Emery Can Learn from Mercedes’ Toto Wolff How to Treat the Genius of Mesut Ozil

You can never turn a tiger into a hyena, or an osprey into a magpie. Mesut Ozil is a hard-thinking, hard-running, intelligent player, a genius at finding and creating space and he possesses that rare overview of the entire pitch and sense where the ball needs to be played next. Mesut is of course also the former king of the key pass as well as king of assists in the PL. Yet Unai Emery is desperate to change him into a hard-chasing, constantly harassing hyena/magpie, and in the process he is killing a very loyal Gunner, and with that the quality of the football we play.

Oh I’ve heard people say, Mesut is ‘an employee’ and needs to do what he’s been told to do. They say that he has not been giving his all and is far too stubborn. They say Ozil should grow some balls and fit into ‘the system’ – WETF that is.

“The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives anything except genius.” Oscar Wild

Oh how wrong they are. A genius like Mesut Ozil only comes around every ten years at a club like Arsenal. Mesut is like Dennis and Cesc: players who bring the game to life and around whom a team needs to be build. Key is to leave them be, embrace them, love them, and listen to them. Today I read an interview with Toto Wolff of Mercedes and I reckon he understands much better how a genius needs to be treated. Talking about Lewis Hamilton, the highly successful Formula1 Mercedes driver, he said:

Most important is to acknowledge that we are all different individuals and we need different frameworks in order to perform well”.

“Lewis is somebody who needs to be able to pursue his other ambitions and interests. And rather than putting somebody in a box and saying, ‘This is how a racing driver needs to behave – you need to be on time, you need to avoid jet lag before the race, or don’t record music overnight when you are jet-lagged but try to sleep,’ I realised very early on that giving him the freedom of pursuing his interests, we were able to extract more performance on track.”


Wolff is talking about Lewis’ outside of work activities and personal interests, which is of course not an issue with Mesut. But key in it all is to accept a genial sportsman for what they are and how they are wired. Wolff does not force Hamilton to be an exemplary driver on AND off the pitch but rather opts to embrace his full character, qualities and needs, resulting in a happy and yet highly performing driver when it matters. It takes an intelligent and humble manager to understand this.


I reckon it is not yet too late for Emery to accept Mesut for what he is and has to offer. Build a team around him and show him the respect he deserves. Provide him with a bespoke framework so he can perform to maximum levels once more and from which all will benefit. By embracing Ozil’s genius and showing him the respect that he has earned,  and by not forcing him into the one-framework-for-all he wants his players to fit into, Emery can still both save Arsenal and his own career. He is a lucky man to have Ozil, but a fool to misunderstand/mistreat him.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Arsenal 2019-2020 Campaign: 4-1-2-3 with Ozil and Iwobi as AMs and a ‘Busquets’ as DM?

It is very quiet on the transfer market for Arsenal, it seems. With about a month to go till the start of the new season, this is not what we had hoped for. It looks like the club want to strengthen the left side with bids for Tierney and Zaha. However, it has gone quiet re the former and we and Crystal Palace appear nowhere near a deal for Zaha the Gooner. Ah the life of a Gooner in summertime!!

I have not heard from Emery publicly for a while and he must be worried that Arsene has yet to decide what he will be doing next. I would not be surprised if he is waiting for a heroic return as interim manager at the Home of Football. But many a Gooner believe that Emery will get it right next season, so let’s see how this could be established.


Before I come up with a way to get the best out of the squad we have, which believe it or not is a good one, let me make some assumptions re Emery’s options and views:

  1. Defending is not his main focus and the return of Holding and Bells will be like two new signings: other than possibly a LB nobody else will be bought in defence this summer and Holding will become his main CB around which the defence will be established;
  2. He wants to play attacking football but has struggled to get the balance in midfield right. With Xhaka and Torreira the team plays too deep for him and with Guendouzi (and Rambo, albeit less so) in the B2B role he leaves the back too exposed. Rambo is gone and Guendo remains a work in progress, and the same would go for the likes of EMR, Willock and AMN);
  3. To get the balance right he has to decide whether to sit naturally more deep with two footballing DMs (Xhaka and Tor) or push up with just one DM and two AMs close to the attackers. For this he will need a ‘Busquets’ (or a Frenkie de Jong) which may not be Xhaka or Torreira, although the latter (and also AMN and Willock over time) could be developed into one;
  4. I expect us to go for one DM and two AMs next season, especially once Bells is back and another LB has been added to the squad (most likely Tierney). These will add speed and tenacity to our midfield;
  5. I don’t expect us to play 3-4-3 next season, as this has not really worked for us in terms of balance in midfield and at the back. Four at the back seems the way forward once our best full back options are available;
  6. We have great attackers and with Welbeck and Rambo gone we need to add further firepower to the team: either by buying or by hoping that one of the youngsters can step up: will this be Iwobi’s breakthrough season? Will Nelson hit the ground running? Will Eddie come good? Will Mesut find his stride again?
  7. Youngsters will get a chance but not significantly so. The demands of the PL are too high to take too much risk re introducing too many youngsters in one season. However, we should see more of AMN, ESR and Nelson and possibly Willock and Eddie. We are desperate for some of these to break through, especially in terms of producing assists and scoring goals.
  8. Based on the above, I expect us to buy another attacker: especially a left winger is required (first priority). We may also buy a mobile, athletic and visionary DM to play behind the two AMs but they may be hard to find. We may add a LB but I still believe that Nacho will be our main one for the coming season.

The formation below should give us a strong attacking edge with the emphasis of pushing back opponents in their own half as much as possible:

submit football lineup

Key to it all is that Iwobi and Ozil will be working close together in a 4-1-2-3 formation and conduct our attacks and keep the pressure on the opponents’ defences AND that we add better wing power with the addition of a ‘Zaha’ type player – and Nelson on the right wing is also an exciting prospect.


Our attackers will get much better service and our defence will get less exposed as we try to dominate games in the opponent’s half. This style of play would suit best Arsenal’s 21st century football philosophy and Emery’s ‘win games 4-3 or 5-4’ approach, I reckon. Finally, with the reintroduction of Holding and Bels we will add energy and speed to our defending; and SuperSok (and occasionally Koz) will add further calm and organisation to it.

So just a couple of buys could give us a new lease of football life we so desperately need. Let’s use what we have and realign and reenergise our talents, whilst adding a bit of quality in key areas (and one or two youngsters). All to play for!

What do you think, fellow Gooners?

By TotalArsenal.


Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Why We Cannot Afford to Sell either Auba or Laca and NEED a ‘Zaha’ too

… and keep our romanticism re using lots of youngsters under control…

Remember those bad first halves we used to play at the start of last season? We sat back and made ourselves seem vulnerable and thus invited and encouraged the opponents to come and have a go. We were desperate for space to operate in, and by sitting back and having a go at teams with quick rebounds and counter-attacks we sometimes got the first goal. Unfortunately, it just as often did not work as we regularly conceded during those first halves, leaving Emery no other option than to take off players during the break as to turn things round again (and in the process affecting their confidence and not doing much good to the player-manager relationships – the days of the effective autocratic manager are well and truly behind us, thank Dennis).

Luckily, we had the likes of Torreira, Ramsey and Auba on the bench: the sort of big guns that can really make a difference. For a while, this formula worked but during the second half of the season we saw our super-subs more and more used from the start rather than from the benh.

There is no doubt that we cannot pooh-pooh the need for having a strong bench of players to change things round if and when necessary. For this we need experienced and self-motivated players who have the quality and confidence to have a meaningful impact on the game within a short period of time. Youngster are almost always not suitable for this.


Ramsey is gone and Torreira really has to feature in games from the start, so Auba is the only one left who could start on the bench and be our supersub-hero later on in games next season.

