Tag Archives: valencia

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.

Gabriel and Decisions

Published on Goonersphere.

For years, us Gooners were crying out for a bit of mettle on the pitch.


Season after season of matches where we folded like a wet pack of cards, in the face of the merest hint of physicality from our opposition.


With concerted pressing and a few choice kicks off the ball, our aesthetically pleasing football was reduced to a plodding display which lacked the dynamism to really optimise our footballing brain.


We needed a hatchet man.


Arsenal have always had that player that rode into view when our enemy were getting ideas above their station. When his teammates needed protecting, players like Peter Storey, the entire famous Back4, Patrick Vieira – that ilk of player that never backed down. Sometimes to the cost of a red card, but their strength inspired their cohorts, and they felt braver as a result.


So when Brazilian Gabriel was signed in 2015, the omens were good that we had a player to crack a few skulls when the time came to it.








The toothy defender joined from Villareal, and the Spanish side had been climbing La Liga thanks to their imperious defence. 


Along with Mateo Musacchio and Victor Ruiz, the ‘Yellow Submarine’ had proved the toughest nut to crack in Spain.


Gabriel had a reputation for no-nonsense defending, but could carry the ball if he was asked to. His transfer fee meant hopes were high amongst us all, and I went to the match which was his debut in an Arsenal shirt – the FA Cup tie versus Middlesbrough.


It was a 2-0 routine game which really should have seen Arsenal score more, but Gabriel stood out with his aerial prominence. He looked strong, and had the potential to form a bedrock should he be given the chance.


He made 21 appearances in the league that season, 19 the season after. There were also plenty of opportunities in the various cups too.


These numbers represent ample chances to prove his worth, to show he can handle the unique demands the Premier League offers.


What has been abundantly clear is that whilst Gabriel’s reactionary defences are strong, his decision-making is not up to par. When given the time, the Brazilian made constant rash decisions which gave away set-pieces.


There were periods when Gabriel looked the part. Last season he was called into the side to play as an emergency right-back, and he did not let us down. He was solid, his positioning was error-free – he did the job effectively.


He couldn’t keep his place though. Gabriel simply gives away too many fouls, goes to ground too often in last-gasp tackles that have a low percentage of success, and couldn’t bond with his defensive partners.


His much-vaunted troubles with the English language didn’t help, but we have had many foreign imports and they have all had to learn the dialect, so why was it so difficult for Gabriel?


Who knows. What is certain is that his departure, for slightly less than he was purchased for, was a dilemma of sorts.


Some cried out after he was sold, saying he was a great backup and we still need defensive numbers. The dilemma though, was that it was either Gabriel or Calum Chambers who would have left the club – and Chambers is a far better long-term option.


Firstly, the England man’s age weighs in his favour. Secondly, his Under-21 displays as Captain show what he is capable of – as well as his record under severe duress in his season on loan with a poor Middlesbrough side.


Chambers could still develop into a fantastic defender. He IS a fantastic defender, but needs a chance.


Gabriel had his chance, and whilst he could have forged a career in the Premiership, Arsenal deserved better than what he could give. It feels sad to say that because, above all else – Gabriel left everything on the pitch when he pulled on the shirt.

If we could have all of our current players have the same burning desire Gabriel showed in every minute he played for us, then we would have a squad that competes far more than it does right now.


Thank you Gabriel, and we all hope you find your way at Valencia.

Shkodran Mustafi – The Thinking Man’s Defender

Originally posted on Goonersphere

Shkodran Mustafi has earned his former club a decent sum via the defender’s transfer to Arsenal, and while there are mitigating factors to the high transfer fee, it should not overshadow what a special player we have signed.

The figure is a reported £35million, and Valencia were always going to hold out for the maximum amount. The Spanish club are in dire straights in regards to their fiscal situation, and despite their wishes to hold on to the German, a large amount of numbers on a cheque was always going to be the answer they were looking for.

With Mustafi also being 24, it means he can provide a stable foundation for many years to come. 

The German international is of course a World Cup winner, which addsa certain lustre to his name, but he did so playing on the right of the defence. His versatility is another string to his bow, as he is just as comfortable in either position. 

The man with the name that cannot fit into a chant can boast of a wealth of experience, which at such a young age is a huge asset over defenders of the same age. Mustafi started in the youth systems of Germany, but an early move to Everton – where he made a single substitute appearance – and subsequent transfers to Sampdoria and Valencia have given him a baptism to all styles of football. His spell in Italy in particular, where defending is an art form, will be of particular use.

