CB Signing First Priority? A Defence of Our German Tiger

Mustafi, the defenders or our defending: what is to blame?


Our most used back four during the 20017/18 season consisted of Bellerin (RB), Mustafi (CB), Koscielny (CB) and Monreal (LB). I doubt that these four players on their own could have been as poor as our season’s defensive stats show.

Juventus and Barcelona keep casting glances in the direction of Bellerin (so the rumours say). Mustafi is a German international, though he missed out on their World Cup squad (thanks, no doubt, to being at the back line of a team that was conceding silly goals all season long). Koscielny is a French international, out of the World Cup only due to injury. Monreal is runner up to the team’s Player of the Season Award. They just couldn’t have been trash.

We leaked 51 goals this 17/18 season. That’s classic mid table quota. Naturally, opinions lashed out and quickly settled blaming our defenders instead of our defending. That’s understandable as defending is a more elusive target to attack. Yet modern football tells us that whenever possession is lost defending begins irrespective of the location of the ball and all eleven men on the field become potentially defenders. The blame should therefore be on the team, on the defending, directed at either all the players or the tactics or both.

And poor Mustafi! Opinions have selected him as the sacrificial lamb and his blood is being shed daily for the sins of the team. After all, he made two errors that led to goals.

Let us look at Mustafi, not with our jaundiced eyes, but through the eyes of the Squawka Player Performance Score which is … “an advanced algorithm that takes every recorded on-ball action on the football pitch, evaluates its outcome, pitch co-ordinates, playing position of the player ………… and allocates it a score” The performance score simply adds all these scores together. The eyes of Squawka are not infallible but the prejudice of the past does not blur its vision (it’s a robot) so what it says overall might be more factual

The Squawka PPS says that Mustafi is the 10th best defender in the Premiership per 90 minutes played in the 17/18 season amongst those who played up to 10 games. See the list below.

1st, John Stones (Manc)
2nd, Nicolas Otamendi (Manc)
3rd, Danilo (Manc)
4th, Jan Vertonghen (Tot)
5th, Vincent Company (Manc)
6th, Chris Smalling (Manu)
7th, Virgil Van Dijk (Liv)
8th, Phil Jones (Manu)
9th, Nacho Monreal (Arse)
10th, Shkodran Mustafi (Arse)***

By comparison Koshienly is at 15th, Kolasinac at 67th, Holding 69th, Bellerin 75th, and Chambers is at 94th. It might also interest those who want us to make these premiership signings that Tony Alderweireld (Tot) is at 61st and Jonny Evans (WBA) at 65th.

The impulse of many would be to chunk the Squawka PPS overboard because they have never been schooled to doubt themselves occasionally. That’s fine. Let’s see what the reputable WhoScored has in store. This time we will skip ratings and go to the more objective facts of defensive stats.

BY WHOSCORED (for Arsenal players who have played up to 8 matches) :-

Top tackles/game:- Mustafi (2.4), Xhaka (2.1), Monreal (1.9), Kolasinac (1.8).
Top interceptions/game:- Koscielny (2.2), Mustafi (2.1), Monreal (2), Holding (1.8)
Top clearances/game:- Mustafi (6.3), Koscielny (5.4), Chambers (3.7), Holding (3.3).
Top blocks/game:- Chambers (0.9), Holding (0.7), Koscielny (0.6), Mustafi (0.6)

When any player, even if he is a defender defender, has the ball, technically speaking he is attacking (that’s the modern concept), and WhoScored further says that Mustafi achieved 86.2% pass success rate, scored 3 goals and made 1 assist (and the last fact I am reluctant to bring out is that WhoScored also put Mustafi as Arsenal’s highest rated player, and the 13th in the league!). It’s snake and ladders and back to square one.

For those who know how to wrestle with their certainties, it’s time to take eyes off Mustafi and focus on our main defensive undoing, our tactics; a tactics that left our defenders, particularly the central defenders, vulnerable. The good news is that steps are being taken to rectify this. The old guard is gone. We hope the new guard would be up to the task of fixing the tactics. Not that I would complain if the club decides to pay Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly £105m release clause.


