The #EmeryEffect Starts

Unai Emery’s pre-season-seasoning of the Arsenal continued this morning as Arsenal drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in Singapore thanks to a fine goal by young Gunner Emile Smith Rowe.

Pull-ups and weight training have been featured on the official Arsenal site and some have taken to it more and some less. Mo Elneny was pictured struggling with the chin-ups and clearly unimpressed with the trash-can ice-baths. But others like Rob Holding are starting to Hulk up a bit, or what we could call, the #BurgessEffect.

If the player’s bodies are showing the effect of Rugby training by Burgess, the #EmeryEffect is starting to show in several other key areas. The first is that Arsenal were able to deal with the Atletico press quite well. It’s been a feature of Late Wenger Arsenal that the players were unable to handle any pressure. This was a major reason for Arsenal’s decline in away form as teams simply didn’t afford Arsenal the respect that they once commanded and got in their faces, forcing errors, bad passes, and turnovers in dangerous areas.

Atletico pressed Arsenal’s young midfielders (Guendouzi especially) and they were able to handle the pressure remarkably well. Guendouzi in particular showed why Arsenal picked him up, he was usually at least one pass ahead of his markers, and when they did close down on him in possession, he fought well to keep the ball and regain possession when he lost it.

Another feature of the #EmeryEffect is that Arsenal seemed more interested in tackling than before. Wenger’s defensive systemm prefered interceptions (especially from the center backs) over tackles (from the midfield). There is a logic to this because when you go to ground to win the ball, you take yourself out of the play and unless you win the ball, it can be a net negative to tackle like this. Emery seems to have organized the midfield to defend in more of a pack-like attitude. When Ramsey tackled the ball away, Smith Rowe would be there to collect.

However, whether this was just something Unai wanted in this one match or whether this is a whole change to the system is certainly something we will have to watch as the season progresses.

Arsenal did have a few loose moments in defense, one in particular was very poor, but I challenge you to watch any football match these days and not see both teams giving up chances.

The Atletico goal came from almost nothing. Holding (please correct me) got too close to his man, got turned, Kolasinac wasn’t in the right spot, but despite these errors, the cross was still fizzed between players, and hit the head of Vietto who lucked it into the goal. Perhaps Leno could have done better, perhaps the Arsenal defense could have been tighter, but the goal felt more lucky than a product of skill or defect.

Predictably, the Arsenal supporters on Twitter – and the guy who was talking on my feed, I think he’s the Men in Blazers guy – were starting in with the “same old Arsenal” stuff. That’s not going to get old at all this season. Not at all.

The one defensive moment that was pretty funny was when Arsenal allowed the entire Atletico team to dribble, pass, and shoot in the 18 yard box. I think it was Guendouzi who got burnt, then Ramsey blocked the cross but instead of clearing, he tried to dribble the ball – INTO HIS OWN NET – before getting tackled, losing the ball, allowing a shot, Cech got in a top class save and eventually the ball went out. Hey, there are some good things to take away from even this 1) we don’t just hoof the ball out 2) we didn’t give away a penalty by sticking out a stupid leg for someone to dive over and 3) instead of trying to dribble into the opposition net, we are now trying to dribble into our own net. The #EmeryEffect?

In possession, Arsenal showed some tight passing, continued the tradition of long throughballs, and looked really confident throughout with the ball. Emile Smith Rowe was especially fun to watch as he Cazorlad his way around the pitch in possession. He created several chances for his teammates and eventually got the goal his play deserved when he latched on to a pass that was about to get away from him, darted in, cut between, and fired home an off-balance shot from outside the box. It was a bit of a lucky goal, to be fair, but it was luck borne on the back of perspiration. Which sounds kind of gross and I don’t mean that he’s like some kind of slippery, sweaty, lucky dude.

All around, an enjoyable morning pre-season match. I’d love to watch another two or three months of pre-season with the Arsenal, see how they build, how Emery changes the team. But sadly, we only have a few more weeks before we have to play games that count.

Additional questions: while everyone talks about wingers and needing wingers and how we don’t have enough wingers and that we need a winger because we don’t have enough wingers do you wonder if people are obsessed with wingers because they miss WENGER well I think it’s possible and I also wonder if Elneny is going to make the cut. I know he’s a fan favorite but Guendouzi has all of his running, twice the passing range (the Frenchman picked out an incredible 60 yard pass for Aubameyang) and is able to dribble and tackle.



