Arsene vs Unai – The Great Distraction




Every day on twitter, blogs, the media, podcasts and just about every forum, we see some comparison or other between Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery. Every time another game is played we see some table comparing the first X number of games that Emery has been in charge, compared to the same number of the last games Arsene managed. The number of points, chances created, chances conceded, passing accuracy, areas of play, and on and on it goes. It really is the most pointless of arguments. Not simply because the teams were competing against have changed and the teams they were competing with has changed almost beyond recognition or even that one has a squad eager to impress while latterly the other had a squad waiting for the final curtain, but because it’s actually is an argument that is so subjective that it can never be resolved. Particularly when those arguing are so invested in being right, that they have no interest in hearing the other point of view.

Can Unai give a press conference as witty and entertaining as Arsene? No of course not.

Could Unai address a baying mob at the annual general meeting and have them eating out of his hand, when minutes earlier they were baying for his blood? No he couldn’t

Ten or twenty years from now will former players still laud him, will he be asked to speak all over the world, be given award after award , be offered job to develop FIFA itself ? I very much doubt that.

Will Unai transform the club and elevate it to once unthought of heights? No, not a chance.

Is it fair to expect any of these things from Mr. Emery? No it is not. Why? Because it’s unfair to expect anyone to fill those shoes ,,as only a handful of managers in the history of the game could have.

So let us not ask if Unai is as good as Arsene was. Rather let’s ask is he as good as we expected he would be?

Let’s ask why after 18 months we are playing unattractive football in a system that no one seems to understand, and that changes from week to week and even from half to half.

Let’s ask why our best and most creative player is not being picked, humiliated and excluded ,from a team screaming out for creativity?

Let’s ask why watching us play is a chore now , we can play 8 games of the season and not play well in one, let alone dominate any?

Perhaps ask why we go from insisting on playing out from the back, to lumping it up to a center forward that’s skill set is far from hold up play.

Ask why sometimes all eleven players can have decent games, and yet the team plays poorly.

Ask why our midfield is so dysfunctional despite every player being a good one.

Let’s judge him on what we see, not against a man that is now a fond memory, and a genius that he overall could never live up to.

Wenger has left the building, gone , and the comparisons are a distraction, we must judge Emery on what he is showing us, and has shown us.



3 Points And Literally Nothing Else.


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I want to write a positive blog!

I want to describe some beautiful football!

I want to be enthusiastic about Arsenal!

I want to enjoy our football!

Sadly, I’m unable to do any of these things.

That was 95 minutes of tripe. We won the game courtesy of a well executed headed goal from David Luiz and also courtesy of them defending the corner  badly.

Two shots on target ,at home, against Bournemouth?  That can’t be acceptable, no matter how healthy our league position is.

We have played 8 PL games and not played well in any of them. In fact I would go as far as to say we have played poorly in them all. That we are where we are in the league, is testament to how good our players are despite how they are being forced to play.

We can be very happy at the 3 points gained, content with our league position, but I defy anyone to say we should be happy with the excruciatingly poor football being churned out week after week.

People will say “judge it in May”, well I did, I judged the crap we were served up last May, and if anything it’s gotten worse. If you dare look beyond the points total, what looks back is a football team that lacks the ability to play entertaining attacking football. There are those that don’t want to look beyond, those that would rather not see, to them I say “You‘re a better man than I amGunga Din.”




