Tag Archives: Arteta

The Ozil Environment

A victory over Manchester United is always something noteworthy.

We can disregard both sides’ relatively low positions in contrast to where we resided in loftier times.

For us fans, a win over one of our biggest rivals always matters.

One win in fifteen, our worst run at home since the 50s, our new head coach Mikel Arteta had his work cut out to not only get us back into some form of contention – but just to get us back up from our haunches.

And the manner in which he did that in this win was perhaps overshadowed the result.

We harried, we hustled, we gave no inch. Players like Rashford, Martial, they would have caused no end of torment to our ragged defence if they were allowed to.

But those two and their cohorts were superbly marshalled.

We had David Luiz rejuvenated, stopping everything in his path.

We had the much-maligned Granit Xhaka intercepting and distributing constantly, always in the right spot when needed.

We had Lucas Torreira in his natural position and he was a whirling dervish of action, putting himself where others fear to tread and winning the ball like it was going out of fashion.

Hell, we even had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tracking back, covering his full-back and covering plenty of ground.

Then there was Ozil.

The stereotype of Mesut Ozil should have evaporated by now. Stat upon stat of the German’s penchant for activity is all too often overlooked, but he yet again covered plenty of ground, bettered only by Torreira and Xhaka.

He also won the ball back more than any other team mate. Ten times all in all.

Those are numbers that any self-respecting box-to-box midfielder would be proud of, but this was our number ten.

Where was this Ozil when Emery needed him?

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Was this simply a switch of tactics and instructions set out by a new boss?

No, it is down to man-management.

Unai Emery often left out Ozil entirely, not even in the matchday squad. It was a case of the Spanish coach drawing a line, letting Ozil know that it was his way or the highway. Play the way I want you to or you won’t play at all.

Eventually, with results withering, he had no alternative but to play Ozil, but with confidence low and the bond between coach and player at an all time low, Ozil had little to no impact on proceedings.

David Luiz was interviewed after our win against United, and his comments gave us all a peek behind the veil of times under Emery. Luiz spoke of the happiness returning to the squad since Arteta took over, which by means of common sense, speaks of a malaise under Emery.

The manner in which Arteta hugged his playmaker after the victory on the pitch speaks volumes, and Ozil is now trusted, he feels that he is valued. That means the world to the player it seems, and his efforts on the pitch may not have reaped an assist, but his efforts meant so much more.

All he needed was a coach who valued him.

Unai Emery Set to be Next Arsenal Boss

Former PSG and Sevilla manager, Unai Emery, looks to be the next Arsenal manager, according to BBC Sport.

David Ornstein, BBC Sport correspondent and the man who often breaks Arsenal news via social media, stated that the Arsenal Board have unanimously agreed on the 46 year old Emery, who is set to be announced by the club later this week.

Unai Emery, the next Arsenal manager

Sky Sports Spanish football correspondent Guillame Balague commented on the situation early yesterday, stating that Emery was in talks with Arsenal and was in London. With most already accepting Mikel Arteta as the next Gunners boss, this was surprising news.

Arteta is now out of the running – whether this is because he turned it down or if he was even offered the managers role is up for debate – and Emery is close to being confirmed, with an announcement expected within days.

Emery earned his stripes at Sevilla, winning three successive Europa League trophies with the Spanish club, during his stint from 2013-16, but he has seen success throughout his managerial career.

In his first job at Spanish side Lorca, he took the club to the second tier for the first time in their history. A move to Almeria beckoned, and he earned a first ever promotion with the Andalusians. They finished a respectable eighth in their first season in the top flight.

Then, a switch to the big boys. Emery replaced Ronald Koeman at Valencia in 2008. The club were in serious financial trouble, but he still guided them to European qualification. His second season then saw him achieve a fantastic top 3 finish in La Liga, which he again replicated the following season – even after selling his top stars Villa and Silva.

An ill-fated switch to Spartak Moscow – his spell lasted just six months, followed, but it was his return to Spanish football with Sevilla that underlined his managerial chops.

Three Europa League wins out of three seasons was the result for Emery, and two fifth place finishes. It was his electric brand of football that really excited though. Sevilla cut through opposition ruthlessly, and their counter-attacks were swift. They could defend stoutly, but their pacy attack was what grabbed the glory in Europe.

A move to PSG was a mixed bag for Emery, mainly because of the bottomless pockets meant that expectation could only be sated with lifting the Champions League trophy. He failed to win the cup, but his band of hastily strung-together stars still dominated Ligue Un.

Now he is set for Arsenal, with skillful players but a desperate need for new tactics – and a more taciturn defence.

Can he deliver? He has the nous and the experience at the top level – all we can do is back him to succeed.

Old Pals Act to Help or Hinder Arteta?

It’s often said about the workplace, that having your closest people around you is a mistake. The phrase, ‘don’t sh*t on your doorstep’ can probably surmise this far better for you, but does this also apply to former players returning to the club in a coaching capacity?