  1. Smith-Rowe performance hasn’t gone unnoticed Tim. The Mail are already raving over him and another Arsenal blog commenter is asking is he ‘life after Wilshire’?
    Hope he doesn’t blow out as some of the youngsters are prone to do after impressing at an early age.

      1. Lol……. seriously though he’s still young, he’s got some skill in shooting. I will tweet a video of a goal he scored last season to you. That’s if you haven’t seen it, it was also an absolute beauty. I know its early days, but this kid shoots curlers well.

  2. fetched from last thread (apols)

    1. We are trying a new play-it-out-the-back style, but our defenders have a lot of work to do to beat the press when we play that way. It looked like a foreign language to Chambers, for example. It was just brain dead on Ramsey’s part to try to dribble it out of a crowded 6 yard box. wth was he thinking?

    2. Leno is better suited to sweeper/keeper than Cech, although the old guy performed decently today.

    3. Guendouzi is a Fabregas-type young player, in that he demands the ball and likes to dictate. When he bulks up, he’ll be some player. Clear on the vids that Auba and Laca are helping him to integrate, which is nice to see.

    4. Smith-Rowe looked the best of the youngsters and constructed and took his goal well. The others — Reiss, Willock, O-T — looked unexceptional today.

    5. Sokratis looked more comfortable today in the half hour run-out he got. But he’s short for a central defender. In fact, we lack good, tall defenders. Mavro and Holding have decent height. Holding got turned much too easily for the cross for the goal.

  3. Ramsey is a diffenssive liablity… we have seen him do silly stuff before… and they were costly.

  4. Smith isn’t 17 years old… that kid plays football with such a mentality too mature for a 17 year old.. I like the fact that he’s bulking up right now.. I have a strong feeling Ramsey’s position is under serious threat.. so my watchword for the year will be “protagonist”!

  5. We have a long way to go to implement one of the seeming tenets of Emer’s philosophy, which appears to be Pepball — starting with the goalkeeper and building patiently out from the back. Some of our players looked like a fish on rollerskates, and until they are comfy with it, teams like Liverpool are going to force us into turnovers near our goal. The big, fat caveat of course is that that is a pre-season friendly that lacked intensity.

    Well made point by Tim, on tackling. That was good to see

  6. I don’t know why you seem to dislike Elneny. He’s a great squad player, nobody is plumping for him to get a starting role. He’s tidy, works hard, by all accounts a good chemistry guy who gets along with everyone in the dressing room. You need these types of players on a team.

    The first choice midfield 3 will be Ramsey, Torreira and Xhaka.

    Elneny, AMN and Iwobi will be the main back-ups. Guenzdouzi, Smith-Rowe, Willock et al will be League Cup players.

    1. You confuse me thinking he’s nowhere near good enough for Arsenal for dislike.

      Let me put it this way, if he were playing against Arsenal, I’d be excited at the prospect of taking advantage of his physical weakness, inability to protect the ball, and extremely limited passing range.

      I don’t know why people seem to like Elneny.

      1. I can only tell you why I like him – he’s sat the bench for long periods without ever grumbling, but when he gets the chance to play comes in with energy, endurance and a smile on his face. He plays within himself, rarely tries to force things but is rarely making careless giveaways either. He’s limited, sure. But the end of last season he had a run of games I thought acquitted himself very well and if I remember actually had a few assists and made some nice key passes. I’d keep him before relegating him to the junk heap after one decent pre-season performance by a 19 year old Sideshow Bob. Just my opinion though.

        1. Elneny’s only assist was against Leicester in the opening game.

          I don’t rate him either not because he is terrible but we need better players than him. He wouldn’t make it into our rivals’ squads so I don’t see why he should be at Arsenal

      2. Tim,u r almost on point on elneny but d part u said he is limited passing ability……naa, my question is between ramsey n him, who as more limited passing ability? Bcos my eyes tell me ramsey n I guess d stats says ramsey also!

    2. The first choice midfield depends on the formation, but I cannot imagine Xhaka and Torreira together in any formation. I imagine something like Torreira – Ramsey – Ozil / Mkh-Laca-Auba

  7. Atleti’s low defensive block is fascinating to watch. They don’t panic, they just close passing lanes and spaces in between their lines, and whenever we got into the final 3rd they suddenly come at you like hyenas. Some good stuff from the “next Busquets” Rodri too.

    Anyway, enough about that lot.

    Very good observations on the #EmeryEffect. It’s subtle but it’s definitely there. As well as the tackling and pressing, I noticed wide players staying wide which left room for line-breaking passes in the middle. Passing combinations looked promising. Can’t wait to see Guendouzi-Torreira-AMN play midfield together.

