Player Ratings: a Sub is MOTM, Mixed-Bag by Guendo, Awesome Auba.

Arsenal 3 – 2 Aston Villa: Never Say Emery Doesn’t Entertain!

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores a free-kick for Arsenal against Aston Villa

Bernd Leno – 6

It would be harsh to blame him for either of the goals. Yet, he might have prevented any of them (remember Martinez foregoing crosses in Frankfurt?) being more proactive. That would have been more spectacular than expected of him by any means, but a pre-requisite for a higher rating as he didn’t have critical saves or remarkable distribution to show for.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 2,5

Contrary to popular misbeliefs I don’t think his second bookable offense was intentionally malignant, ill-timed or reckless, but nevertheless he should have been more cautious being already booked (taking Jon Moss into the equation). He put the team in jeopardy, but his poor performance in the RB role is reflected in his low rating. He should have put El Ghazi under pressure before his assist.

Sokratis – 5

He seemed slow and rusty before Villa’s second goal, but it was far from a major individual mistake that characterized Arsenal’s defence in the past several PL games. He did his best to silence Wesley throughout the game, but unfortunately it was the Brazilian who had the last laugh. His no-nonsense approach while often a welcome feature clearly has its limitations.

David Luiz – 5,5

His distribution and attacking contribution should bump his ratings even more, but as he is a defender by trade, I had to take his shortcomings into more consideration. With 2 tackles and 6 clearances he was a quality defender for most of the game, but a 24-27-year old Luiz wouldn’t have allowed Wesley to beat him to the near post and convert Villa’s second that easily.

Sead Kolasinac – 6

Would you believe that he led Arsenal tackling statistics with 4 (being second only to McGinn’s 6), and while his final balls lacked conviction he put the right defence of Aston Villa under constant pressure. It was his most balanced performance in this season (to date), and if he starts delivering key passes and assists again, he could prove be a challenge for Tierney to overcome.

Granit Xhaka – 5,5

The Swiss captain had a quiet afternoon, failing to impact the game either defensively or offensively. Yet he was paired (again) with Guendouzi which on one hand is the dictionary example of the lack of synergy, and on the other hand limits him moving forward in the absence of a hardcore DM like Torreira. However, the fact that our midfield had significantly improved with substituting Granit for the Uruguayan only demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the Xhaka-Guendouzi partnership, not his personal shortcomings.

Guendouzi – 7

While it is usually Xhaka who delivers a mixed bag performance it was Matteo’s turn against Aston Villa. It is convenient and popular to blame the (old) central defenders for McGinn’s opener, but it was Guendouzi who lost him; and he similarly failed to track back before Villa’s second, letting Grealish cruise between the more static Arsenal defenders. Nevertheless he single-handedly defeated Villa before the equalizer – making the interception, dribbling into the box and inviting the foul – at a time we hardly had a shot on goal. And his pass in the build-up of Chambers’ goal challenged Ozil’s and Xhaka’s similar skills. While he was nominated as Man of the Match by many, I couldn’t let him get away with 2 mistakes that would have resulted in death threats if committed by Mustafi, but Guendouzi had a pretty good game on Sunday.

Dani Ceballos – 6

He struggled against Villa. Yet Dani always looked like he wanted to try and make something happen, but he couldn’t leave his mark on the game. He didn’t make many or critical mistakes, but he wasted his chance to make an impact. If he was trying to play No 10, he is far from being Özil’s heir, albeit it is not entirely his fault. He looked like Aaron Ramsey on his bad days, and it is no compliment.

Nicholas Pépé – 6,5

He was lively as always and ineffective as always. He worked hard, provided key passes, dribbled and created chances, but most of them went begging. I cannot evaluate his penalty – and make no mistake, nobody should. He took some risk, but it worked out just fine. He reminds me of Welbeck on his good days, but unfortunately that is no compliment either. Let’s hope that his increased confidence starts to bear fruit in upcoming games.