Mikel Arteta is the name lined up to succeed Arsene Wenger, and the Spaniard’s lack of managerial experience will be reportedly offset by the coaching framework around him.

There are other names that are being mentioned though, that may well be as big a gamble as hiring our former player himself.

The names in the frame to form a coaching team around him are all former Gunners, could this unbalance Arteta’s own vision, which is hewn from his own experiences under other managers and styles? .

Can former teammates and ex-Gunners benefit the status quo?

Does friendship between Arteta and Mertesacker, for example, undermine any potential targets however?

It was often said about Wenger that he needed a sounding board for some of his ideas, and he needed an objective voice occasionally. Someone to allow him to see scenarios from a different set of shoes.

Is this same chemistry set to continue? Does a buddy-buddy relationship or other strong ideas about the club mean that Arteta will lack the ability to give decisions the extra thought they require from a different view?

No, quite frankly.

There may well be doubts surrounding Arteta’s capacity for this mammoth role, but hiring Santi Cazorla – as discussed before he reportedly decided to leave the club – or any other former Gunner to lend their wealth of experience can only benefit him and the players under his tutelage.

Henry, Pires, Ljungberg and BFG are also well versed in the ways of Arsenal, something that is high on the priority list for the Board.

Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires each have different likelihoods of coming in as part of the extensive team that will back up Arteta,, and each of them would be a huge plus for our side – for differing reasons.

Per Mertesacker is now our Academy man, watching over our kids as they attempt to make the grade. Freddie Ljungberg is also set to rejoin us as a coach, and both are excellent appointments.

Not only do they have the necessary badges, but they also know Arsenal and what it takes to represent us at the highest level.

Crucially though, they also love the club. Isn’t that an ingredient that is important?

Of course, we could hire some merc who has a chest full of glittering medals, but when it comes to the crunch, will they give everything? Will they go above and beyond?

Ljungberg, Henry et al would make sure our kids and our first team would play for the cannon above all else.

We shouldn’t judge these men on former coaching merits. With the likes of Mee, Graham and Wenger himself having precious little experience in the way of top flight management, we should see these appointments as the heralding of a new era, rather than a cut-price attempt at success.

Arteta in the dugout, aided and abetted by A club icon, can only help Arteta. Much the same as if he had an old hand next to him, slowly handing him the reins. Arteta needs to do this his way – and if he had an assistant manager who had seen and done it all, then that may muddy Arteta’s field of vision.

We need to take a big gamble, but if it pays off, we could enjoy a Spanish renaissance.

Friendship could just be the icing on this particular cake.

No Room For Heroes At Arsenal?

During his playing career at Arsenal, Thierry Henry could do no wrong. Every deft touch from his divine feet was manna from heaven for Gooners, and the mark he left at the club cannot be underestimated.

The next inevitable step for a man cast in bronze outside the stadium is management, and it looked like the first rung on the managerial ladder was attained when Henry accepted a position at London Colney as the Under-18 coach.

His experience, his gravitas, his reputation at the club all melded together to create a potential that looked like it would sweep him to the top when Arsene Wenger finally decided to loosen his grip on the reins.

Instead, a hero without a blemish has left the club – and he is just another in a growing horde that have either been forgotten by Arsenal, or shunned altogether in regards to a place in the coaching staff under Arsene.

Continue reading No Room For Heroes At Arsenal?

Ramsey Needs to Beat Ramsey To Hold Down Spot

Aaron Ramsey shares a common trait with a slew of Arsenal players. He has shown us exactly what he is capable of – a level of midfield dominance in keeping with the finest in the game.

Another shared thread with some of his fellow Gunners is that he also struggles with the high bar he has set himself.

Continue reading Ramsey Needs to Beat Ramsey To Hold Down Spot

Goodbye – Not Sorry – Seems To Be The Hardest Word

An original Goonersphere article.

During the final match of this past season, it was easy to overlook the fact that three players who had spent a cumulative 22 years at our club, were there to bid farewell to Arsenal, and to Gooners everywhere.

Continue reading Goodbye – Not Sorry – Seems To Be The Hardest Word

It’s Happened Again – For The 21st Year……

We had plenty of time to adjust to it.

Any occasion in which events go against the grain, it is difficult to acclimatise to the new settings.

We had the whole of the second half of this season to wrap our heads around the fact that our neighbours – who for so long squirmed under our boot – had finally wriggled free of our supremacy and were going to reverse tradition.

Continue reading It’s Happened Again – For The 21st Year……

Arsenal Vs Aston Villa – Match Preview

Well, we have finally reached the end of the 2015-16 season, and the majority of Gooners will be mightily relieved this is the case.

