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Arsenal and Emery Season Review.

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As the final whistle sounded in Baku, it brought an end to Arsenal’s first season of the post Wenger era. A European final, even one where the result didn’t go our way, does not indicate a bad season, and certainly not a bad start for a new coach. But looking back, this should count as a season of regret for those at Arsenal. As the likes of Cech, Welbeck and especially Ramsey say goodbye and move on, this regret could potentially expand to a cause for concern about the future as well. It is with this trepidation that I decided to take a look back at the season and try to make sense of what happened.

PRE SEASON:

The Goodbyes to Wenger had taken place last season, the memories and messages all shared, tears shed, and the chapter drawn to a close. Then… a palpable sense of excitement. Who would take over and lead us into this new era? Turns out it was PSG’s former manager. We pored through his record, his matches, his statements. Some were excited, some were disappointed but virtually everyone was looking forward to a fresh start, no matter what it would bring. Even the more cynical ones saying it would need time, were prepared to be patient.

The only jarring note was struck by Ivan Gazidis inserting himself into every photo, video and interview, indicating he was the boss. Unai Emery was pointedly introduced to us as Arsenal’s new Head Coach. He immediately won us over with his spirit and courage in facing the press and answering questions in his very broken English. We wanted to get to know the man and his vision for the club, and together he and the CEO outlined the process they were aiming for. Everyone was on board, and couldn’t wait for the season to begin.

Including the players. Mesut Ozil cut short his holiday to join the Arsenal tour. Young hotshot midfielder Guendouzi rejected the call up for an international youth tournament. Torreira was playing well with Uruguay at the World Cup and it was reported how excited he was to join us. Leno seemed like a good addition who would help with playing out from the back. Our dynamic Dortmund Duo were to be joined by the serious CB Papa, and we added Old Man Licht as backup RB.

The PL threw us, and Unai Emery, a curveball with the fixture list, but even that couldn’t dampen our spirits. This was a new Arsenal. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we had a new coach in charge, new players, a new plan, and football was here!

SEASON:

Domestic Cups:

Let’s just get these out of the way. My attitude to this review, the attitude of most of the fans and the players. Not really our target, more like nice to have, but we weren’t starving after 3 recent FA Cup wins, so these were bonus matches. We beat a few lower league opponents, and went out against our league rivals in both the cups. No big deal. The only quibble I had was that we didn’t use the opportunity to play more of our young prospects.

Europa League:

Drawn into a group against Sporting Lisbon and with much travelling involved wasn’t ideal, but we entered as clear favourites. Not just for the group, but in many people’s eyes, for the whole thing. Which frankly, scared me. Arsenal fans should not be extravagantly optimistic. Never ends well.

Still, the group didn’t pose us any problems. 5 wins and a draw, and we went through as winners. Again, I would have preferred if we’d played some more of the youth against Vorskla and Qarabag, but ultimately, the job was done and we entered the knockout rounds with a tie against BATE Borisov as our reward.

It was in the first leg of this tie that we reached possibly the nadir of our season. A painful, turgid, even shameful 1-0 loss away to the Belarussian champs. In what was to become a running theme, this was treated by many as an unfortunate blip on an otherwise upward trend. BATE’s season is just starting so they are fresh, the pitch wasn’t great, the travel doesn’t help, and we’ll get the job done in the return leg. All of which are varying degrees of truth, but this Valentine’s Day loss seems to carry deeper meaning than that. It certainly led to some off field changes, but we can get to that later while sipping on a cup of tea. We did get the job done in the return leg, and on to the next round.

A few weeks later, and we were doing this job of falling over away from home again. This time in France to Rennes. The annoying Ben Arfa was having a laugh at our, and probably more at Emery’s, expense after our 3-1 loss. However, we turned it around again at home, beating them 3-0, Auba’s black panther mask was out, and we were through to the Quarter finals of the Europa League. Take that Ben Arfa!

A tough tie against Napoli who also were among the tournament favourites. But this time we weren’t having any of it. Victories in both legs, with not too much fuss as far as I can recall, and on to the semis.