Bukayo Saka – 6

I admit he didn’t get much support, and he is not yet on a level that he can do it alone. Saka on his path to become this season’s Guendouzi: who after delivering mixed or average performances is being constantly praised, because taking his age into consideration he indeed was great. But he was our main man against Frankfurt because he was underestimated – a favour PL teams will not grant him frequently.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7

His hold-up play doesn’t help his comparison to Lacazette, but he also works his socks off. His goal was equally smart and technically exquisite, and he demonstrated rare personal qualities by letting Pépé take the penalty, especially Auba being on his quest to defend his Golden Boot. I blame the Borussia Dortmund supporters’ English skills announcing him as a ‘toxic addition’ to the squad, because watching him play and smile (as well as reading his tweets) starts to become a ‘toxic addiction’.


Calum Chambers – 7,5 (MotM)

He similarly had a defensively and offensively balanced display, which he crowned with a quality goal. He was often – and unjustly – blamed for his contribution to Villa’s second, which I have to admit was an uncool ball control mistake, but it happened at the midfield and there were a dozen chances to prevent the ball getting into Leno’s net. Such handling mistakes happen with everybody 3 times a game, and the cause and effect relationship with Wesely’s goal is a lot thinner than his involvement in our all-important second equalizer. It’s nice to pull a makeshift RB of his quality out of the bag.

Lucas Torreira – 6,5

His energy was a welcome addition to our midfield. The Uruguayan has great eyes to disrupt opponents attack, but he was surprisingly effective in pressing. He had 23 minutes to work hard, and he managed to change the dynamics of the game. While he came on to replace Xhaka, I still believe that they represent our best midfield duo together.

Joe Willock – 6

Joe wasn’t bad either, but he didn’t do anything great either in his 23 minutes. I don’t expect the spectacular, but he reminded me of the ever-enthusiastic Iwobi, who often shoots where a pass could have been the smarter solution. If Özil wasn’t sitting on the bench, I would have liked Willock’s inclusion, but I cannot (and don’t) hold Emery’s decision against him.

Unai Emery – 5

It might seem harsh from me, as Arsenal delivered a (signature) 10-player comeback, but let’s not forget that the team had put in yet another horrible performance in the first half. Furthermore, I think he keeps failing putting our best midfield together, and he didn’t really find the best way to utilize Ceballos’ obvious talent. And while the crowd obviously enjoys a combative home display, I think 8 yellow cards a game are way too much: it shows unnecessary aggression and/or sub-par tackling skills (not to mention decision making). The risk of suspension is the smaller threat, but a booked CB/DM/CM must be too cautious for the rest of the game.

I wasn’t pleased with his substitutions either, but if he’ll start Nelson, Özil, Martinelli and Holding on Tuesday I might ask TotalArsenal to upgrade his rating to 6. 😊

By Pbarany

44 thoughts on “Player Ratings: a Sub is MOTM, Mixed-Bag by Guendo, Awesome Auba.

  • Admir’s comment from end of previous post:

    I will take three points from the game and the battling spirit to get them after being a man and a goal down on the break…but I really don’t see where Emery is heading with this team. How we have just one defeat from the opening six games is beyond me. We are two points off from Man CIty.
    Xhaka and Guendouzi can’t play together. I’m trying to get the logic for fielding those two next to each other and it goes like this:
    Emery knows Guendouzi can’t defend or pass but needs his drive and his bite in the midfield.
    Emery knows Xhaka can’t defend and is too slow but needs his passing range and physicality in the midfield.
    Emery knows Torreira is the best defender among the three but if he puts him on the pitch with Xhaka, then there is no drive forward Guendouzi offers and if he fields him next to Guendouzi, we don’t have anyone with the passing ability from the deeper role. If he had put all three next to each other, our attack would have been cut off from the midfield.
    Anyway, back on the last game.
    Guendouzi, Chambers and Auba won the game with individual efforts. Lacazette’s injury came as a big blow for our attack as he is the one who really plays football and in those circumstances, Mesut had to play in order to provide more creativity. We play at the Emirates, we play against the club that Mesut has molested in the past and I really expected him to start yesterday. Huge opportunity missed to reintegrate him with the team.
    Maitland Niles should never play as RB again. The kid is a midfielder without a defensive instinct in himself. Either Mustafi or Chambers would be a natural replacement for Bellerin (especially if Arsenal want to sell Mustafi). When Bellerin returns, the position is all his and maybe we will finally see something more from Pepe. Right now, Pepe looks like a poor man’s Gervinho and it’s a good thing Auba left him a penalty to take.
    Kolašinac is not the sharpest tool in the shed and I think Tierney’s return makes him nervous. He knows he has to perform to keep his place in the first team and yet his best might not be enough to do so.
    Sokratis is a disaster waiting to happen now that we got Luiz next to him. They simply don’t work well together as all Sokratis’ flaws are now even more visible. I’d go with all-English central defence and persist with it. Maybe it’s our Keown-Adams back-line in making and we are missing the right moment to establish it. Speaking of CBs, Tyrone Mings might be the next 80m CB in Premier League, provided that his injury problems are history.
    Willock has something of Rosicky (which is a huge compliment!) in sense that he doesn’t hold back and has his eyes set on the opponents’ goal. He didn’t get scared with Liverpool’s pressure, the best in the recent history of the game, and he might be the closest thing we have to replace Rambo.
    Saka had a promising baptism of fire in the Premier League. If AMN hadn’t been sent off, Saka would have stayed on the pitch in the second half and, who knows. He looks like a brighter prospect than Nelson at the moment, which should also serve as a warning to Nelson.
    Finally, Aubameyang. I have criticized him a lot for his ability to miss sitters but this season he has been a leader on the pitch. Scoring goals against the run of play, scoring goals for all our points (!) this season and helping his team-mates to play their best football…he was a real captain yesterday. He looks like Van Persie in his last Arsenal season.

  • Hey Pb, many thanks for your maiden post for BK, and what a cracker it is. There is nothing to disagree with, and that is not only because I only saw the highlights! 😀

    I love especially your midfield ratings and analyses. Emery puts everything and every department under unnecessary pressure by not getting the midfield balance right time and again. I also think that Admir’s analysis of the midfield situation adds further insight in Emery’s reluctance to do the obvious… pairing Xhaka with Torreira in the DM-pivot. Why cannot we play two attacking midfielders in front of Xha-Tor IF Emery is keen to add attacking qualities to our midfield?


    — Ozil ——————Ceballos/Guen——–
    ———–Two of Laca, Pepe, Auba—————-

  • Well, he was a rating-4 right back (with no tackles, clearances or blocks, only a single interception in the course of 45 minutes), he intentionally let El Ghazi send a free cross into the box (AMN was near, he purposefully decided not to close him down), and he managed to have himself sent off – even though the second card was less justified than it is commonly agreed.

    I don’t know the extent of his injury, but he’ll definitely miss the Carabao Cup tomorrow and at least 1 PL game due to suspension, then comes the home game against Standard Liege with Mustafi or Chamber as right back, so by the time he could retake his place as Bellerin’s understudy he might have serious competition as our secondary RB.
    Which he might not mind at all, as he prefers to play CM, but the competition isn’t light there either.

  • Pb, good job. You put every detail into consideration.

    I’d say 4 for Niles as the sending off was harsh IMO. He got the ball safely but the foot he raised after contact (was not dangerous at that instant) must have been read wrongly by the referee. Having said this, I must say that it seems to me Niles has failed to recognize what a great opportunity Bellerin’s absence has created for him. It appears to me that there is a wee sulking by him that he is not being played in the midfield. Maybe am wrong. Maybe it’s the impression his laid back style gives.

    Also I’d give Luiz 6.5. He executed so many long accurate balls. The effect on the opposition knowing that such a threat is ever present is usually underestimated. I always blame the team defending more than I blame the defenders. It’s so clear these days that when a team is out of possession there are 11 defenders. When in possession 11 attackers.

    My MOTM goes to Guendz. His indomitable spirit held the team up.

  • Thanks Pb– appreciate the difficulty of rating anyone in this match.

    With that said I’ll re-post something I’d found witty online– right after it ended.
    Entitled it– Best Take, Headline Category:

    “A Fantastic Awful Game.”

