The Indefensibles: Systemic Failings

Unai Emery survived to take charge of Crystal Palace this weekend – there’s an early preview here. The knives are out and Hession sacks filled with bricks to weigh it down in the Regent’s Canal.

It wasn’t good against Vitoria on Thursday and nobody is claiming it was. That is now behind us and I’m sure (hopeful) it included a hangover from Monday’s defeat, the international break and a dodgy lasagne.

Nonetheless, the performance contained elements which are persistently evident every time we play. Vulnerability to counter-attacks, lack of dynamic possession, ceding territory and supine defence in the face of danger. All things Unai is not addressing and repeatedly witnessing in first-team games.

It’s systemic and as ingrained as the failings which ultimately ended Arsène’s reign. If Unai doesn’t get to grips with them soon enough, the axe is going to fall; it will keep us out of the top four, which at present, is the staging ground we need to reach.

Hector Bellerin said after the game that there were “loads of things we’ve got to improve as a team.” You cannot disagree that “football keeps evolving and there are different rivals, different things that you’ve got to do in different games.”

However, he knows our failings. We’ve got to “keep the ball better”. He went on to talk about our “style of play” and “DNA” but what is that?

The successful Arsenal teams were built on a solid defence. You don’t need a fantastic goalkeeper behind a strong defence just a good one. John Lukic is the best example of that.

However, this Arsenal side has a decent goalkeeper but there’s no way the back four as fielded in the Premier League is a strong defence.

Defending the Indefensible

Of course, it isn’t just down to the defence to defend. As I’ve typed that heading, it’s dawned on me how appropriate a nickname ‘The Indefensibles’ is for Emery’s Arsenal.

Which is where the apparent perversity of Unai’s midfield team choices come into play. He, you presume, knows what he wants, that he isn’t making this up on the hoof. Maybe he is.

I think it is telling that Bellerin talks of “different things you’ve got to do in different games.” He is speaking personally but if he understands the chameleon concept Emery wants, then surely the rest of the squad do.

If that’s the case, something is being lost in translation between the training pitch and Premier League fields. Of course, if you’re not getting it right on the training pitch, you’re hampered if not.

In this, what we hope is short, rough patch, our failings are exposed as others play well.

Leicester’s 9 – 0 win last night saw Brendan Rodgers stock rise while Jose Mourinho’s appearance at the Emirates in close proximity to Raul meant speculation over Emery’s future is rife.

The only thing I’m envious of is the ruthlessness Leicester displayed. It’s something we’ve lacked in recent seasons but let’s be honest, that was a freakish performance. They won’t enjoy such dominance or shooting accuracy again and they will have to wait a week or two to face supine opposition like that again.

It’s not healthy for that situation to exist so Unai needs to turn things around. Winning is the obvious way to do that. The last thing he wants is a public show of support from Raul or Junior; the vote of confidence always precedes the axe.

Below is a message from Jake Coare, which I should be grateful if everyone would read and if possible, attend the walk:

Walk and Talk

Please join us on a walk to raise awareness of mental health & male suicide, which is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, Equating to around 84 men a week.

Fans will walk and talk along the way from Selhurst park to Emirates Stadium on match day, including rest stops. Everyone is welcome to do all or part of the walk, whoever you support. Last year we had over 120 people on this walk and we are aiming for even more this year.

It’s good to walk and even better to talk. Remember you are not alone. #WalkAndTalk

We are also promoting the walk a lot on twitter my twitter user name is JakeCoare14 and the palace fan in charge is HC15OnTour.

’til Tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “The Indefensibles: Systemic Failings

  1. jonnygunner says:

    Good day…and we’ll done England

  2. Dukey says:

    Getting used to these world Cup finals.

    What a performance. Absolutely destroyed the Kiwis and that is no mean feat.

  3. Noon Gunner says:

    We’ve watched Leicester, we’ve watched England…what further examples do our boys now need?

    If only inspiration worked that simply…

  4. Ferkov says:


    Best 15/22 man full 80 minutes performance. Front foot full throttle. Kiwis utterly outplayed.
    That takes supreme confidence. If only Unai could in still an ounce or two, it would be a start.

  5. consolsbob says:

    These antipodeans, eh?

    Going a bit soft.

  6. jonnygunner says:

    These antipodeans, eh?
    Hopefully soft enough for Wales to reach the final Bob

    Going a bit soft.

  7. Buckagh says:

    I’m shocked at that number, its a worthy cause and deserves all the support that’s possible.

    Unfortunately I think our manager is making it up on the run, for all the reasons that are discussed on here everyday.
    I’d be more than disappointed if he gets a contract extension.
    I was a netural on today’srugby semifinal
    but fair play to England, the Kiwis were beaten out gate and were lucky to score the margin could have been embarrassing for them

  8. Spike says:

    Emery should be out the door by the end of November I reckon.

  9. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Would definitely join the walk if I was in the country. With you all in spirit; lost a friend to this earlier in the year, as I’m sure many of us have.