Arsenal vs Bournemouth

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Good day one all.
Arsenal host Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon on the back of a very busy week, before heading into an international break.
A scrappy draw away at Manchester United on Monday night saw us crept back into top-four, then a brilliant opening 20 minute spell vs Standard Liège in Thursday’s Europa tie, was enough for a comfortable 4-0 victory.
Now one could be forgiven for thinking the ease of the midweek wins would be great momentum going into league games, but it hasn’t quite gone that way has it? You see the ‘cup team’ play with freedom, control games that they can even afford taking their foot of the pedal as games goes on. You see our depth in talent, the potential in this team and it raise our hopes, but then we get to to the Premier League and it’s as if everybody are in their shells as we adapt our play to the strengths of our opposition, including those we are expected to brush aside without much fuss.
That’s the frustration many have with Unai Emery’s methods, because there is good reason to believe this team can go toe-to-toe with any team if he just take the shackles off. But alas.
It’s been tight schedule of late but I don’t think fatigue should be a concern with Emery likely to revert to his regular league starters after giving the young uns and fringe players a Europa run. The injured returnees Bellerín, Tierney and Holding were again impressive, also Mustafi amongst the senior ones. Making good cases for ‘call ups’, but with the short turnaround it may be an unnecessary risk to play them so soon. However, Emery will have much to ponder about during the inter-break.
Bournemouth had a bright start to their season, sitting just one point behind us on the table. They have scored in each of their games played thus far, which should be very encouraging for Eddie Howe, however, having not yet keeping a clean sheet should be a worry as that all too familiar is being asked… what’s going to happen once the goals dry up?
The Cherries are still winless against the Gunners in seven previous meetings. Last season we beat them home and away, with a 5-1 scoreline at the Emirates.
They may fancy breaking their duck today, playing their brand of open and attacking football, which of course will work in our favour and I can already see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, our resident flat-track bully, looking at their leaky defense sporting the largest grin.
I’m predicting one of those entertaining games where both sides get on the score sheet, with Arsenal coming out on top to move up to third on the table.
This is the first in a nine-game run against teams outside the traditional top-six sides, giving Arsenal an opportunity to string together a run of decent results before the mid-December peak.
Com’on Emery… you know we can do it!

Arsenal vs Standard Liège





Good day one and all.

Arsenal are back at the Emirates for their second Europa League group fixture; hosting Belgian side Standard Liège.

We kicked our campaign off with a win away in Germany a fortnight ago, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0. With Unai Emery methods currently taking tense and, well, fair criticism, the Gunners almost inconspicuously put together an unbeaten run of six-matches (all competitions), that includes three wins in our last four. With just one defeat in nine matches all season, you would be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.

Now, I don’t know anything about our opponents, however, a quick trawl of their recent results infer they might not be pushovers. They sit one point behind Belgian First Division leaders Club Brugge, and come into this match on the back of three wins in their last four games (D1) – all competitions. A decent run that include 10 goals for and only two against. So could there be a suggestion they have a “press” Emery might think we need to negate? Yikes!

It’s a short turnaround following Monday night’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United, so we’ll likely see a Gunners side with quite a few changes. Making this another opportunity for the youngsters and fringe players to impress, after proper performances against Frankfurt (EL) and Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. 18 years-old Gabriel Martinelli did better than expected making his first Arsenal start vs Forest, scoring two goals, so one can imagine he must be excited at the possibility of getting his first European start. Hector Bellerín and Kieran Tierney must also be itching getting another run as they continue their rehabilitation from long-term injuries.

Whether Mesut Özil, who was “rested” against Frankfurt, get a start, is anybody’s guess at this point. Because just as it seems that him and Emery are getting past their domestic issues… it seems not.

One player that could certainly benefit having a crack at the visitors is our record signing Nicolas Pepe. He has struggled to find his feet so far in the league, so starting in a match away from the PGMOL game management variant shouldn’t be the worst idea.

Many argue that Arsenal doesn’t play like a side that has developed much from last season, but optimism levels are a little higher in the Cup competitions and playing in front of the Emirates faithful always gives the boys a bit extra. Standard have started their European run with a win, so while their priorities may be with their domestic league back in Belgium, a win tonight will leave them in a good position to advance to the knockout stages.

This is only the third meeting between these two sides, with the Gunners winning both the previous two back in 2009.

With group F top place up for grabs this got the makings of a spicy encounter. However, I’m predicting a cagey start to the match with the Emirates crowd cheering the homeboys over the line.


Labo @LaboGoon


Good Point, But Oh Dear Oh Dear.

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Right , let’s look at the good stuff first. We got a point away at United, despite being a goal behind at halftime, not many manage that. Young Saka had a good game, an assist and but for a lucky deflection, he would have had a winning goal. The lad played the full 90 and didn’t look at all out of place. I also thought Luiz had a good game and looked our most creative player (is that a positive?).

As for the game itself? It was poor. Some would say awful.

Once again we saw a midfield that could simply not dominate of create. Torreira, a DM by trade,looked to be playing as a 10. Matteo hurried and scurried all game and this seems tt impress many, but his distribution is average and he gets the ball taken from him regularly. Because of this imbalance in MF, Xhaka is being asked to do stuff that he is unsuited to, and so he can’t do the job he is very suited to. It’s a mess.