His experience, his versatility, all make a huge difference. Another tick in the box is his exemplary technique. There are a host of videos on Youtube which showcase the German’s deft touch, juggling the ball with all parts of his boots and making it look simple. Not exactly in the typical defenders skillset – aside from Laurent Koscielny of course (who can forget his skill and rabona finish from twenty odd yards in a warm up last year?).

Mustafi you see, is more of your modern-day cerebral defender. The monolithic sentry-type of defender still exist, and the best partnerships are often a mix of the two, but Mustafi isn’t a tackle merchant. 

He is strong in the air, but what is most apparent is that there isn’t a weakness in his armour. He can deal with all types of threat, from the speedster on his shoulder to the target man with the flailing elbows. Physical battles, a flat dash to a loose ball – all of these situations Mustafi can, and has, dealt with succinctly.

He is the perfect successor to the aging Mertesacker. Our very own BFG still has much to offer, but his heir apparent is in the same mould as his fellow German. Both have excellent positioning and can quell threats with a simple movement, rather than a madcap reactionary run. With Mustafi also possessing adequate pace, we have potentially a Mertesacker 2.0.

Which should be excellent news for Koscielny, who formed the other half of one of our better partnerships in recent years – but also us fans.

With Koscielny and Mustafi in the centre of our defence, we have a bedrock to build on, and even when we have committed more men forward than we should have, with those two at the back, we will be on surer footing than in previous years.

We really can now boast of a defence worthy of a title tilt. Shkodran Mustafi is worth every penny if he can show why he was in last seasons LaLiga Team of the Season as part of a struggling Valencia side.

Shkodran Mustafi – German Defender Finally Signs For Arsenal

Arsenal finally announced the capture of Shkodran Mustafi, and the German could be the long term answer to our clubs defence.

click for official story

Whether you agree with Arsenal’s transfer methods or not, the signing of defender Shkodran Mustafi must be taken as a signal of intent. 

The German international has officially put pen to paper on a five year deal, and the £35m signing has the pedigree to go with the mammoth transfer fee.

At just 24 years old, the full German international is more than the stereotypical astute German defender, and his experience in his relatively short career give him an edge over many.

Here are some things you may not know about Mustafi, and why we Gooners can look forward to an assured presence at the back.

Mustafi is a former Toffee

Yup. Starting his career at Hamburg SV, he was snapped up by Everton in 2009 and played for their youth team for three years, and making one substitute appearance for the first team in that time. It means he will have an advantage regarding acclimatising to the fast paced Premier League, and can hit the ground running.


He has played in Italy, England and Spain

Leaving Everton for Sampdoria for a mere £64k, he went on to make 53 appearances in his time with the Italian club, which attracted Valencia to shell out just shy of £7m for his signature in the summer of 2014. Testing himself against a wide variety of opposition, and being able to settle in to life in different countries, means that Mustafi possesses a mental toughness which will be invaluable as a defender.In fact, he is the only German World Cup winner never to have played in the Bundesliga.


He can fill in at Right-Back

Mustafi earned the greatest accolade of his career – the World Cup in 2014 – largely being played out of position. Primarily a centre-back, he gained worldwide recognition slotting in on the right of Germany’s defence. A pretty valuable asset given our woeful injury record year after year!


He isn’t simply a defender, he’s far more than that

Type his name into the video section of your search engine, and there are a plethora of montages showing our new German displaying some rather excellent ball-juggling. He certainly possesses more than just a clearance, and playing out from the back is certainly within his skillset. For Valencia, especially last season, his coolness under pressure was tested to the max as his side struggled at times, but Mustafi performed well. 

There are many other parts that make up the defender, but those above are relevant as to how he will benefit our side. He is known to be good friends with Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker, and solidarity amongst his teammates cannot be underestimated. 

His price tag may be an albatross around his neck, but so far, nothing seems to have been too tough a challenge, from moving countries to learning new tactics implemented by the variety of coaches he has worked under. 

What has been noticed in his time at Valencia, is that technically he is sound, but he is not the shouty leader that many central defenders evolve into – although he certainly lets his teammates know about their errors if needs be! He showed enough to earn the captaincy temporarily for the Spanish team, so he can adapt if the need arises. 

So, we have acquired a young, talented World Cup winner who has experience playing in top leagues and can immediately make an impact upon the team. Shkodran Mustafi may be a masterstroke in the transfer market and he has the potential to be a cornerstone of the side for many years.