    As exhilarating a final 20-minutes as it was– how did we get there?
    What does the individual brilliance of a few, shining only in desperation– express about the confines within which they are being asked to play? Shouldn’t a manager’s tactics play to the best skill sets of our most talented individuals? Maximizing, as opposed to limiting them?

    Not a full-on idiot (so I’ll claim). I’m thrilled with the points! But.
    These were Villa and Watford. 6-pts ‘tween ’em in a combined 12 contests.
    We had to get all six. We were nowhere good enough.

    Don’t let drama and exhilaration– paper over the faults.
    Next week at Old Trafford. Not a ground that’s been kind to Arsenal.
    United, as bad as they’ve been? Are still better than either of the teams we’ve just played.


  • I will sound very biased here but in my (less than humble) opinion our best two players are:- Aubameyang and Ozil – both were signed by Arsene Wenger. Our most promising youngsters Saka, Smith Rowe, Nelson and Willock are all products of the Arsenal academy in the Wenger years.

    Biased, maybe? Maybe not………………

  • Don’t let drama and exhilaration– paper over the faults.Wow how true a statement is that!!

    I feel that this is true with players like Cebbalos, Ozil and Pepe, who have not been allowed to show their star quality – it would appear that they are being forced into some sort of military system where they must following the rules and nothing but the rules. That’s why I made the comment that in the last 20’25 minutes of the Villa game our players said “Sod it lets just have a go” – and boy did they ever have a GO!!!

  • I am really pleased with the way AMN has held the fort whilst Bellerin was injured. Some games he was simply awesome, but I agree with many here that his defending wasn’t always up to scratch. Some time in midfield, especially during the cup games, would be a good next step for this very talented lad.

  • GN5, I also cannot believe that Ozil didn’t feature at all and, unless there is something going on we are not allowed to know about, this is just unacceptable. The man is paid £50k per day and we are not using him – EMERY is not using him…!! Ozil needs appreciation and to be trusted and he gets the opposite from the Spaniard… How to not manage a super talent.

  • It’s strange how we all see the same games and end up with very differing opinions: you see I find AMN to be a total enigma – rarely can I remember him having ‘”good” game all I can remember are a few good moments. Overall I believe he is being played out of position but he does not (yet) have the quality to contest for a mid-field position.

  • Total – Ozil is a SUPER STAR that is either being totally mismanaged or is suffering from some form of PTSD after the robbery attempt.

  • Amir … fine analysis and am 99% with you. The 1% is my doubt that Torreira is the best defender amongst the three (this won’t be popular). When we are very compact with only small spaces available, Torreira’s short bust of speed (acceleration from zero) makes him the best. When the field is stretched with large spaces I’d say Xhaka is best. Facing the opponent side maybe Guendz shades it. But in summary non of the three is good enough all round. You remember the squad’s speed test that leaked sometime last year Torreira and Guendz were the slowest. Xhaka has very poor acceleration but a good final speed which he can only reach when the field is very stretched.

    Willock looks more rounded to me but he seems to be more attack conscious. Emery has to be a lot more creative to solve our midfield lack in the defensive phase of the game. Luiz wouldn’t be bad there.

  • GN5, agreed we all see different things. For me, AMN is a superb athlete with a cool head when it matters, which is very special for such a young man. His passing is impressive and he started to deliver quality balls into the box sooner in his career than Bellerin did. I just think he played too many games so early on in his career and a short break from being a full back will do him good.

  • Pbrany/Admir – two fine posts on our performance(or lack of) against Villa – I get far too emotional to be very lucid after a game.

  • I guess that’s the issue Total – can he fit into the mid-field to get a short break from full back?
    He could become a very competent attacking wing half – but when/how will he get the opportunity?

  • I manage to agree with both PE and TA on Maitland-Niles which is hard as they say almost the exact opposite. 🙂
    Indeed Ainsley dove into this unrequested responsibility with humbleness and dignity, so I started to see this coerced, contingency solution as something viable on the long-run. And he often did well, albeit he was nothing particular neither in defense nor in offense. But we have other players to win the games, so as long as he doesn’t lose them that would be fine with me. But recently I started to feel the “wee sulking” PE was referring to. I don’t know whether he doesn’t want to remain our secondary RB playing mostly in cup fixtures, or he sees more chance to challenge Winks, Barkley and the Ox for the England cap than Alexander-Arnold or Trippier, or maybe he is just a heavily criticized lad in his early 20s and needed to ventilate his frustration.