74 thoughts on “CB Signing First Priority? A Defence of Our German Tiger

  • Great stuff, PE. Well researched and passionate shout out for Mustafi.

    I reckon he can grow into a good defender but he will need to be combined with a calm, General type of a CB next to him. Two Keowns would not work and Koz and Mustafi are a bit like two Keowns. Mustafi next to a Sol or Tony would look a lot better. I also agree that it is the team defending that lets the likes of Mustafi and Koz down: too much space is allowed around them as we reshape too slowly around our defence time after time. His energy and willingness to win is never in doubt and we need that sort of Tiger in our defence, but let’s just get a calm, leader next to him (i.e. replacement of the BFG is a necessity!).

  • PE

    Per last article, I agree, and I’d go with you on your last comment there. Onward to this!

    IMO, our defending was just as you say, not lacking defendERS, but lacking defendING! Equally, we were brilliant going forward, but poor at poor times going back. And that’s defendING and even more crucially not owning the all important (IMO) transition.

    Long ago, in ancient Arthurian times I wrote this for BK, which I’ve a link (hope it’s ok TA) to the file on my Dropbox cuz I can’t find it hereabouts (I.e too lazy / impatient). I think my words there summarise a goodly chunk of what I saw when I could this year when things went south… ie they started further back perhaps:


    Thems my 27p — jgc

  • Good morning, All, and especially to PE for a good Post, for which you have my thanks. 😀

  • For those who cannot get to read the Ol’ Thunderer, I am attaching an article on the potential new manager, and some of the movement in the personnel that could be key.

    The contents, or at least part of it, will not please TA — but you know, my friend, it is still all supposition, and the Fat Lady has not started to sing yet! 😀


    Arsenal are expected to appoint Mikel Arteta as their head coach this week. Their former captain has been finalising the details of his contract and has named who he wants to form his coaching team in the past few days.

    The expected appointment will end Arsenal’s pursuit of a successor to Arsène Wenger, whose 22-year tenure ended last week. Arsenal initially turned to Massimiliano Allegri but the Italian said that he is committed to Juventus for another season. Luis Enrique and Joachim Löw were also on the shortlist but the former Barcelona coach’s wage demands were too high and Löw extended his contract with Germany. Patrick Vieira, another former Arsenal captain, and Julian Nagelsmann, the Hoffenheim coach, were also considered.

    Arteta has the blessing of Pep Guardiola, for whom he has been assistant coach at Manchester City for the past two years. The 36-year-old joined Arsenal in 2011 and spent five years with the club as a player. He would become the seventh former player to manage the club.

    Allegri had been under consideration but he committed himself to Juventus

    While Wenger has said that he believes Arteta has the qualities to do the job, William Gallas, another former Arsenal captain, disagreed. “I would be surprised because he’s never been in charge as a manager,” Gallas said. “It is completely different when you are in charge of 24 players.”

    Arteta will have an input in player recruitment and also a veto on signings in the club’s new structure. Raul Sanllehi is the de facto director of football, Sven Mislintat is the head of recruitment and Huss Fahmy negotiates contracts.

    Arteta is likely to bring in at least three of his own coaching appointments, although one of them will not be Santi Cazorla. The midfielder, 33, will train with Villarreal during pre-season in the hope of earning a contract having missed almost two years with injury.

    Arsenal began a coaching cull a fortnight ago when Gerry Peyton, Tony Colbert and Neil Banfield left the club and were followed by Wenger’s long-serving assistant Boro Primorac.

    Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann, who were also part of Wenger’s coaching team, have been told that they could stay at the club depending on the needs of the new manager.

    Lehmann could, in theory, be offered the vacant position of goalkeeping coach while Bould has a potential coaching position at Stoke City, who parted company with Paul Lambert on Friday following their relegation. Thierry Henry, the club’s record goalscorer who is Belgium’s assistant manager, is expected to be interviewed to find out whether there is a role for him.

    Arsenal appear to have lost out on Max Meyer. The attacker has decided not to renew his contract at Schalke and is close to joining Hoffenheim who have qualified for the Champions League. Arsenal have been trying to conclude a deal with Freiburg to sign Caglar Soyuncu, a 21-year-old centre back from Turkey.”

