Arsene Wenger for Christmas: Five Things He Would Change

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.

See the source image

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’?

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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.

By TotalArsenal.



22 thoughts on “Arsene Wenger for Christmas: Five Things He Would Change

  • Total, I fully endorse your feelings about bringing Arsene back home – but it’s very unlikely to happen – however we can still dream………………………..

  • Season – W – D – L – GF – GA – Pts
    1992/3 – 4 – 2 – 4 – 12 – 11 – 14
    1993/4 – 6 – 2 – 2 – 12 – 6 – 20
    1994/5 – 4 – 2 – 4 – 14 – 11 – 14
    1995/6 – 6 – 3 – 1 – 15 – 5 – 21
    1996/7 – 6 – 3 – 1 – 19 – 8 – 21
    1997/8 – 6 – 4 – 0 – 27 – 10 – 22
    1998/9 – 4 – 5 – 1 – 12 – 5 – 17
    1999/0 – 6 – 1 – 3 – 13 – 9 – 19
    2000/1 – 6 – 3 – 1 – 17 – 10 – 21
    2001/2 – 5 – 4 – 1 – 22 – 9 – 19
    2002/3 – 7 – 2 – 1 – 25 – 11 – 23
    2003/4 – 7 – 3 – 0 – 19 – 8 – 24
    2004/5 – 8 – 1 – 1 – 29 – 10 – 25
    2005/6 – 5 – 2 – 3 – 13 – 7 – 17
    2006/7 – 5 – 3 – 2 – 16 – 6 – 18
    2007/8 – 8 – 2 – 0 – 22 – 7 – 26
    2008/9 – 6 – 2 – 2 – 22 – 10 – 20
    2009/10 – 7 – 1 – 2 – 32 – 13 – 22
    2010/11 – 6 – 2 – 2 – 22 – 10 – 20
    2011/12 – 5 – 1 – 4 – 20 – 21 – 16
    2012/13 – 4 – 3 – 3 – 15 – 8 – 15
    2013/14 – 8 – 1 – 1 – 22 – 9 – 25
    2014/15 – 4 – 5 – 1 – 18 – 11 – 17
    2015/16 – 7 – 1 – 2 – 18 – 8 – 22
    2016/17 – 7 – 2 – 1 – 23 – 10 – 23
    2017/18 – 6 – 1 – 3 – 19 – 13 – 19
    2018/19 – 7 – 1 – 2 – 24 – 13 – 22
    2019/20 – 4 – 4 – 2 – 15 – 14 – 16

  • The above spreadsheet shows our results after 10 game in every Premier league season.
    Here are the highlights.

    1. 4 wins equals to lowest in our EPL history
    2. 15 goals for equals the lowest for 14 seasons
    3. 14 goals against equals the highest in 9 seasons
    4. 16 points is the lowest in 8 seasons.

  • Great post, TA. 🙂 Nice gastronomic description of what we have been forced to eat.

    I remember the day when I managed to make my baby girl fall asleep for the first time. I was carrying her around the room while watching our game against Newcastle. She looked at TV as well. We won 2-0 in one of those boredom performances Emery has been giving us throughout whole 2019 and my little princess was sleeping before the end of the game. That’s probably the only good thing Emery has done in 2019. After that game, we were strongly on a third place. From that moment on, our Premier League ride can be described as “from third to turd”.

    When it comes to Arsene, I don’t think his return would be a good idea. One of the reasons is, I fear that Emery is just a top of the spear in the Arsenal back – the problem is much bigger.

    Kroenke and Raul are men in charge (as Gazidis and Mislintat have already tasted) and Emery is their man – the last resort is to sack him but as an incompetent, virtually mute, classless, spineless, gutless pawn he is still of use for Don Raul and his superagent friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if we sell Özil in January to get someone from Jorge Mendes’ or Kia Joorabchian’s list of clients.

  • couldn’t agree more with you, ta; this could take place on a one and a half year contract basis: six months to sort out loonay’s mess, and a whole season to nurture freddie, in a “watch and learn” relationship, just like pacino/garcia in godfather3
    today, i feel for granit, of course, but i also blame the board, who have turned this great club into zucker-abrahams’s “airplane!”.
    first, by bowing to the demands of the WOBs, of AFTV Morons in particular: ue is exactly the kind of anti-wenger manager their tantrums aimed at getting. where are their planes and banners, now?
    then, the very same board has also condoned what must be the worst squad-managemetn in PL history: aaron, mesut, lucas, some of our most brilliant hale end youngsters (reiss, joie, ainsley, …); how long do they need to do what has to be done to an incompetent, arrogant (more competitive than arsène!! haven’t swallowed this one yet) bully??

  • Admir, glad to read that Emery did something good for your daughter. Football that makes babies go to Lalaland!

    You may be right about Emery not being the only problem. I have a lot of time for Stan Kroenke and trust that he will make the right next decision, and there was a good relationship between him and Arsene… so hope lives eternal. 🙂

  • Yes LeG, getting Emery as opposite-Arsene solution could well have been the strategy. Luckily Gazidis is gone so the damage can still be undone..