Valencia, with Gabriel and Coquelin came next. They started well, came at us, and scored an away goal that we were hoping not to concede. But we countered immediately, scoring two quick goals through Lacazette. Aubamayang added another in the 90thminute. A 3-1 win. Still all to do in the return leg. Once again Valencia started well and scored an early goal. But route one football and a great long range finish from Auba changed the game. Arsenal were in control as we won 4-2 (7-3 on aggregate) and made our way to our first European final since 2006.

Premier League:

The toughest of opening day fixtures with the champions coming to the Emirates. No upset, but no cause for being upset, other than an injury to AMN. This was followed by a frustrating loss to Chelsea. Frustrating because we could have been out of sight in the first half if we’d taken our chances, despite the early goals we conceded. As it is Chelsea readjusted, and Emery introduced us to something other than the 68th minute subs we’d become used to under Wenger. All part of getting to know his team. Despite the result, some cause for optimism. Justified by the come from behind victory over West Ham with a 90th minute goal from Welbeck making it 3-1 to Arsenal, and confirming Emery’s first win as Arsenal manager.

As it turns out that was the first of a 7 match winning run, and a 14 match unbeaten run in the league. Cardiff, Newcastle, Everton, Watford, Fulham and Leicester went down before Crystal Palace held us to a draw right at the end of October. Two more draws to Liverpool and Wolves before a win over Bournemouth brought November to a close.

Then came the big one. December had us facing Spurs, ManU, and Liverpool. First up, Spurs came to our home, and Eric Dier decided he could shush us. Sit down he said, to one Aaron Ramsey who was a substitute but had a punch up with Dele Alli, the battle of words with Dier, and came on to provide 2 assists as Arsenal won 4-2. Legend. 3 days later, Manchester United and Arsenal battled to a draw. A bit of a blur this one, but I recall us conceding right after scoring to go 2-1 up. Games coming thick and fast now. Huddersfield next and a 1-0 victory with not much positive except the 3 points. Southampton then again proved to be our bogey team, ending our unbeaten run. This was followed by a win against Burnley, a draw against Brighton, and a huge 5-1 defeat to Liverpool to close out the year.

January went much better with wins against Fulham, West Ham, Chelsea and Cardiff, before ManCity again put the brakes on us in February. 5 days before the BATE debacle, we got ourselves a hard fought victory over Huddersfield. We closed out the month by taking revenge on Southampton, and destroying Bournemouth in a 5-1.

March again saw us face Spurs and ManU, with the results reversed this time. A draw against Spurs (Auba missed a penalty, but Ramsey owned the Wembley pitch. Say it with me…Legend….) and a good win against ManU with a long range Xhaka goal. April began with a win against Newcastle and a loss to Everton before the 1st leg of the Napoli tie. Sandwiched between the EL Quarterfinals was the hilarious win over Watford. Both good hilarious and bad hilarious for Deeney’s early red card and for how bad we were in the game, respectively. A sign of things to come.

We’re in the Endgame now”

Then came the giving away of the time stone, otherwise known as the Top 4 Trophy, as Emery Strange saw only one possible scenario to win the Champions League qualification gauntlet.

Crystal Palace – L

Wolves – L

Leicester – L

Brighton – D

And when it was all over,

Burnley – W

Finishing 5th. 1 point outside the top 4 behind Spurs, and 2 points behind Chelsea in 3rd. But at least we had the European Final to go to. Win a trophy, and we’d achieve our main target for the season.

The Final:

Travel and ticketing issues, Mkhitaryan’s safety and the politics, and a poor pitch were the stage for this final. Uefa pulling out all the stops to let us know just how second tier this trophy is to them. But a trophy it was all the same and we were facing a rival who had their own problems to deal with. We had the greater need since they’d already qualified for the big top next year.

Arsenal started off well enough, controlling most of the game. There was an appeal for a penalty, but I didn’t think it was one. As the game went on, Chelsea grew into the game, made some adjustments and by the end of the half we were already on the backfoot, with Cech making a couple of sharp saves.