    That neatly sums up what has seemed to be a growing belief, at least with the bookies, that Arsenal’s deliberations over the appointment of a new coach/manager is nearly over.
    I had hoped that all the bitterness and recriminations among the fans would have been laid to rest, after the sacking/mutually agreed termination of Arsene’s contract, but already the preliminary skirmishes have started, and war cannot be far off if Mikel is appointed. Oh, dear!! 😦

  • Really interesting comments about ticket prices, seems to be a worldwide policy to price out your average blue collar/working class fan, but then I guess if the players/agents want the big bucks/dosh, and that it has to come from somewhere and whether it’s the fans who go or the tv subscriptions, the poor bloody infantry are gonna have to stump up the dough.

    JW, that is a very expensive day out for you, imagine if you take a couple or three saucepan lids/kids with you, that gonna be a lot of overtime. I used to get three tickets (2 half price) in the Family Enclosure at Highbury, I think they still run a similar scheme in the Emirates, but I can’t get away with it anymore even if my lads wear shorts, the beards give it away.

    Over here in Blighty there’s little or no car parks, so you have to be imaginative to circumvent the local council who are just itching to tow your car away.

  • PE– great job with your compilation, which read well too!
    As I’m one who looks to stats for many comparative values– your post merits more thought.
    Busy day ahead for me today– but do have a statistical bone of a contention later.

    Till then I’ve got two non-stat points to start with:
    1) Why did Joachim Low omit Mustafi from Germany’s WC squad?
    2) Of the names being bandied already in this transfer window– it’s two CBs we’ve been linked with. If we do bring in both, that would give us 6 first-team CBs (plus Monreal)– with Kos returning by 2019. Indicating at least one would ‘go’. Whom?

    Thanks again PE– this was a very good choice topic at the moment! 🙂


  • Kev– Where I was leading? Is where you’ve arrived.
    Ticket pricing is now an afterthought to whom it is that can afford it; a strategy of marketing just reaching your shores. From outside-looking-in? I’ll halt here. A topic I’ve put off tapping for some time.

    Bearded-boys-in-shorts. An image that’s going to be difficult to shake today! 😉


  • TA, …. with you. Musti has an impulsive style so by his side should be a calm head taking care of the left overs.

  • jgc …. that’s a gem of tactical thinking that the moment of a turnover is a moment of opportunity as well as a moment of vulnerability depending on what side you are. It’s therefore a moment for maximum investment.

  • jw …on why Joachim Low omitted Mustafi …

    1) Maybe found somebody better
    2) Or like all of us is susceptible to mass hysteria.

  • TA,

    I have been cast into the scary wilds of ‘moderation’ — have I incurred your wrath?? 😀

    Actually, nothing too interesting – so expunge it if you wish.

  • @PE Mustafi is a largely underwhelming defender that was signed for over 30 million pounds. That’s why Arsenal fans expect more from him than from, say, Holding. Mustafi has arrived with a reputation of a World Champion with Germany which, unfortunately, could have been related to the fact he is Ozil’s BFF in the national team.

    He is a front-foot defender and we have seen before how Koscielny doesn’t work well with the same time of defender when Vermaelen was his partner. Our defensive line was everywhere and the same thing happens now when Kos and Mustafi are in charge. Mustafi tends to blindly dive into tackles (I was worried about him joining Arsenal ever since I saw Pogba dribbling him down on his ass in the EURO 2016 semifinal) which opens our defence even more than it is (i.e. the first game against Stoke). He makes strange decisions (poor Cech took all the blame for the goal against Swansea even if it was Mustafi who gave him a poor back-pass to deal with). On a positive note, he can sometimes look like a top class defender (i.e. Chelsea away when he controlled the game perfectly as well as first NLD) and a goal-threat at set-pieces. For some reason, his two seasons at Arsenal had the same pattern: at first, he does well (in 2016-17 Arsenal hadn’t lost for 20 games with him in the team before he got injured and returned worse than some poor man’s Seb Squillaci; in 2017-18, we had conceded one goal in first eight or nine games with Mustafi in the team, he got injured and then returned in a shitty form as he was an illegitimate child of Squillaci and Cygan).

