Unai Emery’s record and Arsenal’s way forward

Arsenal haven’t announced him yet but according to David Ornstein (BBC reporter and the only trusted source on Arsenal transfers and appointments ) they are set to announce Unai Emery as the next coach of Arsenal imminently.

Coach is the correct term here, I think. Arsene Wenger’s old management style where he had control over nearly everything at Arsenal has been dismantled and the new system sets up a “brain trust” of Ivan Gazidis, Sven Mislintat, Raul Sanllehi, and performance guru Darren Burgess. Emery slots in to that system as the coach, the guy who sets the team up, runs the drills, gets them ticking over tactically, and works with the brain trust on matters of the club but has no direct control over any aspect.

Wenger painted this as a sort of fall-guy and I agree with that characterization. The coach is going to be the guy doing all of the interviews with the press and taking all of the heat when the team lose or when a player fails to reach his potential. We see this kind of set up a lot here in American sports: management teams protect themselves and their jobs while the coaches tend to take the flack.

In Seattle in the 90s the SuperSonics management team ran through a bunch of different head coaches and sold or lost a bunch of different players. It wasn’t until the rot had truly set in at the club that fans realized that the management structure at the club was the problem. Then they sold the club for a massive profit and the new owners moved to Oklahoma.

Sorry for that digression. Let’s get back to Emery.


A structure like this does have a benefit: it gives coaches the freedom to just coach. I’ve read two articles on Emery these last two days, both in the Guardian, and by those accounts he’s a fanatical coach. He loves to prepare his teams with videos, photographs, and dossiers on their opponents. One story recalled the time that he suspected one of his players wasn’t reviewing the briefs so Emery gave him a blank USB drive and then later asked if he had seen the material.

Emery is often credited with being the kind of developmental coach that many think Arsenal need. In the same breath Emery’s detractors will say that it was Monchi’s recruitment that made Sevilla tick. I think the truth is a bit of column A and B.

Emery managed Kevin Gameiro to 67 goals while at Sevilla, his best ever return as a player. He managed Roberto Soldado to 52 goals in 92 appearances, which was during his time at Valencia, before he teamed up with Monchi. Premier League watchers will remember Soldado as a massive failure for Tottenham.

Emery gave Juan Mata a chance at Valencia as well, turning him into quite the player. And he gave Ever Banega a career at Sevilla, starting him when he was just 20 years old, like Juan Mata before him. He’s also revitalized some careers, like Steven N’Zonzi who looks like a totally different player from his time at Blackburn and Stoke, and has gotten the very best out of some players who were rather mediocre, like Krychowiak.

Tactically, he is similar to Arsene Wenger in that he likes to push his fullbacks up the pitch. However, unlike Wenger he almost always plays with a defensive midfielder who is tasked to drop and cover the center backs when the fullbacks go up. And he also liked to deploy three center mids and press high up the pitch which are two major changes that Arsenal need to adopt in order to modernize their football approach.

As I said in my last piece, Arsenal suffer the “Fabregas problem” with Xhaka a good ball distributor but an awful ball winner. It will be interesting to see how Emery uses Xhaka and how he covers for him. In his normal three man system, he would have a deep lying DM and would have his more forward CM (Banega) come collect. At Arsenal he will have Ramsey and Mkhitaryan (both good defenders who will put in a shift on both ends of the pitch) but his problem will be that Xhaka needs to play deep to be effective but doesn’t turn quickly, doesn’t read danger quickly, and can’t cover ground to be an effective DM. This is one reason why Wenger had to play three CBs, effectively dropping a DM in behind Xhaka to cover for him.

The other problem at Arsenal is the “Ozil problem” which is that Arsenal have a lot of players who have been allowed to play just one end of the pitch for the last three years. Emery’s approach to football does require team pressing and I wonder if he can get Ozil to play both ends of the pitch or if the German World Cup winner will be allowed the freedom to roam.

Emery’s coaching record with players is outstanding and he also won three consecutive Europa League titles. Arsenal are in the Europa League again next year and were very close to winning the whole thing this year. Just one defensive play, just one more time pressing to prevent Atleti from getting that ball over the top to Griezmann and I think Arsenal could have been through to the final where they would have faced a severely outmatched Marseilles.

Arsenal have to be heavy favorites to win the Europa League this season.

But apart from the Europa League titles, Emery’s record is very poor. Granted, he was coach of some of the financially crippled teams in Spain and La Liga has a duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid. But his record in the Champions League and against other top managers is atrocious.

Wenger’s record in the Champions League was 88-44-56 or 47% wins, 23% draws, and 30% losses. Emery’s record in the Champions League is 17-8-16 or 41% wins, 20% draws, and 39% losses. At PSG his Champions League record is better (9-3-4) but Emery struggled against the big clubs. Two of the three draws were against an Arsenal team that was one of the worst Arsenal teams in Wenger’s tenure. And his losses were a 6-1 thrashing against Barcelona (after going up 4-0) and a 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich, a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid, and a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid, which finally sealed the deal and got him fired from PSG.

This Champions League record highlights another major problem: he struggles against top managers.

Simeone 0 5 7
Guardiola 0 4 6
Mourinho 0 1 4
Zidane 0 0 3
Wenger 0 2 0
Q. Flores 1 3 3
Enrique 2 1 7
Bielsa 2 1 0
Pellegrini 3 3 6
Pochettino 4 1 2
Jardim 6 1 1

He has never beaten Diego Simeone in 12 tries. If Arsenal have to play Simeone in the Europa League next season, I think that will be a tough match for Emery. He’s also never beaten Pep Guardiola and never beaten Jose Mourinho. Interestingly, he has beaten Jardim 6/8 matches and Pochettino 4/7 matches. But Emery struggles against the likes of Enrique, Pellegrini, and even “Quique” Sánchez Flores (Atletico at the time).

It probably seems like I’m an “Emery out” guy after posting this data but I’m really not. I’m just posting the facts as I know them. I stand behind Unai Emery 100% and can’t wait to see how he improves the team and overcomes his own personal demons (like beating Mourinho and Guardiola).

As for my expectations of Emery as manager of Arsenal: I hope that he changes the way that Arsenal play football from a jazz ensemble to a more organized, modern football team; I hope to see Arsenal pressing; I hope to see Arsenal deploy an actual defensive scheme with a midfielder covering the back four; I hope to see the players like Bellerin grow under his coaching; I hope we win the Europa League; and I hope that we reclaim our rightful spot above Tottenham.

I think he can do all of that. So, welcome to Arsenal, Mr. Emery.



  1. Does this appointment (if confirmed) make the position of DM even more important than it was? Do you think we will sign someone there or go with Xhaka?

    Maybe he can bring Nzonzi which I think would be great. Great in terms of ability, in terms of knowing both Emery and the EPL, and in terms of age. He wouldn’t need to play every game or block the path of AMN. Xhaka will have to compete and adapt his game without being completely frozen out. (I think Xhaka is good enough against the majority of our league opposition)

    The pressing part is the most intriguing. Arsenal have only rarely done it and have looked good when they have. If he can get us pressing well as a unit, even if its not the demented Liverpool/Spurs variety, it could make such a huge difference. Hope the strength and conditioning team are up to the task too.

    1. That was always one of the weirdest things. Every now and then the team would press the opposition and look really good.

      Then a few games later we’d just stop and not do any more.

      1. Even though it seems to not be Wenger’s preferred tactic, I have a feeling the infamous red zone played a part too.

    2. here’s my post from two threads back:
      the biggest flaw with this article is the effort to quantify a defensive midfielder’s contribution to his team. stat’s show technical contributions. dm’s contributions are, more often than not, tactical in nature.
      example: an attacking player may want to play a through ball but the dm sees the play and stands in the passing lane. so the attacking player plays an audacious ball over the top that’s won by a central defender or goal keeper. the dm won’t get statistical credit for that but his positioning made the play. or…the attacking player has to take an extra touch because the dm is in the passing lane, allowing a fullback to come back and make a tackle. hector will get the stat but the dm made the play.
      it’s an often thankless job that requires tremendous tactical awareness and experience to play well. it’s why arteta, cazorla, and gilberto played the position well while xhaka struggles. he’s not smart/experienced enough. we often look at technical qualities like cazorla’s close control or arteta’s passing range and think that’s what’s necessary to play the role well. no, they played the position well because, nine times out of 10, they were the smartest guy on the field. they took up smart positions early and shared information with team mates, helping them make smart decisions and stop dangerous plays from developing. there’s no stat for this stuff but it’s imperative that you do it well to be a good dm.