I am going to state the bleeding obvious that to win games we need to score goals – lots of goals given our lack of prioritisation of defensive discipline these days. Auba and Laca had a share in 48 of our 73 PL games (35 goals and 13 assists), so it does not take a genius to realise how dependent we are on them. That is why the idea of selling either Auba or Laca really does not wash with me. We need them both, and if we don’t buy another quality attacker (like Zaha for example), Arsenal will simply not score enough next season now that Ramsey and Welbeck are no longer donning the home of football.

It is all good and well to say we need to give more of our youthful players a chance, but you only have to look back at the likes of Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, and many a young CF, to conclude that the one thing young players struggle with is producing the bread and butter stuff: assists and goals.

So for me it is clear that we need to keep both Auba and Laca and need to buy another quality attacker to add both assists and goals next season. We need to have the firepower at the start of the game and on the bench if and when it’s required.

But what do you think?

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Tierney, Zaha, Bellerin and Nelson: Now Xhaka and Ozil have Serious Weapons to Play With!

It has been hard for our midfield maestros to produce the goods last season. Xhaka and Ozil have formidable passing ability but they really had little to play with, especially on the wings. And without effective wing-play even the very best creative midfielders will come to look poor. I know quite a few believe Granit and Mesut are not good enough but imagine a left wing with Tierney and Zaha and a right wing with Bells and Nelson. Our young and upcoming Nigerian star, Iwobi, is also developing fast, and he and Auba and Mkhi can also add something different to our wing-play next season.

All of a sudden we really are a team with wings, and as Emery does not really believe in defending we may as well invest in those positions and become a ‘score one more than we concede’ sort of team, as he solemnly promised us when Gazidis recruited him last summer.

Our team could look like this next season:

submit football lineup

Of course it will only work if Emery can also sort out our midfield balance, which means he will either properly partner up Xhaka and Torreira in deeper laying midfield roles, or he has to come up with something different, especially now that Rambo has deserted us. Only Dennis knows whether he is capable of doing so, and we will see what he will come up with during his second season.

For Tierney and Zaha the club have made offers and we will probably have to wait for a long  time before the negotiations will be concluded. Will we get them both this summer? You tell me. It was obvious that we need to strengthen our left wing this summer, as we were pretty toothless there for most of the previous season. Kola’s final ball was not bad but his defending was nothing to write home about; and Nacho is not able to reach a high levels of consistently anymore. So we need another option on LB. Is Tierney the man, though? I think so but only time will tell. Zaha is a class player with a Gooner heart and he will offer us that extra width and penetration that was missing so much last season. The Ivory Coast international will bring goals and assists from the left and no doubt form fine partnerships with Ozil, Laca and Auba, etc.

On the right we had a strong wing when Bells was fit and firing on all cylinders. He should be back in a few months time and this will improve the team significantly. We also have Reiss Nelson who did not play that much for Hoffenheim last season, yet still managed to score a goal every 90 minutes in the Bundesliga (seven in total). That is impressive for a man born just 21 days before Millennium Eve and playing in a foreign land. Furthermore, most people have given up on Mkhi but he is still a good player to have available and he will also benefit from the return of Hector next season.

So it looks like Arsenal are going to invest heavily in our left wing and I reckon that is the right thing to do. What do you think?


By TotalArsenal!


Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Raul, Vinai and Others: Our Home Address is…. The Arsenal!


We are the:-
6th most valuable football club in Europe @ Forbes,
8th highest revenue earner in Europe @ Forbes,
9th highest wage spender in Europe @ UEFA,
28th placed, ’18/19 season rating, in the top 5 European Leagues @WhoScored.

Based on the size of our club we should be 6th placed. 28th is a gross underperformance.

We are the:-
3rd most valuable football club in EPL (behind United and City) @ Forbes,
4th highest revenue earner in EPL (behind United, City and ‘Pool) @ Forbes,
5th highest wage spender in EPL (behind United, Chelsea, City and Pool) @ UEFA,
6th highest  transfer spender (gross) in EPL over the last 5 years (behind City, United, Chelsea, Pool, Everton) @ Transfer League,
4th highest net transfer spender in EPL over the last 5 years (behind City, United, Chelsea) @ Transfer League.
5th placed, ’18/19 season in the EPL, 28 and 27 pts behind City and Pool respectively.

