Monthly Archives: November 2019

Nov 30th – Emery’s Emirates Exit

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And about time too. Now we can move forward. Though it might be two steps back before 3 steps forward. But finally some movement. After watching the Eintracht game it was inevitable. If there was not sufficient evidence during the Southampton game – let along the last 6 months – this game just about took the biscuit. That second half performance was as insipid and lethargic as anything I’ve ever seen from Arsenal. And that covers the gloomy days of Terry Neil and the tedious game of the mid-80s. In the decades I’ve had the pleasure of suffering through Arsenal this was as dreary and diabolical as I could have imagined. Why we need to wait post Leicester is beyond me. We’ve wasted yet more time with Mr. Bean managing our club. But at least we know what it’s like to have a zombie as coach; someone devoid of personality, someone devoid of decisiveness.

Finally someone in Arsenal put Emery out of his misery. I’m sure he’ll go back to some league 2 team in Spain and build a nice team. Managing in the EPL is just different. For talented managers – of which there are only a few – it’s a great platform but for most others it will break them. We unfortunately picked from the latter group. I was OK with the original decision but it became apparent earlier this calendar year that all was not well. He should have been shown the door at least a month ago. However, if the rumours are true we should be grateful he wasn’t otherwise we’d have ended up with Darth Vader. I’m more than happy for him to reside at the other side of North London. They will enjoy some short term improvement – maybe it will get them into the Champions League next year (though we have to pray for Lampard to fix his team and for Brendon to stay). But we all know how it will go up in smoke in 18 months to 24 months. And even if turns out that he has finally changed his pathologically, narcissistic behavior, there are no circumstances under which he could be allowed to manage our club.

Which leaves us with Freddie. As a legend he’ll start with tremendous goodwill. But do we want him turning into our OSG?  If we goes on a good run – which we can only dream for – others will clamor for him to get a permanent appointment. Yet, the probability is he’ll suffer because this teams issues can’t be solved just by a change in manager. It needs a rebuild – that’s what Emery was supposed to oversee. And Freddie can’t do that in 48 hours.

So why are we in this situation and why was there not a plan in place? If you look across the road they announced their replacement in 12 hours. That’s how you should do it. Albeit not with that appointee. Why did they not have someone lined up? Is the person unavailable? Do we need Freddie for the rest of the year? It would seem as though our management was caught off guard. If they were talking to Darth Vader then surely they were talking to others as well. They had a week since he landed somewhere else? Allegri is available now. Would he help us? I’m not sure that style will work. Ancelotti is familiar with the EPL and could soon be free. Then there’s’ Brendon, Nuno, Arteta and Viera. All these are interesting alternatives. But we, as a club, should already know what we want. And we should move.

The timing is not important because it could help us qualify for the Champions League – that ship has sailed. It’s to make sure our players know that we are committed to being successful. We can’t really blame Silent Stan and his little DNA. They put football people in charge. It’s their decision and their responsibility. They should have a plan in place to get us the best available manager. For me that’s Nuno. Wolves is a club steeped in history form the 1950’s but is no place for a real manager. Likewise Leicester. Both of these clubs reside in the region known as the black country; and no-one really wants to be there. I’m nervous of the ego associated with Brendon but he did a great job at Swansea and, aside from his Hollywood turn at Liverpool, did another great join in the wastelands of Scotland. I’m not sure he’d want to leave a team destined for the Champions League next year for a re-build with us.

An alternative view would be to put us in the safe hands of Ancelotti to stabilize us for the next 18 months and then hand it over to Arteta or, on the off chance Nice takes-off – Viera. But whichever way we move I can’t see how it can or should be Freddie. It’s a path ManU have got stuck going down and one we don’t need.

For the first time this season I will be nervous for the match. I will watch with expectations. I will expect a real energy level and commitment. I’ll also hope we have a defensive midfield of Torreira and Guendouzi. And I hope Sokratis is on the bench. But I won’t expect miracles. But I will care. Now that we will have some leadership we should see some improvement. But until we get a real manager we should not expect too much from Freddie. Even for tomorrow we should accept that even when we drop more points, we’re finally restarting our season. We’ve wasted 18 months on the wrong manager but the squad is still better than it’s been. Let’s just hope that the football brain trust at Arsenal is now doing the work they should have done in the last 3 months to identify and bring in the manager we need.