I’ve tried to wipe the second half from my memory files, but the nightmare scenario of Giroud winning it for Chelsea remains. He scored the opener with a fantastic diving header at the near post, won a penalty for their 3rd goal, and most annoyingly, in a move reminiscent of his pass to Ramsey in the FA Cup final 2 years ago, he gave an assist to Hazard to wrap up the score at 4-1. Iwobi’s goal was great, but like much of this season will not live long in the memory.

Trust the Process:

So how to evaluate this season? What I can say for sure is that it has not been fun. Even for writing this review, I was struggling to remember much of what had happened. It was not pleasant to go over it all again, though I tried to make the most of it. It’s almost distressing to think about what has happened this season, especially when it held out so much hope, both at the beginning, and at the end. My opinion is that it has been an unmitigated disaster. If it were up to me I’d fire Emery, even if it meant replacing him with a relative novice like Freddie, or anyone else as long as he actually has the vision to match the words. Emery doesn’t seem to realise that above all, football is entertainment. Whatever joy there was in this side has been systematically sucked out. The system sucks. End of.

The counter point I’m faced with is that it’s only a transition season and despite some difficulties imposed on Emery, the results have basically been on par. It’s true that any coach needs time to build their side. We are often quoted the example of Klopp (who thankfully, saved football for all of us) But is good coaching and a rebuild a function of time alone? Trust the Process has become a mantra of sorts, but oddly enough, no one seems to want any discussion on the process itself. Merely on the results, and the fact that we’re a position higher in the PL table with 7 more points, and progressed a round further to the final of the EL.

But is football really only about the results? Would any serious evaluation not look further? Except when results are either spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, I’d always put process above results. That’s what you really control. Away from the spotlight, I’d hope Arsenal are carrying out a serious analysis of the season. I shall attempt to do the same here.

Background:

A large squad turnover in the 2017-18 season, was the start of a rebuild. At virtually no added cost in transfers and wages, in January we transferred Giroud, Walcott, Coquelin, Debuchy, and Alexis Sanchez out, and in came Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and young CB Mavropanos. We also extended Mesut Ozil’s contract within this budget.

This left us with a solid attacking core built around Ozil, with two top class forwards ahead of him, and Ramsey, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi to support him.

In the summer, the club spent 70m to fill the remaining gaps in midfield and defense. In came young midfielders Torreira and Guendouzi, experienced CB Sokratis and young GK Leno, who would help us build from the back, an area of weakness for our senior GK Petr Cech. A free backup RB signing followed with the experienced Lichtsteiner.

Although the rebuild would not be complete for another season or two, there was no rush to do so, as the high level of talent in attack and the experienced, if ageing, defense, gave us a good platform to compete well for the next 2 or 3 years. On the basis of this, a roadmap was laid out and presented to the fans by the club and the head coach.

  1. Play attacking football – Possession, pressing and playing out from the back.
  2. Not heavily reliant on the transfer market – Funds would be available, but the head coach is to work with the players at the club.
  3. Play and develop the youth
  4. Represent the club and its values well

Though left unstated, it was understood that the target was to qualify for the Champions League. Failure to achieve this in the first season may, however, be acceptable.

Evaluation:

The expectations among the fans and at the club was that Emery’s more hands on, tactical approach would lead to a better structure for the players, which would help improve the defense, while still maintaining the commitment to attacking football.

However the underlying numbers are cause for concern. We have created fewer shots than last season, and have conceded more shots to the opposition. Individual errors remain high. Possession stats are down. The very visible plan to play out from the back was abandoned very early. Our distance covered numbers are up, but there is little evidence of a coherent press.

Midway through the season, there was some upheaval in the club’s upper management, which possibly impacted on some of the team’s cohesion and plans. Certainly, the decision to withdraw Ramsey’s contract came as a surprise to many, and it couldn’t have helped him or the coach. There was also some major incident between our head coach and our highest paid player. This too might have been triggered by management wanting to bring down expenditure and getting the largest contract among the squad off the books.

