We are in a cul-de-sac with Emery’s sit-back-and-be-vulnerable-in-defence-play-on-break-and-hope-for-our-exquisite-strike force-to-score-one-more-than-we-concede tactics. The football stinks of left-out-of-the-fridge Emerytaler cheese: neither sweet nor salty and full of tactical holes.
His last hope is that the full backs Tierney and Bellerin will give his team wings and that Guendouzi and Ceballos will make us forget Ozil and Ramsey. I appreciate and respect the fans who want to give Emery more time, but surely by Christmas things will have to be changed significantly to keep him in position? They won’t though, but at least we can tick the box of ‘was given proper time’?
We need to get out of this cul-de-sac and get a long-term manager who can build on Arsene’s vision and style of football, but then fit for the twenties! This legacy is in danger of being lost and the club owes him to turn it round again. We need to pick Arsene’s real successor carefully, and in the meantime we need a quality interim manager…
In my opinion, that should be Arsene. I would approach Arsene and ask him very kindly – begging with both knees down on earth – whether he would come back on an interim basis to get us our Arsenal back (on track). To me it looks like Wenger is waiting in the wings to do just that anyway, such is his love for the club.
And I reckon he would immediately make five changes:
1) Sort the Midfield by combining Xhaka and Torreira (similar to a Fabregas/Flamini partnership).
The biggest issue I have with Emery, which will come as no surprise to BKers, is our awful midfield football. We have Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Willock, AMN, Chambers, ESR (and Mkhi out on loan) to play with; don’t tell me a decent manager cannot put up a more than decent midfield with these fine, (mostly) young talents!! To be able to dance you need lose and moveable hips, and to play proper footie you need a well-oiled and -drilled midfield. I have never seen Arsenal play worse midfield football than under Emery; he never got the balance right.
The essence of getting the midfield right is combining the right skills in the three to four positions and opt for tactics that suit these players. Xhaka is our conductor and absolutely pivotal in our team, that is why he averages more games than any other Arsenal player since his arrival. He is not perfect but he offers something nobody else in the team does.
The big Swiss cheese needs a ‘hoover’ midfielder next to him and we as a club HAVE to choose to play with two naturally deeper-laying midfielders to really get the best out of Xhaka and Torreira. Emery is forcing Xhak/Tor to do more b2b stuff – even nr10 stuff – but that does not really suit either of them – and so he forces Guendouzi on to Xhaka instead of Torreira, who offers him nothing of what he needs. As a result the balance is gone and our football is sooo poor.
2) Reinstall Ozil as our creative midfielder, either in the hole or on the wings (in a free role).
We need a connecting midfielder as the third one in front of the two deeper-laying ones… This has to be MO10, but Guendouzi and Ceballos can be tried there as well over time. They appear to work harder than Mesut but they lack an entire dimension of vision and invention compared to the German maestro. They also need many touches of the ball and slow the game down. Yes they both can dribble which is nice to see (and what most fans remember of them after the game), but the modern top game needs fast and accurate passers more than anything else. The man with by far the most key passes at Arsenal since his arrival at the club needs to come back, get an arm around him and will be told to go and express himself again on the pitch. Arsene knows how to do that.
3) Hard work and lots of running to be combined with (the valuing of) craftmanship.
Emery is a stubborn mule who prefers the ‘harder workers’ over Mesut. I never believed Mesut is not a hard worker (just very efficient as in constantly looking to add attacking value to our team), but that is a perception that Emery appears to have. He just doesn’t get Ozil and never will.
Key is that the one in the hole has the quality to find space with and without the ball; the latter only very few players have (Xhaka and Ozil do and that is why I would always play them when fit). With Laca in the middle and two on the wings of Pepe, Auba, Saka, Martinelli, Nelson – and good wing-backs too – we should be playing champagne football. But instead we are tasting flat lemonade… Arsene would give the players space again to express themselves and reintroduce the passing game as our main way of operating. It may not improve results straightaway but the eye would no longer be insulted by Emerytaler football.
4) Arsene would be best placed to help us find his real successor
Gazidis did not find a manager who would build further on what Arsene had established. We can only guess why that was the case (and then left the club six months later).
Wenger dedicated the very best part of his managerial years to the club so he could leave a legacy behind. At the end he was knackered after working tirelessly for 21 years at top level, whilst managing the stadium change and the arrival of very strong, oil-fueled competition. He and Arsenal needed that break. The American, assisted by what appeared to be a very thorough recruitment process, managed to select a coach who is in almost every sense the opposite of Wenger: a people management style akin to Mourinho’s, very limited communication and language skills, old ‘Manu style’ football of focusing on turnovers and counter attacks and, in the process, making us very leaky at the back and pretty ineffective in attack, in spite of having a £175m strike force. Could he have picked a more un-Arsene-esque manager?
Arsene should be included in the panel that finds his real successor, as to safeguard his legacy (values, love of beautiful and winning football, etc) and find the right person. That would be both the decent and right thing to do.
5) Arsene would have one to ones with all the players and make them believe in the future again
This is super important of course. Arsenal can be a British AND European top club, everything is in place for it. But we need to keep hold of our talents, young and established, as football careers are short and there are currently teams were it is a lot nicer to play football. We desperately need Arsene as our interim manager till mid 2020 or even end of 2021 before it is too late.