  • There is something about Guendouzi that makes me think he is not the full package of a midfielder. He reads the game so badly when it comes to knowing where the danger is and that is an instinct you cannot teach somebody. Torreira is simply superb in this and should always be played in a deeper DM role, ideally next to Xhaka.

    I would certainly keep Guendo away from key defensive duties, thus keep him out of the DM pivot at all costs. Going forward he clearly has talent and if Emery insists on playing him I would do so in the hole… but only with another attacking midfielder on one of the wings.

  • I’ve watched Ceballos very carefully. He is fine though I wish he was a little more athletic. But give me Ozil any day.

  • The cup games will be ideal for him, GN5. Plus he can come on from the bench in PL games. I reckon AMN will see plenty of playing time this season, even once Bellerina has returned.

  • PE, it looks like Ceballos, like Pepe, is too eager to impress. I reckon they would have done much better under Y-manager Wenger than X-manager Emery. Wenger had a way of calming players and giving them confidence. Emery, it seems, sends them out to impress him or else…

  • They say that the Premier League table never lies. But particularly at this stage of the season, it can certainly state the occasional porkie.

    Arsenal may sit just two points behind champions Manchester City after round six, but for much of Sunday afternoon the storm clouds were gathering menacingly over the Emirates. And even in the wake of their gutsy comeback win over Aston Villa after the arguably-harsh dismissal of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, there is the sense that Arsenal, fourth place or not, are stumbling.

    The defence is no such thing. The midfield is misshapen. The captaincy is unresolved and the sight and sound of Granit Xhaka being booed off was at once both unedifying and eloquent testimony of the fans’ unease.

    The sense persists that Unai Emery has left too many questions unanswered. What is Arsenal’s best team? What is their preferred formation? In midweek, Emery stated that Mesut Ozil was “rested” despite the playmaker completing just 71 minutes of first-team football in three months. On Sunday, he was dropped, overlooked in favour of 18-year-old Bukayo Saka. Rested, you say?

    Heading to Old Trafford next, Arsenal’s season is at a crossroads. Without clear direction from Emery, their destination is unclear.

    Pete Gill (Sky Sports)

  • TA agree with your Y and X comparison. Reminds me: they say Villa Boas tried to change the Chelsea team and failed. Ancelotti came and asked them to keep on with their style and before long Chelsea were playing differently and became champions.

  • My 2 cents on Ozil: maybe Emery doesn’t want to make the same mistake as he did with Neymar. And while Mesut is far from being a leader/rebel of Neymar’s caliber, since he makes as much money as the 2nd and 3rd highest earner combined perhaps Unai sees him as a liability. And he could think he can force him out with the lack of playing time. At least this is my pessimistic scenario.

    In the optimistic one Emery is so committed into his signature micro-analysis and -management of the season that he honestly believes that Ozil has a special type of games he can influence, and plays him only in such fixtures. To his defense, by signing Pepe and with the emerge of Nelson we now have wingers who can create their own chances without the need of Ozil-esque key passes. Yet the creativity with only Xhaka, Guendouzi and Ceballos is only the friction of what we have with Ozil on the pitch, which not only leads to fewer goals (note: we won all our games by a single goal against bottom-half opponents), but also to less attractive football.

    Apparently the stunning displays we put on last season against Fulham (A) and Leicester City (H) were the good old Wengerball and not the improved Emeryball.

  • Wenger used triangles to daze opposition before the final passes, Emery seems to prefer a veiled counter punch.

  • Monday morning and I’m getting a late start, so I’ll keep my word count down… Having not seen the match I only want to say…that I really enjoyed the PB’s ratings post–which dovetails nicely with Admir’s comment and the discussion about the various midfielders. The continuing discussion about other players (AMN…and now Ozil) is also very interesting.