    I do not love our CB’s. They’re just not comfortable on the ball. Huge weakness in the squad.

    Big season coming up for Kolasinac. He was the only 1st-teamer kept out there for nearly 80mins while everyone went off after 60.

    1. On Kolasinac, Am I the only one who frustated by him? He seems to be easy to be pressed. Can’t get out of press by dribble, and will almost always try to pass backwards. When he does try to pass to the front players, he occasionally missed his passes. Maybe Auba doesn’t really help him too much by being an outlet, but still unless he is in the opponent box, he is a liability.

      1. Yeah, and in his first few games he had no problems with passing or evading the press. If he can refine his passing and stay injury-free there’s a great player in there.

      2. I think Kolasinac is just a fat Carl Jenkinson.

        He has problem passing the ball inwards and receiving it.

  8. The thing I liked about Smith-Rowe’s goal was the awareness to shoot even from distance instead of trying to control the ball. He was unlikely to retain possession as he was losing his feet. I hope this is a sign of things to come as we didn’t shoot enough from outside the box under Wenger even if that was the only option available at the time.

    Holding looked like he just got too close to one of Atletico’s best dribbler and got skinned by a more agile player. He did make him go the long way around though but the resulting goal was from a flukey reflex header. Can’t fault him too much but he could stood off him a bit better and just shepherded him down the line.

    Loved AMN’s pk though, that showed immense confidence in himself.

  9. To me Guendouzi looks more like an upgraded version of Xhaka, not of Elneny.

    From the youg lads of course Smith-Rowe made impression, but I also liked the passion of Osei-Tutu. But I must say that I expected more from Nelson.

  10. Tbh, we are in dire need of a young and promising left back! When was the last time we had that?

  11. it’s guendouzi, suckas! i know it was only pre-season but man, he looked sharp. smith-rowe got the goal but guendouzi controlled the game, always making himself available and switching the point of attack. very accomplished display. even though he made a few mistakes, i was quite impressed by his awareness and decision making. is torreira better than that? if he is, i’ll be a very happy man. we’ll see.

    i was equally impressed by mustafi. the depth and width tim talked about meant wider passing lanes, meaning easier for mustafi to hit his passes. let’s monitor that situation.

    1. Mustafi isn’t going anywhere. We’d be mad to totally freshen our central defence… one change, Koscielny, was enforced. We need Mustifi for hsi experience. Next to him I’d have Mavropanos till Sokratis gets up the speed. Im concerned about a lack of height in central defence.

      Guendouzi’s time will come, and he’ll be some player. I think he needs some upper body bulking up, as he’s a bit bottom heavy physically. He still looks a bit raw and coltish, but looks a very good buy. To judge from Torreira’s performance at the world cup, the young Frenchman is not at his level yet.

      But I like his confidence, the way he shows for the ball, his positional sense, and the way that he wants the responsibility to set the tempo and dictate. He’ll get a lot of games.

    2. You should Google the 5 yo who wrote his own obituary. Your use of ‘suckas’ brought that to mind. Caution: it is bittersweet.

  12. With you on the Elneny point. Felt the same watching Guendozi play. But Elneny could very well be Xhakaks substitute in less important games and AMN could be Ramsey’s.
    Excited to see who will be the player that plays the middle of the three in 4-2-3-1. Is it going to be RAMSEY/XHAKA/OZIL or may be even MICKI/IWOBI??? Very important for us to have the balance between playing through the middle and playing from the flanks.

  13. I’m glad no one is getting their panties in a twist about this result. We all knew when it went to PKs, that the result with Cech in goal was never going to be in our favor.
    I do admire that Atletico defensive organization doesn’t rely on whether or not their team is 1st, 2nd, or U 17s, it is rock solid and it works.
    Rowe and Guendouzi were the standout performers because we did not know what to expect and they showed up very well on a ‘bigger’ stage. Guendouzi’s performance if he sustains it in this tournament should put senior CM places under pressure.
    The Atletico goal came off a throw-in that cut-out Kolasinac and left a woeful Holding exposed. I would not call the goal ‘lucky’ because the cutback was made and Vietto reacted while standing wide open.

  14. Pre-season, schmee-season. Check out the lovely piece by Sid Lowe in The Guardian about Cazorla’s, tentative but (so far) continuous and improving outlook.

    One of my favorite players of recent years is actually back playing football again. We take what we can get and this is great news.

