Tag Archives: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal finish 5th after frustrating season

A frustrating finish to a frustrating season.

Unai Emery’s first season has certainly been one of two halves. After 2 defeats in the opening two games, the side then went on an incredible unbeaten run where perhaps the positive results betrayed some average performances.

After a tough winter, the side got back on track with 5 Premier League wins in 6 games; closing a 10 point gap from Spurs to be ahead.

As fans began to do their calculations of what we would need to finish not only in 4th place, but above Spurs in 3rd, the side collapsed. 2 wins in the last 7 games saw the side eventually slip to 5th place, just 1 point behind Tottenham and Champions League football next season.

Finishing a point behind that lot up the road has left a strange feeling amongst Arsenal fans. A big load if “ifs” “buts” and “maybes”.

What if Aubameyang scored that 90th minute penalty?
What if we did not collapse against Crystal Palace?
What if we beat Brighton at home?

Aubameyang has taken a bit of stick overnight from Arsenal fans for that penalty loss. This just shows the reactionary idiots amongst our fan base. It was not his fault we finished behind Tottenham. It was the entire teams fault as we were not good enough over 38 league games.

1 point from Crystal Palace and Brighton at home in the run-in is the biggest reason why we finished in 5th. Had we won both, we would have been 3rd. Had we won one, we would have been 4th.

But there is no point dwelling too much on the past, we must look to the future; and that future looks very bright.

Whilst it has not been an exceptional first season for Emery following Arsene Wenger’s departure, he has steadied what was a sinking ship.

Finishing with 7 points more than last season, a place higher and in a European Final; there is plenty to be positive about.

Liverpool finished 8th with 60 points in Jurgen Klopp’s first season
Tottenham finished 5th with 64 points in Mauricio Pochettino’s first season
Arsenal finished 5th with 70 points in Unai Emery’s first season

We are moving in the right direction with the right man, it will just take a couple of seasons to return us to title contenders; just like it has taken Klopp until his 4th season at Liverpool.

Over the summer Emery will have an opportunity to buy the players he wants, the players that will fit his system and way of playing.

The criticism of the Spaniard is that he has not really enforced a style of football on the team. Tactics and formations have been muddled with changes every single week. I excuse this with the fact that he has first had to undo the mess that was left by Wenger, and next season he can build. This year he did not have enough players that he wanted, that he trusted.

Emery will have to establish what formation he wants to play. 4231 or 3412; and build the players around that.

Decisions on his formation could well see some surprising exits from the club. For example is Mesut Ozil suitable to play in a 1 behind the two – as that formation relies on an Aaron Ramsey like 10 who can run between the two strikers and get goals.

If we opt for 1 up top, can we accommodate Premier League top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette?

Sokratis Holding CB
Bellerin Xhaka Torreira Kolasinac
Aubameyang Lacazette

Bellerin Sokratis CB Kolasinac
Xhaka Torreira
Winger Ozil Winger

In a couple of weeks time we face Chelsea in Baku. Lifting the Europa League will make it a successful first season for Unai Emery.

Whilst the clubs have only received 6,000 tickets each, the feeling is due to transport issues anyone who wants a ticket will get one – so instead of moaning about how few tickets we get, investigate your transport options. That is clearly the bigger issue.

2018/19 has been a frustrating season.

Win our last game and the frustration will dissipate.



The non-story of Arsenal players ” dangerous nitrous oxide binge”

So Arsenal made the front pages today with news that Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Matteo Guendouzi and others were filmed inhaling nitrous oxide in a club back in August.

I really do not care.

Anyone that has ever taken nitrous oxide (which the press sensationally label “hippy crack” and the rest of us “balloons”) will know that it is pretty much harmless.

Some state that it “could lead to death” due to lack of oxygen, but there has never been a single reported case of someone dying after inhaling a balloon. Crossing the could lead to death. Getting on the Central Line at 6pm could lead to death.

Out of all of the “highs” that are out there – from drink to drugs – balloons are the least damaging on your body. In fact, beyond the couple of minute head rush you get due to lack of oxygen, there is no evidence that they do any damage to you.

