Well, four; one of them doesn’t get picked even when we play abysmally.

Mesut Özil will probably play on Thursday night against Vittoria. If he has any wit, he will play the game of his life. He will position it so his continued absence makes Emery’s decision seem perverse. I wonder if he is that cynical, that ruthless?

I hope he is but I doubt it.

But the question marks over Emery give birth to speculation over his future. He won’t leave before the end of the season although a series of Premier League defeats will surely bring the curtain down on his reign far sooner.

It begs the question of who will take over? Freddie Ljungberg is the only internal candidate. Popular as a player, it might be he wants the opportunity to run the side his own way.

For Arsenal, it is nothing new as far as a caretaker boss is concerned. Rice, Houston, Burtenshaw; they took the reins temporarily and the club has little to lose in the short-term to give the Swede an opportunity.

On a permanent basis without any managerial/head coach experience? That is a huge risk and the reason Mikel Arteta was cast aside when Mr Powerpoint stole into the room.

Risky Business

There is the question of what Ljungberg would do differently that he cannot influence now? Is he a disciple of Wenger or like the best coaches, taken a bit from Arsene, Andries and Unai, and melded it into his own philosophy?

It is a risky decision for him to take on the Arsenal role if offered. Memories of Freddie the player will be influenced by Freddie the coach. If it all goes wrong, we’ll always finish reveries with “Yeah, but he was a sh*t coach”. That’s the way football works.

All of this presupposes that conversations about Unai’s future are taking place. Arsenal claimed to be listening to the fans during the summer but this is a decision which transcends that. Unpopular managers never last long at any club; the question for Junior, Raul and Edu is where the tipping point comes.

Reaching the Champions League via the Europa League achieves the end but assumes no importance to the means. It isn’t a sustainable route to the top table; you can’t rely on winning a cup competition every year.

Do they believe Emery’s philosophy has longevity in the Premier League? They will be in the minority if they do, given the way last season ended and this one began. It’s this stretch of the season which is ‘make or break’ for the Spaniard.

Come through this winter in the top four, in a strong position for the Champions League places in May and Emery will be safe until the summer. Languishing in sixth or seventh at Christmas means he can start spinning his time at the club for new employers.

That’s if the ‘new’ Arsenal really is ruthless.

’til Tomorrow.

15 thoughts on “Emery Enters a Crucial Stage of the Season

  1. Adebanjo says:

    Insightful as usual YW. Let’s hope the new Arsenal is ruthless enough to be decisive.

  2. jonnygunner says:

    Morning
    Its just a matter of time for Emery methinks…

  3. Wailesy says:

    Thanks Yogi,

    Yesterday’s post was a good read too as were the comments.

    Emery’s having a tough time of it right now but I feel we need to give him a bit more time. I was desperate to see the back of Arsene and was happy to settle for mid table for a few years to rebuild the club post Wenger.

    Emery did well in his 1st year and I still find it head scratching that we finished behind spurs. We lost The Europa final but at least we made the final.

    This term his been given funds I didn’t think we had and apart from a serious CB spent it well.

    Once he gets the balance of this squad better we should finish in the top 6 which in a league that continues to get stronger is a good effort.

    Of course we could still have Wenger.

  4. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Top 6! And that’s good enough for Arsenal is it!? WT Actual F man! How many years have you supported the red and whites? We expect nothing less than top 4. That’s our desire and expectations. We know reality dictates otherwise, but nonetheless this is what we as long serving fans expect. A seat back at the top table. Are we deserving a seat at present? Hell no, not with this system and some of the personnel on the pitch. But the main reason why U.E. is on borrowed time, is his persistence with Xhaka, Sokratis and Kolasinac. It’s criminal, that’s what it is. To continue with these 3 lost causes is the biggest indictment that U.E. at best is a cup competition manager. The continued disorganisation in defence! Why is it the same core of player’s that he picks week in week out. Don’t have a scooby about defensive positioning. He will be gone in the summer in my opinion and he will only survive January because there are no cheaper alternatives available. He is a Bielsa wannabe. Not fit to lace Bielsa’s boots. Bielsa or NES in the summer.

