Torreira Talks, Xhaka Walks & Risky Business

When the chips are down, good news is invariably in short supply. Today is no different for Unai Emery. His one snippet of blue sky is that Dani Ceballos is the only player missing for what he hopes will be a ‘good ebening’ in Leicester tomorrow.

Clouds, as ever, are not far away. This morning sees reports that Lucas Torreira wants to sit down with Emery and see where he features in the Spaniard’s plans. Front and centre is the answer whilst Granit Xhaka is out of the side. How long is that for?

Well, The Times this morning claims Newcastle United are ready to offer the petulant midfielder his escape route in January. Not that Xhaka leaving means Torreira is guaranteed his favoured position in the line-up. Given Emery’s wonderous tactical mind, it will be no surprise to find the Uruguayan in the #10 role with Ozil or Willock in the defensive midfield role.

Mind you, he could end up playing as centre-forward if Barcelona follow through on their interest in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The sum total of these is more than the individual parts. None would raise an eyebrow, particularly the transfer gossip, if things were going well. Even if things were bang average, they’d be mostly ignored. Except the protagonists are senior personnel in the squad.

One is a disgraced captain whose career ground to a juddering halt two weeks ago. The other is a player many consider superior in the defensive midfield role but is treated as an understudy. The final player is the club’s top goalscorer for this season and last. No sweat, eh?

The cumulative effect of these stories is that they chip away at Emery’s authority and credibility. It’s another block pulled away in the head coach’s Jenga.

Leicester Ultimatum?

Tomorrow’s trip to the East Midlands is a crucial fixture. If, as expected, Chelsea win, defeat leaves Arsenal nine points off the top four. In those circumstances, it’s going to be a long international break.

It will, obviously, be an easier time for Emery if we win. A natural caution will follow victory, ‘one good win a season does not make’, etc – or outright howls for blood if we lose. Which, I suspect, is what will happen given the form of the respective sides at the moment.

Of course, that brings forward the ‘Chelsea’ defence. Fans don’t want Emery sacked because it means we become like every other club. As if dismissing the Arsenal manager is sacrilegious.

It isn’t. The period 1977 – 1980 bought Terry Neill goodwill and time. Two years to rebuild which he failed to do. Fan power removed him from his post in December ’83 after a defeat to Walsall.

Don Howe resigned a couple of years later but only because he found out Arsenal’s board were touting his job around, including offering it to his best friend in football. No, we’re not that sort of club, are we?

Despite years of winning trophies, the rumour mill had it George Graham was on his way out of the club before he was caught with his fingers in the till. Winning three cups in two seasons wasn’t enough to save the Scot. Nor was returning the club to European football enough to stop the axe falling on Bruce Rioch.

The truth of the matter is that Arsene Wenger’s reign distorts the fact that Arsenal are no different to any other club when it comes to managers. Those who don’t deliver are removed ruthlessly at times and Unai Emery isn’t delivering.

Risky Business

The reluctance to hire and fire on the part of the club is understandable. However, Emery was appointed by the Snake Oil Salesman, despite reports he preferred Mikel Arteta.

In that sense, it is a ‘get out of jail free’ card for Raul and Edu. While they know and might like Unai, he isn’t their man. The next choice is vital for them in that sense. It’s the one they have to get right.

While it is relatively early in the season, the pattern of recent months is simply and extension of the end of last season. They have to weigh up whether this is a ‘blip’ which Emery can turn around or something more rotten.

At the moment, they think the former. The question is when does that turn into the latter.

To appoint anyone now will cost money and a lot of it. Freddie isn’t going to be #1 for more than a few weeks so forget it. Is it worth paying out now and maybe retrieving the Premier League situation or let it slide and write the season off?

Which will cost the club more? Missing out on Champions League football again or paying out for the services of a new boss?

It’s a risk. There’s no guarantee of success in appointing a new head coach. It’s whether the management think it is a risk worth taking.

Tomorrow evening may well go a long way to deciding that.

’til Tomorrow.

36 thoughts on “Torreira Talks, Xhaka Walks & Risky Business

  1. jonnygunner says:

    Boom 🙋🏼‍♂️🤠🤠🤠

  2. Kev says:

    In our present form I can’t even seeing us make Europa League next season let alone Champions League

  3. Bill says:

    Another awesome post yogi. You da man. The idea Arsenal is somehow different then other clubs in terms of how they deal with players and managers always seemed off the mark. It’s time for the club to move on from Emery. A loss this weekend would really put the pressure on.

  4. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Leicester have looked capable of sneaking into the Champions League places this season. We have not (beyond the fact United, Spurs, and Chelsea have been abysmal at times). I don’t know if the game will teach us anything new, except, hopefully that we play better without Captain Petulance than with him.
    Please can we keep Auba? Please?