Balloons have become some players “drug” of choice due to how little impact it has on the body.

I would much rather my players do a couple of balloons on a night rather than drink alcohol until they pass out, take drugs, or smoke. Even Red Bull is more dangerous then balloons.

Recently players (most notable of Leicester) have been caught chewing snus (a tobacco product illegal to buy in the UK). This gives a small high and an energy boost, and can cause serious gum and mouth damage  and potential mouth cancer. Snus is a bigger issue amongst footballers than balloons.

The incident happened in August. The bar owner has sat on footage since then, before selling it to the papers. I wonder how selling this sort of thing to the papers infringes GDRP these days? Especially as the consumption of nitrous oxide is not a criminal act.

What the bar owner has done is shot himself in the foot.

No footballer or other celebrity will ever hire or visit his establishment again knowing that what they do inside is not private. That the owner or member of staff is willing to sell CCTV images to the papers for a few thousand.

If it is the owner who sold the CCTV, the hope is Tape London loses enough business from this privacy infringement that it soon has to shut down. It it was a member of staff, they should be prosecuted by Tape London to the full extent of the law.

I think what is for certain is that stories like these will not get the national condemnation and criticism that the papers expected. Most fans will side with my opinion. That the players did little wrong and the bar should be ashamed of themselves.

Even Absolute radio are laughing this morning about the “danger binge on nitrous oxide”.

A final thought on this.

In Paul Merson’s fabulous book How Not to Be a Professional Footballer, he talks a lot about the boozy days of the late 80s & early 90s, and how he is glad smart phones were not about then. He talks about doing cocaine in a black cab, and being carried out of bars, pubs and clubs battered. People were decent back then and would not sell a story to a paper. These days, scumbags like the owners of Tape London are willing to sell anyone out for a bit of money.

In other news, I have seen some say that Lucas Torreira needs a rest.

He has only started 10 league games. Played 1200 minutes in all competitions. He has not been over played. Also he is on 4 yellow cards; so he will get a natural break sooner rather than later.

I am sure the clubs fitness staff will have the data and be able to spot when his performances dip physically. When his muscles are on the verge of breaking down.

With the busy Christmas period coming up, every player will be rotated in and out. Torreira’s will come naturally when he picks up the 5th yellow card of the season.

There is no point resting him for a game, for him to then get booked on his returne causing him to miss another game.

Enjoy the wet Friday. We return tomorrow against Huddersfield.



Arsenal need Man City balance

Manchester City have assembled a truly incredible array of talent.

At one point during their game against Brighton in Saturday their was a goal mouth scramble.

Leroy Sane put the ball in, Sergio Aguero had a chance, Raheem Sterling followed it up before Bernardo Silva’s shot was cleared to the edge of the box, where David Silva was waiting to recycle the ball.

What this passage of play showed was how much attacking talent City have. And Kevin de Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez were not involved. That is £147m of talent there.

To take that into perspective, City not playing those 3 is the financial equivalent of Arsenal not starting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.

Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Emile Smith Rowe don’t quite have the same ring to them as Aguero, Silva and Sane do they?

But this isn’t a blog about the difference in the financial strength of the sides. We know that already.

What was eye-opening was that City were able to have all 5 on the pitch in one go, and look incredibly balanced.

Meanwhile Unai Emery is trying to fit Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil and Aaron Ramsey into the same team and it looks anything but balanced.

City do have the advantage that there players have been together for a while now.

Aguero and David Silva joined in 2011 & 2010 respectively. Raheem Sterling is in his 4th year at the club, Sane his 3rd season. Bernardo Silva the new boy having joined in the ah summer of 2017.

They are also entering their 3rd season under Pep Guardiola.

It would be completely unreasonable to expect Arsenal to look as gelled and balanced as City with Unai Emery having only been at the club for 4 months. Players are still getting used to the system, how they are expect to play.

But to be competitive again, Arsenal need to look at City, aspire to be them.

The Manchester club ran away with the title last year, and are top of the league this year. Whilst we should not currently expect to compete with them, there is plenty we can learn.

Perhaps the most important thing Guardiola does to ensure balance is have round pegs in round holes.