    Regarding Emery and the defense: I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, given he allegedly wanted to sign a Gilberto II in the form of N’Zonzi or Fabinho but was overruled and outbid respectively. However, if you knew this was the biggest single problem, why insert one as patently unsuited as Xhaka into that role? Also, the failure to get the team collectively pressing and fighting is an indictment of his management ability. All credit for Guendo for carrying the fight almost single-handedly but it’s too much on one young player. Sooner or later he’s going to take the shithousery too far or get injured and then we’re one Lacazette away from having no fight in the team whatsoever. I hope (probably in vain) that we add a pragmatic midfielder in January but, honestly, I don’t see Emery turning it around.

  10. Blue Yonder says:

    I don’t think the signing of one incredible defender is going to change things, although it would be a step in the right direction. What’s really needed is a belief and determination that they will not be bested. Talent without that isn’t enough. Surely, that’s the coach’s job.

  11. Blue Yonder says:

    The unfortunate thing about Thursday’s performance is that it virtually ensures the return of Emery’s first choice defenders to face Palace. Another strong performance or clean sheet (against Vitoria) would have increased the pressure on Emery to drop his Unholy Three (Sokratis, Bob and Xhaka.) Not that he would done so but it would have kept the pressure on.

  12. Bill says:

    A hat trick of goals for Christian Pulisic for Chelsea today. I would never have expected something like that. We all hoped that losing Hazard would mean Chelsea would fall apart but they have more firepower then expected. So far their defense has been worse then ours but at least right now they look the strongest of the group of Arsenal spurs manU and Chelsea who are fighting for those last 2 CL spots.

  13. C says:

    Interesting comments from Emery basically saying the he and the club have decided to drop Ozil. My question is, why? Given how we have struggled to create, why not at least give him a match to see if he produces because with our attacking and goal scoring talents we have struggled to feed and provide for them.

  14. Bill says:


    Ozil played a lot most of last season and a couple of games this season and he hasn’t created anything. I think he has a total of 3 assists in about 2000 -2500 minutes of PL games since he signed the big contract almost 2 years ago. You and I have watched the same games and I realize he was a great player at one time in his career but based on what he has done in the last 2 years there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that he can be bring more creativity to the pitch. Combine that with a lackadaisical attitude in training we hear about and the fact he is a defensive liability then why would a manager use him?

  15. Bill says:

    It seems like this is not just Emery’s decision. You don’t drop a $20M/year player without the agreement and approval of upper management and ownership. Clearly Raul Edu and Emery have talked about this and they have been around the team and the training pitch and watched game films of ozil when he has played. They all want us to finish in the top 4 and I assume they would use Mesut if they believed he would improve our chances.

  16. C says:


    I think there is a difference between creating and assist. He puts in a ball and the striker misses, is that not him creating and the striker not doing his job? Is that on Ozil or the striker? We have lacked creativity and chances created this season or am i missing something? Its funny you bring up stats…somehow Ozil has still created the most chances of any Arsenal player since Emery started…explain? Defensive liability, well, last I checked, our defense is shit and Ozil hasn’t played that much since Christmas last season so that defensive liability comment is utter rubbish…, Xhaka is a starter, so try again. I hear this non-sense about not training hard, but are we killing Ozil for not training hard and if so then why make him one of your 5 Captains when you could have easily given his place to Holding or even Luiz. I think at this point, what’s to lose? Our defense has been shit without so can’t get worst and our attack lacks that final ball that, by the way, is what Ozil does whether its directly or indirectly (see Bellerin’s and Sead’s assists last season).

  17. Bill says:


    How can a player who is passing the ball to Auba and Laca who are both excellent finishers and be creating chances and but only have 3 assists in 2 years. That is completely impossible. The only explanation is the chance Is to believe what our eyes tell us and the created stat is complelely misleading.

    I think we can accept that Raul, Edu and Emery are all in favor of leaving Ozil out of the line up. Assuming those 3 all want us to win then the only possible explanations are they all agree that Ozil would not help us win which I think is most likely. The only other reasonable possibility is Ozil has said or done or something that is bad enough they are willing to drop him. Perhaps they have told him that they believe he is capable of better performances and it would nice if he worked harder in training and may be even tried to set an example for the younger players who might look up to him and Mesut gave them a double barrel middle finger salute.

  18. Bill says:

    I have no clue has actually happened but I certainly would not be surprised if emery and Edu have asked Ozil to work a bit harder and make a little more effort to use his talent more effectively during the games and Ozil told them where to go.

  19. Bill says:


    You have been Emery’s biggest supporter on the blog so you must believe in his judgement. You must have a idea why he would drop ozil. What is your theory?

  20. DALM says:

    The Ozil debate is interesting – in the last couple of years he has not seemed to deliver anywhere consistently enough and it seems that his stock rises the longer he doesn’t play….

    Yes, he was good some years back, but then so was Charlie Nicholas – wonder if he could make an appearance?

  21. Anderslilya says:


    I don’t have stats but I am sure Özil has a great number of ‘hockey-assists’ even the last couple of seasons.

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