    1. El-Neny just signed a new contract with the club in March so I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

      He’s actually pretty good on the ball but has to improve defensively. I would like to see what the new coaching staff can do with him because I think the things he’s not doing well are teachable.

  15. ‘Predictably, the Arsenal supporters on Twitter – and the guy who was talking on my feed, I think he’s the Men in Blazers guy – were starting in with the “same old Arsenal” stuff.’

    Man, these people have like 3 settings….

    1. Happy because we’ve just won the league.

    2. Upset because Arsenal have done something bad.

    3. Upset because even though things are ok now, Arsenal are going to f#©k it all up.

    1. The Men In Blazers Guy just wants your attention and is willing to say whatever it takes to get it. He probably doesn’t give a damn about Arsenal and is actually probably kind of sick of football because it’s his job to sound funny while talking about it. I would get sick of that in about two hours.

    1. in fairness, i give reinhardt credit. if you’ve never been a victim of any sort of racism, it can sometimes be hard to recognize potential triggers to racism. reinhardt readily admits he made a mistake and he’s not hiding or making excuses or trying to justify his actions. he’s encouraging the discussion to educate himself and others at all levels in the dfb to be mindful and vigilant in dealing with citizens of different backgrounds.

      is that what he feels? it doesn’t matter. it’s the most presidential approach he could have taken. i’m sure if he could walk it back, he would have gone to mesut directly or at least asked the management team to discuss it with ozil privately.

      btw, i absolutely loved the applause mesut got when they put his face up on the big screen yesterday.

    2. I wonder how long it’ll be until Dr. Gooner writes a heartfelt post urging us to remember Grindel’s humanity and not treat him too harshly?

  16. Feeling optimistic about the upcoming season, Emery seems to be a very needed breath of fresh air ..WITH.. some structure and purpose. If he just didn’t bear such a strong resemblance to Devin Nunes….

  17. I only saw the highlights, and it seemed like it was only a realistic approximation of a system we are likely to run in the first half.

    Out of possession it looked like a back 4, with Bellerin playing higher up as expected and Kolasinac more narrow. Holding had a nice “Koscielny-esque” tackle/interception at one point that led to a breakaway opportunity for us. In possession, it seemed like Guendouzi was playing as a deep lying passer with Ramsey as the shuttler and ESR as more of a playmaker. I imagine Guendouzi is keeping the seat warm for Xhaka and ESR is doing likewise for Ozil, while Ramsey would be expected to start in the same role, probably backed up by AMN. I agree with Tim, the ball seemed to zip much faster between players and the triangles were less predictable, and Arsenal’s midfield was clearly having the better of the play. Further forward, a trio of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Reiss Nelson emphasized mobility and I would expect Lacazette/Auba will be a mainstay this season, but Nelson’s spot must be up for the taking, and a player like Lucas Perez must think he has a good chance to start opening day over the youngster given the head start he has over Welbeck in working with the new coaching staff. Under Wenger, we may have seen a more methodical player like Iwobi or Mkhitaryan given a chance in in a wide forward role, but the early signs are that Emery wants speed and direct running from that position. Martial anyone (yes please)?

    The race is probably on at GK and CB as well, with LB to somewhat lesser extent if Monreal returns as fit as we’ve come to expect. Koscielny may not feature at all this season so it’s his veteran play that will be a gap to fill next to the less athletic Mustafi, who I imagine is going to see off the challenge of the similarly built Chambers. Sokratis cannot replicate Koscielny’s recovery speed or nippy interceptions in that role, but he does offer more aerial prowess and power in the tackle. He is very secure with the ball, and that might just tip the scales in his favor over the raw Holding who is the better athlete but not nearly as good in possession. Mavropanos is the wild card, I really haven’t seen enough of him.

    1. Go find Mavro’s highlight reel against United a few months ago. He’s the real deal, and my choice of CBs for the opener against City is him and Mustafi. He’s a big lad, 6’4″, and you need height at CB in the premiership. But not only that… he’s quick, he can read well, and he’s tough. Ask Lukaku.

      I wouldn’t put Sokratis in straight away. This isnt the Bundesliga.

      The City game comes too soon for Nacho, Torreira, Xhaka, Licht and Welbeck.

      For me, opening day, it’s…

      Bellerin – Mavropanos – Mustafi – Kolasinac
      Miki – Ramsey – AMN
      Auba – Laca – Ozil

      Longer term…

      Bellerin – Mavropanos/Sokratis – Mustafi – Monreal
      Torreira – Xhaka/Ramsey
      Miki – Ramsey/Ozil – Ozil/Lacazette

      1. He did have a good game then but it’s different once teams get a few games of film on you. Chambers and Holding both had their honeymoon phase too. But I am optimistic about this crop and I think at least one of them will be a longer term starter for this club. I don’t know who though.