Based on the size of our club we should be 3rd placed and not 5th. We should be ahead of Pool who finished the league 27 pts ahead of us. That’s gross underperformance by us.

Lets compare ourselves with Liverpool.
We’re a more valuable club but they’re earning more than us.
They’re also spending more than us, gross.
But over the last 5 years our net spend is bigger than theirs in spite of our self sustaining model.
What the last line means is that we’ve been spending the f****** money more than Pool.
Only we’ve been woeful with our sales and purchases. The blame is more on Gazidis and co than on Kroenke.

Lets compare ourselves with the Tots.
We trounced them in all the parameters: worth, revenue, gross spend, net spend, wage bill.
They trounced us by 3 consecutive CL appearances to 3 consecutive EL appearances.
Not that they are that smart, we simply are meh!
The blame, this time is squarely on Gazidis and co.

Last year, 21 year old Tanguy N’dombele was about £19m.
With all the promises his value was shooting up.
He is now valued at upwards of £60m.
Or 21 yr old Rodri Hernandez from £22m to now about £70m.
I hope that Douzi and Torreira @ £7m and £26m, now @ about £30m and £45m respectively have opened some eyes. No more been-around from bargain-basements shops with no resale value. Gazidis and co’s idea of growing the club was by parsimony; tighten the purse strings. I hope Sanllehi and co know how to make money by spending money.

As the 6th most valuable team in the world and the 8th highest earner we’ve got what it takes to play this game, on and off the field, on the highest level.

#28 is not our home. The right address of our home is … The Arsenal,
All we are saying to Raul and co is … take us home.

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

The One Player Arsenal Need: Dutch, Delightful and Devastating in Attack

There is no doubt that Arsenal need to improve their defending next season. Only two teams in the PL top-ten conceded more goals than us and Citeh and Pool combined ‘goals against’ was lower than ours. For quite a while now we are rubbish at defending, and although we could improve the quality of our individual defenders this summer it remains to be seen whether it would make much, if any, difference.

With Holding and Bellerin back at some point this Autumn, we should have more than decent options to choose from at the back. It would be good to add a quality LB and of course I would not mind a quality CB either, but unless they are of the ‘Van Dijk’ pedigree I don’t think it would make much difference. It is time to build the defence around the Holding-Sokratis axis, supported by Bels (and Nacho, at least for one more season).

What is as important to defending is the set-up of the midfield and the instructions they will get in terms of protecting the back. And this is where Emery appears to be all over the place. One (half of a) game we play more compact, sit back and look to play on the counter, and the next one we stretch ourselves and the midfield is split vertically between supporting the attack and somehow offer some protection to the defence as well. As a result our defending becomes kamikaze, we look disorganised and our defenders have to deal with loads of unprotected space for opponents’ attackers to run riot in. The difference with the likes of Pool and Citeh is immense: when they lose the ball whilst attacking the opponent, the shape of the team remains strong and relatively little space is given away. As a result, their defenders are able to remain calm and organised and very few  goals are conceded, despite the attacking nature of these teams. They also seldom suffer bad injuries, whereas our defenders suffers badly physically from all that last-ditch defending, with devastating consequences.

The question is whether our defending as a team will get much better under Emery, and I remain sceptical, very sceptical. I reckon we have to hope for an even more lethal attack next season to make progress in the table. Citeh managed to score 22 goals more goals than us, and with the likes of Auba, Mesut and Laca in the team we have the potential to get much closer to them this time round.

And if there is one position I would like us to buy a top quality player for to make this happen, it is on the wings. We have Iwobi and Nelson and then there is Auba who is also positioned on the wing during most of our games. But none of these are as yet the quality wingmen we so desperately need. A fit Bellerin and further improved Kolasinac offer good additional attacking wingplay from deeper in the team, but to get the very best out of Mesut, Auba and Laca we really, really need a Hazard-esque winger.

