Guendouzi At The Foot of the Diamond | 25 Wolves Shots: Can We Have Nuno Please!

Arsenal v Wolves: 1-1. Once again we dropped points from being in the lead and now got two points from our last three PL games (SW, CP and WW).

The bullies of Ashburton Grove have won and Captain Granit Xhaka wasn’t even in the match squad. How did we do? Wolves were allowed an incredible 25 shots of which were 8 (30%) on target (we managed a meagre 10 shots/ just 4 or target). Who replaced Granit Xhaka? A beast of a DM? Well you tell me whether Guendouzi at the foot of the diamond is the answer? Stats are not everything, but 8 shots on target against 4 for us will tell you that we have been lucky to get a point from this game. And we were.

If you still weren’t sure before the Xhaka scandal what Emery’s strategy for the team is, I hope it is now. He does not believe in protecting the defence with strong defence-minded midfielder(s). Guendouzi is very promising on the ball and when we are playing out of defence, but he has little sense of effectively (and pro-actively) protecting the defence. Xhaka is neither a typical DM and needs Torreira to sit next to him, and together they can form a strong partnership. Guendouzi needs such a partner even more than Xhaka, but with Torreira and Ceballos playing higher up in midfield, as per the diamond-formation philosophy, the curly dribbler was left on his own time and again. Hence 25 shots/ 8 on target!!

Under Emery we leave so much space between defence and midfield, and I guess only the stubborn few will still believe he can get the midfield right. When we were leading against the run of play, and this will be all you need to remember once Emery has been given the boot, he takes off our only capable defender-midfielder, Torreira, and puts another winger on, Saka. He has either no desire or no clue as to how to make us play compact in front of the defence and kill a game off. And this is costing us points game after game – either by conceding early and having to fight back for a result on the backfoot or by conceding late on when winning.

I should maybe talk about the good things of the game: Xhaka may have been left with Mesut’s playstation but at least Torreira and Ozil started, and as the Meatloaf song goes, two out of three ain’t bad. The defence worked their socks off with a few excellent performances (Luiz and Chambers) and the super-exciting Tierney made his PL debut. Auba and Laca have been reunited and combined well to score a fab goal.

But we have fundamental problems at Arsenal – we let bullies win and have a poor manager – so I am in no mood to focus on the positives. Let that not hold you back though, fellow BKers, to give us your positives of the game and try and give us all hope.

I leave you with this BBC article on the game and encourage you to listen to both managers post-game interviews: what a world of difference! How I wish that Nuno was our man rather than Wolves’.

By TotalArsenal.

20 thoughts on “Guendouzi At The Foot of the Diamond | 25 Wolves Shots: Can We Have Nuno Please!

  • TA, perfect valuation of our state. I guess it’s time to begin to heap the whole blame on Emery and by extension on the BoD. By performance we are at best mid table. There is no justification for that.

    Preventing shots at goal falls more squarely within the purview of the central midfield. The defenders are almost the extension of the goalkeeper whose job is preventing goals being conceded. It seems as if our hieracky are infatuated with elements in our central midfield who are in fact not fitted for their responsibilities. What else can we do but moan and hope. Hope that things get rightened from top to bottom.

  • TA, sent you a mail just as you were posting this. Built it up from latter comments in the last post. Assess, edit and treat as you deem fit.

  • TA, yes, the midfield and defence gap is too wide open. Torreira left the field and all of a sudden the width of the English Channel divided the lads.

    Emery had to realise this is an issue in the English game and have to put someone to protect the back 4. However, with this issue in front of him for so many games it seemed that he is fine with it. We fans aren’t.

  • Good points made, TA. Emery got his subs wrong as whatever he was hoping for didn’t come off. Beyond Emery’s error of judgment, I feel the toxic atmosphere surrounding the levels (if you can call it that) of the performances and the Xhaka incident is seeping into the players and affecting confidence. These lads are starting to forget just how good they are. Arsenal used to dominate teams like this but what we saw yesterday was us being on the back foot early on, at home. It suggests the players have been reminded of the danger men and the potential of the Wolves side that they took a while to get the measure of them. The converse is where Wenger makes even our most average players believe they are better than the opponent and should just focus on their own game/ability…. what most referred to as him lacking tactical know how and too one dimensional.