Strap on we’re on for a bumpy ride.

– LB7

November 23rd – Arsenal 2 Southampton 2

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Abject Arsenal can’t even beat a shit Southampton. And Southampton should have won. They had more clear chances and should have been 3 or 4 up before Cigarette equalized.

Where to start with such a shit game. It’s barely worth watching these days. The inability to gel as a team is so clear. You’d have to be a blind man or Unai Emery not to see it. There is so much wrong with this team – not the group of players – it’s hard to know where to start.

As ever the formation – starting at home against the worst team in the league with a back three. How ambitious is that? From the start Southampton closed us down with more energy and desire. We barely built from the back and then at snails pace. By the time the ball got the half way line everyone was asleep. This team mirrors the energy and outlook of our manager – devoid of ideas and fast asleep.

It’s been evident for months now. We had the chance post Leicester to take the initiative and dump this failed manager. Instead we let the other north London team show how to move forward. They actually had a great manager but still fired him. We have a shit one but decide to retain him. They got to the Champions League final and lost because of a tough penalty call. They fired their manager. We struggled into the Europa League final and were catatonic . Yet we the club that retains our manager.

Today demonstrated again that this team does not respond to him. We struggled the entire game. If we wanted culprits we had Sokratis and Atwell. This was, by far, the most indecisive performance by Sokratis today. Will he be held accountable? Will Holding start the next game. Of course not. He tried to hand them multiple goals. His distribution was awful and he lingered on the ball in all the wrong areas.

I felt sorry for Tierney today. In the first half all the attacking creativity came down his side. Contrast that with the other side – Bellerin was awful today. His touch was crap and his contributions were non-existent. Our right hand side was unused for the first half and most of the second. Yet Tierney gave up a penalty. Even with VAR focusing on the potential offside that was as slight a penalty as you could hope for. Not enough to overturn on VAR. But Atwell was a cunt the entire game. He allowed Southampton to waste time as soon as they scored. He then awarded free-kicks for the slighted infractions. I still have the sound of his whistle rattling in my head. It was non-stop. And the spate of yellow cards – most of which were trivial – were inconsistent. But this all helped to disrupt the flow of the game. Yes we are shit but there’s not reason for him to impact the flow of the game so much nor to so randomly give or not give free kicks.

It’s hard to get to upset because this is all so predictable. It inevitably ends up with Emery gone. It’s so obvious. A blind man can see this. There are complicated things in this world. What is dark matter? How do you control climate change? Why is nationalism on the rise? But, as for who should manage Arsenal I think we all know it should not be Emery. So we have to consign this season to the dustbin? We have to wade through the another 60% of the season watching this? Why waste time? I know the club don’t want to be seen as a hire and fire club. But when it’s so clearly wrong why waste time? Show leadership and admit it did not work out. We are now a middle table team. An average team. I can remember when this team was mid-table. Go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s if you want to see average. But that was not on the manager. That was the team – the lack of ability and class. That’s not the case here. This group of players is better than last year. Emery has found a way to get less out of more. Just the opposite of what we were looking for.

I bet some fans are wondering whether it would have been better to not have scored the equalizer. Would we have been better off if we’d have lost. Would this have placed more pressure on Emery and Arsenal and hastened his departure. That is not, unfortunately, an irrational idea. As a life long fan I wonder whether – for our long-term good – we’d be better off losing our forthcoming games in order to assure ourselves of the departure of this goat. If the club thought that Wenger had lost the supporters and the players how can they not conclude the same with Emery?

On balance though I still want us to win. I don’t want a string of losses to drive out Emery. I want the club to see what’s happening (or not happening) on the pitch and that they step forward, take responsibility and fire him before we lose more games and drop more points. How bad do our performances have to be? How many points do we have to drop before they realize what we already know. That Emery must go.