    Maybe, maybe, Mustafi should be used as a ball-winning midfielder who can pass the ball to his ethnic mate Granit Xhaka or even further forward – to either wing. That’s something I suggested a while ago.

    The main issue would stay though. Mustafi is expect to defend (to perform defendING) and you can’t defend properly these days with just four nominal defenders. You have to defend as a unit. Mustafi tends to look out of place even in the German national team (which is an answer to jw’s question on Low’s decision to drop Musti from the WC squad).

    Whilst I said the proper defending requires a unit, that doesn’t mean Importance of the defendING personnel (defendERS) can/should be underestimated. Virgil van Dijk has already transformed the Liverpool defence into a different beast since his arrival in January as no team has conceded fewer goals than Liverpool in the league (tied with Man City – 9) since then. Van Dijk was my biggest wish for the defence, a commanding central defender with height, organizing skills and presence but it didn’t happen. Defenders like him don’t grow on trees and I’m not sure we can afford someone like, say, Skriniar from Inter.

  • arsenal fc needed a defensive midfielder like Kante to help intercept passes and a defender better than Kolcieny and then a good goalkeeper like Lavante’s or Athletico Madrid’s . Peter Chech is no longer a very good goalkeeper.

  • Cheers Redders 🙂

    It is out now. Not much in it that surprises us, though.


    I can also see Mustafi as a DM next to Xhaka.

  • Good stuff there, PE and goes to make my poin that there’s a good defender in there somewhere, with Musti. He’s been a victim of his price tag and the occasions his indecision (or wrong decisions) have resulted in goals against us, and I can only recall about 4 (including United at home when he was a bit casual only to develop legs of a baby giraffe when pressured, suddenly). But, herein lies the problem with poor defend-ing as a unit; Cech could bail him out, but always seemed to concede. Keepers do have to bail out their defenders even if they make errors, so which comes first? Chicken or the egg (read a good keeper or replacement for CB Musti?)?

    No doubt Musti can be rash and could chase his man all the way into the other half, leaving his primary duties, but that’s why it’s a team game and another team mate should be slotting in to cover for him. Is that a coaching problem, then? I feel what may have cost him a place on the plane to Russia for Germany is a little bit of both the media narrative, over-emphasizing his role in each goal we concede (given Arsenal’s season) and his all-action, albeit rash, style of play, being maybe something Low finds incompatible with his other personnel in defence; it may be temporary which is why I feel Mustafi can come back stronger. There’s a reason he was our most used centre back last season, playing in all the competitions in which we were involved.

  • TA, that’s really happy reading about Monreal. I hope that’s the final squad of 23, though. He deserves it even if as back up.

  • Okay. Seen it now; the final list. Happy for him. Cesc, Morata, Bellerin and Marcos Alonso all miss out.

  • Rumours re Arsenal speaking to Unai Emery are getting stronger. Now there is a young AND experienced manager who could take the club places!

  • I have just seen that too, TA, and I knew it would make you smile!! 😀

    What puzzles me a bit, is that if Arteta is unsure about taking the job because it is purely a coaching role, with the ‘real’ power in the hands of Gazidis, Mislintat, and the other one ( 🙂 ) I cannot see any of the ‘big’ managers taking it on.

    We’ll see, I suppose.

  • PE– the issue I have with the stats presented begins with the “2 goals by error” number. Almost every other ranking is a derivative from that. Because, in spite of all the ancillary stats– the only one that counts is how many goals you’ve allowed as a team. Secondarily, are the goals the team has allowed that dropped points or lost games outright. And finally, what my own eyes tell me– that Mustafi ‘switches-off’ mentally at what seem the most crucial times.

    There is another interesting number to weigh with. As Admir mentioned, Mustafi came to us for a £30M fee at age 24. The following year at age 25, Transfermarkt showed his value at £28M. And this year at age 26; valued at just £23M. In today’s transfer climate a PL CB at age 26 (ostensibly rated the 10th-best defender in the league) has devalued by almost 25%. That says to me– all the gray-area stats aside– that a player who is in his prime, at a position that is in high-demand on the open market– is losing his value.

