Unai Emery & VAR Plot Arsenal’s Downfall

Arsenal 2 – 2 Crystal Palace

Unai Emery’s reign at Arsenal descended further into acrimony and recrimination as for the second time this season, a two-goal lead was thrown away.

It isn’t the Spaniard’s own work, of course. VAR overruled the referee twice and twice Arsenal paid the price.

Martin Atkinson, a matter of feet away from the penalty incident, felt Zaha dived and cautioned him. Not so, said Mr Stockley Park. A defensive leg was dangled and the Palace winger fell over it so that is a penalty.

Emery’s afternoon got worse. Granit Xhaka was distinctly unimpressed at being the fall guy once again. He let his displeasure be known and then turned the tension up one louder.

The armband was flung in disgust, fans were told to ‘do one’ in response to jeering and catcalls. The Swiss continued his amble to the touchline conducting the chorus of abuse. Arsenal were drawing 2 – 2; there was no need to rush, to show a sense of urgency.

Granit was going to sulk and nothing was going to stop him.

He finished it all off by taking off his shirt, in a final act of petulance which must see him removed from the list of five captains. Take Mesut Ozil with you as well; no point in having a player there who doesn’t play.

As a first XI player, a spell on the bench would do Xhaka good as well. It would remove him from the firing line to a certain extent although his reception at coming on will be muted at best and probably a lot worse.

Xhaka is a lightning rod for the frustration felt at Emery’s reign. Managers rate him but few fans do in my experience. There won’t be much sadness felt when he leaves which I presume he will.

Overcompensation is no Excuse for Failure

To finish it all off, salt was rubbed into our wounds. Yet again, Mr Atkinson was overruled as Mr Stockley Park deemed Calum Chambers guilty of shoving in the usual penalty area shenanigans. Or was it for forcing a defender to trip him up? I couldn’t work out which.

The problem is that for the pushing, there ought to be five or six penalties every game. It happens all the time and remains unpunished most of the time. All we want is consistency and we don’t get it.

Perhaps when Granit goes, he can take VAR with him. English politicians cannot agree on the best route for Brexit but even they look sophisticated and competent compared to the PGMO/Premier League introduction of VAR.

In some sense, I feel sorry for Atkinson. He endured an awful match but in two big calls, he got the decision right and VAR got it wrong. He, however, is the one who endures the shame in the moment as prejudices against him are reinforced.

Some claim VAR is overcompensating for previous mistakes. It’s this part of VAR which is baffling. How can a man looking at a screen get decisions wrong? It defeats the object of the exercise if they cannot get it right.

Disturbingly, these are men entrusted with the whistle in Premier League matches. If they cannot get it right with TV monitors and replays aplenty, how can they be trusted otherwise?

Still, it came as no surprise to find Mike Dean was the first VAR to send a player off. What was a surprise is that he got the decision right.

But it is easy to use the VAR decisions as distractions from the real issues affecting Arsenal. And that can’t be allowed to happen.

Stand By Your Man

The club is, at the moment, standing firm with their man. For how much longer is a different question. Change is going to come but not just yet. I believe Emery will be given to Christmas at the very least.

The afternoon began so differently. Palace had the first chance, naturally but by the tenth minute, we were two-up. Not only 2 – 0 to the good but both from set-pieces and both scored by centre-backs.

From there on, it was a distinctly average performance which sums Emery up. Palace were unadventurous and well-organised while we were content to wait for the moment to pounce. And wait. And wait.

We wait for things to happen. We lack aggressive creativity and are easily baulked. Whatever Emery’s gameplan is, it hasn’t been working for at least nine months. Yet we are resolute in our determination to prove Einstein right. It genuinely is insanity.

This was Crystal Palace at home. It’s dismissive and disrespectful, but this is a team we should be bullying. We should be hemming them into their own half, compressing play into their defensive third, forcing errors.

I cannot recall us ever doing that under Emery and honestly, I am struggling to remember a decent performance from us in the Premier League at all this year.