  • TA. Can’t agree with you on this one. It wouldn’t be good for either party. AFC needed to modernise and they could not do so with AW. AW needs a desk job – head of the United Nations may be a possibility – he has the language and skill sets!

    We have problems at AFC which were all highlighted in yesterdays game.

    Can anyone tell me the role Ceballos was meant to undertake?
    Apart from one brilliant pass from Douzi did our MF’s give a single chance to any of ou excellent strikers?
    Xhaka? A many facetted problem. His reaction is understandable but also unforgivable.
    I didn’t see a €200m frontline yesterday. I saw 3 frustrated players.
    Will Leno ever save a penalty?
    VAR???? A complete disgrace. I thought that unless there was a clear mistake then the referee’s original decision stands. How was that the case for our “winner”?
    Emery is finished. The BoD and upper management have to show some character and accept we have gone backwards since AW left. I cannot see anything which suggests UE has made improvements to the club. Nothing wrong with accepting his appointment was a mistake – sack him and move on. Eddie Howe?

  • It’s hard to disagree with you Erik. My feelings about Arsene are based more on emotion than on a logical thought process.

    If it was not for the startling loss of form with both Man U and Spurs we would be wallowing in 8th place, as it stands we are closer to the bottom of the league than we are the top.

    I’m mystified with Emery, I had high expectations of his ability but those expectations have been shattered. His man management skills in particular are woefully weak.

  • Hey fellas… Did anybody miss me?… 😀

    (I’m very much “in transit” AND since I don’t have a good word to say I think staying silent is likely for the best. That said, I would’ve chimed in earlier, if only to make my contest picks, but they didn’t show up–for me at least–until games were already underway…)

    Truth be told, I’ve been fairly grateful to be missing the Arsenal matches, though I do follow them and reports of yesterday’s scenes, plus this post, bring me out of my hiding. And, like in Admir’s post, there is a plus side…it’s made me set up a mobile hot-spot (mostly so I can use a keyboard instead of typing with my thumbs)…which makes me realize that the interweb speeds using this method are clearly inadequate and that I’ll be needing a better long-term situation…

    But that’s where the positives end…And, I guess, the dreaming begins…

    TA, I like the post and I agree with your analyses about the football and man-management that AW would be able to bring to this situation, but, let’s be clear, you were ready to see him gone for how many seasons? Without going back through the blog, I’m guessing at least two or three. (And personally, for the man himself, I thought his situation was untenable when we no longer could compete in the elimination stages of the CL, the 10-2 on aggregate vs Bayern, being what I thought would get management to move on. Instead, Gazidis–and his bonuses–got AW an extra season–for the price of two…)

    Let’s be honest about how the process worked–which is all about Arsenal as a business here in the 2010s… That’s what football is, after all, especially when your board of directors sells out (for huge personal profits) to a guy who believes that what made America great is his wife’s father’s company, Wal-Mart which essentially ended neighbor to neighbor commerce throughout the rural US. Greed is good (somebody in a film once said) and Stan Kroenke, I’m convinced, understands the religion of sports (English football supporters being the most dedicated zealots…) as the greatest money-making opportunity of his era…

    Of course, TA, I love you and your blog and this place actually was about as balanced as it got in terms of respect for the Wenger in types… Most “Fans” (though they would call themselves supporters, I’m sure…) were DESPERATE to get Wenger out, and, when seats went empty (i.e., the customers spoke with their legs) out he went–along with his “boss,” Gazidis, the Stats company Arsenal bought and were using in order to play money-ball, and, slowly but surely as they make irretrievable personal choices, his players too. (Mustafi pushed a Spur for an offside goal, Ozil played for spacing–and maybe not for getting injured or his own personal glory–one too many times, and now Xhaka, Emery’s “default” captain, didn’t race off the pitch when his coach yanked him).

    But, if the results work out…(Back to the CL, somehow, plus Kroenke’s bottom line, Raul’s kickbacks, etc., etc.) PE, I think, on this blog at least, has done the most impressive mental gymnastice to justify the, er, football, actually being played…(and get actually excited for things like our trip up the Sheffield United… An Int’l break, my horse, my horse for an Int’l break…)

    But, please (please…) don’t mention it (the actual football). It’s been worse than the worst of Wenger’s SINCE DAY ONE. But, we got more points and finished a spot higher…AND we spent money–though we’ll never know how much has gone to the scouts and agents and in kick-backs for Raul and everyone else who thought 70+ million pounds was the right number for (my cafe) Pepe. In other words, I agree with Admir: Wenger’s “playing it clean”–because that’s the direction the sport HAD TO go–has been reversed and the corruption–personal greed above anything “for the club” of our management team can only be guessed at…

    We’re not a club any longer. It’s a business. Stan makes money legitimately, the managers are all about the results, and the fans…Well, I wish I had a dime for… (No, in truth, being “right” about anything in this realm isn’t all that much fun…)

    But maybe it IS more watchable–even if I don’t even bother with the football. It’s a car crash–or a metaphor for the bigger culture, maybe, but it’s only watchable in the way that one watches a wreck on the highway–for the carnage–and how it will play out. How much blood, how many fatalities, how ugly will it get?…

    It’s also cool to communicate with folks who can (still) dream… (So dream on, delete this comment as needed, etc., etc…but also put up the contest picks just a bit earlier, eh… 😉 …)

    One thing I can tell you, however, is this (accident) ain’t gonna involve AW…(no matter how many road-side ditches we peer into…)

    No one loves the club THAT much… 😦

  • Hey Erik, Happy to disagree with you! 🙂

    Arsene in my view had us more modern than Emery in almost every aspect, but the man was just tired after 21 years of non-stop management. Having him back as an interim would do wonders imho. Agreed with most of your other points.