    So– it’s not just me that seems to be seeing disturbing aspects to Mustafi’s poor judgement in his play.


  • Total it could be decided by season ticket renewals, which I suspect might be a tad slow.

    I also wonder how the manager situation is affecting our ability to make new signings?

    JW, you should see me in my shorts… 😳

  • Mustafi gives me absolutely no confidence whatsoever , it could be that I’m being over critical of him but we’ve conceded a shed full of goals this season and my abiding memory is that a muck up by him is too often involved in too many of those goals for my liking.

    Frankly the whole defence has been poor throughout 2017/18, none of Cech, Bellerin, the normally reliable Monreal, Kolasinac, Koscielny or Mustafi have impressed, Chambers and Holding have been in and out so I’ll give them a pass as defenders need a run of games to get up to speed.

  • jw, …. you have not considered the angle that we might have bought very poorly. Maybe Mustafi was worth only £18m say and we paid £30m. As Eris put it Mustafi is a victim of his price tag and that has created a prejudice that facts can’t easily tame. The fact that we let the likes of Holding get away with grave errors because he cost only £2m doesn’t make him better than Mustafi. We love to fantasize on potentials which is fine as long as we see it for what it is … potential.

    Any way the post is really saying that our problem is not so much due to the defensive personnel as the tactics that could not get the players defending as a team. If this is realized we will be able to evaluate our defenders more objectively.

  • Tend to agree, AK, in all aspects of your 18:01 comment.

    If Mustafi stays, I would give him another chance to impress under the new manager. To play for Germany means that knowledgeable people have rated him, altho his star is fading at the moment, but the new manager may change tactics and that could be crucial.

    Oddly enough I think pace, or the lack of it, has played its part. Bellerin is reasonably quick, but has little defensive skill, Chambers, Mustafi and the chronically injured Kos have defensive skill (mostly)but are bloody slow, especially where counter-atttacks to our high press is concerned.

    We have been skinned too often, and conceded too many poor goals when fast running forwards got behind our defence.
    Unfortunately, our midfielders are not too quick either – so the high press has not suited our available players.

  • Kev …. it’s natural to judge with different standards. There is a standard of judgement for 20 year old Mavro, another for £2m young man Holding and yet another for £30m German international. The human mind finds it difficult to be objective and it doesn’t let itself see it.

  • Just seen it Total, absolutely gutted to see my fav Santiago leave, but it’s understandable given his fitness and salary. Hopefully he’ll have as long a sojourn in Villarreal at Bob Pires.

  • A quick thought

    Stats are nice but they are only to support facts and hypotheses.. I hate goals by error cuz imagine:

    You dive in high while pressing and fail to win the ball and reverse transition. An enterprising winger goes hard and you’ve left 5 on 3, which good attackrs turn into 3 on 1, and the inevitable.

    That’s your failure but, and/or a defensive team/unit/strategy failure much more so. Are we missing General BFG? To read the game? Could just be team strategy and instructions aren’t right or not so for the players out there?

    Cheers from 12 hours out of synch land — jgc

  • PE, you are absolutely correct in your assertion regarding our judgement of players being connected to their fee and wages, for example Ozil will be judged 10 times harsher than previously in future as he’ll be playing under the shadow of £350,000 per week.
    But that is the nature of things in football, if players and agents want the mega bucks then they have to accept what comes with it.
    It’s the same in any other profession, if you get a large pay hike then the expectations go up with it.

    As for Chambers, Holding and Mavropanos PE, until they get a regular game it’s not fair to judge them the same way as Mustafi, who, despite your logical point, must still accept that he’s going to be judged to a higher standard, an international, a world cup winner, carrying an albeit inflated fee but a £30m fee all the same and wages to go with it. It goes with the territory.

    Tbh, if he didn’t make so many errors then his fee and wages wouldn’t be an issue PE, would they mate?

  • I think you are right, Profsky. I have seen some fabulous performances by Mustafi and continue to have high hopes for him. But we lacked balance in the team all year and just did not get the midfield – especially the defensive side of it – right, and it left the CBs soooo exposed. I have no doubt that Mustafi in the Liverpool set up, or next to Cahill at Chelsea with Kante in front of them, would do so much better.