      1. Missed this last time, but you are so spot on. DM is the unsung hero.
        Getting the defense to play as a unit will be the biggest challenge and DM is critical to that. I keep thinking about watching Atletico defend against us, and watching them frustrate Pep’s Bayern team a few years ago in the CL. They have every passing lane figured out and everyone is in perfect position. It takes 3 consecutive 1 touch balls in the final third to score on them. That contrasted with our guys playing opponents onside and not hustling back, or failing to track a run, or just losing shape entirely. We are the keystone cops of defending. If Emery can even just make the easy adjustments, there’s a lot of upside – said the opmitist.

      2. Agree on the need for high levels of tactical awareness from the position, but should point out that Santi was never a DM.

        He was an ATTACKING midfielder, and Coquelin was the DM. Cazorla certainly didnt play the DM role you describe. His game relied mainly on his peerless close control to break lines and blocks by passing or ferrying the ball intelligently. Gilberto was the only pure DM of those you mention…an old fashioned water carrier. Read, disrupt, destroy, give it to the fancy boys.

        What Wenger tried to do, first with Arteta and then with Xhaka (once Coquelin was found to be limited in distribution), was to put a conductor in the position, and ask him to play D. We did try to buy Xabi Alonso, one of the best at combining both roles.

        I want to see what good coaching can do for Xhaka before writing him off. As Tim showed in an Arseblog BTN, he’s the Arsenal play who gets most of the traffic.

        As for movement not being statistically recognised, the same goes for strikers. Ramsey’s late runs are effective when the likes of Lacazette pull defenders out of position. Those kinds of things are hard to annotate statistically… all over the field.

    3. I see several options:

      1. Sit someone next to Xhaka
      2. Play a back three
      3. Sell Xhaka

      1. Could be AMN or even Elneny – though I don’t think either or them are physical enough and Emery has a long history of playing physically imposing midfielders – or he could buy someone like N’Zonzi.
      2. This seems unlikely but it’s an option. Elneny could play as the middle of the back three and would be a great passing option. But again, he lacks the physicality required to play as a CB in the Premier League.
      3. I would have done this last year. He is not at all what Arsenal need in the Premier League and I don’t think he’s that talented a passer. I think a lot of fans overrate him and I don’t know why. He could easily fetch £25m and that money could be used to get a real footballer in.

      1. I had thought of option 3, actually, when I watched that video Shard posted yesterday. If Emery prefers shorter passes and passes along the ground, one of Xhaka’s best assets (long ball distribution) is nullified. And then you add in all the other problems we’re aware of, and he starts to look dispensable.

        On the other hand:

        a) His form improved dramatically towards the end of the season. I don’t know why, but I’m sure others have ideas. Could this be a sign of things to come?

        b) Not necessarily saying this is a reason not to sell him, but: I don’t know that we could fetch £25m for him. The only clubs who would be interested in him would be middling European ones, and they would not pay his wages, let alone £25m. Maybe £10m. Opinion of course.

        c) Is there a case for keeping him as a squad player?

        1. “If Emery prefers shorter passes and passes along the ground”

          Where does this come from? Based on what I’ve seen/read he prefers a counter attacking style which relies on his wide forwards to be hit with quick long balls over the top if the ball is won in the defensive half and opponents are caught high.

          I have previously argued that selling Xhaka in favour of bringing in someone more like a DM makes sense for balance. And frankly, if there were a time to do it, it is now with a new manager. But if Xhaka really is going to bring such low value, then I think it makes sense to keep him. All that depends on Ramsey’s plans though.

          Plus, I do not believe that 50m figure is sacrosanct.

          1. Oh, I thought that was mentioned by the tactics person narrating the video? Did I mishear? I might rewatch the video if I have time later.

        2. I watched the video again. He does say midfield to play throughballs along the ground to the wide forwards. But he also brings up the quick balls to wide spaces for the forwards to run into and dribble during transition from defense to attack.

        3. “If Emery prefers shorter passes and passes along the ground.”
          Emery is a pragmatist. In the PSG-Arsenal game, he had Verratti and Di Maria dropping back in the area supposedly covered by Ozil to hit long balls over the top.

      2. My one regret: Maitland-Niles and Ox played together in central midfield last year. It looked like a complementary partnership. But Wenger wasn’t keen on developing that partnership, focusing instead on finding out the best partner for Xhaka. Ox left last summer, so we’ll never know if that duo could have worked out at the top level.

  2. Like a lot of other things, politics for example, when the pendulum swings hard in one direction, eventually it will swing just as hard back the other way. We had in the last 12 years of Arsenal one guy, Wenger, in control of almost all aspects of the club. Now the pendulum has swung hard the other way where we’re atomizing what Wenger did into 7 or 8 different roles and running it by committee. If this fails I would fully expect us to swing towards a more traditional manager appointment next time.

    I like it, in part because I think he will have a chip on his shoulder about exactly what you write – can he hack it at the top level?

    What I want to find out is who we’re jettisoning in the next few weeks. There is no way he’s arriving and saying “yes, this roster is balanced for my needs”. I think (and hope) some surprise names are going to get sold to make funds beyond the 50m. Leno, Soyuncu, Papastathopoulos – that’s 65m already.

    1. I think the American model of front office and coach is here to stay. In football in general, and especially at Arsenal. Some coaches might get more leeway but I don’t think it will be a manager ever again.

      Bringing in all these guys? I think we’re just exploring options. Sven probably likes Soyuncu but the story that he’s going to Arsenal is being pushed by his former club who stand to gain substantially from any big transfer fee.

      I think it’ll be one of Soyuncu or Sokratis, and then if possible selling Mustafi and buying Evans who is cheaper and a better reader.
      Also, I’m not convinced we’re buying a keeper. CB and DM first. Everything else later.

      Soyuncu + Evans = (40m)
      Mustafi = 15m
      DM = (30m)

      Ospina + Akpom + Campbell = 10m
      Xhaka = 15m

      At least that’s how I would go about it.

  3. I think what ultimately make Artera viable, is romantic dreams. Just like we dream that Wenger will end his reign as a European winner, we dream that Arteta will win us the biggest trophies. Why? Because, Arteta represents a blank state. We can dream as much as we want because even though he never manage a single game, he has so many potential with a lot of story to back it up. This is what Emery doesn’t have. Emery represent a ceiling. A ceiling of a top four and a Europa League winner. This is what the underwhelming feeling comes from. In Arteta, we can think that he will one day compete against Guardiola, Klopp and the likes. In Emery, we already have his records and probably concede that more than likely, he won’t compete with them. Of course Arteta would be a super huge risk, but he could sold us dreams that Emery couldn’t.

    Anyway, if we put aside PL and CL as our target, he is a great replacement to Wenger. We content with Pochetino and Allegri as a replacement and I think he is comparable to them. A bit lower than Allegri, perhaps, but certaintly a much better prospect than Pochetino. So, I agree with Tim that I think we should be confident to come back again in CL, whether by winning the EL or takes the top four spot which still occupied by Spurs.

    Well, sometimes what we need is not neccesarily what we want. Emery might not bring us PL and CL trophies, but with a time spans that won’t be as long as Wenger, he will be a strong bridge when the next super manager is available.

    1. Super managers are like superstar players, you can’t just buy them unless you are Real Madrid. Far smarter for everyone else to gamble on a relative unknown who could be that next super manager, just like Barcelona did with Guardiola and Porto did with Mourinho, or Arsenal with Wenger (who?). Instead, most football clubs choose the known quantity, the safe option, and thereby reduce their chances of finding a really great manager. Chelsea are one of the worst offenders at this, they only buy established managers just as they only play established players. The results may be relatively consistent but are seldom spectacular. Managers at the very top need to be spectacular in order to make up the difference with a better balanced and/or better moneyed club.

      I think you’re on the money about Arteta otherwise, but it sounds like you don’t believe he could really be the next big thing, and I ask you: why not him? Of course it’s not likely, because generational talents are so rare. But you have to gamble on that sometimes or you will never find one.