    Expect Özil to play on Thursday against Vitória and for us to win, but not because of Özil, but rather because of Laca, Martinelli, Tierney, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Bellerin, Willock and Saka. I’d like Pépé to play as I think he needs a goal to give him a confidence boost and get his season started. Not being harsh on the lad, but he’s so one sided and it’s predictable for defender’s to just usher him out to his right. Not sure how player’s get this far being so one sided.

  5. Damon says:

    I wonder if Unai can sell his final year on the basis of the new CB coming in off loan?

    Personally, don’t think he deserves it, simply on the basis of continuing to pick Xhaka. When a club captain is laughed at by the stands and cheered when he is subbed, you (should) know the game is up

    Still the charade continues, however

    With this group of players, I genuinely think that I could do a better job than he is. And no Arsene, I’ve never worked a day in football

  6. TCEyes says:

    Good write ups both yesterday and today. I was too depressed to log on for any kneejerk comments after monday’s sh!tshow.

    The league matches are just so dull. I think you are spot on with the comments about our returning back 3 – we cannot put too much expectancy on them to deliver if the malaise at which the whole team is playing doesn’t change.

    Why does the league side lack such adventure – surely the risk/reward is more forgiving in league matches, when, even if it goes wrong once there are 37 other opportunities to get it right?

    Baffling and rapidly becoming like the mid ’80s and mid ’90s boring. If this continues and the board have the balls, Emery will be out by Christmas, and I wouldn’t be sad at that.

    New managers need time to bed in their style, but look at Klopp, Pep, Mourinho and Poch. Whatever up and down results they have, at least they had a defined style designed to get a result.

    Whether I remember it right or not, in the mid Wenger years, I used to enjoy seeing our boys blitz teams in the first 20 minutes. One match in particular was a first half 4-0 drubbing of West Ham, but it was the expectancy that got the juices pumping. Now it’s just a slow pins under the fingernails death march to the point where we are behind (away) or just about level at half time (home).
    miserable.

  7. Tony Ikpo says:

    More time for Emery? I THINK NOT! We all agree that we need some time to rebuild BUT with the problems our immediate rivals are having to cope with ( ManU, Spurs) we have a good opportunity to accomplish things which Emery is too TIMID to grasp. His formations reflect his cautious character which is NOT our DNA. We are ARSENAL! We are PROACTIVE or PROTAGONIST’S as he famously said once upon a time! He is NOT following through and so should go before he does more permanent damage. Our immediate rivals ARE NOT going to wait for us to put our house together before they sort themselves out. They desire Champions League Football Too!!!!

  8. Blue Yonder says:

    We knew any new manager would need time to turn around a ship that had been sailing in one direction for over 20 years. We knew that a few transfer windows would be needed to overhaul the squad. But, surely to goodness, a team can at least play with desire and enthusiasm. Is that too much to ask?
    Players find out pretty quickly that they have to adjust to a new league if they’re going to thrive and, so too, does a manager. Except that this one hasn’t yet and the clock is ticking.

  9. Paulie Walnuts says:

    I think the main issue is the continued failure to address the obvious problems Unai inherited. Surely he was aware of these from day one – yet there appears to be little if any change. We’re still lacking leadership, game management & are flaky & impotent away from home.

    Unless things change quickly & dramatically I don’t see him getting past the end of the season. I’ve yet to hear of any UKB campaigns & this set of players don’t seem invested in his project.

  10. nicky says:

    jonnygunner,

    You may be right although I would like to see the result of awaiting the return of ALL our missing back four, before any parting company of Emery.

  11. consolsbob says:

    Can he just be sacked so that we can move on?

  12. Adebanjo says:

    nicky,

    I wonder whether we will ever see the return of the touted back four. Holding has been ready to play since, so is Tierny. Emery looks to have inherited Wengers stubborn attitude otherwise I can’t understand why a coach will persist with an underwhelming non performing center back partnership when has the means to try something to lose.

  13. Adebanjo says:

    nicky,

    nicky,

    I wonder whether we will ever see the return of the touted back four. Holding has been ready to play since, so is Tierny. Emery looks to have inherited Wengers stubborn attitude otherwise I can’t understand why a coach will persist with an underwhelming non performing center back partnership when has the means to try something else.

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