  5. Bill says:

    “More to that, his role in the team isn’t to score goals or really assist in them but more be that link between defense and attack. Again, you focus so much on age,”

    C

    I never got back to you from your comment a couple days ago about how effective Guendouzi has been so I copied and pasted part of your comment.

    You have watched the same games I have and its clear that our ability to link defense to attack has been absolutely abysmal. Its not about his age but if Guendouzi’s role is linking defense to attack then he has been doing a very poor job and we made need someone better in that role

  6. Michael says:

    JG
    Your constant “Booms” smack of insider trading 🙂

    It’s a mess, with no cheap option..we read about who might leave in the summer, but there could be more if Emery is still in the hot seat ….bite the bullet and get rid if we lose or play badly and fluke a win.

  7. C says:

    Torriera needs to be our DM unless Chambers is going to get the nod. Against Leicester, we are shit at defending and especially defending a lead, so why not have a bit of a go. I want to see:

    Leno
    Bellerin—-Mustafi—Luiz—-Tierney
    Torriera——Chambers
    Pep——Ozil——-Aubameyang
    Lacazette

    I know this XI probably will never play but why not. I have grown bored of Sokaritis and why not Mustafi at this point.

  8. C says:

    Arsenal vs PSG in the quarter-finals of the Women’s CL is going to be an absolutely BRILLIANT tie. 2 of the best teams in Europe with arguably the 2 best strikers in the world and some of the best talent as well.

  9. Bill says:

    I am not trying to pick on Guendouzi because he has done as well as anyone could have hoped for a 18 year old player coming from the second league in France. His energy and commitment are excellent and his hair is awesome and he is eye catching to watch. The problem is eye catching is where fans often focus but eye catching is not the same thing as effective. Ox and Iwobe were were other examples. Matteo has more minutes then any other midfielder in the squad this season and the midfield has been utterly terrible. That does not mean its his fault but having him on the pitch has certainly not improved our ability to move the ball forward or control the midfield nor has it improved our midfield defense. Matteo is arguably our best player not named Auba or Laca and what does that say about the ability in the rest of the squad? I have not given up on Pepe but the reality is the level of talent in the squad outside of the 2 forwards is just not all that strong.

  10. Damon says:

    The midfield being shit isn’t personnel issues, apart from Xhaka.

    It’s the fact that Emery sits them deep and concedes midfield completely. It’s why we have so many shots on our goal. Consistently. He wants to draw teams onto us so we can counter.

    It’s dogshit and a better coach with a better plan would get much more out of this group of midfield players

  11. Bill says:

    C

    Chambers as our DM? He has been with us for more then 5 years and has never been able to claim a regular role. He could not make it as a CB for Fulham last season so they moved him to DM. He was the DM for the team which was by far the worst defensive team in the league. Last season they conceded more goals then any team since 2013. Again I am not suggesting that Fulhams problems were Chambers fault but is that really the level of talent you want in our starting 11?

  12. Damon says:

    Bill:
    I have not given up on Pepe but the reality is the level of talent in the squad outside of the 2 forwards is just not all that strong.

    Sorry mate, I’ve got to strongly disagree with that comment. This is a better than decent group of players playing shite tactics and losing confidence in the system and themselves. There’s plenty of talent in this squad.

  13. Noon Gunner says:

    C,

    My pick too, C. That makes two of us. UE is only one. Who wins? Obvious, innit?

  14. C says:

    Bill,

    Why not Chambers as our DM? No offense, but Arsene even from the beginning told us he viewed him as a DM eho could play CB or RB so there’s that. Last season at Fulham, he won their Player of the Season playing at the DM, if you watched their matches, he was a massive reason they weren’t even more shit. In a team where he is asked to sit, break up play and recycle alongside Torriera then get it to our front 4 as quickly as possible would suit him.

    Your talking about talent now, you ABSOLUTELY love and adore Robertson despite the fact that he started every match at LB for a Hull City who had the WORST defense in the PL and arguably in Europe (giving up 80 goals and have a -43 GD). Does the European Champions want to go for that level? How about the English darling’s Spuds going for Dele Alli…..there are countless others

  15. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Vardy will be a huge problem if Mustafi & Luis are paired together. It might be time to go for a back three of Sokratis, Sideshow & Holding & push our full backs on. Torreira & Gwen to sit in midfield then let the front three do their stuff.

    Easy.

  16. Blue Yonder says:

    Chambers and Torreira are both being played out of position IMO. Chambers I get because he wasn’t brought in as a DM, but Torreira? Makes no sense except that Emery buries his head in the sand and is apparently “stuck on stupid” and everything flows from that.

