22 games unbeaten and we are still fifth – Is this so much better than under Wenger?

The one positive to Arsenal’s unbeaten run ending is it can no longer paper over the cracks. Our sequence of results seemed to make Unai Emery immune from any criticism, with some gooners feeling he hasn’t had enough credit from the media. That could be because, rewind to the summer and most pundits predicted we would be in a battle for the top 4, as our 22-game streak ends we find ourselves …. 5th, not good enough for Arsenal fans under the man he replaced.

The statistic of never leading at half time in the Premier League this season has been a fun one. If you’re not defeated after 90 minutes, it’s one you can dismiss. Indeed, it is evidence of an improved mentality, the players not feeling sorry for themselves after 45 mins. Some have even used it as a further stick to beat Arsene Wenger with, the Frenchmen apparently would never make a sub so early in a game. Yet surely if you’re having to make changes at the interval it suggests there was something wrong with your original plan?

Now that we have lost to a side who were bottom of the League, Arsenal being slow starters suddenly feels like a bigger deal. The performance at Southampton mirrors the majority of our games under the Spaniard, the opposition not always punishing us. Fulham, Liverpool and Spurs are the only fixtures I can think of where we were consistent for the whole 90. Winning when not playing well is perfect as long as you are learning from your mistakes. According to the law of averages, you are not going to keep getting away with taking half a match to get going. Now, our boss will be under more scrutiny to find the answer of why his men can’t start well.
To get to the halfway point of the league and not have led at half-time has to reflect our attitude. Gooners can’t have it both ways.

Many have weekly used our unbeaten run as a blanket for Unai Emery, a parachute protecting him from being questioned. Weekly, people are making comparisons between Emery and Arsene Wenger yet it’s unfair to not do it when he makes mistakes. Did we need a back five today? I thought that was a system only introduced to bring out the best in Kolasinac who was injured? Do you need two DM in front of a back 5 at the home of a side with 1 win?
Are we still going to pretend that in the final third Iwobi is a replacement for Ramsey and Ozil?

If Arsene Wenger had started 7 defensive players, carried on playing a winger who’s assist record is poor, and couldn’t get his players to start games better, would we complain? If Arsene Wenger was 5th?

Finally, we can ask these questions…

Dan Smith


  1. Ang Kee ming says:

    Ahhh. Feels good to be contrary eh? The first signs of trouble and the knives are out. How long have you been sharpening?

    Unai out then? Let’s start another civil war shall we? The past few months have been too peaceful.

    1. Dan says:

      Been critical of appointment since day 1

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Dan, you have never told us who you preferred of the available coaches/managers prepared to come to Arsenal.
        Why don’t you get behind the manager and support the club; it’s bad enough that Kroenke is appearing to not support Emery with funds?

    2. Tissiam says:

      Well said!also what the writer forgets to mention is that yesterday the squad was depleted,also unai has only been here for few months,apart few players this is not his team still we see progress and a change of attitude so be fair abd give the man more time&few transfer Windows then we might be able to compare uf that’s possible seeing arsene had 22 years like our unbeaten run!unai has to do with a team he inherited and by looking at the few players he,s bought few more of them and getting rid of some we,ll be alright coz I,ve got the feeling he,s gonna get rid of a good few of them!!

  2. alan morris says:

    Good of you to completely ignore the injury and suspension ravaged defence. Well done, great analysis. Or the dreadful reffing, the fouling without being pulled up for it


      Well said!

  3. ThirdManJW says:

    Of course we’d complain if it was Wenger in charge today, in fact, the fans anger would have been a lot worse, but we already know why.

    Of course Emery still deserves a dab of criticism here, and there. For example, I felt he got the line up wrong today. Monreal should have been at LCB, with AMN at LB, as they both have experience in these positions, and then Xhaka could have partnered Torreira in central midfield. But overall, Emery inherited a mess, has had only one transfer window, and was given a meagre amount of funds. You say “what has changed” (a lot in my opinion, especially on the tactical, and mentality side of the game, and how much progression there has been in the big games), but what do expect when we’re not even half way through the season, with the problems Emery has had to, and still is dealing with? Do you expect us to be top of the league, or challenging for it?