    You asked for Positives. Well, the only things I can think of were:
    1. Wolves are a team that are set up to do damage to the top teams, on their day; they did beat Pep’s City at the Etihad this season and generally give the top 6 teams a game. As a pointer, United have not beaten this Wolves side since 2018 (4 games now, including a 2-0 loss in the Cup game), playing a 1-1 Draw with them at Old Trafford earlier on, this season. The Chelsea side which beat Wolves this season was the one that started poorly, so maybe Nuno didn’t consider them top 4 potential.

    2. We had, probably, one of our most intense performances, in a while as we looked determined to get the points. But for that drop in concentration, maybe we frustrate them and get the 3 points.

    3. This result may be the kind the players take confidence from to start to do well; especially with Ozil featuring.

    3. Granit Xhaka has not played. Maybe, fans will need to see how we will fare without him, in two more domestic games to value his contributions, even on the defensive side. The man clears quite a few balls and makes crucial interceptions at critical moments, which go unnoticed because he does it without fuss….

    4. Torreira and Ozil both get to start a game, alongside both Auba and Laca.

    Okay. I am out of positives. You go.

  • I have one huge positive to focus on: we are 90 minutes closer to Emery’s end at Arsenal.

    Yes, that means Mourinho is going to take over but I’d take Big Fat Ugly Sam over Dracjla at this point.

  • Thanks for the review TA. I thought the boys played better than other recent matches– but there’s such a slim margin for error in everything we do. When the manager makes tactical decisions which give the team LESS chance to win? I’m at a loss (or a draw!).

    Earlier in the season– the maths said we were on course for a 65-66pt finish (likely 5th or 6th). Now, we are on target for a 60-61pt finish. How the hell is anyone patient or satisfied with the direction the team is headed?

    Eris– per Wolves? I can’t give much credit to a team which sits 2-7-2. We are now on a par with Wolverhampton in our own stadium? Giving in to the notion that we do not have the talent to beat a team like Wolves (or Sheffield or Palace) is surrendering to Unai Emery’s level of managerial ability.

    Here, Einstein’s wonderful perspective on ‘Insanity’– applies:

    Surmising the probability that Unai Emery is fecking insane.


  • Hi there TA. Great summary and I agree with the detail and the sentiments. I’d like to write a pos in something but, as ever I simply don’t have the time right now. So I thought I’d post a comment rather than just sit on it.

    There’s a growing anger being generated toward Emery. Even in this blog which stands out for it’s considered stance, there’s real hostility being thrown at him. I can understand in part. I can’t warm to the man. He hasn’t helped himself with not bothering to learn competent English. The football we play is poor. The results in truth haven’t been bad – if well below expectations. And of course he struggles by comparison with what went before.

    But, and it’s a bug but for me, he’s the Arsenal manager and I’ve no doubt he is trying his damn hardest. My recent reflection is that I’ve never hated an Arsenal manager, and I’ve followed the team since the days of Bertie Mee. So what’s changed? It’s not the manager and our mediocre football. It’s our expectations of our team, to be little short of perfect. Well that ain’t happening often. As an aside I remember a midwife telling my child that she wanted every baby to be above the average weight…. Well we seem to all expect our teams to be above the average all the time – half of us are going to be disappointed then!

    Anyway, my point here is that this isn’t a matter for hate. That’s toxic for those that give as much as those that receive it. And this blog has been and should stay above that. I’d be happier with a manager who can communicate a vision, can get the best out of the squad he has and can create a sense of hope across the fan base. But until then he’s our manager just as Xhaka or Mustaphi or whoever is taking the flak is one of ours. It doesn’t mean we can’t express frustration or criticise the failings. But supporting a team means getting behind it and all involved when stuff goes wrong as well as sharing the glory when it goes right. We’ve been spoiled for 25 years and we will come again – in the meantime doing what the Liverpool fans usually manage to do for their team (in good or bad times) is a worthy reminder.