  • I think we need a different midfield for away games and home games:
    1. Away Games: sit back a bit more and have a DM next to Xhaka – or Elneny and Xhaka together with a focus on keeping it tight and protect the defence continuously..
    2. Home Games: play with a B2B and press high whenever we can.
    3. Home Games v top teams: decide on form of the team but revert back to 1 as much as possible.

  • Kev, ….. am not, by any stretch, saying that we have to be as harsh on Mavro, Holding, Chambers. Just that we should not get carried away believing they are better than Mustafi, simply because our opinions of them come milder. If we have to sign only one 1st team defender, Musti stays.

  • TA, ….. I think it can be as simple as that. Tilt the balance a bit more defensively for the away games and the big team home games to different extents depending on the opposition.

  • Yes PE, agree, if we sign one central defender then Mustafi must stay, I actually don’t think that we have much wiggle room with our defenders having lost Debuchy, BFG and possibly Koz in the last 5 months, Jenkinson will probably leave as well this summer. Pity we didn’t hang onto Paulista.

  • Okay still needs to be formally announced by the club, but Ornstein would not just make such an announcement. Forget what he did with PSG, it is what he did with Seville in league and UEFA League that is so impressive. He decided to leave PSG at the end of the season and now he is set to manage The Arsenal. At 46 he is both relatively young AND experienced and I chuffed to bits about this signing.

  • TA, …. the Emery breaking news sounds authentic and I like him. Possession football with emphasis on keeping shape. Something tells me the drama is over. The football world is ever so dramatic!

  • His knowledge of the Spanish and French competitions will be great and for sure he will know how to strengthen our defence and midfield with quality players that do not have to cost the earth. This is very exciting stuff and just what the doctor ordered. Well done BoD.

  • TA …. what a mighty relief for you. Sevilla under him exhibited so much consistency. I really think a lot of him.

  • This is an interesting announcement too on Arsenal.com

    Cech previously wore the No 33 shirt, but he will now be our No 1 for the 2018/19 campaign.

    Elneny has moved from No 35 to the No 4 shirt.

    Granit Xhaka previously wore No 29, but he will switch to No 34.

    Hector Bellerin goes from No 24 to the No 2 shirt.

  • PE, yes I am happy. Emery ticks a lot of boxes and seems to fit Arsenal really well. Of course it all remains to be seen how it goes, but we are giving ourselves a very decent chance with such a talented, energetic, and quite experienced manager. Question is whether he will be a stayer but that is for the future. 🙂

  • Im staying out of the manager debate. – I can’t in truth say much beyond what is written about bout either of the main candidates. I don’t buy the head coach model personally. So I hope whoever gets the job hasn’t sold their soul for the pay/position.

    On the CB front I remain of the view that Musti has plenty of talent. But he does need some coaching and some time for the experience to show though. Kos needed the same before him, and he turned out ok. So I’d stick. Buying a ready made and safe CB seems to me almost the hardest position to fill. So much depends on fit with the style of play of the team and the other defenders around him. I’d like to se the coach work with him before discarding a player approaching his prime.

  • I agree with you PE to an extent. Our defending is very poor, most of our players are not hardworking and Wenger’s tactics contributed to arsenal letting in many goals. But Mustafi is a very poor defender, he is technically very poor, he lacks tactical discipline, he easily goes to ground unnecessarily, he is very easy to dribble and he doesn’t read the game well.
    The truth remains, a serious top club will not have the likes of Mustafi, Chambers and Holding as their defenders. Look at other top clubs in the league, including spurs, their worse central defenders are better than our best central defenders apart from Koscielny, that is a bitter truth. Across our backline, we only have 3 quality defenders, Koscielny, Monreal and Bellerin, Kolasinac might still come good. Mavropanos is a great talent/prospect, he has shown that, let’s watch him next season, then we can say if he is quality or not, its too early to say.
    Take it or leave it, signing at least 2 quality central defenders is a top priority this summer, followed by a defensive midfielder and wingers.