While this may be an extenuating circumstance, confining the analysis to the head coach, there is a body of evidence that his preferred style of play is incompatible with Mesut Ozil. Emery seemingly prefers to attack from out wide, using the midfielders more as conduits and shields for when the move breaks down. This is not an ideal use of the talents of one of the best creative midfielders in the world, and our highest paid player.

Attempts to freeze him out of the squad did not go down well with his teammates as he remains a popular member of the team. Following a series of poor performance and finally, defeat to BATE, things came to a somewhat public head with Ozil making a point on social media, and a few of the players ‘liking’ his post. Eventually it led to the coach reversing his decision and reinstating Ozil in the squad and the team. It remains a strained professional (and personal?) relationship and a potential flashpoint. This presents the club with something of a problem since the size of Ozil’s contract makes it difficult to ship him out, even if he were to agree to go, which is doubtful.

On working with the present squad, the head coach has not met the target. His plans seem in dissonance with what this team was built for, and the result has been a reduction in player value and added costs for next season.

In such a scenario one might have expected the youngsters in the squad to be given more game time. While Guendouzi has enjoyed a regular place in the first team, and Maitland-Niles as well, the rest of our youth players have not been deemed worthy of regular involvement in the Premier League. Emile Smith-Rowe played in the cups and the Europa League group stages, but was sent on loan in January. Despite the injury to Danny Welbeck, Eddie Nketiah has received very little time on the pitch. Similarly, Joe Willock has not regularly featured despite the injury (and absence) of Aaron Ramsey. Neither has Mavropanos in defense despite injuries to Holding and Sokratis at different points of the season.

The collapse at the end of the season, when qualifying for the Champions League seemed likely, must also count as cause for serious concern.

The head coach has stated his desire for going into the transfer market. Through a lack of funds in January, the club nevertheless signed Denis Suarez on loan – a player he had worked with before. This turned out to be more of a waste of funds as the player hardly played, and ended up returning with an injury.

If the head coach is retained for next season, to play his preferred style of football would need a major overhaul of the squad, accelerating the time line of the planned, gradual, rebuild. Unless the club is able to recoup much through sales, this would also represent a major loss through investments made not just in Ozil, but the window of opportunity for our attackers. In addition, there is the lost revenue and value from Ramsey’s departure.

A rebuild then would likely need the sale of one of our most valuable assets. The options for this are essentially confined to Aubameyang, Lacazette, or Bellerin. We could also look to sell some of the squad players like Elneny, Jenkinson and Mustafi, and replace them with younger players from the market, the academy, and returning loanees like Chambers and Bielik. Yet another option would be to let go some senior players nearing the end of their careers such as Koscielny and Monreal.

On the plus side, we will be shedding a significant amount from our wage bill as Cech retires, and Welbeck, Lichtsteiner and Ramsey are leaving. There will also be increased revenue from the new shirt sponsorship with Adidas.

A reported transfer budget of 40m would need some creative manoeuvring. The appointment of a technical director would be of help in this regard, and also in ensuring that while the coach retains focus on the season’s goals, the long term health of the club is not compromised.

Marketing and Brand Value – ‘Values’

This may seem a more trivial point, yet it is significant that even while introducing Unai Emery, the then CEO chose to make upholding club values as a target. For years Arsenal had struggled to match the spending and the trophies of our rivals under the stadium debt, and faced a lot of negative press for it. But the fanbase still kept expanding. Much of this was based around the marketing of the club’s history and values as unique in the football world. These values involve respect for players beyond just the strictly professional, honouring a given word, dignity in dealing with the press, and the commitment to attacking football and youth development.

This season has seen a major departure from how the club has done its business. From withdrawing Ramsey’s contract, the treatment of Ozil, and the unceremonious departure of an injured Welbeck, to the lack of exciting ‘on-brand’ football, and some disappointing statements from the coach to the media.

If the club is to retain the involved passionate support of many among its supporters around the world, it is imperative that it goes back to honouring its values not just in words, but in deed.

Conclusion:

The final league position and improvement in points, and making the final of the Europa League are serviceable results. However, missing out on qualifying for the Champions League is disappointing, especially with the end of season collapse that caused it.

The quality of football remains suspect, issues with man management exist, and a major overhaul might be required in the immediate future.