      1. I do want him, instead of Emery precisely because of what you said. Potentially, he can be the next superstar manager and if we miss out on him now, we might not have a chance to get him later. I mean, how arrogant our fans are that we demand Arteta to have experience and success with a smaller club first and when he achieved it, we take him back. If he do achieve success, I doubt we will be the only club to lure him in. If Barcelona or City want to hire a new manager, he will probably pick them first over us.

      2. Chelsea don’t need to be brave though. They don’t need to luck out. The funny thing is, they actually went down that route with AVB and gave him a mandate to change their style up. He started to do that, the players led by John Terry revolted, and he was out.

        Not saying AVB was going to be a super manager, but it needs some amount of ‘boldness’ to first hire the guy and then to let him ride out or support him through the initial problems.

        I wanted Arteta too. But I think we have to trust the board over this. If they were ready to appoint Arteta they don’t lack boldness. It seems they changed their mind, but also that Emery changed it for them. Emery is still young. The same age that Wenger joined us at in fact. Who knows, maybe he finds his place in England and blossoms.

        1. I can’t believe this means much; the PSG mercenaries romped through a mediocre league and La Liga is so unbalanced, it’s relatively easy to beat up on the weaker teams if you have a half-decent squad.

          1. I don’t know; he did objectively very well with Valencia, even when you factor in the league: the year before he came they finished 10th. His four years there they finished 6th, 3rd, 3rd, and 3rd (despite selling their best players). He got minnows Almeria promoted, then kept them up with an 8th (or 9th?) placed finish. At Sevilla maybe his league performances were only par for the course, but there he had the 3 straight Europas to compensate (and I think I read somewhere that one of his 5th placed finishes was a record points total for Sevilla).

          2. I’m in favour of this appointment, don’t get me wrong. I am merely saying that GD in Ligue Un and La Liga are probably only viewed properly in context.

        2. Hmm. Sevilla and Valencia seem more relevant comparisons for us at this point. 425 games. GF 767 = 1.8 per match; GA 254 = 0.6 per match

          That seems positive.

          Thanks Tim.

  4. Actually, there is one other encouraging things from Emery. If we go by the articles about Emery failures at PSG, he could still surprises us. He is more a 4-2-3-1 guy and prefered countering than ball possession. If attacks win you games, our potential attacking team is best suited to counter than possession. We have a pace merchant in Auba, a super creator who actually does best in a counter attacking team in Ozil, and the missing midfield piece in his PSG team, in Ramsey and Mkhitaryan. If defense is a team play and he can makes the whole team playing defense week in week out, there could still be a potential upside in appointing him.

  5. The problem Emery had at PSG was, basically, Neymar. From what I’ve heard and read, Neymar and his clique balked at Emery’s meticulous and tightly controlled game plans. So I think Arsenal suits him better. We’re kind of the Sevilla or Valencia of our league, don’t you think? If Emery can get us into the top four in his first season, it will be considered highly successful (for me, at least), particularly given the personnel he’ll be forced to use. And sure, I’m thinking we can win the Europa League next year (provided Atletico Madrid aren’t in it, of course).

    Speaking of personnel, I’m really curious about what we’re going to do this summer. I can see Ramsey going, actually. I hate to say it, because I love him, but he’s someone who may not like working with a manager who will curb his freedom, and for their part the club may decide to cash in now rather than risk losing him for free next year (this would also boost our coffers by, say, £25m(?), which we may sorely need).

    Btw, is Seri a defensive midfielder? I know nothing about him, but since he’s a central midfielder we’ve been linked with, I wonder if our interest in him might have something to do with the Ramsey situation.

    1. Though of course now I’m reading reports that Ramsey is part of Emery’s plans.

      1. That came from the Sun (at least the line about Emery wanting to “build the team around” him and Auba). Take it with a huge grain of salt.

    2. Seri is B2B not at all defensive.

      Unless I hear from a reliable source, he’s staying at Nice.

      1. superficial look on stats show Xhaka has better defense numbers than Seri.. And we already thinking how to cover for the Xhaka problem.. As u pointed.. accommodating Xhaka and ozil in a team and still have a defense is a challenge and excited to see how Emery goes abt it.

    3. Surely we will sell lacazette, easy 35-40mil and to spend and we have no use for him when we have aubameyang too.

      1. Why on earth would we do that? To have Danny Welbeck as a back-up? Eddie Nketiah? Aubameyang can’t play 45 games next season. You play three of the four (Laca, Auba, Ozil, Mhyki) up top in either a triangle or inverted triangle with two #10’s behind the striker. Rotation should keep all of them fresh and injury free, especially if Emery brings in his high pressing style. Ozil will be out of action until October after the World Cup.

        We’re going to be selling someone, that’s for sure – if rumours are true we have Bernd Leno, Soyancu and Papas coming in, that’s over 65m in transfers right there.

        I would love to sell Ozil (and retain Ramsey) after he showcases himself in the World Cup, but the wages he’s on make him virtually immovable. That I think makes Xhaka and Ramsey vulnerable. Definite consideration needs to be given to selling Mustafi, Ospina, Welbeck and Wilshere.

        1. We have an unbalanced squad. 50 million warming the bench is no good for us. If Lacazette can bring in a good price we can have a decent second choice for somewhat cheaper and prioritize midfield and defence. I can’t see anywhere else to generate money through selling apart from Ramsey and bellerin which is a no-no. Xhaka isn’t good enough and nobody will want Ozil on his wages except China, and why would he leave now?

          1. I do not believe that no one will want Ozil. Bayern Munich or PSG could want him. But likely will not pay a huge transfer fee for him at his age. But anyway, we’re not going to sell Ozil.

            Lacazette is not a ‘bench’ player. At worst, he’s like the 6th man in basketball. An absolutely essential guy to have. Why would you want to destroy our attack just when we finally have a good one?

            Plus, if we sell Laca, we’ll need a wide forward anyway. Right now, Auba can play wide with Laca through the centre to give us more finishing (and better hold up play).

            I’m thinking we might even keep Lucas Perez around.

            If we really need to raise funds, I’d sell Mustafi, Ospina, and Xhaka before anyone else. (Unless Ramsey and Welbeck refuse new deals) And yes, I’d like to keep Welbeck.

          2. Lacazette and Aubameyang can and should play together. Think of Auba as our Leroy Sane and Lacazette as our Aguero.

          3. Sane can dribble much better than Auba, sadly, but is not the same level of penalty box predator.

            As much as I want to see them be given a run of games to play as a partnership, with Ozil behind, I think the better comparison is Aguero and Jesus at City: capable of playing together up top, but better suited to rotation. Similar quality but slightly different skill sets.

          4. Hi PFo, I am referring to their roles within the team, i.e., Auba’s Ability to threaten behind and close control in wide areas would closely align with Sane’s ability to take the top off of a defense while Lacazette is effective as a poacher and a linker of counters, much like Aguero. It’s not a perfect analogy but the closest one that springs to mind and the way they seemed to dovetail at the close of the season. It’s all to say I firmly believe the two both should stay in arsenal colors and I do not at all understand or support calls for disposing with either one. A top team needs goal scorers and we finally have them, which is glorious!

    4. Seri is 5’5″ and no N’golo Kante. Waste of our money if we indeed have limited transfer funds. Not a good spend when we have AMN, Willock and others ready to be actually coached and developed by Emery. Spend the money on centre backs, a new GK and prospects.

      1. Not sure about your assessment of Seri. Think he’s a super talent that shares some of Cazorla’s and peak-Jack Wilshere’s qualities. His eye for a through-ball and his ability to execute them are *exactly* what we and esp. Aubameyang need if we’re gonna become a crack counter-attacking team.

        I’m biased cuz I want us to sign the African Xavi, but even if it’s not him our midfield needs a serious injection of technical and creative quality and we simply don’t have it in the squad.

        1. yep.

          whether you think we need a Seri, or an Ndidi, or something in between (maybe AMN will be better than any of us dare to hope?), I still think deep midfield is the biggest area to fix, not because it’s our weakest area, but because it’s the most important.