Non-participation in CL football is of course not great when trying to attract such a quality player. So it needs to be somebody who still has some years ahead of him and who can be convinced that Arsenal are going places again. Somebody with a strong desire to win and with high levels of intrinsic motivation and, of course, the quality to really make a difference.

That player is somebody I have been watching carefully recently. He is Dutch, delightful on and with the ball, and devastating in front of goal: Memphis Depay. Memphis is Ligue 1 leader in key passes, with 3.1 pass on average per game. He is fourth in terms of assists (10) and shared second for crosses per match. He scored 10 goals this season, which is an area where the (only) 25 year old still can improve, but 10 extra goals from the wings next season would make a big difference, no doubt.


Depay would bring that extra energy and desire to our attack, a bit like Sanchez used to bring. But Memphis is much more of a team player than the self-adoring Chilean; and I have no doubt that his cooperation with Ozil, Laca and Auba would make all the difference, allowing all of them to shine even more next season. He worked his socks of in the Dutch national team to give them an attacking edge somehow, and it’s those performances that made me think that he is The man we need at Arsenal next season.

I am not sure whether he can be bought away from Lyon, but if I was Emery – and therefore allergic to defending – I would spend all our money on Memphis Depay this summer.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Let’s Show Granit Xhaka Some Love Before it’s Too Late

We love a scapegoat we do. And the Gunner-goat of the summer is without any doubt Granit Xhaka.

I reckon you can judge somebody’s football intelligence on their views re Xhaka. If you don’t get what Granit brings to the team and the role he is playing for us, but rather like to focus on his occasional brain-fart, then I seize being interested in speaking to you. The problem, however, is that I cannot ignore you because I run a blog and can see that this collective digital Xhaka-goading could well lead to our Swiss Maestro leaving us this summer. Time to put the record straight and fight the Xhaka-ignorance all the way!!

Laca xhaka

Granit is in the top-four of the entire PL for average passes per game, only behind LaPorte, Jorginho and Van Dijk. He is, no doubt, the fulcrum of the team – everything revolves on making Granit tick like a Swiss wristwatch. If Granit is buzzing, the team is buzzing.

Our deepest laying midfielder produces 1.4 key passes per game, as many as LaPorte (0.4), Jorginho (0.8) and Van Dijk (0.4) combined; the Swiss is second re this at Arsenal (behind the other ‘misunderstood’ Gunner… Mesut). Xhaka is The Key Player in our team and, no doubt, first on Emery’s team sheet. He was also this pivotal to Arsene. Furthermore, Granit leads the team in terms of average number of long balls and crosses. He also is our joined-MOTM for the season (four times), together with the much more openly loved and appreciated Laca and Auba.

Because so much is expected of Granit and he is receiving the ball constantly, and often in dangerous areas, he will make the occasional mistake… and some have cost us. He has also made some painful unforced errors which have cost us. There is room for improvement, but guess what, Granit is only 26 and his best years are yet to come. He will get better and better at avoiding these mistakes, and a more solid defence behind him would also help tremendously. Key is also to partner him more ‘horizontally’ with Torreira, so they can be a joined-up wall all over the midfield (something Unai just doesn’t seem to value as a constant requirement).

Granit is always looking for moving the ball forward intelligently. He makes himself available by moving into the available space and has already clocked what he will do next before he receives the ball. He does that for 90+ minutes and it gives the team purpose, momentum and structure. It must be said that the lack of quality wingers (and having to play without the very important Bellerin for most of the season) has not made it easier for Xhaka to play his quality long and through balls this season. Yet he strutted his stuff game after game and was our fulcrum for most of the season (he struggled with injuries at times and only managed to play in 29 PL games – and let’s not forget he played a lot of games during the World Cup last summer).

So let’s give it up for Granit Xhaka and show him our love before it is too late. Let’s make him our permanent captain, improve our defence/defensive play behind him and give him some good wing-players to be able to stretch opponents again. If you want us to get out of our current predicament you  better start openly appreciating Granit. I am sure they will lift him up where he belongs, and it would be sad and painful if that were not to be at the Home of Football.

By TotalArsenal. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments