Tag Archives: results

How Long Is Too Long For Emery?

The rumours persist, the names keep coming like a torrent.

As long as Unai Emery continues to struggle, then the likes of Mikel Arteta, Freddie Ljungberg, Jose Mourinho and Maximiliano Allegri will be tacked onto stories emanating from the media, revolving around the beleaguered head of Emery like a flock of hungry vultures.

The Spaniard would, on paper, appear to be on borrowed time. A run of no wins in five games has seen Arsenal slump down the table, creating a chasm between our club and the hallowed berths of the Champions League.

It isn’t only results that have set us fans frothing and seething, as well as set the assorted media into a frenzy.

Arsenal have lost their identity too.

Even in the lean Wenger years, we had an identity. We were just as likely to concede five goals in one game as we were to win at times, but we always played in a manner that was a joy to behold. Even when the squad was more threadbare than a Poundshop welcome matt, we still managed to put together moves that often bewitched the opposition.

Under Emery, we appear to be lost at sea. It could be a combination of our players reportedly being unclear on instructions, being played out of position like Lucas Torreira, or simply lacking the conviction that comes from having belief in the man leading the club.

If a player doesn’t think the manager is the right man, if there is an inkling of doubt, then that will shine through in performances.

Pressure Emery

Emery has been given a vote of confidence by Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi, and according to reports, he will not be sacked anytime soon – but if this run continues, then surely there can be only one way to go?

Our rivals and neighbours, Tottenham, have just sacked their long-time incumbent Mauricio Pochettino. This was because of a sequence of results that saw them slump to a position and points total eerily similar to ours.

It prompted chairman Daniel Levy into action. Does that mean that the club that was forever in our shadow, now hold themselves to standards higher than our own?

If Sanllehi and Venkatesham believe that patience is key to Emery bedding down his methods and seeing the results blossom, then after a whole season, shouldn’t we now be seeing this in some form of improvement?

Last season, Emery can be excused for what was a mighty close call to being a successful first season. Yes, our squad flopped over the line when it seemed easier to succeed, and the Europa League final will forever haunt us in terms of being one of our worst performances in quite some time.

But two matches away from finishing in the top four and winning the Europa League? That would have constituted a good debut season for Emery.

So that whet the appetite for what we would see this coming campaign.

Instead, we have been the footballing equivalent of driftwood. No identity, floating instead of heading somewhere. Aimless.

The alarming stats regarding Bernd Leno making more saves than ANY OTHER keeper at this stage of the season. The amount of shots we are giving away per game is higher than ANY OTHER side at this stage. The number of shots on target we are registering? In the last three games, we amounted six shots on target – cumulatively. That is one less than Leicester City registered in their 2-0 victory over us in just one game.

Emery has left us rudderless. Have there been any signs that this is going to be turned around?

Pochettino built up plenty of patience and goodwill in his time at Tottenham. Yet that counted for nothing when it came to the team struggling. With mounting debt and the Champions League money fading away should they miss out this season, Levy acted quickly.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester are walking away with the top four spots with no fight from us or Tottenham. Our neighbours have pushed the button to remedy their situation, in the belief that a change at the helm will get the best from the current squad and that Pochettino was no longer capable of turning it around.

Emery has had time to do the same. Sanllehi and Venkatesham have the belief that it is only a matter of time before Emery’s way will shine through and that we will begin to claw the deficit back.

With the likes of Mikel Arteta, Freddie Ljungberg, Mourinho and Allegri being possible candidates and seemingly easy to get hold of, Emery must know that in three or four results time, his number must be close.

How long before we blink?

In Sickness and Health, We’re Still All Gooners

Supporting a club is intrinsically linked to matters of the heart.

We take joy from victory, and we mire ourselves in misery when things take a turn for the worst on the pitch.

This season has been a particularly tough one for us Gooners, as our Premier League campaign has hit the skids as soon as it started – we’ve never been further away from bidding for a first title since 2004.

This season is by far the worst under Arsene Wenger, and has seemingly been the watershed moment for the majority as it is unavoidably clear that in order to move forward, we require a change in direction to shake us from the reverie we seem to be in. That change is now happening this summer.

Another change this season though, has seen another alarming rise in negativity.

There seems to be far more people who take what appears to be glee from defeat, as each demoralising defeat pushes Wenger one step closer to a corner he cannot escape. We have a large portion of so-called fans, that rear their heads whenever we lose, and use it as a catalyst to push their hate-filled agenda against Wenger.

The bottom line is clear – and always has been for Gooners.

A defeat is not to be sought, and anyone who enjoys the opportunities that come from us losing, is surely supporting the wrong club.

We enjoy it when our rivals lose, especially now that tottenham seem to be enjoying their moment in the sun. When they, United, Chelsea and Liverpool lose, it is always a positive, and normally allows us to either catch up, or in recent seasons, overhaul them for a superior position. So for one of our own to what can only be described as ‘revelling in’ it when we are beaten?

That is not supporting your club.

The vitriol aimed at Wenger has been disgraceful at times. Yes, the Frenchman seemed too stubborn to recognise that this is the time to go, and his enduring stay could well end up being a detriment to our season, and beyond. But the names and words involved have been horrible, and have no place directed at our own manager.

The very reason you are so disappointed, is the high standards you now expect. Those same standards have been instilled by Wenger. Without him, then you wouldn’t be as hurt, or angry.

Criticism is just, and some of the fare served up thus far has been dire, and deserved booing, as well as calling Wenger out on some decisions. His failure to address certain long-term issues have been a massive reason why we’re playing catch-up with the rest.

He doesn’t deserve hatred though.

Anger? Of course, and if you can’t separate the two, then you may have missed a year or two of education. It is quite easy to express displeasure without wishing harm on someone, or calling them hateful names.

Wenger has had his chips at Arsenal, and a better suited man is being lined up to come in, but Arsene should always have our respect. Even the most outspoken of our critics can see that. Lee Dixon and Ian Wright have spoken of our malaise and how Wenger needs to go, but notice the omissions of shocking language, and the need to pour scorn on the man himself.

Wenger’s results haven’t been good enough, but the man himself doesn’t warrant anyone destroying him. His capacity to do the job, perhaps, but not of himself. He has always carried himself with the utmost dignity, such is the Arsenal Way, and even in the face of some terrible results and fierce questions from the press, he has always done everything with class.

We could learn a thing or two from that approach.

It is his time to go, and at the end of the season we will face the decision to replace him. Until he goes, we judge what happens on the pitch. So let him know if things weren’t good enough, but refrain from verbally attacking him, either with keyboard or voice. It isn’t how Arsenal conducts itself.

It is hard to avoid how bad we’ve been, and he knows more than anyone how bad we’ve been. Just because he stops short of laying into his players, doesn’t mean he is oblivious to it. Picking out positives where he can is his way of maintaining what semblance of confidence he can for his players, who need that in order to play better.

Plus, if fans are stopping short of doing the same, it doesn’t mean we are crazy Wenger fanboys. We all pretty much recognise this is the end, it doesn’t mean we aren’t a little nostalgic, and even a little sad.

We want better just like the outspoken people do.

Let us unite behind the team until the time comes. Heaven knows, our team could do with the support.

2015/16 Season Review – Part One. August – December

Original Goonersphere post.

With perhaps the most surprising title winner of all time lifting the Premiership trophy, the go-to thought amongst experts and Gooners alike is that this season was a missed opportunity of epic proportions.

This is of course a disservice to Leicester City. Losing only three times all season and refusing to buckle under the huge pressure doled out by all who expected the Foxes to crumble, they showed they were worthy Champions.

Two of those three losses were inflicted by Arsenal however. So many questions regarding the events that unfolded through the season. Where was our title challenge lost? Was it really in March that the wheels came off? Or should we have expected our annual blip and made more of our games beforehand?

Fear not. This article will pore over each month and attempt to dredge up the real reason why Arsenal finished as runners-up. Gloves on. Goggles on. Let’s get started –

August

image

The season started so optimistically. Winning the Charity Shield by beating bogey side Chelsea convinced nay-sayers that we could make the final leap from also-rans to winners. Not only that, the final piece in the Arsenal team puzzle was acquired in world-class keeper Petr Cech…..

Who, in his first Premiership game against West Ham, was at fault. We lost 2-0, and optimism gave way to the more familiar vibes of morose realism.

The next game saw an away victory – a tight 2-1 win over Crystal Palace which was stilted and painful to watch – but more dropped points were to follow.

The perennial phrase ‘a game of two halves,’ was made for our 0-0 draw versus Liverpool. Denied a clear penalty in the first half, we spent the entire second half on the back foot. Plus points for proving we had defensive nous and steel, but our attacking touch had vanished once more.

We finished the month with a hard fought 1-0 away win against Newcastle United.  Not the best start to a title tilt….

End of Month Position – 5th
Leicester’s Position – 3rd
Points taken – 7/12

September

image

September started well. A routine 2-0 win over a Stoke side that was far removed from their previous incarnations meant that we were riding on the coattails of runaway leaders Manchester City. An awful start to our Champions League campaign though – a 2-1 loss to Zagreb – took away any momentum we always painstakingly gather.