          For me it’s:

          CM (of one type or other, depending on what Emery wants to do)
          CB (depends on who we loan/sell and who among the young crew Emery identifies as who he wants to put his faith in to develop under him)
          Speedy, direct, touchline-hugging, dribbling winger
          RB cover and/or new starting LB

          If we sort out the first 3, the last 2 can wait.

        2. I like the idea of an African Xavi! Maybe the Seri rumor is linked with Wilshere more than Ramsey, in terms of whom he replaces? For some reason, I feel that one of the two will leave this summer, and I’m sorry to say I hope it’s Wilshere…

          Equally possible we keep both, of course, and that the Seri thing is nonsense.

    5. I think this is a better squad than it has shown and if we concede fewer goals ( a low bar to pass ) then our position in the league will easily improve. A few reasons for squad based optimism:

      -Ainsley has big potential to partner Xhaka as a freakishly athletic foil for his passing
      -Ozil + Mkhi is an elite creative duo
      -Full season of Aubameyang (extra bonus for Mkhi connection)
      -Aubameyang + Lacazette partnership (think Sane + Aguero)
      -All of our CB’s will look better playing behind a secure midfield (which you can count on from any Emery team)
      -Stable of young CB’s with upside, at least one or more will come good
      -Ramsey coming off his best, relatively injury-free season
      -Solid depth with Wilshere, Kolasinac, El-Neny, Iwobi, Welbeck

      That’s a lot for Emery to work with, even without signings. I think GK is the only glaring need.

      1. I think Sokratis probably replaces Mustafi in this team, maybe we make a bit of profit there even. Then either you go cheap but old – Evans – or expensive but young – Soyuncu I suppose is the name being bandied around. Can be play backup RB? Even without him, it would give us a foursome of Sokratis/Mustafi, Holding, Chambers, GreekBoy. Hmm…too much youth.

        I think you need a keeper. There must be some bargain to be had somewhere, although I’d love Oblak. Won’t happen though.

        And a DM. An older player preferably, so AMN can grow into that role in the next couple of years.

        I also think we need, maybe, a young attacking player to rotate in and out. I’d love Pulisic, but I don’t believe the 40m number – too cheap.

        1. I’d like to see the CB pairing to be a bit of a contrasting duo. Like Kos and Per (or Kolo and Sol going further back) One pushing up to harass the opposition/get interceptions, and the other reading the game, positioning himself to cover, and ideally aerially dominant. I mean it’s not an exact description but you get the idea.

          Maybe the Soyuncu kid is the real deal and a hybrid. In which case great. But he seems more a Kos type to me. Like Mustafi, Like Mavropanos and Holding. And Sokratis is similar. I think only Chambers is the Per type and he’s still young. I’d prefer Evans and one of Sokratis or Soyuncu to replace Mustafi.

      2. We must get a GK. Ideally, Cech plays as back-up next year. Don’t really understand why he got the no. 1.

        1. Because he’s not that bad. He’s just dropped down to mediocre. I think he’ll be fine next season.

          1. Why do you think that? Wasn’t he the more costly error-prone player of all Prem players this season? The defense will be more organized, I guess. I mean, I hope. And that means Cech won’t look quite so bad?

      3. That’s interesting. If Emery could make no squad changes, how would he line up?

        Cech; Monreal, Mustafi, Chambers, Bellerin; Xhaka, Ramsey; Auba, Ozil, Miki; Laca

        Ospina; Kola, Mavro, Holding, ?, Elneny, AMN; Iwobi, Wilshere, Nelson, Welbeck

        That doesn’t seem like a bad set of sides. You could switch AMN to RB, and play Willock. Or drop Wilshere deeper and play Lucas Perez or Nketiah.

        So yeah, I think you’re right we’re better than many think. My biggest worry is Xhaka’s defensive awareness, and the lack of experience among the CBs. (Plus Cech’s drop in form)

        So we’re back to the same thing. Address these through the transfer market and/or coaching, and I think we have it in us to challenge. At least get top 4.

  6. Your assessment of Emery’s record is unduly harsh. He has been at 2 comparatively weak clubs in Spain where he over performed, then at PSG where he’s damned if he succeeds, damned if he does not.

    The Guardian made a fair point about the 6-1, it was a capitulation by a bunch of prima Donnas in a fake team against a team with a sense of identity who were desperate to win. They claim the 4-0 was due to his preparation and the reverse wasn’t on him.

    Anyway, I think this is a good appointment and for the first time in years I’m excited about next season.

      1. “But apart from the Europa League titles, Emery’s record is very poor.”

        I’m with Eduardo. Any way you slice it, the above line is harsh. Emery took Valencia to three third place finishes in La Liga, at a time when they were financially in crisis (the year before he came they finished 10th). and selling off their major assets (e.g. Villa, Silva, Mata).

        That’s simply not “very poor”.

        And I’m not thrilled by his appointment, so I’m not looking for ways to defend him.

  7. https://www.90min.com/posts/6067276-unai-emery-reportedly-names-the-2-players-he-wants-to-build-his-arsenal-team-around-next-season?utm_source=RSS
    The man knows the team so let’s suit up and get to work on a new Arsenal era.

    So far the only real knock against Emery is his English is not fluent. Who cares, the British media, f**k ’em I say. The players will understand him well enough and that is all I care about. The lack of experience was a big donut hole for me against Arteta despite his ticking a lot of boxes. I think Emery will be a success at Arsenal and I’m looking forward to this up coming season where we will be a defensively solid team and a pressing team.
    I’ve seen the criticism of his time at PSG where the players (read Neymar) had management support and he was not backed. That is probably why he departed because that is not a tolerable situation where Cavani busts his gut for the team and Neymar is conducting a Ballon d’or campaign at his team mates expense.

    1. I would take that article with a grain of salt.

      That said, Emery ticks almost every box; young but experienced, trophies (3 Europa titles, nothing to sneeze at), obsessed with tactics and meticulous preparation, proven at coaching and developing young players, comfortable in a set up where others do the heavy lifting on recruitment, contracts et al. The only knock on him is his lack of English and the word that he does burn out some players with the relentless videos and dossiers. I say great, let’s figure out who those players are and get rid of them if they’re that mentally weak.

      I’m with you, this has me looking forward to the start of next season a lot.

  8. Will Emery scupper the wilshire deal? Wasn’t it suppossed to be signed by now?

    Also sell Xhaka. I don’t know how a top prem side can play with a daydreaming cm that doesn’t score or get assists.

  9. For all those who were set on a hypothetical younger, hipper manager I think part of the reason it didn’t happen is the club kept Wenger on too long. We missed the opportunity.

    Or to put in another way, we didn’t earn the opportunity by identifying it and seizing it. Imagine if this year Wenger was stepping down after winning 2 or 3 FA Cups in a row and then amidst the post-trophy euphoria he says “if they want my opinion, I’d recommend the club hire Vieira, or Arteta or Nagelsmann”. Puts a different complexion on things, no?

    I’ve vehemently disagreed with some of the resistance to Emery but I’ve tried to recognise where it comes from. I think the club have managed to lower everybody’s expectations and hired a guy who whether he’s “successful” or not, will eventually leave the club with a wealth of information about tactics and training practices gathered from his time in Spain and France. That’s an experience gap that needed filling. We now have a coach who moulded Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe into a very effective partnership. Our assortment of forwards need that know-how. It’s why I’m not too worried about the numbers.

    Last point, Emery and Guardiola have had two very similar two-year spell at their oil money clubs – a 1st season of adjustment where they under-perform and get beaten to the title, and a 2nd season where their methods click, they rack up 90+ points and 100+ goals, but suffer disappointing losses in the CL knock-out rounds. Different levels of course, but there’s some cause for optimism.

    1. “For all those who were set on a hypothetical younger, hipper manager”

      like who? the guy is only 46! Klopp is the quintessential hipster manager and he’s 50!

  10. If it is to be Emery, the big plus is that he has won trophies just as Wenger had when he arrived. I’ve always believed that there is a quality to winning managers that can be transferred to some degree to a new team. It won’t be enough by itself of course but it helps to build a winning team when you have a pedigree of success.

    There is nothing to suggest he can’t take this on and do the minimum – get us back into the Champions League either by way of a top 4 finish or through a Europa League trophy.

    Let’s do this!