This afternoon encapsulated us as a club. We are in disarray with a coach incapable of man-management. One of his captains is permanently benched with the club’s acquiescing to Emery’s wishes, his main captain is in disgrace.

Unai Emery lurches from one crisis to the next. Every game exposes the same weaknesses to the extent that even a two-goal lead leaves us squirming uneasily.

It’s got to end otherwise it won’t end well and there will be more casualties.

Fireworks or Damp Squibs?

Emery is our David Moyes. He is in way over his head and with a squad which while it is playing for the coach, doesn’t look like it would be bothered if he left. That’s probably a sweeping generalisation but in much the same way Johnson is running out of MPs, Emery is running out of captains.

There’s no sense of coherence about the club. Replacing Arsene Wenger was a huge task and as with Manchester United, the first man who came along was a bad fit. I had high hopes for Unai but it is evident he cannot mould this squad into the team it could be.

And it is a half-decent squad. Too much of its’ efforts are panic-driven. We lose possession too quickly and are too susceptible to the counter-attack, even when we’re playing on the counter-attack in a home game.

Frequently we’re told Liverpool were patient with Klopp. If someone can point to the bit where they were a complete shower during the second year of his reign, I’ll happily retract criticism of Emery.

They weren’t so don’t waste your energy.

The players cannot be let off the hook either. They are under-performing and it was they, after all, who conceded two goals today and frankly didn’t look like scoring from open play.

Emery’s man-management is the root cause of the problem. He mishandled Aaron Ramsey’s final season with the club last season and we’re now talking about Lucas Torreira playing almost as a #10.

There may be method to his madness but to this outsider, Emery is flailing around making snow angels, hoping to find a pretty pattern. Except when he stands up, he was lying in sleet and everything has turned to water.

Point of No Return

And that’s where we’re at, for me. I cannot see Emery guiding us to the top four without considerable help from those above and around us.

If he achieves that target I shall be surprised. Genuinely amazed. I will probably be more surprised if he lasts that long.

Emery isn’t going to abandon his philosophy, it’s too embedded in everything he planned for and everything he has trained for.

He isn’t going to abandon Granit Xhaka either. He likes him as a player and probably doesn’t want to discipline him although he has said they will talk about it.

There’s nothing to talk about. Fine him, drop him and let’s move on. Liverpool Wednesday night and the Carabao Cup. It will be something of a relief; the lesser sides are more fun than the Premier League XI this season.

‘til Tomorrow.

37 thoughts on “Unai Emery & VAR Plot Arsenal’s Downfall

  1. Dukey says:

    The poor old Welsh eh. I really did want to see an England Wales final. But seeings as I got ripped off by a Welsh garage in Swansea in the summer I won’t be feeling too sorry for em!

    As for the football it really is getting to the point of who the fuck cares, the game is not the game we once knew anymore.

  2. billy bunter says:

    There’s a lot of racist scum that support Arsenal. They give Mustafi abuse also. This is the same right wing scum that voted for Brexit

  3. Spike says:

    “Acrimony and Recrimination”

    I’m sure that was the law firm used by my fifth wife during our divorce proceedings…

  4. YW says:


    Tremendous leap you make. Let’s see the evidence.

  5. Wailesy says:

    Fair play Yogi, that can’t have been easy.

    The way I see it is we have to members of the squad of captain material. Sokratis and Lacca. I don’t like strikers as captains, I didn’t like Henri as one.

    I thought we were ok in patches. Sokratis was good as was Guendouzi for the most part.

    Emery will go when it’s mathematically impossible to make top 4.

    To be fair there were plenty of pool fans that had had a gut full of Klopp with the goals they were leaking 2nd year in but they were playing some impressive football. We are not.