  • At the very least?
    Even if Emery turns out to be a red herring?
    TA won’t be grumpy this week! 😉

    And no TA– I will not be upset if it is Emery– either.
    Not a tribal thing for me. Only what’s best for The Arsenal.


  • Cheers JW1 – it looks like a done deal, but yes it`s not one till it is signed and dusted. I wont hold it against you that you got it wrong. I reckon you were v close. 🙂

  • The way PSG played against Arsenal in the CL two seasons ago was v impressive. But PSG is a crazy, oilers club and Emery will now join a proper club with high expectations but also lots of support.

  • Very sad to see my favorite Arsenal player leave the club. I was really hoping that Santi Cazorla would be offered a one year deal so we can get to see him play for Arsenal a few more times next season before leaving the club. But alas, it is not to be… Since October 2016, I have been patiently waiting for the little magician to come back. I will really miss his constant one-twos around the opposition’s box, his perpetual movement in midfield, his fantastic through-balls, his pinpoint accuracy with the long ball with either left or right foot, mind you, his joy of playing football with always a smile on his face, the way he makes everything so much easier for our defenders and our attackers… Extremely gutted that he has now left Arsenal. I wish him nothing but the very best at Villarreal and I hope he does come back with a bang and prove that he can still play st the highest level. I am looking forward to watching him in action next season.

    Thank you Santi and best of luck to you! We will miss you…

  • I don’t have a problem with the head coach model, but it should be tweaked a bit. I believe a coach should have a lot of say on the players the club should sign and who goes. It doesn’t make sense when the club hierarchy sign the players they want without the coach’s approval, then blame the coach for bad results. The coach should say who he wants, then give reasons, he discuss it with maybe Mislintat, Raul and Gazidis, then they do the negotiations, paperwork and signing.
    Alegri would have been the perfect coach to take us forward.
    How we fell into the hands of Kronke is still a painful mistery to me. Since he became arsenal’s majority shareholder, arsenal no longer aim to be the best, rather they settle for mediocre as long as premier league money and TV rights flow in. SMDH.

  • Emery is same calibre as Allegri – so no complaints from me. I reckon the Spaniard is a really good fit and Kroenke had the final say in it. Happy Dayz.

  • Yes v sad, Gino. As a Player/Assistant-Coach, Santi could have been very effective for Arsenal next season. Alas it was not to be.

  • Where did that come from??? Unai Emery…? I did not see that coming at all. For the past couple of weeks, all we’ve been hearing, all we’ve reading, all we’ve been talking about is Mikel Arteta. Though I was not too enthusiastic with it, I was pretty resigned to Arteta being the new boss and I was mentally preparing myself. Now, out of left field, comes this rumor about Unai Emery! Well, slap me silly, I am feel much better already. Someone with experience at the highest level to guide us through this transition, I am all for it. Emery was very good with PSG the past couple of seasons, but he was superb with Sevilla before that, winning 3 straight UEFA Europa League. I know that until it is officially announced, it is just a rumor, but I sure do hope that it is in fact true. I think that his potential appointment will bridge the sudden divide that has been slowly emerging amongst Arsenal supporters regarding Arteta. The BoD May have realized this and decided to go the safest route and appoint an experienced Manager after all.

    Let’s wait and see what happens…

  • Yep TA, I was all for Santi being a player/assistant coach next season. I just badly wanted to see him play for Arsenal again. I didn’t want that image of him getting injured against Ludogorets to be the last image I have of him in an Arsenal shirt on the football pitch, but I guess sometimes, dreams don’t come true… Sad day, indeed.

  • Gino, I have heard his name being mentioned as one of the potentials in the last few weeks, but definitely more of an outsider. It could be that Emery wasn’t Gazidis’ first choice but that Kroenke overruled him (reading between the lines).

  • True TA, maybe he wanted to go back home. Still, I will miss him and both of his magical feet. Do you know if we have anyone resembling Santi (ambidextrousness) at our youth setup? Being ambidextrous should required training with our young players, if not already. They should be made to watch videos of Santi Carzorla and learn a thing or two. 😁😁😁

  • “I wont hold it against you that you got it wrong.”