  11. I was #TeamArteta and would’ve been excited to see him given a go. I think Emery has both a higher floor AND a lower ceiling than we might’ve seen with Miki, and that bit of glorious uncertainty would’ve been fantastic theater to watch unfold. Unlike many, I am not the least bit concerned about Arteta’s lack of experience of having already been a first team coach somewhere else… and I qualify it like that for a reason, because it’s not as if he lacks experience in football. He graduated from La Masia, he played in Scotland and then for Everton, rose to a leadership position at Arsenal on merit in a completely new playing position displaying the kind of immaculate, consummate professionalism both on and off the pitch that I’ve not seen from any other player at our club, a club notorious for giving bad instincts free reign, and finally, had the opportunity to learn the trade from (by far) the greatest manager of this generation. It’s not like anyone can learn to be Guardiola, even from Guardiola himself. But Arteta is made of special clay, and I believe that his mind is fertile soil for the little things, the crucial little things that he has inevitably learned about how a great manager at a big club conducts himself on and off the pitch, how he talks to his staff, how he instructs his players, his pre-game state of mind, dealing with failure, all of that. Arteta is ready and he would’ve done well, even with this magnitude of a job.

    Emery, on the other hand, feels like the safe bet. You know you’re getting a decent coach, one that will bring Arsenal back to the top 4 in all likelihood. Yet, you’re also getting a coach who is clearly not top drawer and is unlikely to start a revolution or kick off some glorious new era at the club. He will be an able steward, but one who will be easy to move on from, particularly if the results are poor. There is no emotional connection to him either from us, the fans, or from the current players, or from him to the club. It’s strictly a marriage of convenience. He lands a higher profile job than he could’ve hoped for after disappointing at PSG (as much as you can disappoint while winning every domestic trophy, I suppose) and we get a coach with a steady hand and a reputation for doing more with less at other clubs. I would’ve preferred Miki who is one of our own and, in my opinion, destined for managerial success because of who he is and the journey that has taken him this far.

    1. Doc,
      Well said. I mostly agree with that, and the higher floor, lower ceiling thing captures something that feels true on a gut level (saw someone else also say that on twitter). I also was really excited about Arteta.

      My big fear is that Emery is a bit of a Rafa Benitez 2.0. Although plenty of Arsenal fans like Rafa–and I find him kinda likable as a person–I’ve always found his teams play pretty uninspiring, drab football. It’s not exactly about being overly defensive–e.g. Simeone is always about defense, but there’s a mad, go-for-broke way that his teams throw themselves into his defense-first mentality that is inspiring and at least sometimes entertaining. Rather it’s about being overly cautious, which is different: meticulous, overly pragmatic, hyper-analyzing everything, unwilling to commit fully to a philosophy, making football a chess match and your players like chess pieces you carefully move around the board (sounds cool, but there’s a reason chess doesn’t fill 60,000 seater stadiums), etc. I fear that Emery’s a bit of a younger Rafa, but maybe that’s just the Valencia thing playing tricks on my brain.

      But, anyway, maybe I’m wrong. Hopefully I’m wrong. And at least we’ll be rid of the maddening disorganized under-preparedness of late-career Wenger teams.

      My only disagreement with what you’ve written (putting on my optimistic hat) is when you say “a coach who is clearly not top drawer.” I mean, do we really *know* this (same goes for the “lower ceiling” remark)?? The guy’s still young, and PSG was really his first chance at a big club with a realistic shot at winning their domestic league (which he did, albeit only once).

      How many managers are we including in this “top drawer” category anyway? E.g. does Luis Enrique get in there? Ancelotti? Pochettino? Sarri? Tuchel? Benitez? Valverde? Zidane? Heynckes? Bielsa? Low? Was Arsene Wenger “top drawer” anytime after, say, 2006? How many trophies do you have to win? With how many different clubs? Do only the biggest trophies count? How much do we discount achievements when your team was clearly the dominant club (or 1 of 2) in the league (e.g. late career Ancelotti, Allegri, Enrique, every PSG manager)?

      Anyway, you get my point. Emery’s reputation has taken a bit of a knock in his two years at PSG, and especially due to his CL losses. But he’s still got time–and arguably all the basic personal ingredients–to become “top drawer”. Here’s hoping he does it at the Arsenal.

      1. Of course we do not completely know how he will do and I do hope for the best with him. I do submit though that there is enough of a track record on him out there that says a lot about what we can expect.

        Top drawer is a subjective assessment as you say, and I don’t think everyone had to agree with my assessment here, but to me a top drawer coach is one who consistently outperforms expected results given what he has to work with, AND has a track record of success in big games. You can argue Emery fits that definition given his successes in the Europa league, still the relative ease of that competition, his inability to really push the hegemony in Spain the way his contemporary at Atletico did, and his relatively underwhelming stint in Paris all combine to leave me with the impression that he is not quite in the elite bracket of coaches.

        Just by tightening up the midfield and fullback play out of possession he can immediately make Arsenal twice as difficulty to play and we now have two legit goal scorers and two legit creators, so he has a lot to work with. I expect Arsenal to be better, maybe even a lot better. But I had hoped for great things from Artera and I just don’t see that coming from Emery.

        1. Yeah, it’s a fair point of view. The questions about what counts as “top drawer” weren’t merely hypothetical by the way: I think it’s a really interesting question.

          For instance, most people would now say Allegri is “top drawer.” But is he really that much better than Emery? I very much doubt most of those same people would have considered Allegri top drawer directly before he took over at Juventus, only a few short years ago, at which point he had been managing for about a decade and his record looked similar to, or worse than, Emery’s at that time. Yes, he’s gone on to do great things at Juve, but he stepped into managing a team that had won 3 titles on the trot and were clearly the biggest fish in their domestic league (not to the degree of PSG, but something similar). Four years later, he’s one of the elite managers of world football.

          To be clear: I’m not trying to downplay Allegri’s achievements at all, but rather emphasizing that so much of reputation is being in the right place at the right time. Of course there are a very, very small number of managers that one feels were going to be a huge success no matter what (Pep is one; maybe Simeone another), but most of even the very best managers rely on the stars aligning at the right club(s).

          Maybe Emery blew his big chance at PSG. Compared to Allegri at Juve you could say he underperformed. But hardly as much as some people suggest, and anyway PSG is a unique situation with an unbalanced squad full of massive egos and the hierarchy undermining his authority over the players. And in the CL (where Allegri’s record clearly outshines him), he lost to two of the great European superpowers, and against Barca it was in pretty insane, unique circumstances (with some dodgy refereeing thrown in). Sure he has to take his share of the blame, but the point is 2 CL campaigns where he was knocked out by Barca and then Real didn’t suddenly prove he’s “out of his depth” or something.

          Anyway, I’m on the fence about the guy, I just think he’s still young enough, and sufficiently inexperienced at a big club, to say we don’t know if he’s found his ceiling or not (unlike, say, Moyes, Benitez, Ranieri, Pellegrini, etc).

      2. Hey, PFO…so you don’t like managers who overthink things?

        Harrrrr!!! Just ribbing, man.

        1. yep, that’s correct. that’s the difference between the proper job description of a football manager and a philosopher!

      3. I get the Rafa parallel. I think my hope is that he can set us up to have a solid foundation with his meticulous planning, and the automatisms we’ve already formed under Wenger will largely remain intact in the attacking sphere.

        Wishful thinking maybe, but as many here have said, we aren’t actually a bad side if we just stop doing some basic things wrong. So Emery doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel here. And apparently, he showed Gazidis and co that he has a plan.

        1. yeah, but I don’t trust Gazidis to know a good plan if it hit him in the face.

          1. We kinda/sorta think he pushed for Arteta. But then why did we go with Emery? Gazidis was absolutely in charge of this, make no mistake. Raul and Sven may have tried to push him away from Arteta, but in the end I’m sure it was his call to make. I suppose it’s possible that Stan/Josh overruled him, but it’s pretty unlikely that they would do that if he was truly “pushing” for Arteta (especially given they’re perfectly happy with hiring young coaches).

            Gazidis gets credit in my book for liking Arteta. But he also reportedly likes Rafa Benitez. Basically (and I could be wrong, as obviously I don’t know the man personally), I think Gazidis is a classic executive type who is easily wowed by management speak and fancy presentations. As someone on twitter said, being a great interviewer and being great at the job are often two very different things.