  • I respond later again, 17, but yes I believed it was time for Arsene to go, and I only believe he should come back in the capacity of interim-manager. That is very different from him being our manager again…

  • Cheers Seventeenho, good to have you back and not much to argue with. I do believe Arsene loves the club THAT much, but I am sure we will find out soon, cause this SEAT Ibiza is about to crash..

  • Honestly, just brilliant piece. Someone send it to Raul and Edu! Congrats, it made my day.

  • Good thoughtful post TA. I agree that Wenger would be an excellent interim manager and that he would right the listing Arsenal ship in no time. However, I don’t think this would happen in part, because of the way Wenger was forced out (unable to finish the final year of his contract which he clearly wanted to do, plus he may have felt slightly humiliated after more that 20 years of loyal service), and also because the new structure in place since his departure. I’d think that Wenger would rather be a “manager” than a simple “head coach” even on an interim basis. The only way I could see him return as an interim head coach would be if his undying love for Arsenal outweighs all the negative stuff he had faced and would face.

    I admit that I was one of the many supporters who wanted change a couple of seasons ago. But I also advocated for an intelligent and smooth transition from Wenger, especially after more that 2 decades of consistent philosophy and approach. I wanted Wenger to complete his contract while a thorough search was being undertaken to find a rightful successor who would continue the great man’s philosophy and build on his legacy at Arsenal. We all know that didn’t happen. We were all shocked (at least I was) to wake up one day and hear Wenger abruptly announce that he was stepping down at the end of 2017-2018 season. So instead of the smooth transition and a competent successor, we got an average, fraudulent, and clueless clown who made us hit the pause button during his first season with football that was so anti-Wenger, so anti-Arsenal. He somehow managed to give us false hope with a fluke 22-game unbeaten streak but by the end of the season he was found out to be devoid of tactical plans, of player-management knowledge, of a half-decent football philosophy to suit our extremely talented squad. This new season so far has only reinforced all of this. The clueless clown is taking us backwards and I am sensing frustration within the team. I won’t be long now before we start hearing rumblings and dissents out of the locker room. Aubameyang is so starved of service, he must be wondering why he left Dortmund to play this ugly and backward football. Hell, all of our defenders and even our keeper get way too many more touches every game than Aubameyang does. How exactly is he supposed to do his job properly and score goals?

    Emery has ruined Arsenal football and is not at all a good fit for Arsenal. He must be sacked as soon as possible. No need to wait until December. How we are currently still in 5th place with only 16 points after 10 games is beyond me.

    We need to rid Arsenal of this fraud.


  • Our lst 17 EPL games.

    Home W3, D3, L1, GF13, GA11, Pts12
    Away W3, D2, L5, GF10, GA15, Pts11
    Total W6, D5, L6, GF23, GA26, Pts23

    23 points out of a possible 51 = 45.1%
    23 points in 17 games = 1.35 points per game
    1.35 points per game for 38 games = 51 points for the season.

    No wonder we are losing faith in Emeryball!!!

  • One item HT– that wasn’t shown the door?
    “… the Stats company Arsenal bought and were using in order to play money-ball,…?”

    “… the Stats company” are most certainly ‘not out’. StatDNA is embedded in the organization– currently deployed in assessing player performance and fitness analysis.

    From a year ago:
    “And now Arsenal believe that Mikhail Zhilkin could be one of the pieces in their puzzle and have added him to their backroom team. Zhilkin spent four years as a senior data scientist/tech lead at and oversaw the launch of games Candy Crush Soda and Candy Crush Jelly.”

    StatDNA was the project that AFC turned to when the expected gains did not materialize– as the austere stadium-finance period ended. What it was originally intended to be (identifying young pros before stardom)– seemingly isn’t the goal any longer. Though one of the previous goals does seem to have shown promise– locating more and better youth players at a younger age. The bumper crop of of youngsters we have blooming at present were part of the analyses first begun prior to the purchase of StatDNA (in 2012)– when Arsenal leased the exclusive use of the data and software during the 2010-2011 season. The advantage over other clubs– by way of finding, developing, keeping/selling on more and better prospects– is a finite window. A window that closes as other clubs develop software and data analyses methodologies.

    IMHO? We’re in that closing window at present. With nearly a decade of development and application misused. Tens of millions invested and the advantage Arsenal do have is dwindling. The club are treading water– with a manager unable to mesh the current veteran players with a slew of talented youngsters– and show progress to that end. We’re likely going to see the youth wither on the vine– and the talented vets want-away.

    The longer we keep standing still, the less return the club realizes off the pitch too.


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