Why Arsenal Will Not Make PL Top-Four This Season

A few days ago I, TA, asked BKers to predict the PL top-six at the end of the season. Admir was the only one not predicting a top-four finish for the mighty red and white, and today’s post is an explanation for his reluctance to do so. Most of us tend to will Arsenal higher than a cool analysis of Arsenal’s and our competitors’ positions would permit, and I know Admir as a very analytical blogger with an eye for historic trends and relevant statistics, so I think we should take his views seriously – even though I hope he is very, very wrong! 🙂


These are Admir’s analyses of the six most likely contenders for the top-six (based on final positions by the season’s end):

  1. Man City – they have incredible attacking variety. So many ballers (two Silvas, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling, Gündogan), one of the finest strikers Premier League has ever seen (Agüero) and a defence without (too) weak points. In the last 77 games they have won 65 (84%!), drawn 6 and lost 6. That’s mental and virtually impossible to match. Their attack is so good that they turn draws into victories on a regular basis and that was the main difference between them and Liverpool in the last campaign (Liverpool lost just one game to City’s four but City won 32 to Liverpool’s 30). The long absence of Sane, a rare classic winger in their team, and a departure of their leader Kompany might be the only two reasons that give hope for the chasing pack.
  2. Spuds – yes, it’s not just surprising choice but also extremely annoying. If VAR had been introduced two or three years ago, I believe Pochettino would have been at Espanyol, trying to revive his career after a 10th place-finish with red card recorders Spuds. Now, however, it looks to me that they have fixed things properly with Ndombele and Lo Celso while keeping hold of Eriksen and Alderweireld for a while. Their attacking variety is sublime – Lamela, Eriksen, Son, Kane, Alli…all of them capable of both scoring and assisting.
  3. Liverpool – whilst Salah has managed to win two Golden Boots in two seasons in England, I still see Sadio Mane as their best forward. They rely too much on their full-backs’ attacking contribution – basically, they are what Emery wants Arsenal to be – which gives us a perfect question: what will happen when either or both of TAA or Robertson gets injured/suspended? The answer is: a dull 0-0 draw or a defeat. Even with our ex Ox back in action, they don’t have enough options from the bench and Klopp’s football – sooner or later – takes its toll. Also, they’ll spend some time playing Club World Championship which means rescheduling games and adding to players’ fatigue.
  4. Manchester United – they have fixed their defensive problems by signing Wan-Bissaka and Maguire. They still don’t have midfield solutions capable of dealing with teams above them but I believe their defensive superiority over Arsenal and Chelsea will give them advantage over both clubs. Pogba can go from zero to hero and reverse in a single game but he is their best midfielder by far. Rashford, Martial and, maybe, Alexis Sanchez give them attacking guile and it looks to me that counter-attacking football will get them points against every team that opens up too much.
  5. Arsenal – we have lost Aaron and I fear we haven’t replaced him. We have too many big games until October when we will finally enjoy our full backs Bellerin and Tierney with a remote possibility all our other signings bed in until then. Perhaps our chance to get Champions League is through Europa League again.
  6. Chelsea – playing Champions League will reduce Lampard’s chances to rotate as you have to play your best players in that competition. That might be a big problem in the Top 4 race with Man United and Arsenal, teams that play Europa League and will have a bigger chance to rotate players. They are under transfer ban and their team is Hazard-less. Aside from Kante, I’d struggle to find one player in their team I’d grab with both my hands and bring to Arsenal. No, not even Giroud who is their best striker. Mind you, they played some exciting football at Old Trafford and the final result was totally undeserved but they looked like Arsenal from our barren years when our youngsters lacked composure, quality and strength at either side of the pitch.

By Admir.

39 thoughts on “Why Arsenal Will Not Make PL Top-Four This Season

  • Admir,

    To me, it’s a question of who’s defense gels first and/or better. I think Arsenal have the better defenders and depth. I wouldn’t underrate Luiz as much given he’s back with a coach he’s liked and listened to in past. Yes, we’ve injuries, but we will see. To me that’s 50:50, and I rate our attack better.

    I’d disagree that Spurs are that far ahead, they weren’t last year won’t change much this year. I think they, like Chelsea in your analysis, will drop points due to CL commitments.

    Thus, for me, City and Pool have too much. The rest could fall to injuries (inevitable) and CL commitments, and who’s new players do best. That’s all 50:50 sort of stuff for me. So, City, Pool, modest gap, 3 way dogfight, some gap, and Chelsea.

    I also didn’t and don’t rate AR that much. I think Arsenal fans, at least those here, tend to confuse energy with output and quality. They do go together, a little bit, but you can’t tie them too much as one idea is to force the other guys to work harder. Same if you like to refer to football as sublime… 🙂

    It’s definitely, we will see time.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Admir, TA, maybe this post should have been written after like 10 games into the season to have a clearer view of where we are compared with other teams. By then we will have met teams from both the top 6 and the rest of the league.

    I see that you have put the spuddies above Liv. Maybe you will be right, maybe you will be wrong, but somehow I feel that Liv will still end up second in the league (unless we park the bus and they could not score against us and Pepe scores a terrific winner). However, for now it is all too muddy to see who’s what and I feel that we are going to end up 4th in the league.

  • Admir, I get where you are heading at with the reasons, but somehow I feel that Citeh and Liv have the depth to juggle both the league, Club World Cup and Champions League. Look at how manu** did a few seasons ago and they did ok in their league too.

    And the concern regarding Rambo’s replacement in Ceballos, we have totally got someone who is an upgrade to Rambo and the midfield areas is his domain. He looked good at times in pre-season, and he can only get better once he is used to the faster pace in the PL.

  • Fair points, good analysis and fine arguments. We’ve got to agree we are mostly spitballing here but some of the points you’ve noted as strengths for the likes of Spurs and United may count against them; you may also have ignored the advantage Arsenal has playing in the UEL, as compared to Spurs in the CL.

    I feel City and Liverpool retain the 1st and 2nd placing, for sure, just based on the quality in the sides, as you’ve espoused (and even that can be affected by injuries, a poor run, some dressing room instability, etc.) and the fact they both have huge motivation to retain/correct last season’s outcome. Spurs in second place is just too left field a position for me. They are overrated and can’t sustain a run as soon as there’s an injury to Kane and one other. But for some wayward shooting/passing and hint of fatigue, I thought Villa gave them a right scare and a draw would have been a fair result.

    Now, as for Arsenal, the fact that our new signings and (potentially) first choice full backs will be coming in after October (and the side having been done with some big fixtures) is a strength, especially if adversity forces us to remain as pragmatic and composed in defence as we were at Newcastle, thus, passing those fixtures in flying colours (as I expect we will). If by October, we remain in the mix for a top four placing, morale will be boosted as the new boys settle in and Bellerin and Tierney start to re-energize our play. I also feel Ramsey’s work rate and ability to arrive in the box have been well replaced by Willock/Guendouzi and the arrival of Pepe to support the good work of Laca and Auba. You can “replace” a player by tweaking the approach and adapting to new tactics, without bringing in a like-for-like player. In addition, hopefully, Ozil and Kolasinac would quickly resolve their security concerns and start to play. Ozil can have a very big season, methinks.

    I feel we can comfortably make 3rd, especially because we were just one win from that anyway (reason Emery strengthened our attack to turn those draws and late losses to possible wins) while United, for the reasons you stated, should make 4th place.

    And yes, only time will tell.

  • I just don’t think your review on us is fair or balanced in comparison to everyone else you have reviewed. There are departures, yes, some undesired, yes, but there are arrivals, there is fresh blood both additions and youth in a long campaign that can take up the EL league slack, and give us legs in the tail end of the season where we fell away. We have experience at the back and speed, we have emerging fearless midfielders who bring mobility and bite with them, and we have a front line that arguably matches the best in the league. We score, we just need to concede less, the manager a year on from his debut knows that now.

    Man United will score goals, but how many teams will really open up against them, can’t see them counter attacking Burnley, Palace et al, does their midfield have the guile to open those teams up for instance. Alli isn’t the Alli of old so far anyway and is struggling to get on the pitch, Eriksen wants and could still leave, Kane is injury prone, Liverpool have a long campaign ahead of them and no real first team additions to their squad, fatigue might be their Achilles heel as you’ve rightly ascertained. Man City are a different entity but even they can be defeated.

    If you are underplaying our chances in order to manage expectations, fair play, but I think you should also explain that, otherwise as I said at the top, this isn’t a fair review of us and our chances.

  • Oh, and did I add that Jurgen Klopp does know how to drive his teams. He is unlikely to accept that rescheduled games and fatigue should result in dropping standards in the league. I accept though, that anxiety may set in as they play catch up, but their absence may even cause City to drop their guard, without the push Liverpool gives them.

  • I think this analysis does gravely ignore how close we were last season to a top four finish. We were ultimately undone by a woeful away record and a last-stretch collapse.
    If we can maintain the superb home record, improve on the away results, and ensure a strong finish, we’d surprise many including Amir.
    I read a superb piece in Untold Arsenal the other day. The author showed that we would have been 12 points better if we scored just one goal more in some of the away games we lost or drew; which would have put us third on the table. So he went on to argue that with an improved attack, we’d achieve that and finish top four.
    For now it’s all about arguments, postulations and analyses. The real thing is here. Let’s eat the pudding and see how it tastes!

  • Admit,

    Difficult to fault your logic. But also wondering if it’s all a case of the grass being greener on the other hill.

    70 pts, I think was flattering to our form last season. About 65 pts looks more like it to me. On this premise, is our 19/20 team worth an extra 10 pts to give 75 pts which has always guranteed a top 4 finish? I think so.

    Pepe for Mkhi would surely give a few more points say 5pts
    Tierney at LB maybe an extra 3pts.
    Emerg one yr older in the PL 2 or 3 pts.
    Better understanding between Emery and the team in his 2nd yr 2 or 3 pts.
    Assume all other changes cancel themselves out, we are already in top 4 territory.
    Or am I looking at ourselves with rose tinted glasses?

    I only worry about our CM that lacks a physical presence of a holding mid. But I believe any of Chambers, Luiz and Holding would do a good job in that role. They are all ballers, good passers and defenders. If that would be done, 3rd could become a realistic target.

  • Precisely, CorporateMan. Like I stated above, we were close (one win) to being in the top 4. Indeed, only one point and two points separated us from 4th and 3rd places, respectively. On basis of “goals For”, we just needed one more draw to replace one loss and we would be 4th. It was that close as we can also recall the games we messed up at.
    We’d see though.

  • A fine comment Admir

    In my SWAG I suggested Arsenal would finish 4th but frankly it was more like a wish and hope based on nothing more than my allegiance to Arsenal.

    After watching the Newcastle game several times my most worrying observation was how disjointed our play was, of course there were valid reasons for the lack of cohesion but it was nonetheless disturbing especially coming from a team whose players have the need for possession drilled into them.

    It will take time for our injured players to heal, for our new players to gel and for the unfortunate and regrettable security issues to be resolved. During this time the likes of City, Spurs, Pool and United will in all probability pull away from us leaving us to play catch up. This will leave us competing with Chelsea for 5th and 6th places.

    My one overriding concern from the Newcastle game was how poorly Micky played, I lost count of how many times he misplaced passes and messed up attacks by over hitting passes or losing the ball. I rarely criticize or single out individual players but his performance was shocking and I cannot fathom out why he was not subbed?

  • Nice one, TA…and Admir, of course, whom I believe ought to be a regular writer of posts here… 😀

    Personally, I think we need to hold off on our predictions until the September Int’l break as there could still be some interesting (outgoing) transfers that change the situation, esp. at Man U (Pogba) and Spurs (Eriksen), while we can’t be sure that some of our bigger names won’t go either. It also gives us a chance to watch these teams play a few matches–against competition big and small–to get a sense of style of play and if the managers seem to have their players on board with their systems–which might also serve to keep the fans/supporters on board as well…More on this below…

    All of that said, Admir puts out some (very) interesting things (and players) to watch for, so my interest for this 2nd half of August is nicely piqued. Well done and cheers for that… And, all is to play for, esp. given that his top 5 all passed their initial tests and got 3 points on the opening day AND that (of that group) Arsenal sit 5th based on GD…(So,maybe setting out for nil-nil’s–even if you can nick the full points now and again, isn’t quite enough…)

    I will say this: City’s dominance (Admir, et. al., please tell me about what happened to FFP…) is absurd and I also believe that Liverpool’s previous season and the YNWA mentality up there gives them (more than) a leg up. Similarly, I think Spuds have a lot of good-will left-over from last year and the fact that Zidane slid back into the most prestigious of the Spanish (speaking) coaching positions (meaning that Poch didn’t…) is huge. These former players trying to be managers (OGS at United, Fat Frank at Chavs) both drops expectations but also feel like darts—which could easily be replaced by new darts if the results go wonky in the easier matches. In other words, ANY of these traditionally strong teams (with their prima dona players–and demanding fanbases…) could implode quite quickly with a bad run of results. Which one (or more) will it be?…

    Based on last year’s (end-of-season) experience at Arsenal and how Emery was unable to get his team the points they needed (home and away against lesser teams with nothing to play for–nor much of a performance two weeks later in the EL final), I find it hard to believe that the player turnover (which has been impressive, and probably for the best) is the only thing that matters. We may have better competition for places AND some extra quality in key spots, but something feels (extremely, IMO) rotten (at the core) with our club. Freddy by February (or just Emery out earlier than the others) still feels like it’s not the worst punt…

    But, nobody needs me going on and on about that…(when folks just want to feel good, have something in which to believe, etc., etc.) and maybe other clubs are rotten enough (at their cores) for us to win the big trophy (that isn’t one…and get back into the Tues/Weds tournament instead of the Thursday stuff…)

    At least I feel inspired (for now…) to keep watching… Cheers fellas for helping me on that account…

  • My man Admir, You know very well that last year it was Mustafis blander that caused us crurcial points and now that his position is already replaced and Unai has enough options to pick from so dont judge us like a book which is judged wrongly by its cover, Things may not work your way.

  • Well Admir, your post has led to some fine comments and justifications for predictions made earlier. There are not many blogs out there where commenters explain themselves so well and refrain from the ‘Twitter-style’ comments, and I have found a bit (or a fat chunk) of truth in most comments. So thank you for swimming against the stream and attacking popular opinion like your fellow countryman did with the car thieves the other day.

    I also think it is useful to do a prediction now. All the major papers do it and it doesn’t mean we cannot do it again after a number of games have been played.

  • It is easy, but also wrong, to use a bit of hindsight and say ‘if only this happened or had not happened, we would have made it into the top four’. It does not work like that as life has so many variables, and by taking out or adding one the whole complexion will be changed.

    Furthermore, every season has its own dynamics and new characteristics. So we cannot say that we signed Pepe, who surely will score a few more than say Welbeck so we will now make it into the top four. An attractive thought but we must look at harder factors like strength of the squad, quality of the manager, seasonal demands of the season, injuries – current and risk of injuries to key players, and momentum from last season. Finally, we also need to look at the luck factor: who is due some luck this season…. hard to establish but it is always a key factor (for example Chavs were way more lucky in the second half of the season than us).

  • I believed we had a good squad last season, and I definitely believe we have a very good squad this season. Most on here will know what I think of Emery and this season is. luckily, make or break for him. He is up against possibly the best managers in Europe now, give one or two home-returned Italians and Dutchmen keen to break through to the top level, and his biggest challenge is…. to get the balance in midfield right. He now has all the players he could wish for to get there so show us what you got Unai!

    I reckon Man City will not be as strong as last season but still strong enough to win the league, unfortunately. Quality squad, excellent manager, good momentum, deal with injuries really well through squad AND strong focus on system of football that all the players get to know and play in. They may be much more interested in winning the CL this time round, so sacrifices may be made in the PL games.

    Spuds have all in place and bought well and their manager is good at playing a strong system of football and getting the best out of his players. They bought well and are now settled in their ground, so I expect them to finish second unfortunately.

    Manc and Chavs are where we were last season: getting used to a (relatively) new manager and they have not bought well this summer. We should be able to do better than them in Emery’s full second season and given the squad we have, but it really will come down to his ability to set the team up well, find the balance in midfield AND make us a frightening force in away games…. I have my doubts but really want him to succeed. So as I am an optimist by nature and I reckon we are due some lovely luck this season, I went for third for Arsenal! COYGs!!

  • Emery is Arsenals biggest flaw at the moment.

    I’d actually put money on this team to win the EPL if we had a Klopp or Pep doing the tactics. Yet look how people think top 4 is out of reach.

    Let Raul get who he wants, not make Raul manage a Gazidis pick.
    Raul done well in the transfers right?

    Who did Raul want to get as Arsenal manager but overruled by Gazids?
    Luis Enrique.

    Can Arsenal get Enrique?
    He had a 2 year contract which has seen a year pass by already… So basically, it is the same time Emery contract ends, if not extended. They have worked well previously and he was linked to us but Gazidis… Why can’t we get him?

    While Emery may be part of the transfer talk, I do feel most of the transfers we made are based on Raul and not Emery. Raul, who knew what it took to achieve targets at Barca. Edu had more impact on our transfers than Emery, from appearance.

    At the time of finding a manager, Arsenal was being lead by Gazidis who had terrible money management, worse than mine! 😛 lol
    Top managers were removed from the list of potentials due to money.

    Has Raul been stopped due to money? Or does Raul use his contacts to get what he wants?

    Why should we be happy with Emery?
    It was Emery who decided to loan Chambers out while keeping Mustafi, which did what for our def last season? Emery, who had Torriera, Guendouzi, Sokratis… I would say he done worse than Wenger!!! How many did Wenger let in during his last season? People was moaning about Wenger not getting a decent DM in along with a CB… Emery has had them!!!! Yet he still let in the same as Wengers worst ever with us.

    For years prior to Wenger sacking, I was saying that we needed a CEO with ambition first, even if we were to replace Wenger then we need to believe that the board have ambition enough to get in someone better.

    While I disagree with Amir on his reasoning, I will not disagree with Arsenal missing top 4 while we have Emery. I can honestly say that I am equally convinced about this that I was about Gazidis. I know that is just words and anyone can make claims… Think about the frustration though. Anyone who was pointing to Gazidis over Wenger was being called stupid, an idiot, a Wenger lover, not an Arsenal supporter but an Arsene FC supporter…. I had years of abuse from fellow Arsenal supporters.

    I say with the same conviction that Arsenal have a team capable of competing for the EPL… If we had a manager capable of using players to their capabilities and not try and force a triangle into a square hole. The ONLY good thing about Emery is his work ethic and I guess for a couple years, having that work ethic drilled into our promising players is a boon, when Arsenal get a top manager then our ‘kids’ will have a better mentality to become the ‘best’.

  • Love this and I could write something down the same line about Xhaka..

    There are some brilliant sentences in here, such as:
    “There is an obvious point of confusion here. On the one hand we have an acknowledged flake, chancer and gadabout. On the other a defender who has strengthened every team that signed him; who was a kind of clown-shoed Virgil van Dijk for Antonio Conte’s title-winning Chelsea two years ago; and who has in terms of style and impact been one of the most influential overseas defenders in the Premier League.”


  • Cheers MidK and welcome. Although I have also doubts about Emery’s capabilities, let’s give him another season and see how it goes. It takes time to adjust to the PL and the team management competition is very high.

  • Hi TA, What does this “balance in midfield” mean?…

    If you keep saying it, I have to respond by continuing to say that I don’t believe we play with a midfield–and(or) that it’s all about instantly–or as quickly as possible–connecting our back 6 (or 7) with our front 4 (or 3) and then hoping something good happens and we score. Sometimes guys who are listed as MFs are involved, but balance is something I do not (EVER) see. Emery’s most critical mantra seems to be that we MUST keep that rear-guard intact and NEVER commit too many bodies forward (FBs/WBs excepted, of course). It’s the opposite of Wenger’s self-expression and the rigidity is mind-numbing, IMO…

    But, if top 4 is the goal, it could just work…

    But maybe you are talking about something else. Please explain as I can’t tell if it (“midfield balance”) is just something in your head (a dream, or fantasy, maybe?…) or something you’ve actually seen with (Emery’s) Arsenal.. Even against a woeful Newcastle team almost all our possession was in our half…but PEA had a couple of quality strikes and one of them went in… Halle (fecking) llujah…

    Unfortunately, I think Emery is probably right that we should focus on not conceding–even though we have some sublime attacking talent–and an excellent #10 even if he’s a leftover from Wenger’s time at the club. (Of course, many Gooners would love to see Ozil gone. And management, respecting the bottom line, would love his salary gone, same with Mkhi, whom I saw as not nearly as bad as some in our first match… Didn’t he make the same pass to PEA that AMN did?…and otherwise not shy from trying things on the break. If Auba’s first half blast is 50 cm to the right or left–or higher or lower–Mhki’s pass is an assist…) But creativity and entertaining football don’t get you to the top of the middle of the table (where CL promotion awaits…) and dreaming too big is how managers lose their jobs.

    At Arsenal, somehow, we’re now OK with this level of ambition. (Witness the “glory” of our 22 game unbeaten run last season, what now must be considered our “new manager bump”…) So, not losing (games) is how Emery might keep his job, even if a loss is only one point fewer than a draw and certainly not the way to win the league. City won with three losses last season to Pool’s lone defeat, for example…

    But, except for MidKemma’s post above, that larger ambition is gone (or does Raul actually have it, and maybe has a young Kroenke believing?)…and it’s all about this promotion campaign and outlasting these other (similarly once) proud clubs through the ups and downs of the season. The ups are fun–and might prompt an extra ale at the pub (or from the fridge)…but it’s the downs (and the ugly drinking that comes with them…) that MUST be avoided. As such, boring, boring Arsenal (if that first match, finally a 1-nil) is probably (and sadly, IMO) the way forward…

    If I’m gonna watch (and I might let life intervene and stop me)… I’ve gotta have my mantras, Freddy by February (or Enrique en Enero)…or, at least, Better vs Burnley (which shouldn’t be too hard, unless, dennis forbid, we drop points…)

  • Some excellent comments to read today after a fine post

    I always expect AFC to win the the title. Why? Because we are the Arsenal and we are the Best etc etc. Some call it unrealistic optimism.

    I think we have as good a front line as any of the top 4, better than Spurs and >L’pool and certainly equal to City. If we can score 100 goals this season we will be there or thereabouts and I see no reason why this is not achievable.

    I am concerned that the FB’s will not return until October but Monreal alongside Kolasinac can improve and AMN is proving himself as a fine multi- purpose player. He was excellent on Sunday.

    Luiz will be a fine signing, Socrates is looking a fine defender having come through the always difficult first season in the PL. Holding is quality as a backup.

    The new fellows are very exciting, in particular Pepe and Ceballos.

    I think we will be pleasantly surprised.

  • Hah EtR, I love that last sentence, and your succinct analysis was a joy to read… and little from me to argue with. Hope you are well?

  • Chelsea leading 1-0 and playing some nice football. Admir you might have to rewrite the form book.

  • Seventeenho, I have explained in many a post what I mean with midfield balance. In a nutshell, it is about getting the right players together, both in the deeper midfield role(s) and in the Nr10 role, so that we dominate in midfield, protect the defence effectively, AND support the attack equally effectively. Wenger in his last years and Emery since he took over have been struggling with this, but when I saw us play Xhaka-Willock and Ozil together in preseason, I saw more than glimpses of how the black-haired Spaniard could get it right this season. I think you are harsh when stating we often do not have a midfield and also do not agree with Emery not wanting one as such.. It is about getting the balance right, which is THE quest in modern/PL footie.

  • Talking about midfield balance. It looks like Pool do not really have much of a midfield and are totally programmed to get the ball wide, penetrate the defence on the wings and then get the ball to Salah/in the box. I am really impressed with the way the Chavs are dominating midfield and are able to close the wings down (something Norwich failed at last Friday). The Chavs want to play through midfield and are passing Pool dizzy. Great goal by Chelsea and finish by OG.

  • Thanks, TA… I think I’m getting what you’re saying and the “no MF” is definitely hyperbole on my part, though I still think Emery prizes positioning of the 2 DMs above all other elements of midfield play. It’s a numbers game (as I observe it)…Always have more (defenders) when the opponent comes forward meaning we always (or at least mostly likely…) have fewer when we get the ball back and we have to do our best work before they can get their number (re)set.

    To me, it’s a mid-table mentality, but I get it…

    Not so many want to address our shifting goal-posts–but why should they, if some believe we’re gonna win the league? From my perspective–despite the game having more luck than just about ALL others–the FFP element has gone nutty and City–a dozen years into Abu Dhaby support seem more nailed on than ever. And let’s recall that City would’ve been in that CL final (and playing for the quadruple…) but for the slightest of touches and that late goal being taken away by VAR… (I’ll be watching that rematch on Sunday, to check Admir’s idea that Spurs are good for 2nd…) Speaking of which…Does VAR help or hurt Arsenal? (I wonder–and it could be a blog post for somebody…) If we keep inviting teams into our box, hurt, I fear, might be the answer… 😦

    I missed the late pre-season (at least if it had been non-English teams winning the Euro trophies) cup game but it sounds like Fat Frank is getting used to losing… Chavs at least get to play at home AND on Sunday (vs Leicester) while Pool have to play at So’ton a day earlier. Those matches will probably tell more about where those clubs are headed, I think…

    Sorry to be such a realist/downer/low expectations dude… Please delete as necessary…

  • 17ht, some good points there.. however,,,,,,,

    Last season we were playing out from the back for the first season and the last game we played out from the back and were pretty much in our own half for most of the game. I felt that we sprayed the ball far too slowly and would be more clinical if our passing is quicker and less back passes please.

    Mid table? hm.. maybe for now, but when Pepe and the new lads play and start to gel it will be anything but mid table. so, I will say wait for it.

    Everyone was looking forward to Citeh being taken to task for flouting FFP rules, but i think that money settled it, and the news died down. But spuddies second? I would rather think of it in another way, meaning that manu** and ourselves have the chance to be either second or third, spuddies fourth and Chavs a close fifth.

    Why Chavs is a close fifth in my alternative view?
    The reason for that is due to the lack of depth and similar to Admir’s reasons, Chavs have a small team to work with and it will be bad for them to contest both the league and the Europa. The impact that will have on the team is massive.

  • A thought

    Many seem hung up on what half of the field we play in etc. Control the ball and the field is the real lesson. We did fine last game. I have no problem with probing forward like last game and going all the way back to the keeper if need be to bring the bus out even just a little. That’s control if you can do it without giving the ball up, which we mostly didnt (Mkhi aside).

    Doesnt matter too much where the opposition has it either. It’s the opportunities they have that matter. A shot in the box where they only have either right at the keeper or a wonder goal as alternatives is fine compared to all the much better opportunities we gave up last year. You will give up opportunities, just make sure they arent good ones and not too frequent.

    IMO, regarding pressing like demons. It works sometimes, but also leaves you well out of shape. It mostly works for City and others against weaker sides, but it’s a fitness and psychology test more than a football test. You will rarely hear me say that one has to win a certain way, but for Arsenal, we’ve not the personnel to press like that, not really, but we do have it for fast break and for ball control, so let’s play our way.

    PS: Good ball control beats pressing all the time. Why? Because one always presses with less players (attackers) than defenders, it’s the nature of the game. So, if you are confident with ball at feet and have a keeper good with ball at feet, pressers can run all damn day, see if I care.

    cheers — jgc

  • 17HT, Emery does not really want to sit back with two DMs but that is his safety position and it will give us points (even with the dangers of VAR as you point out). He wants to play with a linking B2B beast and the few games Ramsey did this (after and before he was injured) we probably had our best games/most of the midfield balance. Because the Welsh wizard was injured soooo much and took ages to get into top form, I don’t agree with Admir that we will be missing him/need to replace him. I have high hopes for Ceballos and Willock to make our midfield much more effective, with Granit and Mesut more or less certain starters, and I also believe in Torreira to get better and better.

  • If you look at Citeh, Geoff, you will notice that virtually all the time they have more men around the ball than the opponent, and especially after they lose it, wherever that is on the pitch. That’s what we need too.

    Also, I was really impressed with the Chavs yesterday and I will use my observations for the Pool preview next week. They were easily equal to Pool and were tactically sound throughout the game (and missed Luiz imo).

  • In Wenger era, we controlled possession and controlled territory. There has been a change since Emery. Now we still control possession but not territory. Am unsure whether not controlling territory is Emery’s tactics or that we are unable to.

    Controlling the ball in ones half has its tactical reasons:

    1) It’s easier because there are more spaces available as the opposition cannot afford to commit too many men forward. It is conclusively established that the team without the ball does more work. Therefore one reason for this tactics is for the opposing team to expend more energy. Notice how the whole of the opposing team move with the ball as the ball is shifted sideways from one side of the field to the other by the defence.
    2) Possession in one’s half can be an attempt to entice the opposition forward which would leave spaces behind them that allows quick transition. Emery’s game might be hinged on quick transition.
    3) Unlike when controlling possession in opposition half, high defensive lines are limited. Therefore when out of possession the team is more likely to be more compact.

    Or is it that we get stuck in our half because we are poor in transitioning the ball forward? I doubt so. Our collection of speedy players must be for quick transition.

  • Most teams are now trying to play the ball out from the back rather than hopefully pumping it forward. Do I like it? Not really but as PE just wrote there are advantages to do so and we sold our very own Giroud to the Chavs, and our wing backs are also not really an option anymore…

  • Remember Bacary Sagna, Seventeenho? Now he was an outlet for the keeper back in his days at the Arsenal. Where is he now??…. at Montreal Impact… (at 36 still playing!!).

  • PE, good comments..

    When you see the repeat of the last match you will see a difference in the way the new lads positioned themselves. We started with familiar players, and they are positioned far apart from one another. Once the subs were done, we were more compact and made quicker passes forward. But there were what you mentioned, the possibility of the defense getting too far from the midfield, and I hope that as the season goes on we will be able to close that gap.

  • Thanks for your comments, people. 🙂 I was busy yesterday with my birthday and all that stuff so I couldn’t put a comment of my own. I will try to answer to your comments in general.

    Firstly, whilst it’s true that we had lost Top 4 last season for a goal or two (if Auba had scored that penalty at Wembley…or that sitter at Brighton when we were 1-0 up…or that one against Brighton at home similar to the one he scored v Valencia…or that sitter at Chelsea…or if we had avoided that brain-fart at Old Trafford at 2-1…or…meh), we also have to admit we had ridden our luck for quite a while, especially in small games. Mind you, we had a fantastic record v…er…remaining members of bottom two thirds of Top 6 (Chavs, Spuds, Scum). We won 3, drew 2, lost one and those who watched those games will agree with me that we could and probably should have won all six of them. Mustafi, a defender for whom I honestly believe should be taken to the electrician to check his brain wires, was not at fault for those points being dropped.

    Which leads me to my next point. All other clubs could say they dropped points because of something. If Spuds hadn’t conceded that stupid Alderweireld’s own goal at Anfield, they’d have a point more. If they hadn’t conceded a late injury time header at Bournemouth, they’d have a point more. If De Gea hadn’t morphed into a giant octopuss at Wembley, they’d have at least a point more, if not all three. Etc, etc. Speaking of Spuds, their greatest weakness last season was the absence of Dembele who was sold to China and wasn’t replaced until Ndombele arrived. Their biggest weakness now is the right full-back position where I don’t see a player Walker’s or Trippier’s quality. Gooner Aurier is too crazy.

    Also, there is another point hidden in our great statistic against RMoBTToT6. We finished behind Chavs and Spuds and only above Man U despite our superior record in the mini-league (Arsenal 11, Chavs 8, Spuds 7, Man U 6). In our victory v Spuds our key player was Rambo. In our draw at Wembley he scored the opener. In our victory over Chelsea he was a key in the middle, something Özil couldn’t reproduce in the EL Final. Don’t get me wrong about Ceballos – I’ve been a huge fan of his talent for years – but Rambo had both the work-rate Emery insists on and that heart on the sleeve moment in NLDs that I don’t expect from Ceballos…yet.

    Let’s not forget about Bellerin’s injury against Chelsea made that victory a Pyrrhic one. Bellerin was crucial for our transition and attacking game before he got injured. We were scoring around two goals per game away from home when he was fit. Once he got stretchered off, we lost a lot more than just a player. Personally, I like the glass half-full perspective regarding his come-back but we’ll play Liverpool, Spuds and Man U before he returns and with all due respect to that brave lad who is deputizing him, it’s not the same.

    As for the last night game, let’s not forget it’s a Supercup game. Dark Lord Ferguson used to rest his best players when Supercup was played on a Friday night so they stay fit for the Monday night game in Premier League. Liverpool didn’t play with their best eleven while Lampard, who needed a positive result far more than Klopp did, used his best players including recovered and omnipresent Kante, talented Pulisic and our own handsome Frenchman.

    As for Luis Enrique, his spell with Barca was good. His spell at Roma was a disaster.

    (Btw, I’d like to write a huge piece one day about Lampard, Solskjaer and Zidane, football legends of their respective clubs turn firemen on the bench, with Freddie in mind given what 17 said. Will I do that? That’s even tougher to predict than how our season will pan out.)

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