            Look, I’m not trying to say I know better than the board. I obviously have no idea about who was the best candidate out of all the ones they were looking at based on all the info they had. And I’m coming around to Emery. I’m allowing myself to get excited. I’m just saying Gazidis’s judgment on this is no kind of convincing recommendation to me.

            And I’m a football romantic above all else (I’ve said on here many times I watch football ultimately to be wowed and transported, more than even wanting to win), so part of me is still going to worry that we just hired Rafa Benitez 2.0 until I see his Arsenal team play a bit.

    2. For me it’s the emotional connection that matters, goes to the heart of supporting any team

    3. The high floor low ceiling comment indicates that Doc Gooner is an avid listener of the Arsenal Vision podcast. That was verbatim! Are you Scott in disguise????

          1. I don’t listen to that podcast, though I do look at their twitter feeds from time to time. Crank in what sense? A crabby person or a crazy/eccentric person (or some of both)?

      1. Never once listened to Arsenal Vision (vaguely heard of it) but yeah, it’s not an earth shattering observation 😛

        I actually borrowed the parlance from NBA talk shows I’ve been listening to but it applies across all sports IMO.

        1. True story: as an undergrad I actually had a philosophy prof, from whom I was hoping to get a letter for grad school, explain to me that he “thought I had a high ceiling, but wasn’t sure I had a high floor.” (Sadly, turns out he was probably right.)

          So I guess I’m kinda the Mikel Arteta of the academic philosophy world!

  12. I’m for Emery but Arteta or Emery, both feel like a long overdue breath of fresh air – something different, a proactive response to (our age old) problems, wanting to change things.
    Emery’s experience, low profile, reputation as a tactician emphasizing preparation and attention to detail sound just the ticket. And preferable to an old boy revival act. No disrespect to Arteta but I think he was part of the past, from which we want/need a clean and full break.
    Roll on the announcement and roll on August.

  13. I thought that this analysis was fair and balanced (copyright Fox News 🙂 ). And I have more confidence in the new coach than some of my bredrin here, Greg in particular.

    Emery has done well what a team like Arsenal needs the new coach to make us… make a middling-ish team seem more than the sum of its parts. An Arsenal team that had Ozil, Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Koscielny and Ramsey, turning in the performance that they have between Christmas 2016 and Christmas 2017, was a team showing less than the sum of its parts. That was why Wenger had to go. Arsenal are a better assembly of players than its performances were reflecting. Like for like, Kieran Trippier is outperforming Hector Bellerin, who is a much better footballer.

    Tim’s stats are illuminating, but Im not that concerned about PSG Emery. Managing a big money galactico team wasnt playing to his strengths, and indeed may be harder than it seems. It took far more skill, in my view, to consistently make his under-resourced Spain team the best in La Liga after Madrid and Barcelona, two freaks of nature.

    I looks like we’re not going to be ablw to buy our way to become a force, so the solutions likely lie with what we already have. Given his record, I can think of few coaches better placed to help us do that.

    One last thing. I’m convinced now that gooners are the most miserable set of football fans on the planet. We have a unique talent for spinning unhappiness out of straw. The way some people are carrying on, you’d think we hired Tony Pulis. Honestly.

    1. I got my misgivings off my chest Claude, partly because actually I’m not 100% sure about them and I don’t really want to dwell on them. His approach could work wonders, you never know.

      Saying he was my least favourite choice doesn’t mean I dislike him, I just didn’t like him as much as the other options. He seems like a passionate and dedicated manager, a good guy to boot, and I do sincerely welcome him.

  14. I don’t disagree generally, but much of your belief in Arteta is faith-based. Based, it seems from what you say here, mainly on the notion that he was “one of ours.” Playing for Arsenal, being highly regarded and working with Pep are not coaching qualifications. They certainly don’t tell me that he’s capable of the significant squad rebuiling that’s necessary before he lays his first training cone. And the more we read about why Emery landed the job, the more it seems that Emery had a better grasp of the scale of the rebuilding task than Arteta did.

    I boarded the Arteta bus with some reservations and trepidation, and the prospect of the young former captain on the sidelines greatly excited me. But in truth, no one has presented evidence of his coaching savvy, or being destined for greatness. It WAS an exciting potential project… still could be. But Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville are not managing Manchester United for a very good reason… and that reason is that such translations do not necessarily work.

    I’d have been happy to support Arteta fully in his exciting project, even give him a long honeymoon, and part of me is rueful that it won’t happen. But I’m thoroughly un-disappointed that we made a more rational and practical pick. I hope that Arteta gets a job in management. Go to Everton. Show us what you got. I’d still love to see him on the sidelines at AFC, but, in hindsight, he’s not the best candidate for THIS job at THIS time.

      1. Thanks Claude, and I can understand that view. I think my faith (of course it’s faith based, we have no evidence!) comes from my high esteem of Arteta’s character. I can’t speak about Scholes who I’ve never seen manage, but I will resist the Giggs comparison which, to me, is a superficial one based on evaluating whether a former player coming back to manage a club is a good idea or not, but to me it entirely depends on who that former player is and his suitability to be a leader. Whereas Giggs rose to prominence on the back of outstanding footballing ability alone, I feel Arteta earned his captaincy not by being supremely athletically or technically gifted in those latter years (though certainly he was that as well) but by displaying outstanding maturity and leadership which was all the more pronounced given the ill-discipline, both on and off the pitch, that often surrounded him. He himself was as prim, proper and tactically excellent as his lego hair, and took responsibility for absolutely everything on and off the pitch without ever complaining, even when fans started to absolutely skewer him when his legs had finally started to give out on him. To me that sets him apart from most other footballers I’ve ever seen and convinces me that he has something special internally, a willingness to lead, an ability to win trust, discipline and resilience which are absolutely crucial in coaching today. I think tactical nous and how you pick the team and when you make your subs are all a distant, distant second consideration to those absolutely crucial human elements that define great leaders in all walks of life, though of course you need at least a basic competency there too; but it’s not rocket science and he’s had plenty of time to learn from the best.

        Anyways it’s all moot now but I do hope the club considers him again at some point in the future. I do concede it would help him even more to get some experience doing it on his own but I am afraid that will set him on a path separate from us. It would kill me to see him succeeding at another club!

        1. Agree with all of this.

          But how did you make it past Tim’s filter with talk of Arteta’s hair?

        2. Gary Neville. I referenced him too. Lots of similarities to Arteta.

          I never heard you or anyone else agitating for Arteta until the hype train had left the station. But I could be wrong.

          I like him enormously, came round to wanting him, and I hope that he gets another shot. If he’s as connected to the club as you say, that wheel will turn again.

          But it wasn’t his time. At least not this time. Ive no qualms about our choice. It was fixing the club, or putting faith in the long term development of an individual. I know which I prefer.

          And oh, there are reports that he signed a 2 year extension at City.

          1. I was definitely on board with Arteta all the way but haven’t been around to voice that as much. I’m trying to spend less time on sports in general and this forum is a big part of the time sink. I love posting here but I have to have priorities.

    1. Yes, though I don’t think someone as astute as Poch would take Giggs or Neville aside and tell them “you’re a number 1; why wait? you should go straight into being a number 1,” or words to that effect, which is apparently what Poch told Mikel.

      I think Mikel Arteta is going to be an excellent manager, probably sooner rather than later. Just hope it’s not at Spurs or Chelsea in the next few years…

  15. Hey Tim. I was super excited about Arteta, and so Emery was a bit of a letdown. But I got to thinking – someone on F365 called it the Diaby effect, and it’s so true. So, for a bit of fun, here’s your article, if written about Arteta:

    “Arsenal haven’t announced him yet but according to David Ornstein (BBC reporter and the only trusted source on Arsenal transfers and appointments ) they are set to announce Mikel as the next coach of Arsenal imminently.

    Coach is the correct term here, I think. Arsene Wenger’s old management style where he had control over nearly everything at Arsenal has been dismantled and the new system sets up a “brain trust” of Ivan Gazidis, Sven Mislintat, Raul Sanllehi, and performance guru Darren Burgess. Arteta slots in to that system as the coach, the guy who sets the team up, runs the drills, gets them ticking over tactically, and works with the brain trust on matters of the club but has no direct control over any aspect.