  18. It’s only a friendly against a youthful psg team.. I won’t read much into this game.. any contrary opinion?

    1. Sure, it’s preseason, not much more to say than that.

      Well, that is unless you want to read into it, which I think we all do 🙂 It’s probably more instructive to analyze the attack given that PSG were missing all of their best players.

      In possession I saw Arsenal trying to advance the ball up the flanks primarily. This is something I spoke about with Man City that they are doing before most of the league caught on, and it is important because it limits changes of possession to the sideline, which makes it easier to immediately counterpress and also limits the opponents’ passing options in those crucial few seconds when the football changes feet.

      Out of possession, the wide forwards were tracking all the way back. Aubameyang was putting in quite the shift helping out Kolasinac, who was being targeted, and being the primary outlet on his flank. He looked tired by the time he was substituted. Guendouzi displayed intelligence in both phases, used the ball well and was not caught out of position at the base of midfield.

      And, holy smokes, was Mesut Ozil or Alex Iwobi playing as a false 9? Emery played a joke on us in this game by starting all of his creative players at once and they looked to be playing very high up the pitch indeed. When I saw Aubameyang was starting with all those creative players, I assumed he would be the center forward but nope! It didn’t matter because PSG pressed high and invited the counter, and Arsenal profited through Aubameyang’s speed and quality. As the game went on, PSG seemed to adjust by really keying in on Auba and limiting his time on the ball after outlets, and that seemed to stifle Arsenal quite a bit. That’s something to watch for when the similarly press oriented City come calling in a couple of weeks.

      The goals were nice and the players gained some confidence and had some fun which at this point is probably more important than any tactical tweaks that Emery can introduce. You want the team to play hard, play together and play for each other first and foremost and I’d say they are well on their way to doing just that.

      1. Correct! I still think we have a lot of work to do defensively..we had almost a full squad today and i think we are still 1 player short of a true tilt challenge. That’s btw…
        Guendouzi keeps impression with his outstanding combination of defense and creativity.. I’d prefer a midfield trio of guendouzi-torreira-Ramsey.. that way, we don’t lose in any area…

        1. Ultimately that might be Arsenal’s best midfield but for the game against City it would be extremely risk to pair Guendouzi and Torreira. It feels too early to start either of them in a game of such magnitude coming up so soon.

  19. Well, that was a fun time.
    Guendouuzi continues to impress. Kolasinac not so much.
    2nd half had much better pressing than the 1st.
    Mkhitaryan’s performance showed a lack of energy.
    Ramsey’s touches still showing pre-season rust.
    Nice header from Holding. Nice finish from Nketiah.

  20. Correct! I still think we have a lot of work to do defensively..we had almost a full squad today and i think we are still 1 player short of a true title challenge. That’s btw…
    Guendouzi keeps impression with his outstanding combination of defense and creativity.. I’d prefer a midfield trio of guendouzi-torreira-Ramsey.. that way, we don’t lose in any area…

  21. it’s guendouzi, suckas! man listen, that kid is for real. he reminds me of an 18 year old aaron ramsey if i’m honest, only better. is it significant that, despite coming in after pre-season started, he’s started both games and played far more minutes ahead of niles? he and elneny looked good in tandem. like i said the other day, if lucas torreira is better than this kid, i’m a happy man. however, i don’t think torreira is. in fact, i don’t think it’s close. i know a pre-season friendly is not the same level as a world cup game but how long does it take to recognize sunshine? that kid is shining pretty bright.

    ramsey, mkhi, and ozil were unimpressive. it looks like arsenal started in a 4-4-2 with ozil and aubameyang up top. hmmm.

    sead is not a left back. the reason he looked good when he first arrived is because arsenal were still playing with their 3 center back formation at the beginning of last season and kola was a wing back, not a left back. arsenal should have kept gibbs, who was only just behind monreal in quality, however is clearly a better lb than kolasinac. i wonder if arsenal can get him back.

    leno looked sharp. so did mustafi again to day. elneny was tidy. iwobi was okay but not 100%. off the bench, nketiah was the pick of the bunch while ramsey labored and willock proved again that he has no arsenal future. i’d trade that kid for a ham sandwich.

