Tag Archives: Unai Emery

Arteta’s Arsenal becoming harder to break down

Under Unai Emery, one of the most concerning statistics coming out of every game was how many attempts we were conceding against opponents.

Whether it was 18 at home to Burnley, 24 against Wolves or 31 against Watford. It was simple too easy for opposing sides to get a shot off against us.

Sides found it very easy to carve through our midfield and defence to see the whites of the keepers eyes. Only Bernd Leno’s brilliance saved us from conceding more in many games this season. Too many shots conceded was a huge part of Emery’s downfall.

In just a handful of games, Mikel Arteta has addressed the situation.

Against Crystal Palace, Arsenal faced just 6 shots. That was our lowest in the Premier League this season and just 1 more than our lowest in all competitions (we conceded just 5 shots against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup).

Whilst it was frustrating to come back from South London with a draw, there was plenty to be optimistic about, especially in the way our players battled for the ball.

Arteta has the team defending from the front.

He has also got Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira battling for every ball in the middle again. No longer are we seeing opposing midfielders run away from Arsenal players. They chase them down, win the ball back. Gone is the lazy running and half-hearted covering,

We have also seen Sokratis and David Luiz step up their game at the back. Now moving towards the ball and engaging with the attackers rather than standing off.

The fact is, the less shots you concede, you reduce the chances opponents have of scoring. When you let you opponents have 31 shots at goal, like Arsenal did against Watford, there is always a high chance 1 or 2 will go in.

In the Premier League under Unai Emery, Arsenal were showing relegation form when it came to chances conceded to opponents. In just 4 games Arteta has turned that around and we are now showing top 4 form.

Whilst Arteta wants to be playing free flowing, attacking football, he knew his first job was to come in and fix Arsenal’s leaky defence. Key to that was to reduce how many chances we concede to opponents.

Arteta’s Arsenal concede 40% less shots than Emery’s. A huge improvement.

With 2 clean sheets in the first 5 games under Arteta, Arsenal’s defence is moving in the right direction – Emery’s Arsenal had kept just 5 clean sheets in all competitions; 3 of which were in the cups.

The rest of this season is going to be about rebuilding the structure of the team. Getting us tactically proficient and raising fitness levels. Once Arteta has sorted out that aspect of the game he can then encourage the players to be more extravagant in attack.

Arsenal are becoming harder to score against. There is still some way to go but we are now moving in the right direction.

Keenos

What is delaying Arsenal replacing Unai Emery?

It is now nearly a week since Unai Emery was sacked and a replacement has not been bought in.

Within 24 hours of sacking Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham announced that Jose Mourinho was to be their new manager. It was quick, it was clinical.

So what is holding up Arsenal?

Remaining Classy

The old school fan in me that still calls us The Arsenal and remembers the days when we were a classy club makes me look at Spurs and think “stabbed in the back” with just how quickly they moved Pochettino out and Mourinho in.

The seat on the private toilet in the managers office had not even cooled down.

It does lack class agreeing a deal with a replacement manager before the current manager has been sacked. The “open secret” that the manager has been sacked and replacement already recruited. But it is hard to “stay classy” in business.

Regardless of the industry, if you are planning to sack a manager, CEO or director, you need to be talking to potential replacements before you give the incumbent the chop.

The firm I work for planned to replace the CEO a few years back. They employed his replacement as a Regional Director for 8 months before chopping the CEO. He was then installed as interim CEO before getting the job permanently 4 months later.

It might have “lacked class” but in business it is what needs to be done. Especially if that business is struggling.

You need to do what is in the best interests long term of the business, or football club, and not have to worry about “looking classy” in the short term.

I imagine the lack of replacement has nothing to do with the club deciding not to talk to a replacement for Emery before they gave him his P45.

Board Incompetence

The situation could further highlight a long term problem at Arsenal. That those running the club are simply incompetent.

We know the board is not fit for purpose and there have been talks to introduce fresh faces. We know Stan Kroenke is a hands off owner, leaving the experts he employs to do the job they are supposed experts in. That then leaves it to Raul Sanllehi.

Sanllehi was supposed to be a superstar. Recruited from Barcelona, he replaced Ivan Gazidis overseeing the football side of the club. Replacing the manager is his job.

Has he been infected by the incompetence that runs through others within the club? Is he not the big dog that we hoped we were recruiting? Or does he have a plan and it simply is not one that can be completed within 24 hours?

I hope it is the later.

New Manager is Currently Employed

Prior to Emery being sacked, we could have been having discussions with his replacement and/or his representatives. A contract could even have been agreed and he is ready to take over. But he can not take over if he is currently in a job.