What does Emery have to do to get fired? If not draw at home to Southampton and Crystal Palace, lose at Leicester. When did we last win a game? And what signs of progress and development is there? None. Is Emery our Trump? Neither can get pinned down for any responsibility while chaos surrounds them. In the latter case we’ll have to wait till next November. But for the former, this November should be sufficient. Emery will take more games to waste the talent in front of him.

Cigarette scored two crucial goals today. He saved Emery. And, aside from the ridiculous yellow card he was given, was excellent today. He was our best player. It’s so good to finally see him back in form rid of his prior injuries. He worked so hard the entire game and literally saved Emery today.

Torreira, though he gave the ball away, was improved today. But there is not clear relationship with Guendouzi. Often they got in each others way or Guendouzi was too far away from Torreira. And neither came to pick up the ball from our back three.

Pepe did make a difference when we came on. He blew one clear opportunity when he should have taken the responsibility rather than tried to pass to Ozil. That’s what happens when your confidence is low. And then he hit the bar later on.

Wilcock saved this game for us with his goal line clearance. And saved Emery. How Southampton did not score before we equalized shows that there is someone up there that does not like Arsenal. Those misses saved Emery.

How bad are we. With 5 minutes left in added time, we can’t even play the ball out of defense. Sokratis is passing the ball backwards and sideways. No-one is demanding the ball or driving forward. Everyone’s head is down. It’s only by good fortunate the ball ends up headed out to Martinelli before Cigarette controls with one foot and scores with the other.

No-one celebrates. Not the players. Not the fans. Because we all know we’re shit. And Emery is lucky. So now we have to sit around and suffer through more meanderings from our incoherent manager. Watch more games where our defense will get torn apart. Drop more points and wait for the hammer to drop on Emery. It’s so inevitable it’s boring. It’s even hard to get too upset – though I seem to be doing a good job.

This is the most obvious case of an underperforming team with an unsuitable manager I’ve seen since Sherwood was at Aston Villa and Sp*rs. Maybe I can find a tranquilizer to put me out for the next 4 or 5 games. It’s too tedious to watch this team.  To watch the abject waste of talent. And to watch our manager prowl the touchline with no clue of how to solve the problems he can created. Maybe he can bring back Xhaka. Maybe we need Mustafi. Can we buy back Iwobi? Because that limited progress is being wasted. The Green Party should be up in arms at the waste of resources at Arsenal.  Even at its worst under Wenger – even at the end – we were never this poor. Never this lost. Never this directionless. So again, I ask, what will it take for the club to rescue this team. You can’t ask Emery to fire himself – he would miss anyway. It was a good idea that just has not worked out. What’s their plan B (or C)? Do they have one. They invested a lot of money (though not on a net basis) this summer. How can they accept such a witless, idealess, ponderous, turgid, inept performance such as this – at home – against one of the worst teams in the league. A team to whom, in all honesty, we deserved to lose to? If not now when?  

-LB7

November 9th – Leicester 2 Arsenal 0

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This could have been worse. It should have been worse. Then we might have more confidence that the club would do the right thing. Unfortunately, there might have been just enough in this game for Unai Emery to retain his job. It’s a shame; we’d have benefited by being more clearly thrashed. Then there would be no more reason to waste time with our B- coach.

Unai Emery, a man perfected to manage a mid-table Spanish team is well on his way to replicating that at Arsenal.  He has had ample time to improve this club. For example, look at our opposition. In less than 9 months Rogers has had a material impact on Leicester. He’s taken the elements of their team, reshaped it and extracted more from the same players. Can anyone say that about Emery? If anything, with even better players at his disposal this year he’s managed to find a way to extract less.

Our team has no obvious shape, no identify and certainly no personality. Today was no different from any game bare the first two this season. There is no progress. We might win a few games here and there but this team will never compete for the Champions League. It’s inconceivable that this team can finished above 5th. And that might be a reach. Eventually ManUre and Sp*rs will fix their teams and then overtake us as well.

Unfortunately, the club might think there’s just enough development to justify retaining Emery for the balance of the season. A more clinical display by Leicester would have helped enforce the outcome that is predictable and obvious. Emery won’t be our manager next year. The only question is do we have the appetite to ditch him now – mid-season – and start the rebuild. Or do we waste the balance of the season.