There is once again division among the fans, and could potentially derail next season’s campaign. This makes it vital for the club to carefully, but quickly, assess their plans as pertains to the head coach, the technical director, playing staff, and budgets, and to communicate these effectively to the fans.

Shard @ShardGooner

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83 comments on “Arsenal and Emery Season Review.

  1. Thank you, Shard. I’m not sure I would have been up to revisiting this season in that much detail. But thank you for doing it, and you did a really nice job.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks ‘Bama..It was all in search of catharsis. But I think it’s more like a bloodlust and won’t let up till someone’s head rolls, lol.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Completely agree on Ozil’s wages ed. I don’t think he’s overpaid. It’s another thing if you don’t think his game suits us, or if he’s not playing at the level he was earlier (you would be wrong of course) but a large part of that money is for his image rights.

    I am also certain that Adidas paid the amount they did because they would have Ozil as the face of Arsenal in their campaign. At least that would have been part of the consideration.

    It says something about this Arsenal that after we sign the deal, we’d try to do the dirty on them and Ozil by trying to push him out to a) save some money, and b) create the need to do more ‘transfer deals’. Raul’s true passion. You can see how happy he gets even at the thought of it in that interview. First real bit of emotion I saw from the man.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Id have been swearing too Ed. Mesut seems to be endlessly the scapegoat for peoples frustrations. If the Ö goes this season and we lose Ramsey and him at the same time, then somebody/ies are not doing their job properly. I dread that we start playing Orc football. UE way doesnt seem to far away from it? Players like Ö+R need free flowing teams and managers with that kind of attitude.
    How much do the CEOs pull in a year?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “to do more ‘transfer deals’. Raul’s true passion. You can see how happy he gets even at the thought of it in that interview.”

    This must’ve been the bit that truly inspired Billy Big Blagger to chorus:

    “I really like Raul”™

    Not the objectively recorded drop in the quality of the football on the pitch but the moolah, the readies, the swag. baby.

    I hear Raul’s favourite movie is Scarface.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. George Graham didn’t get sacked for this!

    Or did he…?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. If a fraction of the reports are true, sounds like Ozil is now a flashpoint,which is a shame.
    His numbers are perhaps not what they were, but without Cazorla, Theo, Ox, quite often Ramsey, and perhaps, most of all, Alexis around him, they wouldnt be. these players could exploit the space he can find.
    Lacca and Auba are very different players. Ozil can link with the likes of Iwobi and AMN but not to the same level as the aforementioned. His artistry and master of angles is being wasted, without players he is suited to, he is easy to negate, especially away Emery would believe.
    Emerys seeming desire for high tempo pressing, counter attacks, and other aspects of his game, prob just doesnt suit ozil. Ramsey is another baffling matter

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Now a flashpoint?

    This current sequence especially the Sports Communications on the matter from Billy Big Blaggers, the “stories” in the press, was preemptively dismissed by Ozil’s agent in the build up to the Europa cup final as it was all too predictable.

    Now, certain media will only be carrying one side of the PR in this PR war, no doubt about who Billy Big Blagger is propgandaisning for.

    Unfortunately Unlike Utd AFC can’t afford to indulge the true genius of men like Woodward and Sanlehhi. Not by a long shot. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Arsene and Jose had an interesting chat on Saturday in their CL pundit work or BEIN sport, where they, mostly Arsene, talked about a team’s identity, it was about Liverpool and Spurs, but it touched on the wider issue. Both went for a Liverpool win, cos Liverpool has a team identity, “you know what you will get from Liverpool”, both tactically and formation wise was the consensus from both of them. Liverpool have their preferred formation and tactics, yes there are slight tweeks in games, but by and large Klopp sends them out with little tactical or formation change. While spurs change both.
    Arsene and Jose implied that teams that change tactics and formations constantly only confuse the players, and also play with a small mindedness, they are signally their fear of the opponent, instead of trying to impose their game plan on them, be that game plan attacking or defensive and playing on the break. Both Jose and Arsene said a team should have a vision of how it wants to play, its formation and its tactics, without this it has no identity, and players are confused.