  6. Bufallo says:

    BB hahahahhaha, absurd.
    if Emery looks this gift horse in the mouth he defo should be fired, perfect excuse to drop xhaka, fire him as captain and sell in January. Emery has a golden chance to unravel the mess and get some credibility with the fans. Will he take the chance… Will he f@ck.
    As you say what’s the point of Ozil being one of five captains…
    goodnight Emery. Hope the club are currently looking for your replacement but doubt it because arsenal board, like their manager, are stubborn, football blind and ultimately don’t give a toss about results. See man Utd for what modern ownership is about… £££

  7. andy1886 says:

    Bottom line is it’s a results game. The Kroenke’s don’t care about fan unrest unless it hits the finances but if Emery looks like he’s going to miss out on CL football he’s toast. It’s a shame but it very much looks like he has that suicidal stubborn streak that AW had so it’s probably just a matter of when. On the up side it looks like the boy Josh is the one who will make that call and he seems rather more proactive than his old man.

    As for VAR it seems it’s not our friend. Sokratis having his shirt nearly ripped off last week and two decisions this (at least one of which should have gone our way) contrasts with the way VAR seems determined to give ManU penalties at the drop of a hat. No change there then.

  8. Mattack says:

    billy bunter,

    Arsenal have a diverse multicultural fan base and always have had for as long as I can remember. Probably because we didn’t boo our own players because they were black like Chelsea and some others did.

    I do not agree with booing your own players but Xhaka and Mustafi are booed because they are not good enough for The Arsenal. They have had chances but do not appear physically or mentally up for it as evidenced by slow pace and brain fart moments. With Xhaka, Emery keeps putting him in the firing line. I would say they would be better suited to a slower paced league.

    Re VAR – it can never work unless applied consistently and only in certain situations. If the same inconsistent refs are reviewing the decisions only some of the time then mistakes will continue to happen. The referee should always review on the monitor if the decision on the field will be overturned.

    With the two decisions that eventually went against us yesterday. Chambers should not be hanging a leg out but ‘expert penalty winner’ Zaha is already on his way down when contact is made. Then for our winner, Chambers wins the ball but then catches the palace player because Cahill is pushing him over. Utter bollocks calls from the VAR ref and Atkinson bottled it by not reviewing on the monitor and then sticking to his guns.

  9. Bufallo says:

    Josh is not his own man nor is he more proactive. He is a snake oil salesman who is interested in profit profit profit. As Man Utd have shown ultimately results on the pitch do not drive revenue.

  10. Bufallo says:

    Rugby refereeing works, excellent by Owens Engl vs NZ. TMO works perfectly. But football is just a total basket case compared
    would love to see a zero tolerance policy from refs in football. Instant Red card for any back chat etc

  11. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Can’t fault your logic on any of this. I’ll go one further on Klopp – at least in his FIRST season you could already see him imposing a style on the team. It was very different to what they were used to but he got them to buy into it and that gave him a platform on which to build.
    I would take the departure of Emery for Christmas (he can have Xhaka as a leaving present) but suspect we will give him the whole season (if Champions League was the cut off, he should have gone today).

  12. Bufallo says:

    Yup we will no doubt let him limp through the whole season. Frankly I’d be begging Allegri to see if he can organise this mess. But far too sensible for Arsenal that call. He is the man Arsenal should get today!

  13. Alex Ice Cream says:

    Sadly, this was all evident last season but we all allowed ourselves to dream during the 22 match unbeaten run that proved to be nothing more than a mirage. It was very clear though after the end of season collapse but Emery had only been there a season and one proper window so was given the benefit of the doubt. The facts spoke louder – we only needed 4 points out of 18 to be 4th and only managed 3. That’s relegation form in any league.

    After the money spent this year and last there and that this is Emery’s second season have shown him up to what he is – an average manager who came second in a one horse race in France. His teams have always been defensively suspect, and winning 3 Europa leagues seems a long time ago and even then wasn’t against top class opposition.

    Emery was lucky to get the Arsenal job, another parting gift from Gazidis – the uttter ***, together with the Ozil situation. Emery was lucky that we had sunk so low that he was the best on offer or at least that we could get.