  • Given TA– my hyperbolic tendencies? Still, I’m not sure I can ‘come back in off the ledge’ with regard to Emery’s immediate dismissal.

    I love the club. The players. But this stagnation cannot continue with this manager.

    I have four ‘go to’ Arsenal sites I visit almost daily– most days I do. Four longtime Arsenal fans/supporters whose opinions I value (yours included). Three– have come to the same conclusion. ‘Go’. And ‘now’.

    ‘Blogs’, the site owner at Arseblog, wrote the most cogent piece to date (IMHO)– posted this morning. As to why the club management shouldn’t wait one week– or one day longer– to cut Emery loose.

    An editorial-only (not open to comments) post:

    I see no argument against this proposal.


  • You make a very good point, AB. I don’t like being so critical of Emery as he is still a person and he does seem to work very hard. Yet just supporting somebody because he is our manager (leader) is not for me – a very dangerous premise in my opinion. The way he manages the team and makes us play deserves criticism and I reckon that is done with taste on this blog in general.

    I am extra harsh towards Emery, though, for the way he treats individual players: hangs them out to dry through early subs, banishes them from the first team, does not support them when the fans attack them, etc. Even if he were successful and make us play good football, I would be critical of this. I don’t want such a manager at our club: it goes against my values (and the club’s values I reckon). But as I said at the beginning, I recognise he is also a human being and it cannot be easy for him. I have been thinking of pausing the blog for a while for this reason.

  • Guys, i will give Emery one more game to get his midfield tactics sorted. It is not good for the team to play with 2 different managers in a single season, but if Freddie steps in and be the interim head coach i will be happy to stick with him.

    See what he had done with the youngsters lately. It impressed me very much that they are doing very well.

    We just need to play Xhaka and Torreira in DM, and one of them stick to the defenders like glue.

  • TA

    Been lurking and watching, too busy for more. So, normally, I lean, it’s the players and not the manager who doesn’t play. Normally. That said,,what I see are manager things:

    A. Structure, it’s missing, every game. Sure, we play similarly in approach, but since we have no structure it’s all attack. EXCEPT with no link play and defensive structure due to the relocated “English Channel” you refer to, that’s stilted too!

    — this isn’t players who can be subbed but deliberate. Let the game run and we’d can lose 5-5 but it’s entirely a crap shoot… ugh…

    B. Concept, we have no concept. We go forward, from the back. Every team in known creation does to an extent. That’s easy! It’s the details of how you do it, what you seek to control and what you give away! We don’t seem to have any consistent recognisable concept of how “we play”. It’s certainly not inclusive of structure and thus not of defense or transition (aka 2/3 of the game).

    — I cannot see any consistent game plan. I never liked long to OG Holding, but, but, it was a plan! We have none it seems. And that doesn’t change.. :/

    C. Player treatment. I don’t like coddling, but to “disappear” Ozil??? Even most Ozil haters would have him on the bench!

    I think we will see player losses with all this..

    Good news? Yes!

    D. Our defenders are coming healthy and better as a unit under tremendous fire. Sure we are set up to give up 25 shots, but overmatched and with teams freely allowed to run at us, two losses is grand! IMO, this could be the making of our back 4. Not the ideal way, granted…

    E. We seem to have quality players and pieces at all areas now (see D), or increasingly so. So, a change now might fly well.

    My 2p — jgc

  • 84, Xhaka and Torreira, for different reasons, are not at the top of Emery’s list of midfielders anymore. It is more like: Guendouzi, Ceballos, Torreira, Willock, Xhaka.

  • Geofski, good to hear from you and more or less all agreed. I must admit to really miss OG in the middle: he made Ozil and Sanchez play well and banged in a good number of important goals each season. And like you say, we had shape and a plan then. OG also helped out in midfield a lot. One of my heroes.

    How are you doing? Back in NZ now?

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