Aguero is a striker. Sane a left winger. Sterling a right winger. Silva and Silva number 10s. He has players playing in their natural positions. This gets the best out of them and gives the side natural balance.

Compare this to Arsenal against Watford.

We have Aubameyang, a striker, playing left wing, then we have Mesut Ozil, a number 10, playing right wing.

It is square pegs in round holes, and no surprise we look unbalanced.

If we Emery is going to continue with 4231, we need to ensure that we are playing the right players in the right positions. Ultimately this will mean that we have to spend more on the right players.

The Spaniard has to stop trying to show horn Ozil and Ramsey into the same team.

City do it with the two Silva’s (with de Bruyne coming in when fit), playing just Fernandinho behind them. But they can afford to do this when they have 70-80% possession, like they did against Brighton.

Playing Ozil and Ramsey central, behind a striker is not an option at the moment. Emery knows this, hence playing one out wide. Unfortunately this means we do not get enough out of Ozil.

In the Premie League, Ozil averages a goal or assist every 157 minutes. He is one of the best creative players in the league, no matter what the fat lad down the pub says.

Emery clearly recognised that long term, his side can not have both Ozil and Ramsey in it. It is the primary reason why the contract for Ramsey has been taken off the table.

If he was willing to sign to £120k, as a squad play – understudy for Ozil who does miss a few famed – I am sure everyone would be happy.

But a 4 year deal on a reported £200k a week would not make sense. He would easily be our second highest player, but not a regular first teamer.

If £200,000 a week was on the table, this means Arsenal have £52m over 4 years in their budget to play with. If we do sell Ramsey for £20m in January, this increases io £72m.

This works out at £18m a season of salary and amortised transfer fees.

In basic terms, we could go out and buy a £46m winger. We could pay him £125k a year, and our yearly expenditure would stay the same as it would if Ramsey signed his new deal.

£47m and £125k a week. That is. It too far off the Lacazette figures.

If, like me, you back Sven Mislintat, and see what he has already done with the likes of Sokratis, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi (combined cost £47m), you will be getting very excited.

A new winger will just give us more balance than the current set up. £47m gets you a Sterling or Sane. A young player already performing at a high level at a lower club, but has the talent to become one of the worlds best.

This solution, however, is at least 4 months away (January) and more realistically 9 months away (June). In the short term, we have to get the balance from within.

That means dropping Ramsey, moving Ozil into the middle, and playing with Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Alex Iwobi wide right. Both of these players we still wider a lot more than what Ozil currently does. They will also give Hector Bellerin a bit more protection.

The left side is a bit more complicated, as Arsenal do not currently have a natural left winger.

At the moment it is a straight choice, Aubameyang or Danny Welbeck. The Gabonese striker is clearly the superior player and is ahead in the pecking order.

He is a square peg in a round hole, but we do not currently have any round pegs. This does not leave Emery with many options but to play Aubameyang out wide. It is not suitable and adds to our imbalance as he looks to come inside.

At the moment we are wasting both the talent of Aubameyang and Ozil playing them as wingers.

With Iwobi and Mkhitaryan capable of doing a job wide right, the Ramsey money and the focus of Mislintat should be on securing a threat on the left.

Much of the list of options remains the same as the summer. The likes of Leon Bailey, Ousmane Dembélé, Christian Pulisic and Anthony Martial.

It is Martial that interests me the most.

At 22-years old, it is easy to forget how young he is. A year younger than Raheem Sterling, a month older than Leroy Sane. He is as good as both of the Manchester city players; and I think that we could secure him for that £40million mark. And as early as January if we push.

I think it is unrealistic to expect us to compete with City any time soon.

Look at Liverpool. This is Klopp’s 4th year with the Merseyside club. Whilst they have started the season off well, I expect City to pull away and win the league by double figures.

City have a settled side and a great manager. And when you see them linked with Kylian Mbappe, it highlights their financial clout. They spent £67m on Mahrez in the summer as a squad player.

Whilst I do not expect to compete with them, for this season at least, we should cast an eye over at what they are doing and how they get their team set up so balanced.