What allowed Tottenham to replace Pochettino so quickly is that Mourinho was out of work. All they had to do is get a signed contract back from him and he was ready to go.

The situation takes longer if you are targeting a manager currently in a job.

If Arsenal want Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo, Brendan Rodger of Leicester or even poach Carlo Ancelotti from Napoli, they will have to enter negotiations with their respective club to buy them out of their current contract. This could only be done once Emery was confirmed as leaving.

A deal could have been agreed in principle with a currently employed manager, but it then takes time to do the deal with his current club.

And what if when going to do that deal, his current club refuses to enter discussion? Or asks for a huge fee? It can delay things further.

It is more complicated recruiting someone in a job than it is recruiting someone out of work.


My hope is that these delays are because we are talking to someone in work; and it is just taking a little longer. My fear is it is competence and we failed to speak to anyone before letting Emery leave.

Hopefully the situation is resolved over the weekend.

Keenos

Sacking managers is something Arsenal fans will have to get used to

It is time Arsenal fans are realistic with their expectations.

We have had a long period of stability and success. From the day George Graham took over the club in 1986 to Arsene Wenger’s departure in 2018. 32 years, 3 managers (with Bruce Ricoh splitting the 2 with a year in charge) and consistent success.

During that 32 years we won:
5 league titles
8 FA Cups
2 League Cups
1 ECWC

Add in the memories of 1989 and the 2004 unbeaten season, it was a glory period where we averaged a major trophy every other season.

16 of Arsenal’s 30 major honours came during that 32 years.

Arsenal fans, like myself, born in the late 70s / early 80s have been spoilt by only ever knowing success, and never really seeing a turnover of managers.

What is the worst season under Graham or Wenger? 1995 when we made a European final? Finishing 6th under Arsene Wenger? These are not huge failures. Many teams would take these as a sign of a successful season.

We had a period of success and consistency, and not we are on a downward curve and those fans who grew up only knowing success will have to re-adjust their mind set.

When you speak to older fans, they talk about the 70s and 80s when Arsenal barely had a sniff- a single FA cup win in 1979 from the 1971 double to when Graham took over. 15 long seasons.

During that 15 years there was not a huge turnover in managers.

Terry Neill and Don Howe the only two appointments between Bertie Mee’s departure and George Graham’s appointment.

Football has changed dramatically since those days, and with the increased money and accountability, it is now a “fast food” game where fans demand instant success or changes.

In a recent interview, Jose Mourinho was asked whether long-term managers like Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are now a thing of the past, Mourinho said: “Twenty years in a club? I don’t think it is possible.

“Modern life, new technology, social media – I think everything has an influence.

“Even people’s mentality, faster relations, getting tired more easily, so many things that are changing. Not just football, but changing the world and the perception of things.

“I think Wenger was the last one.”

Mourinho is absolutely spot on.

In the Premier League, just 2 managers have bene in their job for longer than 5 years – Eddie Howe at Bournemouth and Sean Dyche at Burnley. Jurgen Klopp has now been at Liverpool for over 4 years. Just two more have spent more than 3 years at their respective clubs: Pep Guardiola and Chris Wilder at Sheffield United.

At the other end of the scale, 9 Premier League sides have had their current manager for less than a year (including Watford who currently have a vacancy for their 3rd manager this season.

The average life span of current Premier League managers is just 2 years, 14 days.

Manchester United are now onto their 4th manager since Sit Alex Ferguson retired.
Liverpool have had 9 managers since King Kenny left – including Dalglish returning for a 2nd stint.
Tottenham have had 21 since Bill Nicholson
Chelsea are on to their 2nd new manager since their last league title – just 2 seasons ago.

Chelsea sum up how the world of football has changed.

Since Jose Mourinho left for the 1st time back in 2007, they have changed manager 13 times. They have won 11 trophies in that time.

Tottenham and Liverpool aside, no other “big 6” side has kept a manager for 2 consecutive trophyless seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

Jurgen Klopp has shown the benefit of keeping with a manager who you think is the right man even when not winning trophies. It was 3 and a half seasons until he finally lifted a trophy – and he is on to win the Premier League in his 4th full season. But Klopp was Liverpool’s 5th different manager this decade!

The fact is that a new manager at Arsenal will not guarantee an instant change of fortunes on the pitch. And chances are unless we lift a trophy come 2021, Emery’s full-time replacement will be sacked.

Football has changed a lot since George Graham was appointed in 1986. Arsenal fans are going to have to get used to a new man coming in, it not working out and change.

With the state of our team at the moment, it could take 2 or 3 more manager changes and a huge playing turnover in playing personnel until we have a competitive team once more.

We as fans need to realise that football is now a volatile place where instant success is demanded but not realistic.

Keenos