    [skipping digression]

    Sorry for that digression. Let’s get back to Arteta.

    A structure like this does have a benefit: it gives coaches the freedom to just coach. I’ve read two articles on Arteta these last two days, both in the Guardian, and by those accounts he’s [fluff]. One story recalled the time [something about Sterling].

    Arteta is often credited with being the kind of developmental coach that many think Arsenal need. In the same breath Arteta’s detractors will say that it was [no experience]. I think the truth is a bit of column A and B.

    Arteta managed [nothing to point to here].

    Arteta gave [blank] a chance at [nowhere, because no experience].

    Tactically, he is similar to Arsene Wenger in that he [we don’t really know].

    As I said in my last piece, Arsenal suffer the “Fabregas problem” with Xhaka a good ball distributor but an awful ball winner. It will be interesting to see how Arteta uses Xhaka and how he covers for him. In his normal [?] system, he would [we don’t know].

    The other problem at Arsenal is the “Ozil problem” which is that Arsenal have a lot of players who have been allowed to play just one end of the pitch for the last three years. Arteta’s approach to football does require [we don’t know].

    Arteta’s coaching record with players is [we don’t know, and he’s won nothing as a coach]. Arsenal are in the Europa League again next year and were very close to winning the whole thing this year. Just one defensive play, just one more time pressing to prevent Atleti from getting that ball over the top to Griezmann and I think Arsenal could have been through to the final where they would have faced a severely outmatched Marseilles.

    Arsenal have to be heavy favorites to win the Europa League this season. [not the case with Arteta, in the way the argument is made here]

    But apart from the Europa League titles, Arteta’s record is [none].

    Wenger’s record in the Champions League was 88-44-56 or 47% wins, 23% draws, and 30% losses. Arteta’s record in the Champions League is [0-0-0]. At [none].

    This Champions League record [none].

    It probably seems like I’m an “Arteta out” guy after posting this data but I’m really not. I’m just posting the facts as I know them [there are none].

    As for my expectations of Arteta as manager of Arsenal [based on the above, nothing, because no record].

    I think he can do all of that. So, welcome to Arsenal, Mr. Arteta.


    As you can see, with a coach like Emery we can actually evaluate his performance on solid data, actual evidence of systems and performance, etc. With Arteta, it’s all anecdotal, hearsay, and wishful thinking. I admit, I bought into it. I still wish it was him, but the dearth of a coaching record, while not necessarily an indicator of success, makes real analysis impossible.

    Welcome Emery.

      1. Yeah, nice bit of alternative reality Zed.

        The piece about the Diaby effect was very good at nailing the collective “new manager” fever that’s gripped the fanbase during these last few weeks.

  16. I like to think of the counterfactual here: Chelsea.

    Conte is out, surely. Would Chelsea have appointed Arteta? Very unlikely. Would they have appointed Emery? Very, very possible.

    Not to say Arteta is a bad choice, but Chelsea shop at the top of the market. I think PSG may have unfairly sullied Emery’s reputation. We’ll see.

  17. Good luck to him – and us. Regardless of where we stand with either f them, exciting times are back though we don’t know for how long. Hopefully one or a combination of the ‘brain trust’ (really liked that Tim) had the intiative to smooth things over with Arteta rather than him finding out in the papers that he was no longer favorite for the job. That way, we can still get him in the future, unless Unai is a raging success – which I think is possible.

  18. I started going to Arsenal matches when Don Howe was coach (who?) – he was a highly tactical coach who focused on the neutralising the oppositions strengths. The net result of that was that I didn’t see a goal scored for the first 5-6 matches I saw at Highbury and he ultimately led to the ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ label which was only really dispelled by AW with his brand of free-flowing, spontaneous, unstructured football.
    I would be happy to believe in Emery if his goals against stats weren’t so high, which suggests that we will continue to concede goals at the same rate or higher than we have been recently. So if we don’t see any improvement defensively and we see a reduction in offensive productivity we are likely to end the season lower than where we are currently – particularly if players try to focus on what they have been tutored in the match preparation rather than playing ‘naturally’.
    I do think Arteta would have worked to improve the current set up by addressing the weaknesses without making immediate wholesale changes (much as AW did when he first arrived) which might have resulted in an improvement in performance in the league, however where he would have struggled would have been in retaining control of the dressing room after a poor run of results .
    I’m not sure that either of the proposed solutions were great but I would probably have gone with Arteta – but it is easy to project your best hopes and wishes on to a blank canvas (much as Americans did with Obama) and it sets the person up to fail.

  19. Dot com has reiterated what Ornstein ‘confirmed ‘ as did Emery himself on his personal account (since deleted) that it’s official that the hunting season has been open for media and pundits only. Good luck Unai Emery.

  20. let me come to the defense of petr cech:
    many of cech’s errors are down to his team mates. they do stupid stuff like play the ball to him where he’ll be quickly pressured. sorry, boys, that’s bad soccer. you never do that to your goal keeper and i don’t blame cech for not getting a clearance right when he only has time for one touch.

    likewise, how often have we seen cech make a save and direct the ball into a wide area only for an opposing player to follow the shot and finish? cech did his role by making a save and playing the ball into a good space but he can’t do everything. his team mates have to clear the ball, not let someone ghost past them and follow the shot. is cech perfect? no, but he’s fine. it’s the arsenal field players that are more at fault for his negative stats. being the consummate pro, he accepts ownership for any error but most of the time, his team mates deserve a greater share of the blame.

    1. I do think Cech’s powers have waned a bit, but my only big concern with him is his kicking, which has never been great. Apparently Emery–along with Pep and many (most?) elite coaches nowadays–likes a keeper who can join in the build up and help play out of the back, even help beat the press. I just don’t think Cech is good enough for this, so it might be a bit of a Joe Hart situation here. It’s the one area at which I’d say Ospina is better than Cech.

  21. That’s that, then. A new era begins, thankfully sooner than later.

    We have a short transfer window because of the World Cup, a new boss (or bosses), and lots of business that needs to be done in relatively quick order. For me this kind of timing (of the announcement) indicates a sense of urgency and purpose, or least I’ll take as such.

    I wonder what his first piece of business will be…?

  22. Watched the Unai unveiling, live.

    Showed a lot of balls to take the news conference in English. I respect that, because he was painful on the ear, frankly. But he seems a studious guy, and Ive confidence that by Christmas he’ll be smoother.

    Confirmed my suspicion that he blew them away in his interview, and that his emphasis would be working with the raw material he has, rather than with imports.

    Gazidis said a couple of interesting things…
    1. They interviewed 8 people, and Emery wasn’t the last
    2. The process, and first contact started WEEKS ago
    3. No one withdrew, the other 7 were given the bad news
    4. Emery knocked their socks off with his detailed knowledge of individual players

    it suggests to me, if you believe Gazidis, that they passed over Allegri — if reports of his interest were true — and reports of Arteta turning it down because he couldnt get what he wanted are baseless. It also ascribes to Arteta, a level of leverage that someone of his background simply cannot have.

    It’s been pointed out in this debate that no spoke of Emery before Monday. On the Arsenal blogs and in the press, is what what meant 🙂

    Im not some Unai fanboy. He’s not my first choice… Allegri was. And I wanted the Arteta experiment. Emery lacks Wenger’s charisma, dry wit, sheer, effortless…. je ne sais quoi. But he looks a good fit.

    1. “Emery lacks Wenger’s charisma, dry wit, sheer, effortless…. je ne sais quoi.”
      Who does? That’s why there will ever only be one Arsene Wenger. Despite the feeling that he had to go for the greater good of the club, not now but 2-3 years ago, how I will miss the qualities you’ve enumerated. That all being said, I think we all need to get behind the New Guy and support the club now as ever.
      Señor Emery: ¡Buena suerte!

    2. Ornstein had already definitively dismissed the idea that Arteta turned the club down or was rejected at the last because he was making demands. The club just decided to go in a different direction.

  23. I was definitely not a supporter of the Arteta idea, but I worked hard to bring myself around to accepting it. I do not see any reciprocity now from the pro-Arteta, pro-Allegri crowd. I’m a bit disappointed, but c’est la vie.