This campaign has seen more missed opportunities than an Ade Akinbiyi season, not to take away the fabulous achievements of Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City. With a squad more than capable of constructing a title challenge, yet in the home straight, Arsenal were staving off challenges from the Manchester clubs for the coveted Top4 spots.

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Continue reading Arsenal Vs Aston Villa – Match Preview

The Arsenal Job Centre – Offering a Future To The Futureless

Originally featured on Goonersphere

The exterior of the building was as abject as the interior. A squat, dumpy looking two-storey with nothing in particular to draw any attention to it.

The main entrance was the only detachment from the mundane, with double automatic doors which opened without effort.   Inside the building, as soon as you passed the double-door threshold, the room opened out. Filling the cavernous space were so many identical pine desks and lumbar support office chairs. It was as if Ikea had made a nest. The walls were a shade of beige which trapped sunlight and smothered it in boredom.

Make no mistake, this was the place that dreams went to die.

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Continue reading The Arsenal Job Centre – Offering a Future To The Futureless

Next Season’s Captain?

This article was published in the Gooner Fanzine, which can be found outside The Emirates on matchday.

In any walk of life, no matter the capacity, a figure will emerge from the herd. This person, whether vocal or not, will be looked to when decisions are to be made. These figures, these leaders, are nominated by the rest of the pack for good reason.

When the rough seas broil and threaten to capsize the ship, then only the firmest hand should be on the tiller. When a difficult customer is haranguing, threatening and demanding action, then the Manager should be the most sage head in the building. When the rest of your team are pinned down by enemy paintballs and with no apparent means of escape, then it is the most proactive that gives hope.

All these qualities are necessary for a leader to warrant respect from their comrades. As a Gooner, we have had a recent past littered with token Skippers – those who have been chosen simply to lure these mercenaries away from the exit door. They wore the armband but subconsciously or not, their teammates knew of their impending departure. This in turn would lessen the impact any words that would be uttered by these want – away rogues. It was futile to give such an honour to a player who couldn’t give a jot for the club in the first place.

How could they effectively lead the team they care little for? Luckily enough, we have had an improvement in the armband stakes in the last few seasons. Not since Van Persie slithered his way to Manchester United have we had a captain who carries little to no weight when he spoke.

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Since his acrimonious departure, we have had Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker. We have had sporadic skippers, such as Laurent Koscielny, but these players above have been the majority. The Belgian roamer may have left, but there can be no doubt that these players were a vast improvement on the previous incumbents.

Whilst Cesc Fabregas may have been vocal and led well, his limited experience would be a hindrance. William Gallas had the experience and he always brought the noise, but being slightly unhinged was his undoing. Whilst Thierry Henry would only demand the best from his teammates, his style of leadership wasn’t for everyone.

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Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker both have excellent amounts of experience, they command respect from the dressing room to the pitch and they are vocal when the need arises. They both were the correct choice, but now time is running down on Mikel’s playing career, and Per Mertesacker – whilst he may have a few miles left in the tank – will more than likely be facing a battle for games next season.

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So who should our Skipper be next season?

Every league campaign is vital, but with Chelsea getting a new man at the helm, City having the golden boy of Management in Guardiola, and United looking at alternatives to the controversial and dreary Van Gaal – next season will be tougher than it ever has been. A Skipper to keep the troops in line and all singing from the same hymn sheet is the order of the day.

Seeing as Koscielny has already had a taste for it, shouldn’t he be the natural choice? What about Coquelin, as he is a talisman in the centre and isn’t shy about coming forward?

No. The answer lies in goal.

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Petr Cech is the natural successor and heir to the Captains Armband. Some will scoff at this and say that a true Captain cannot bark orders from goal, they cannot dictate in the manner that a true leader should. To this, I answer Peter Schmeichel and David Seaman. Both men could make themselves heard all the way to the opposite end of the pitch. The most important factor is that when they did shout, their teammates most definitely listened.

Petr Cech is already a spokesman of sorts. He has been the one who has offered the most succinct of soundbites when the chips were down this season. After drawing disappointingly against Southampton and losing ground in the title race, it was the giant Czech that came out to the media and gave Gooners hope.

His vast amount of experience can only be beneficial. He can organise from the back with aplomb after being coached by Jose Mourinho in the art of asphyxiation football. He can be who Arsenal needs in the dark times.

When the chips are down, you want a man who can pick up his men by the scruff of their neck and with a few choice words, have them ready to die for you in a moments notice. When Cech speaks, they all listen. When Cech speaks, WE all listen. His choice of words, despite it being his second language, is always sensible and well thought out.

If we were a goal up but facing Barcelona and had to keep them out through excellent organisation, then surely Cech would be the first choice?

The giant-handed, becapped Czech needs to be Arsenal’s skipper next season. He may have earned us upwards of ten points this season, but as Skipper – he could tip the scales in our favour.  Already making a difference, but with everyone looking to Cech for inspiration, our goalkeeper could do a lot more than keep clean sheets.