    Many seen this convo as Wenger having a pop at Emery for his constant changing of formation and tactics, and so have dismissed it as just sour grapes, but Jose was in full agreement. I would say that what these guys said was very similar to what Martin Keown said earlier in the season when talking about Arsenal’s defensive problems, namely when you keep changing from a 4 to a 3 to a 5, at the back, the defenders can’t get settled in a formation, too much alterations from game to game, or even half to half or every 20 minutes, only confuses your team, not the opposition. The old saying of the less a player has to think about the easier his job is.

    I thought early season Emery was a man of his convictions, he was set on playing out from the back no matter what, but despite the 22 game unbeaten run, he jumped ship, of course he had to change it so often at half time that he had to do something, but how can you go from a thing being a main tactic to it barely being used at all. We went from playing it out from the back to cut back FC.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Shard I didn’t think I was being positive, just mentioned worrying trends and clutched at the youth and how quickly football can change but absolutely nothing concrete.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. If Mesut is sold I hope he gets to go where he’s really appreciated.
    I am tired of all the insults and lack of regard from dimwits.

    PSG could be the best place for him if we can do an exchange for Meunier & Kurzawa. Could it aid their FFP conundrum I wonder? Could be a win-win for both clubs…
    They’d definitely be bolstered in their quest for the CL with Ö lining up with Neymar, Mbappe, Verratti, Cavani, DiMaria & Draxler.
    We’d immediately have 2 quality wing backs, have played “spoiler” for the teams in the CL, and also UE’s ass (and Raoul’s) would be on the line for 2019/20.

    Better to be pro-active than reactive I say.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There’s that wonderful scene in the Damned Utd where Clough gets sacked by Derby and gets a right old rant from the chairmen about the “moneymen taking over from the football men”, I paraphrase but it was something like that.

    Clough went on to Forest. And was ignored and worse by the Sweet FA.

    The account in the novel shows us that the early, progressive, embrace of a Catalyst for Change worked out well for Derby FC then.

    History doesn’t repeat itself but it certainly has echoes and harmonics.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. fins –what do you think Rauls favourite lines are from Scarface?

    Liked by 2 people

  14. And yet ianspace, your message came across as positive to me. Shows you where I’m at.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I tried to leave some of that anger, disappointment and scorn behind while writing the article, especially the ‘report’ at the end. Think I did a fair job of it. If I told everyone how I really feel, no holds barred, I’d be getting banned all over the internet.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Mandy, it’s not the players. It’s the system. Ozil is being told to play the ball out wide, instead of being given the freedom to find space in the final third and play the through balls.

    I’m not sure how many remember, but that beautiful goal against Leicester. Even though it was relatively early in the season, we’d already seen some boring football. But that goal was celebrated by the team so much, because they all knew what a beautiful passage of play they had created, and it culminated in a goal. The team had FUN. I doubt they are now. They’re professionals so will get on with it. The senior guys who would speak up are being pushed out (Ramsey, Ozil, Kos, Cech). The fun is gone from Arsenal. It’s not down to Emery alone, but what happens on the pitch almost entirely is.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Ozil Key Passes (PL only):
    13-14: 2.9
    14-15: 3.1
    15-16: 4.2
    16-17: 3.0
    17-18: 3.2
    18-19: 1.9

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you Shard for the review, I also really enjoyed the other recent blogs by labo and others. I have been doing my end own of the year review about my Arsenal. I feel very much puzzled by not knowing if after 20 yrs of supporting Arsenal, was I a supporter of the team or really of Arsène? Obviously to some extent of both but which was first?

    I bought into the early PR of preserving the values, exciting football and for a while it looked promising. At some point it changed, it seems like the management (admin and on the field ) sides are in shambles, the team formations changed constantly, our top players used in a puzzling way. The pr shit that came out about Aaron insisting to play was incredible, what are we to believe, that Emery does not fill in the line up sheet, or decide on who, when subs come on?