    There seem to be three camps for Arsenal supporters on the manager front:

    The Romantics: These are the fans for whom Mikel Arteta was the empty vase that they could fill with the elixir of their dreams. “Potential” is their mantra. They speak about “connections to the club” and lost opportunity.

    The Big Clubbers: These are the fans who believe in their heart of hearts that Arsenal are a big club, in need of an established manager and that we just need to push the boat out for one, sell him on the challenge of restoring our club to glory and back him with needed transfer funds. Allegri is their patron saint, although they also swan to a lesser degree for Simeone, Enrique or Ancelotti.

    The Pragmatists: These are the fans who say the last 10 years was not working, we are not a big club relative to City, United or the continental super-powers and we need a break from the past, a fresh approach, one that’s more modern and tactical but also proven and not experimental, we can win at the Europa Cup level, we can get back into the top 4 if we just install a system and some discipline. These fans would have been happy with Nagelsmann, Tedesco, Jardim or… Unai Emery.

    1. Yes Jack, and I see you’re at it again with your not-at-all-simplistic-and-uncharitable characterizations of points of view with which you disagree!

      For what it’s worth:

      1. Honestly, I’m very much trying to get behind Emery, warm to the idea, etc (and not finding it *that* hard, honestly), even though I wanted Arteta. So, hope you appreciate the reciprocity.

      2. I’m a romantic about football on the pitch, but couldn’t have cared less about his ties to the club, really. I had grave doubts about Vieira and I think my head would have exploded if Henry had gotten the job, even though he’s an “empty vase” and Arsenal’s greatest ever player. To the degree that I like Arteta’s ties to the club, it’s his ties to Wenger and Wenger’s style of play. Unlike you (so it seems), I can acknowledge that Wenger was doing a poor job managing the last couple years and yet still love his basic vision of what football can/should be, and still want that vision to be seen as his legacy and preserved at Arsenal. And more importantly, honestly, was Arteta’s ties to Pep, who marries Arsene’s romantic approach with all the modern analysis, preparation, etc. Yes, Arteta was an empty vase, and maybe he’ll never make a good manager; but ringing endorsements from Pep, Poch(!), and Wenger are not nothing; they’re evidence that he’s got outstanding managerial potential.

      3. I have almost zero attraction to the “Big Clubber” managers, but like you I would have been attracted to most/all the coaches on your “Pragmatist” list. I just think there’s being pragmatic off the pitch–modern “continental” managerial structure, realistic about us being a Dortmund not a Bayern, introducing more tactical preparation, etc–and then there’s being pragmatic on the pitch. And my only real reservation with Emery (as I’ve said above, comparing him to Benitez) is that he’ll be an overly-cautious, over-analyzing coach, rather than a man who above all else has a philosophy of attacking, creative football and wanting to impose that on other teams (note: I don’t think have this philosophy and setting your team up to counterattack are mutually exclusive). And I suspect at least some of the other managers on your “pragmatist” list (maybe Buvac goes on there too?) would have a vision of football on the pitch that’s a little less pragmatic than Emery’s. This is my worry, but I get that it’s based on preferences I have that others may not share.

      Ultimately, my hope in Arteta was in thinking he potentially offered the best of both worlds: young/pragmatic/modern off the pitch, but still a romantic on it. That’s what I want Arsenal to be. Hopefully Emery’s team can be close to that too.

  24. It was a heart-warming press conference. Gazidis and Emery were serious, well-prepared and you had the sense this a big big project they’re undertaking. Watching that presser it’s obvious the narrative that we did a “last-minute 180” was purified nonsense.

    About the 8 people you referenced and how most of the press got it so wrong, Ornstein wrote a piece on BBC Sport on May 18th about the manager search, and funnily enough there were basically 8 people mentioned as Gazidis suggests.

    The younger guys: Vieira, Henry, Arteta, Nagelsmann
    The more experienced guys: Emery, Tuchel, Allegri, Jardim

    Hard to know if all these guys were “interviewed” or just contacted. But there’s not a shred of evidence to back up the idea that Arteta would have been the “favourite”. On that very specific point, even Ornstein would have been kept out of the loop.

    Also Unai Emery speaks English almost the same way Santi Cazorla does and it cracks me up.

    1. “But there’s not a shred of evidence to back up the idea that Arteta would have been the “favourite”. On that very specific point, even Ornstein would have been kept out of the loop.”

      Dude, so what counts as evidence, in your book? Of course it’s not like we have an email from Ivan to Raul saying, “Arteta is the frontrunner.” But Ornstein himself said at the end of last week that Arteta was the frontrunner. It’s obvious Ornstein basically NEVER says anything unless he’s gotten it from reliable sources within the club–that’s what separates him from every other journalist covering Arsenal, and why he has such an impeccable reputation. When he speculates, he makes it VERY clear he’s speculating. You speculate that he “would have been kept out of the loop,” and while OF COURSE he wouldn’t have been given the play-by-play about their deliberations, Ornstein wouldn’t have said that Arteta wasn’t the frontrunner unless he had actual, good evidence that Arteta was, at the very least, very close to being chosen (maybe Emery was always right there too; we’ll never know that). On top of that, we have every other legit journalist with legit sources within the club–not just ITK’s and tabloid gossipers, but people like Amy Lawrence–absolutely convinced that the club were going for Arteta. And we have many reputable sources who have (pretty obviously) talked to Arteta or Arteta’s people saying he thought he was going to get the job as late as the weekend, that talks had been advanced to the point of discussing his backroom staff, etc.

      None of that is proof, or anything close to it. But all of that is evidence.

      1. *Obviously should read, “Ornstein wouldn’t have said that Arteta *was* the frontrunner, unless…”

  25. Liked what I saw. Emery’s English was very hesitant and he was struggling to find the words, but he still managed to get his message across. And well done to even try in English. I think he’ll learn quickly.

    Also, do you know. He’s on twitter?? I hope he has some strong hearted mods running his account.

    Possession and intense pressing. Great. Let’s see it in action.

    I don’t know why I didn’t like Gazidis’ presence. He seems to want the spotlight. I guess I can understand that, and it’s not that big a deal. Just something. Anyway he had some interesting things to say. About the process and timelines, and what Emery brought to the interview.

    I really feel now that Emery could be just what the squad needs. There’ll be some adjustment period. Some changes in the squad as well. But I think if the players buy in, we should be able to make the top 4 and challenge for trophies. Maybe even the title, optimistic as that is.

    It helps that not many of our players are going to the World Cup, and I like to think that Emery will be giving some USBs to our players for their off season too.

    1. Good pick up on Gazidis. Why is he with Emery in nearly all the foopin’ official Arsenal promotional videos? I honestly thought he’d insert himself into the manager’s pitch walk video. Thankfully, he didn’t.

      I don’t like that. It’s like the CEO of CNN (or ABC or CBS) hogging studio time. Or a movie director. Maybe Gazidis thinks he’s in a Woody Allen movie. It’s not about you, Ivan.

      1. Counterpoint – who would you guys have liked to see showing Unai around or sat next to him at the presser?

        Sir Chips? Josh Kroenke? The tea lady?

        I think in the off-season, while a club is changing managers, it is about the CEO. Ivan played a long game when Kroenke went over his head and gave Wenger that 2-yr deal and he went along with it. In the end it probably gave him more power because Stan Kroenke realised that his decision to go against Ivan and the board meant we wasted last season. Maybe Gazidis deserves a bit of shine.

        1. Heh. That whole last paragraph just made me think of his shiny head.

          I don’t disagree. I get why and I get that it’s reasonable. And yet, Gazidis seemed to be more about himself than seems…Arsenal I guess.

          It might just be that we had the most charming and lovable man as the face of our club for very many years.

          1. The manager I most admire, even as an Arsenal fan, was Vicente del Bosque.

            It’s unfortunate that people at our club started thinking attributes like charming and lovable are positive footballing traits. They really aren’t.

      2. No I disagree – someone needed to be there to answer questions about the hiring process. That’s valuable information.

        1. I specifically referenced the promotional videos, not the press conference. There are no “questions about the hiring process” in promotional videos. I think that there was altogether too much of IG in those. He’s not the face of the club.

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