Dani comes on and it’s clear he is no Mesut Ozil, who didn’t even make the trip. Tragic.

The goal we did get basically came courtesy of United gifting us the ball on the edge of their own area, well taken, but a gift anyway.

20 odd minutes in we had 28% possession against a team with a MF that is shocking.

I want to be enthusiastic, but honestly, if Arsenal hadn’t been involve, I would have turned over and watched a rerun of Dad’s Army. It was a dire game. With the player available to Emery, good football shouldn’t be too much to ask. But we are not seeing any, and there appears to be no prospect of it coming.





Arsenal VS Manchester United


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Good day one all.

With three wins on the spin, in as many competitions, Arsenal go up against Manchester United at Old Trafford with renewed optimism and exciting young players making their return to the side following long injury spells.

Look, we can all agree that there are underlying issues with how the Gunners play but things aren’t exactly scorched earth. We are still going at top-four pace, thanks to flaws elsewhere in the Premier League. So let’s forget about the mind-numbing Vicarage Road trip and even the first hour vs Aston Villa. The last 20 or so minutes of that game our boys had a real bite in them and showed a lot of heart as they dug real for that win. A few unlikely heroes led the charge and that is the sort of character we can all get behind despite our differences in opinion of coach Unai Emery.

I’m not gonna pretend all is well because the lack of defensive organization is glaring. There’s also a fear that we may become as reliant on Bernd Leno and we are on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. I just think if the coach would focus on taking games to the opposition instead of being “scared” there’s lots to be excited about. I can admit I had doubts but after seeing those returning players… Both Rob Holding and Calum Chambers don’t seem afflicted by a susceptibility for liability. Together with Kieran Tierney, who had an encouraging first game, and flaming Hector Bellerín they could provide a secure base for our attackers to perform. This Gunners side is not short of talent and if Emery find a workable formula and just take the handbrake off already… watch this space.

These of course are grim times for Manutd. With just two wins in their last 11 league games Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is feeling the heat. His bosses have spent the most on transfers in the PL this summer so one can imagine he’s under pressure to turnaround their fortunes.

In many ways these teams are like two sides of the same coin. The Red Devils look strong defensively, before the shock defeat to West Ham last weekend they conceded just four goals in five league outings, but are underwhelming going forward, scoring four in that last five. While the Gunners got goals in them but also have an embarrassing reputation of conceding rather silly.

Manutd’s attacking woes are further compounded with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial currently struggling with injuries and Paul Pogba a doubt. Meaning OGS could put his hopes on youngsters Daniel James and Mason Greenwood to trouble our defense.

These teams met three times last season. Our Old Trafford trip  ended in a 2-2 draw as the hosts came back twice from a goal down. They beat us 3-1 in the FA Cup during the ‘Solskjaer renaissance’. We, of course, got our revenge with a 2-0 win at the Emirates late in the season.

In recent years this old rivalry is far from the top-of-the-table encounters of yore, however, it’s never short of drama and consequence as this already got that a feel of being pivotal to both’s top-four ambitions. A win will move Arsenal within two points of free scoring Mancity (second on the table) and leave Manutd in the bottom half of the table – and Ole losing grip on the wheel.

The Gunners haven’t won a league game at Old Trafford since autumn of 2006 though and whatever Manutd’s form, or lack thereof, their players are at their best on the most intense occasions. Whilst they’re currently looking all out of sorts and not the most relentless attacking side, our organization and focus at the back still has to be on point if we want to have any joy.

This is such a difficult game to call for various reason, but if ever Arsenal want to break their Old Trafford hoodoo as well as getting a first away win against top-six opposition under Unai Emery, there’s  no better time than the present.

May we make this one count. COYG!



A Stroll On The Carpet





Well now then, what an enjoyable watch that was.

It’s a pleasant change to see us dominant in every area of the pitch.

A much changed team was streets ahead of the 2nd tier opposition, who were, to be fair, poor on the night.

I felt Torreira was off with his passing, but scurried well. Other than that there can be no complaints.

Ozil orchestrated the game and it was a joy to watch. I don’t think he lost the ball even once in the first 45.

Chambers did well yet again, Mustafi and Holding both had no problems  and Tierney made a mightily impressive start to his Arsenal career.

In fact, they were all impressive. I loved every minute of it,and Hector came on and immediately contributed with an assist.

More of this please.