    I found myself watching the matches with arm’s folded, thinking that for the most part we were as dull as watching paint dry. I don’t know what to believe now about OZ leaving and budget matters. Anyways it is good to have a break and see how this unfolds, I would love to be pleasantly surprised…

    Like

  19. Mills

    Brian de Palma’s description of a coke addled descent into scary madness could’ve been set on the Cally Road its so accurate! Therefore I haven’t watched the movie religiously as a fan as I found it too close to home.

    I only know the line he unleashed upon Ivan as soon as Arsene waved bye bye.

    “You wanna fuck with me? Okay. You wanna play rough? Okay. Say hello to my very leeeetle friend!”

    And after doing some research *coughs* I discovered that he may or may not have used the following line on the Barca board in order to explain why he lied in the build up and how the club lost the court case regarding the bogus Neymar transfer, and this might also explain how he left Barca and ended up AFC.

    “Okay, here’s the story. I come from the gutter. I know that. I got no education but that’s okay. I know the street, and I’m making all the right connections. With the right transfer, there’s no stopping me. I could go right to the top.”

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Shard of our comments are any measure then you’re doing a damn sight better then me
    I don’t underestimate the value and wisdom in Dharma (BSF!) even if the BJP do (second BSF!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. LOL! cheers fins-that was the line I was trying to egg put of you! LOL! When you first wrote about his fav film being Scarface I imagined him saying the line, plus the bit in the restaurant when Tones mashed and on a rant ( could have been a contender on aftv?) about “Im the bad guy you need in life ” or something along those lines.
    Anyway certainly made me laugh and the last quote about the transfers etc. Much needed these days! Thanks mate.
    Also not a film I want to see again. Strange that to me it feels more and more these days that I want to see films without violence or some kind of psychological extremism in them. Even in films about dharma, it sneaks in! Twas always thus and ever shall be I suppose?

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I see some in the media are reporting that Aubameyang has a loyalty bonus in his contract (nothing new about that), which means for every full season he stays he gets just under £4M, with it working out at something like £75k a week on top of his wages. But we can’t afford Ozil you know.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. some reports that Inter Milan are set to sign Granit Xhaka, it seems Conte has made him his top target.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I know they are all rumours, but apparently Kos and Elneny to go to Fenerbahce. Monreal to be allowed to leave. Xhaka to be sold to Inter. Ozil being pushed out of course. Plus interest in Auba and Laca. Did I forget anyone? Probably.

    Now not all of this is likely to happen. But what this will be is a complete evisceration of Wenger’s Arsenal.

    What it will also make room for is what I’ve been predicting all along. LOTS of transfers, aka Raul Montana’s cocaine.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Bloody hell, Granit must have had enough!? Was he on your potential list for going Ed? He wasnt on mine!

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Raul Montana! LOL!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Selling all these players will also buy this regime time. They’ve implanted the idea that everything at Arsenal was horrible before them. Now they get to burn it all down, and then ask for time to build it up again.

    For Raul this will mean more years of transfers, and especially, more transfers if it keeps going just a little bit wrong. Emery is a scapegoat for that. N by then you’ll also have Edu as buffer.

    I know this seems hyperbolic right now, (it’s intentional) but Raul is a HUGE problem. He’s going to destroy Arsenal from the inside, and then move on to the next host.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. some of the players to have left Arsenal since summer 2017

    Szczesny
    Cech
    Debuchy
    Gabriel
    Lichtsteiner
    Gibbs
    Coquelin
    Cazorla
    Ramsey
    Wilshere
    Campbell
    Alexis
    Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Welbeck
    Walcott
    Giroud
    Perez

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Sure seems that way Shard.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Not a bad squad on the list Ed!

    Liked by 3 people

  31. of that list 6 have left for free, and one we got a swap deal for, and I forgot to mention Mertesacker retired too. That is 18 players, 7 we got no fee for, Alexis we swapped for mkhitaryan,
    I wonder why we can’t afford big money signings, and big wages.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Xhaka continues: “I look at our season from an emotional perspective. When you are fighting for a place in the Champions League and end up losing as many unnecessary games as we did, you cannot be satisfied. That’s why I am not pleased with our campaign.”

    Liked by 2 people

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