An Arsenal void of confidence is a painful, laborious beast, but a golden opportunity was on the horizon. Chelsea were next up, and if we had thought we had started slowly, then the boys in blue from the Kings Road had to go one better and flirt with relegation.

This was our chance to lay to rest some awful performances and results against Jose and his team, and for Wenger to earn a first win over his Portuguese tormentor.

Everyone forgot to change the record however, so we had another defeat, we failed to score, and there was more controversy with Gabriel being sent off for an altercation with the demon that is Diego Costa. The Brazilian had his card rescinded, but the damage was done.

We rolled with the punches though. A thoroughly memorable 5-2 win at the home of Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester was ninety minutes where our attack clicked for the first time. Alexis and co blew them away with our movement and once again, we were on the crest of a wave. Could we do it on a consistent basis?

End of Month Position – 4th
Leicester’s Position – 6th
Points taken – 6/9

October

image

October was our most convincing month for league results, by far.

What a way to start as well. Our 3-0 win at The Emirates over United was our most thorough display. The first 45minutes we were rampant, and Van Gaal’s defence had no answer to the blizzard of questions we threw at them. The second half was a defensive masterclass that showed we have more than enough teeth to deal with the slings and barbs of the high end of the table.

Next up was Vicarage Road, and another 3-0 victory. This was markedly different to the previous game, as the Hornets, for 60 minutes, were more than a match, but they crumbled under the pressure we inflicted on them.

A famous 2-0 win over Bayern Munich followed this, and the belief was coursing through our side, not to mention the fanbase.

A 2-1 away win over Everton was the next triumph. Two goals in the first half was enough to see Arsenal at the top of the league – the first time since February 2014.

The only blip on October was the embarrassing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. The fans who watched and attended this game are still attending counselling sessions…..

The month ended with a 3-0 win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. All three goals were scored in the second half, which showed that patience and not deviating from an effective gameplan were becoming another arrow to what looked like an impressive quiver.

End of Month Position –  2nd (GD separated us from 1st)
Leicester’s Position – 3rd
Points taken – 12/12

November

image

If October brought us bountiful pleasure, November was the polar opposite. The 2-0 victory over Bayern? Erased comprehensively with a 5-1 drubbing.

We had three Premier League games this month. First up was a 1-1 draw in the North London derby, a point that on the basis of play, we scarcely deserved. Kieran Gibbs was the unlikely hero as he rescued our point from yet another Ozil delivery.

Next was a 2-1 loss at The Hawthorns. We took the lead – Ozil supplying Giroud which gave him seven assists in seven games – but James Mclean equalised, but worse was to come.

Mikel Arteta, on for the injured Coquelin, diverted a cross into his own net, for a heartbreaking cameo. The second half saw the inevitable pressure poured onto a Baggies backline, and we even had a late penalty to restore balance, but Santi Cazorla slipped as he kicked and the ball was sent into orbit.

To compound the growing ill-feeling, we then went to Carrow Road and drew 1-1. November truly was awful, and with hindsight, it was to prove quite telling….

End of Month Position – 4th
Leicester’s Position – 2nd (only GD separated them from top spot)
Points taken – 2/9

December

image

The fixtures came thick and fast in the festive schedule – which was a blessing. When hiccups occur, it is always good that the next opportunity for redemption isn’t far away.

The previous horror show of a month wasn’t quite erased, but our 3-1 over Sunderland at home meant we were at least back to winning ways. It was followed up by a regulatory 2-0 victory over whipping boys Aston Villa.

We were still within touching distance of the top, and dreams had every right to flourish. They downright burst into vivid colour when we defeated fellow title contenders Manchester City 2-1. Two first half goals from Walcott (his goal was one of his few highlights of a poor season) and Giroud, set up a second half where once again our defensive merits were put to the test. Yaya Toure scored a late goal, but our line held firm and the three points reinvigorated our team – and our fans.

Arsenal being Arsenal though, meant we couldn’t enjoy ourselves for too long before we fell on our face. A 4-0 hammering at the hands of Ronald Koeman’s Southampton – thoroughly deserved as well – showed that whilst our squad may be stronger, our mentality was fragile.

We ended the month with a 2-0 win at home over Bournemouth, but the result against the Saints had left scars. We were at the top of the league at the halfway point. A great position to be in for the new year.

End of Year Position –  1st
Leicester’s Position – 2nd – 1point behind.
Points taken – 12/15
Points taken for the season so far –  39/57

The second half of the season to follow in Part 2!