    Nor I, you TA. *coughLowcough*
    ‘Anyone but Arteta’ — is not surmising correctly. 🙂


  • Anybody but Arteta was not my point of view, JW1. But experience as a first team manager was an obvious prerequisite for me.

  • Wow.. from Mikel to Emery in a matter of hours. And the local papers posted a column from The Times about the impending appointment of Mikel. And there i was flabbergasted reading the papers and reading newsnow.

    You can imagine me feeling weird and throwing the papers away, and muttering to myself: ”Old stuff, not news anymore.”

    Knowing Arsenal and their Torture Window, prepare for another round of cringe-worthy news?

  • So, TA et al,

    On defending: I will keep it simple. If you are relying on individual skills in your defenders, you’re already beaten. And well beaten. Defending is a team game. Attack, in the final third, is where individualism comes into play.

    On Emery: Well, a touch of whiplash there! 🙂 … In a backwards way, I like that he “failed” at PSG. To me, what characterises them is huge (expensive) talent, but no inner toughness that comes from the players. Like a meringue, one good crack and their all crumbles and pieces. His Sevilla and Valencia teams had this toughness to play also above their pay grade perhaps. I think he failed there because too many stars didnt want to dig deep and he couldnt make them.

    So, there is a chance we get the best of this guy?

    cheers — jgc

  • PE, back to your post, the point is that Mustafi needs a leader beside him like Kos to guide him where to position himself and he will be fine.

    Am not sure if Mustafi can play well beside Mavropanos, but it seems like we have enough cover in the shape of Chambers and Holding. Add another player to the defense? Maybe no. Add to the defensive midfield in front of them? Yes.

    Most of the time the players tried to cover for another player in that position when we are under attack, and when the midfield players failed to track back quickly enough, we conceded in those cases. Statistics only show one small part of the player’s actions in a game. Positioning and man-handling shows another part of how good he is.

    So, it remains to be seem how Emery or Mikel or other names thrown into the hat of possible Arsenal boss is able to tweak the tactics of the team to transition between defense and attack, and it is nail-biting times for now, until the Arsenal board announce the new head coach.

  • Prof, regarding your words on Emery’s failure at PSG, doesn’t it seem uncanny to what Wenger failed to make Alexis integrate into the team?

  • njk,

    Well, not surprised. It took a year but it became clearer to me in year 2 that Alexis plays first and second for himself, and the team only moves above 3 when it helps the person in spots 1 and 2.

    So, no, not surprised. There is a certain type of superstar that cant be about more than themselves.

    Among those we don’t like so much are actually stars who play for their team, hard: Kane at Spurs, De Bruyne at City, Costa at Atletico/Chelsea, Lewie at Bayern… Like or hate them, they play hard and seem to care most when their team wins. Giroud was very much like this and it’s why despite not being wildly great in many ways, everyone liked him. Ozil, and I know some have opinions on him, is also (I think) that way. If we win all is good. Alexis would throw a sulk if he felt left out, even if we won big.

    So, we will see, should it all fly, how Emery does at Arsenal. We’ve a team, I think, of excellent players pretty much all around. We need structure and some thoughtfulness, but there is no real lack of talent IMO. Equally, I think with Mkhi and Auba we have a team that wants to win, rather than a team of winners who want themselves to win. Again, at pretty much all positions.

    So, to me, the materials are all there and I could be excited for anyone who showed they could get the structure there.

    My main criticism of Wenger (a very rare one as I liked him) was he was too focused on “letting players play” to a large extent within an overall goal. I think the big way the game changed on him was that today that is not enough. You’ve got to be more specific and structured in your game, more specifically applying the skills and talents you have for the field, conditions and opponent.

    Who’s best for that will be whomever the board hires. Why? Because if they aren’t we’re a bit stuck, eh? 🙂

    cheers — jgc

  • Last comment (especially) is great and fully agreed (especially penultimate paragraph), Profsky.

    Too much laissez-faire 🙂

  • Hi all..
    Unai Emery rumour for me like reading Greizmann on his way to Arsenal.. hehehe..

    But who knows..??
    Whoever our new manager.. we must support him.. even he name is Arteta.. hehehe..

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