This depends on a couple of factors. Do Arsenal have an alternative in mind and is that alternative available now. Would the club be OK with a transition manager while we wait for the ideal manager? Because this one, Emery, is neither transitional nor ideal. I honestly can’t see any progress that’s been made in the last 18 months. He’s had 50 games now and, aside from this daft fetish with playing out of the back, that our defense is no better, we have no defensive midfield and we can’t leverage our attacking players, what has improved? Actually, there is one area of clear improvement. The first and second team kit. You have to love Addidas. Maybe we can appoint Addidas as our manager. We would continue to look the nicest team in England.

I sometimes hope that Emery is our Bruce Ricoch. A stepping stone to something serene. Currently he feels like our Moyes. Our Sherwood. A stepping stone to despair. Except this team – player for player – is better than either of those two teams. Emery is incapable of balancing the team nor instructing them. This team is neither one thing or another.  It is neither a team than can defend resolutely and counter-attack. Nor is it an all-put attacking team that could not defend. That would be the Wenger team left behind. Now it’s no longer a team but a disjointed collection of individual players. Albeit it players that are better than the ones Wenger had.

If I believed there was any progress that could be made with Emery or even, just a little more time for him to adjust and adapt I’d be happy to be patient. But, honestly, it’s not going to happen. Not after 50 games. I know there’s a fear that we’ll become a revolving manager door team like to many others. But, in truth, this was inevitable after the miracle of the last 22 years. That was such an unnatural period of stability. That experience reset our expectations. The manager after Wenger was always going to be the fall-guy. And, boy, do we have our fall guy. Waiting until the end of the season will just allow the rot to set in. And, worse, it sends a message to players coming to the end of their contract, that the club is not ambitious and lacks leadership. This season has already passed us by. I knew that before the season started. I was merely hoping for progress and development. We won’t get that either. So let’s suck it up, put on our big boy pants and firer the fucker. If we have to hand it over to Freddie while we wait for our Messiah, then so be it.

As for the actual game today. We weren’t entirely awful in the first half. We had one or two breakouts where Lacazette should have done better; should have scored. But through the balance of the game I don’t remember Schmichael having a save to make. Chambers was good today but Guendouzi failed to track his man on multiple occasions, Torreira looked positional lost and Ozil barely received the ball. Bellerin was rusty – which is not surprising – and Holding was exposed too often and made poor decisions. The only forward movement came from David Luis. Most of the time we played the ball backwards and square. Ironically our best moments came before they scored the first goal. We seemed to be growing into the game. But every time we start to dominate possession we leave ourselves open at the back. It’s the lack of balance that has been our Achilles heel for 18 months. The majority of their penetration came down our left hand side. We could not track their players. And when Grey came on it descended into a joke. Too often they had a spare man that we could not track.

Leicester aren’t a bad team. They played good football but we found ways to make them better. But, to their credit, they are improving as a team. They have a style of play. And they have passion and commitment. Not exactly a description you can apply to us.

Poor Pepe. What must he be thinking? When he come on he looked lost. And why wait until we’re 2-0 before making any changes? We should have switched from 3 at the back right away. But, even then, we could not create any chances. There was so little interplay between our creative players. There is just nothing going on. We played a holding game in the first half and then once we fell behind could not create chances in the second half.

So now it’s over to Edu and Saul. Do they have the believe and determination to make a change that the entire fan base would support? Do they have the leadership and vision to accept that this is not working. There should be no recriminations. Most people thought it was a good decision at the time. I, for one, did not want Arteta. That was too risky for me. But now it’s too risky to persevere with Emery. I can’t take another one of his interviews; his dreary drivel in pigeon English where he stumbles along in broken clichés and says nothing.

We have a two week break. Let’s use that to break away from Emery. Let’s not waster more time and opportunity. Let’s start building for next season now. It was a good idea at the time but it did not work. So, please, let’s move on. It might take a time to get it right. All we know is that what we do have is wrong.

-LB7