    This Arsenal team is a mess, the spaces in midfield are huge and often have centre mids covering faster wingers. Defensively we lack organisation and leadership and playing out from the back is a joke. We lack cohesion upfront and are dependent on Auba scoring in every game.

    El Moyeso Emery is not the right man and needs to go. Allegri?

  14. C says:

    Good stuff Yogi!

    As far as VAR, Atkinson and every PL ref has the option to walk to the sidelines, look at the VAR monitor and overrule VAR….he didn’t and they don’t and until then, it will continue to be as inconsistent and incompetent as the refs and the PGMO are.

    As for the futbol, our midfield needs to be sorted and maybe Xhaka deciding he wants to rail against the supporters and club will help. We needed a performance and it started well but we all knew somebody was going to get Zaha’d (interesting that I have seen quite a few refs call it a dive,l . Emery needs to simplify things.

  15. Pete the Thirst says:

    Xhaka’s not my favourite player, but the booing in the stadium was a bit OTT yesterday. Hopefully Emery will do the sensible thing and drop him for a while and play Torreira in the DM position.

  16. Pete the Thirst says:

    Don’t panic Billy, the ambulance is on the way…

    billy bunter:
    There’s a lot of racist scum that support Arsenal.They give Mustafi abuse also. This is the same right wing scum that voted for Brexit

  17. The ArseÇores says:

    We have changed the manager (phew) and it hasn’t worked. Shame.

    Lets move on, it takes most teams 4 or 5 managers (or more), to find a person that helps them progress.

    I don’t think Emery is Moyes though. Moyes was the wrong man, buying the wrong players for Utd and trying to transfer United from an attack based team to a tika taka team. Against the trend and against the philosophy of that club. He spent a huge amount of money driving the club down a dead end.

    Emery is leading Arsenal the other way. We now have a ton of attacking players, (thank God) what we need now though, in my opinion, is a manager like Klopp who will just get us scoring while we sort out the defence. Defensive problems may be the manager too as we actually have some reasonable promise there.

    Emery seems scared and it leads to our strikers being underserved and bewildered and the losses mounting and undue pressure on the defence.

    The good news is that there is plenty in this team for any manager able to attack with intention of ripping the opposition a new one.

  18. C says:

    I know he might not be the best DM in the world, but I do think that Torriera would help our press simply because Guendouzi and Ceballos know that he would hustle and bustle around midfield with them. More to that, it would couple with the front 3 of Lacazette, Aubameyang and Pepe who have shown both a willingness and a desire to press high but also track back.

  19. C says:


    I actually prefer Lacazette as captain especially since he was groomed at Lyon to be club captain. He knows what it means and has put the club before himself at Lyon when he turned down seceral moves to stay and open their new stadium. Not only that but he is a leader and a fighter not to mention all of his top class quality.

  20. Blue Yonder says:

    Liverpool struggled initially under Klop but Emery’s first two years have been different from Klop’s initiation in one key area: man-management. If a manager with Emery’s experience hasn’t learned that part of the game by now, he isn’t likely to.

  21. Blue Yonder says:

    Plenty of blame to go around yesterday. Xhaka’s display was egregious and insulting. The fans’ display was boorish and indefensible. And Emery created it by his insistence on playing Xhaka, and making him captain, despite his continual poor performances.
    It would have served Emery, and Arsenal, better if he had not hung onto the Swiss like grim death. But, if he drops him now, it will seem he is knuckling under to the mob. He’s in a corner but it’s one he painted himself into.

  22. Blue Yonder says:

    I was in favour of VAR and still am. In the concept, that is, not with how it is being used. And I say that because of what it has contributed to other sports that use some sort of electronic review: rugby, NA football, hockey. It seems football is the only sport which is failing in it’s application and hence my opposition to it.

  23. Stu says:

    Emery may not be the best man for the job, but I don’t think he was the worst choice either. His appointment was a bit left-field. He has a good track record in the Europa League and he was willing and available. Where he has put faith in young players, it is showing signs of success. I didn’t expect to see the likes of Willock or Saka looking like first team squad players.