    In my view, you’ve got to go with what you see on the pitch–not with what you might dream up (maybe with help from their stats or youtube vids) when it comes to the individual players. The manager’s “system” can also be seen (and judged) but it seems (to me…) to be a step too far to suggest what he’s actually telling his players to do–or that it’s his fault that they cannot perform (to a concocted vision of) their best.

    That’s just me–and, like I say, I didn’t get to see (or I chose not to buy) the match. Carry on…and thanks…big thanks…

    Footnote: One topic I’d like to see addressed is the situation with our goalkeeper–where I found the explanation of his rating to be very intriguing. Older–and not so big–nor fast CBs, I think, could use a keeper (maybe with some significant physical stature) who gets off his line decisively to make plays and grab balls out of the air. Then there’s the distribution, including the playing it around the back stuff. We don’t have the long-ball targets of yesteryear (Giroud, but also Bacary Sagna) but accuracy and distance help matters too… I fear Leno just isn’t quite what the system requires–or maybe I just keep thinking what it could be if Szczesny were still back there, occasional mistakes and all. I can’t help but think that we would also have zero issues with the captaincy, too… Any comments?… Living in the past, of course, is silly, but an assessment of current keepers–or others who might be available seems reasonable…

    Thanks again…

  • Pb, interesting take on Ozil and Emery. If I was to join a team and knew that the club just signed Mesut Ozil for four years and made him the highest paid player…. I would work with him and treat him almost as equal. And if Emery did not rate Mesut from the start, which appears to be the case, he should not have taken the job.

  • Not much wrong with Leno, Seventeenho, and I certainly never rated Szczesny much. In Italy he gets fine defensive support, which is sooo different from Wenger- and Emeryball. How would he perform at Arsenal now??

    If you want to see very good distribution btw, check out the Ajax keeper (if you have not already).

  • 17HT,

    With all due respect I don’t understand this comment –

    “The manager’s “system” can also be seen (and judged) but it seems (to me…) to be a step too far to suggest what he’s actually telling his players to do–or that it’s his fault that they cannot perform (to a concocted vision of) their best.”

    After all the managers tactical system (drilled in training sessions) and the way he wants his players to perform in that system – is in fact telling his players what to do; and he is the one that selects the positions they play so IMLTHO it is his fault if it all goes tits up.

  • So it appears the AMN’s “injury” was nothing more than a ruse to avoid being sent off.

    There are no injury issues to report from Sunday’s match against Aston Villa.

    Ainsley Maitland-Niles
    Suspended for Tuesday night’s match against Nottingham Forest, after receiving red card on Sunday.

    Alex Lacazette
    Left ankle. Alex continues to rehabilitate the injury to his left ankle and is likely to be back in action in October.

    Rob Holding
    Available for selection.

    Dinos Mavropanos
    Now back in full training with the first-team squad. Successfully completed 90 minutes with the under-23s against Wolves on Friday evening.

    Hector Bellerin
    Now back in full training with the first-team squad. Successfully completed 62 minutes with the under-23s against Wolves on Friday evening.

    Kieran Tierney
    Now back in full training with the first-team squad. Successfully completed 62 minutes with the under-23s against Wolves on Friday evening.

    Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

  • Evening Gents.

    Fine post – one I enjoyed very much. Thank you.

    I think the AMN rating may be generous, the man had a shocker. Out of position too often, lacking in concentration and simply stupid when it came to the red card. No wonder UE was considering subbing him at half time. He was poor in his last two games which may indicate he is tired which comes as no surprise given the load he is expected to carry.

    The sooner Bellerin returns the better.

    I agree that Chambers had a major effect upon the game. Took hhis goal with aplomb and made the defence seem almost secure.

    Sokratis. How on earth is he not getting more negative comments? His feigning of a head injury was simply embarrassing. I hope Keown takes him aside and gives the Big Greek Chap the kick in the nutmegs he deserves. Cheating is not the Arsenal Way.

    Luiz. Needs the security of a decent CB alongside him. He is a fine passer from defence but insecure in his CB work. Holding and Chambers in a Back 3 please (when Hector and Tierney are available).

    Pepe. Much more please and quickly. Right now he is a poor Iwobi.

    Xhaka. Much maligned. I like him. He is consistent and an OK MF. Would he get into any of the other top 6 teams? Unlikely.

    Have to attend to dinner – back later to finish this comment

  • Quick replies…

    Sorry GN5, but I think I made my distinction too fine–or maybe in too few words… Of course, players follow the manager’s instructions AND he is ultimately responsible for our style of play AND (probably more important for most folks) our resuits. The only thing I object to is the actual (imaginary) quoting of the manager and that players who look like crap under one manager would suddenly blossom into world-beaters under another (or if the blogger himself were giving out the instructions). The relentless wishfulness and hope (every player who never plays is better than all who do, seems a pretty typical stance, for example…) is what gets me down. To be clear, I’m not stumping for the (current) manager, whose version of Arsenal has looked sickly (to me) for his entire tenure at the club… I’m just asking folks to stick to the facts (what they see on the pitch)… That’s it…

    But, then I go and get wishful for Sir Chez… Or just think that Emery’s playing out of the back–with older, not so mobile nor aggressive CBs–would be GREATLY enhanced by having a keeper who got off his line more decisively and could make himself bigger (if you know what I mean) in executing such plays. Yes, Leno is better with the ball at his feet than Petr Cech AND he’s got good shot blocking instincts and skills… I’m only saying that it takes a special kind to be that 11th outfield player that seems all the rage in this counter-punch style. (Witness the extreme failure of Claudio Bravo at ManCity and the relative success of Ederson. Intriguingly, Liverpool are doing well with Adrian in goal and it will be an adjustment when Alisson returns) Additionally, I believe A LOT of this style of play relies on good (or slightly more subtle–i.e., quicker, lower and longer) route one kicking. Poor punting (under pressure) is what leads to A LOT of chances in the English game, IMO…

    But hey, if Leno’s the guy, then he’s the guy…and more generally, I should really just leave it to y’all…

    Happy Monday…

  • One of my indulgences is The Athletic (subscription required)– which provides superb, insider-type info on Arsenal. Below, an excerpt from a piece (a week ago) by James McNicholas:

    “His English (Emery’s) is markedly better now, but clarity is still an issue. You can follow the syntax but not necessarily the idea. Given the improvement in his grammar and vocabulary, you can’t help but wonder: was Emery’s English ever the problem? Or is he simply not a strong communicator?

    Emery remains popular with the players, although there is some frustration with the repetitious nature of some of his training methods.

    Last season, there was a brief period where Emery experimented with getting the first XI to train in a practice match against the under-23 side before a game. The academy side would line up exactly as the opposition were predicted to, with players detailed on who they were seeking to emulate. It was effectively a mock version of that weekend’s game, and the squad loved it.

    After a few weeks, it disappeared from the training agenda, never to return. A look at Arsenal’s distressingly casual short goal-kicks in the Watford game shows how they might benefit from testing their strategies in a more competitive, match-like environment.

    Some players have embraced Emery’s fixation with video analysis. Others tune out, willing him to fast-forward sessions that can take more than two hours.

    The portrait that is painted at London Colney is that of a man who is competent, but not cherished. Such men are vulnerable in football.”

    * * *

    An individual learns by doing, seeing, and reading. So goes conventional wisdom. Levels of acumen more readily achieved when an individual can learn via 2 methods, even better using all three.

    Likelihood is– there are segments within Arsenal’s squad that are ‘left behind’ at some point during preparation for each match. Intuitively, I’m finding it difficult to conceive of a ‘same page’ that all players see the way Emery envisions.


  • Erik the Red won this week’s BK Prediction Competition. Well done young man! So now it is 17HT and Erik both on 15 points, anybody else has nothing!! 🙂

  • 17HT – Ah Ha it seems we are in agreement, I also feel that our goal keepers are not of the top drawer caliber that we require. My concern has been expressed as us lacking a steel backbone — GK – CB – CH we lost that type of player when we lost Seaman (even Lehmann), Adams, Keown, Vieira, Bould etc those type of players are still around and many be available (but at what cost)?

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