    1. It’s fine to want an upgrade at LB but as with all the players, it would be nice to see what Emery can do with Kolasinac. I actually think he fits into the Arsenal setup nicely across from the more slight Bellerin and if he can get his timing right, he could also be a pretty good counterpressing wingback. We already know about his end product in the box which is not something to be cast aside lightly.

      The problem with Gibbs was that he wasn’t particularly effective in 1v1’s and offered nothing in an attacking sense, and I mean that very literally. Opponents would just let him have the ball. Kolasinac is more like Andre Santos in that he is more effective going forward than defending, but, again, I see that as a remediable trait whereas nobody could teach Gibbs what to do with the ball in the final 3rd. The difference between Seo and Santos is that Seo is still only 24 and Santos was already 28 when we signed him and then struggled to keep weight off. Seo may well end up having similar struggles but at this point I would back him to get it right under a new coach. This will only be his second season with us.

    2. Willock has never convinced, it’s true, and I’m always left puzzled by the hype over Nelson. Nketiah did just fine today, and yes, Guendouzi has been outstanding in pre-season. A real surprise, and this is exactly what we hired Mislintat to do. We can’t shop at the top anymore.

      Ramsey. I’d like to keep him, and I hope he stays, but it’s a really weird situation with him. Why are there no suitors? Zero rumors, and I have a hard time believing the only reason is that every club out there is just waiting to get him on a free. People say Ramsey holds all the cards. I’m not so sure about that. What if he has an indifferent season (he’s prone to that, especially coming off a good season)? What if he breaks down physically for a long period, as he usually does? Then what sort of club will sign him next summer? One that matches his ambition? I doubt it. Anyway, yeah, apart from that risk, he’s sitting pretty, negotiation wise.

      Looks increasingly as if Gazidis will be off to Milan. Not great.

  22. Doc, Torreira will be short of match readiness for City. So will Xhaka and anyone whose team made it to the round of 16 in Russia. Torreira will be coming to a new league, having barely had a pre-season. I wouldn’t even have him on the bench against City. Guendouzi, on the other hand, may have played his way into the starting XI on opening day.

    Looks like Emery intends to play Laca and Auba together. We learned today what we’ve known already… Iwobi isnt clinical in front of goal, and Kolasinac needs better positional awareness. So we have 2 wide forwards, Iwobi and Welbeck, who are wasteful. i’d rather fast track a raw kid, Nketiah, who can find the goal in his sleep. But we are lacking a classic CF prospect like (don’t laugh) Yaya Sanogo. An offensive disruptor.

    Hard to call the CB positions, but I’d start Mustafi and Mavropanos.

    Captain Ozil? Discuss. Emery said he wants his skipper to have dressing room presence. Not sure that Ozil (or Ramsey) is that guy, although Ramsey may get it by the next-taxi-in-the-rank principle.

    1. Ozil has presence. Shouty is not always the same thing as presence, of course. He’s our best player, and they all know it.

      I thought the armband suited him very well…

    2. I thought Emery said he would want 5 captains… if so Ozil should be one of them. It’s his team now as much or more than any other player on the roster.

      It’ll be a tough call for Emery on how soon to start Xhaka and Torreira since they have both missed pre-season, but I’d be surprised if the 19 year old is thrown in against Man City and David Silva on opening day, even if KdB doesn’t feature. I would expect Ramsey-ElNeny-Xhaka with Torreira on the bench. This would represent our most seasoned pairing in terms of their chemistry together and in terms of PL minutes logged. It’s also stylistically similar to Emery’s favored trio of Lo Celso or Motta with Rabiot and Veratti.

      1. I dont take the 5 captains thing literally. I think he means dressing room leaders, some of whom have already self-identified, by seniority, and by the regard with which theyre held by the others. Several years ago, Ox and the young players saw Van Persie as the leader, because he was the most skilled footballer in the squad. So Bun makes a very sound point about Ozil.

        Cech is held in very high regard. He’s smart, passionate, and blunt when he needs to be. He also owns up to his mistakes. He is a hugely impressive man. Fluency in 5 languages and widely knowledgeable and all that. But if he isn’t playing regularly, he cant be skipper. That’d be two non-playing captains.

        Until Kosc returns, one person should ideally skipper the team (unless rested/rotated for lesser games/injured), and that person would be a regular. Much as I like Ramsey asa player, Im not totally convinced that he should be that man. Especially if we start the season without him committing to a new contract. That’s just not on for me.

        But I’ll be fine with whomever Emery gives the job to. Must say Im intrigued by the prospect of Ozil skippering the team. The painful break with Germany plus the captaincy could show us a better Mesut.

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