    However, there is clearly some serious short-comings. He cannot organise a defence, although we have had injuries. He cannot pick the right leader as captain – Guendouzi? Holding? Even Sideshow. He cannot deal with the Ozil shaped elephant on the training ground. He has history with not dealing with “enigmatic” players though – was it Neymar he fell out with at PSG?

    It’s still only early in his second season. So he should be afforded more time and another transfer window.

    That’s not to say I am a fan. I said I wanted Allegri (if he would come) or Nagelsmann (if we had to cut the cloth) on here. I’d still be happy with either, if Emery gets the push this season.

    The curve ball is that maybe Emery needs to get the chop earlier than expected, if Allegri is the target and if he would join an EL team. Manure will be after him if Ole is shown the door.

  24. Saa says:

    What’s with the ads? Feels like I clicked on the metro online homepage apart from the quality read up…

  25. phil says:

    The common link between Mustafi and Xhaka that causes booing, is not their race, but the amount of times they are responsible for cluster fucks.

  26. phil says:

    Like YW and many others, I had high hopes for Emery, and I am certainly not a fan of the manager revolving door.
    It hasn’t turned out well so far. Making Xhaka captain, was a very poor decision. It seems it’s not the only one.

  27. andy1886 says:

    If there’s one thing that dooms a manager in my eye it’s not making mistakes, everyone does to some extent, it’s stubbornly refusing to learn from them. The Einstein quote that YW eludes to sums it up really.

  28. Spike says:


    It’s a bit like Wenger in his dotage: he refused to adapt or change things despite the repeated failings.

    Emery seems as stubborn, but I doubt he will be given as much time as dear old Arsene!

    In fact he could be out by the weekend!

  29. YW says:

    Tomorrow’s post is scheduled and live at 7am.

  30. Ras says:

    The on field action by Xhaka is indefensible. He personalized the situation. He as Captain should have known better. Irrespective of any personal hurt, disappointment He made it about himself .

  31. Blue Yonder says:

    I would go for someone like Eddie Howe. He’s done a remarkable job bringing Bournemouth to where they are now and should be ready for the next step. And, presumably, without much of a budget. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s home-grown so not necessary to try to interpret his pressers. I know – David Moyes, I hear you say, but Howe wouldn’t be replacing a living legend and wouldn’t be trying to change a club approach that was very successful.
    I don’t think Arsenal can afford, at this stage, to try someone without management experience in the hope they can somehow get it right from the get-go. Or someone without EPL experience. It worked once. with Arsene, but lightning isn’t likely to strike twice in that regard.

  32. Bill says:


    Great review. I agree that its time to move on from Emery and go in a new direction.

    I still think VAR has a place and is needed but it has to be used correctly and the implementation has been poor. Myself I think there needs to be a way to overturn calls which are clearly wrong such as missed offsides calls or handballs which the ref can’t see because his view is blocked. There are also plenty of cases where the ref gets the call wrong (through no fault of his) because he has the wrong viewing angle and the right call is relatively clear when you see the play from the better camera angle. For the sake of the integrity of the game those sort of plays obvious mistakes need to be overturned

  33. C says:

    Blue Yonder,

    People have been saying for, what 2 years Bournemouth are ready to take that next step….at some point you either take it or your that club and manager who are always, “ready to take that next step”.

  34. Spike says:


    I think keeping Bournemouth in the league is an achievement in itself. Just look at all the clubs who got ahead of themselves, spend too much money, or sacked coaches for ‘only’ staying mid table. The lower leagues are full of them.
    I think Howe deserves consideration, he is experienced, youngish done well on limited resources, plays decent football and has no issues with playing youth team players.

    But he isnt a BIG name and isnt foreign. So he will obviously get over looked.

    It’s a shame than Chelsea have been able to chop and change managers almost each year, hiring new foreign coaches, and STILL won shit! 🙂

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