  17. Blue Yonder says:

    Although the problems on defence grab most of the ink, the lack of goals is even more of a worry. With the speed and scoring ability, it was thought Arsenal would win (or lose) a lot of 4-3, 3-2, 5-4 types of games. Right now, that would be much better to watch than the slop being dished up. Winning, losing, drawing one goal games is painful.

  18. C says:

    Blue Yonder,

    Hopefully we get to Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang play together. They will never get their timing and partnership down unless they play and do so regularly.

  19. Paulie Walnuts says:

    C,

    Agreed. There’s almost £200M worth of attacking talent there.

    Play them all. Every week.

  20. consolsbob says:

    That will not happen under Emery.

  21. Alex Ice Cream says:

    Agreed. Auba and Laca are our best two players and we just spent £72m on Pepe so he also has to play.

    I found it a bit odd that we spent so much money on a youngish left-footed winger/striker when we had a younger left-footed winger/striker coming through in Saka.

    Saka was then brought on v Wolves instead of Pepe who was left on the bench. Farcical.

  22. Wailesy says:

    Paying Emery off now is going to be far cheaper than trying to replace the six or so players that will go elsewhere if he stays.

  23. Jonnygunner says:

    Michael:
    JG
    Your constant “Booms” smack of insider trading

    It’s a mess, with no cheap option..we read about who might leave in the summer, but there could be more if Emery is still in the hot seat ….bite the bullet and get rid if we lose or play badly and fluke a win.

    Damon was first yesterday I think….certainly not me.

  24. Spike says:

    Chambers played DM last season.

    Hes probably our best defender at present.

    Anyway, I’ve put a few quid on us losing tomorrow. I have no faith.

    Emery out

  25. Blue Yonder says:

    C,

    When players come in and don’t see much playing time, it suggests the manager didn’t want them. He should pick what he regards as his “first team” and play then continually except for rests and injury. They should play together, with a set style of play, until someone is injured or loses form. Simplistic, I know, but the complete opposite obviously hasn’t worked.

  26. Bill says:

    Damon:
    The midfield being shit isn’t personnel issues, apart from Xhaka.

    It’s the fact that Emery sits them deep and concedes midfield completely.It’s why we have so many shots on our goal.Consistently.He wants to draw teams onto us so we can counter.

    It’s dogshit and a better coach with a better plan would get much more out of this group of midfield players

    Damon

    I disagree. If you look at the stats we often have greater then 60% of the ball possession. If your strategy is to sit deep and counterattack you let the other team control most of the ball possession and let them lose focus while pinging short passes around midfield and then hit them quickly On the counterattack. The fact that we often have a fairly significant lead in ball possession time suggests that your theory is wrong.

  27. Bill says:

    I think that when Emery was applying for the job he saw a squad that looked really good on paper which senior players like Ozil, Kos, Nacho, Mkhitaryan Auba and some hyped younger players. On paper Ozil and Mkhitaryan looked like a superb creative midfield and if you remember when he first came he used both in his regular line ups. His plans all fell apart when he found out those senior players were much further along on the downside of their career arcs and he was forced to move to plan B and plan C but he has never really recovered

  28. Bill says:

    We all thought the reason a lot of the players were struggling was because of the Wenger influence and all the team really needed was someone to coach them up. Before the start of last season Kos, Mustafi, Nacho, Bellerin Xhaka, Ozil, Mkhitaryan looked like a really strong team on paper. Unfortunately the real problem was not as much Wenger as the fact those players were not nearly as good on the pitch as they looked on paper.

  29. Bill says:

    Everything that is happening now is somewhat reminiscent of the end of the Wenger era when everyone wanted to believe that we had a really good squad but they just needed a better manager. Good players find a way to make positive things happen. Auba and to some extent Laca have the same manager and both have been good to very good but the problem is the rest of players on this squad are not as good.

  30. Bill says:

    I am not suggesting for a second that none of this is Emery’s fault. By now he should have improved the team defense and clearly the things he has tried to do are not working and I think its clearly time to go in a new direction. My we will get an Ole Gunner type bounce the way ManU did for a couple months last season when they changed managers. Even now we are better then 75% of the teams in the PL but there is a lot of work to do in rebuilding this squad to one that has the talent to compete for the top of the PL and compete with the top 15 teams in the CL.

  31. Bill says:

    To me it shows how much we want to believe in players we like when there is anyone who would believe that Chambers is good enough to be the regular DM for a team whose objective is to compete for the top of the table.

  32. Spike says:

    Bill,

    You been hitting the crystal meth Bill? 🙂

    Blimey, talk about a flurry of posts!

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