    We’ve just been on a 22 game unbeaten run, across three competitions, and we hadn’t lost since mid August before today. I think Emery has done a great job so, and hopefully he can rid of some more Wenger has-been’s!

    1. ozziegunner says:


    2. Malcolm Townsend says:

      100% agree with you Emery is doing a great job just has to get rid of the other deadwood and bring in is own players and then watch us go coyg

      1. sydney says:

        Unai is doing absolutely well, if you have been watching Arsenal the past decade,you can see the man has surpassed expectations of the majority.Despite having a number of wenger average players, he has brought the grit, determination,character which has been lost.Despite the defense leaking,we are more resilient than under Wenger and only if he is supported during the transfer window to buy his own players mark my words we will be up there competing with the best. Which other manager can cope with one fit central defender who is just recovering from a long term injury(Koscielny).

    3. jon fox says:

      What wonderful realism and true perspective. Although I feel sure that any Gooners who think Emery no better than Wnger are as rare as hens teeth, despite the idiotic suggestion to the contrary made by this article writer. I am sure that he does NOT actually believe what he has written. Many people write for effect and do not ACTUALLY MEAN precisely what they write, as Dan has also done here. The TRUTH is that we need KROENKE TO start supporting Arsenal, financially, which is against all his selfish instincts, before we can ever SERIOUSLY challenge for the title.

  4. Innit says:

    Yes we are better with Emery than with Wenger

    Emery is not a miracle worker
    I think he is doing his best with what Wenger gave him.
    At least Emery got a quality Defensive midfielder which Wenger would never get.

    Fact is we have loads of average players ie Iwobi, Sokratis, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil (except for a few games when he’s brilliant), Mustafi

    Emery can’t turn average players into world class players

    We can’t expect to be better than Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, City after a summer and half a season. It will take at least another summer of transfers to get into 4th place contention

    Emery needs time

    1. Brian says:

      Agree, well said!

      If anyone thought that we would be top of the table with this squad this season, not even Pep would have managed that.

    2. sydney says:

      The bottom line is we still have a lot of average players who needs to be shipped out – Ramsay, Mustafi, Welbeck, Mik, Iwobi. Koscielny is and will no longer be same so he needs to be a squad player and bring in an upgrade, Monreal needs to be replaced in the summer etc so there is nothing Unai can do with such quality. Remember how Pep Guardiola struggled with the team he inherited in his first season until he replaced them the season after that he is doing well today. Unai is the one of the best and to any objective analyst he has done a tremendous job.

  5. Lupe says:

    Seems like you have been waiting for us to loose so you can start questioning Unai. I agree that the three at the back tactics was the wrong choice today especially since we are missing so many defenders and i also agree that we shouldn’t be loosing to this southampton team but i think we should have more patience with the manager as he inherited a very UNBALANCED squad which has impeded a consistent team selection and also right now we have so many injuries at the back. I think the reason he keeps making subs, chopping and changing is because he is still trying to work out his best team due to the deficiences in the squad. I am willing to give him this season to find out for himself the players that aren’t good enough so we can start buying better players with the right PROFILE like torreira to fix the squad’s overall quality and balance. For instance, we need a calm centre back who is a leader, we haven’t had one in a long time, our centre backs have improved a bit but they are still erratic and error prone, we also need wide players, how did wenger, gazidis and his team build a squad with no width, no DM? Emery has a conundrum on his hands as regards picking a consistent balanced squad to challenge for the top four not to talk of the title. We have two strikers but we have a player in ozil who is only effective in the no 10 role, but then if we play 4-3-1-2, we leave an already terrible defence even more vulnerable. Lets say we decide to play 3-4-1-2, we already know this formation isn’t suistanable due to the quality of our defenders and we will need to buy more defenders to even be able to go through a full season judging by our injury record. Playing 4-4-2 means ozil doesn’t play but he is the highest payed player at the club and we aren’t a club that can afford him being a bench player as we aren’t man city. Best bet is to play 4-2-3-1 consistently as it favours a lot of our players e.g ozil, torreira and xhaka but with that come with the reality that either lacazette or aubameyang will be on the bench or aubameyang playing on the left wing. It all just shows that our team is a mess due to poor squad building and it will take time for emery to figure out the right formation and players to get the best out of the team so we need to be patient as the problems plenty and are clear for everyone to see.

    1. jon fox says:

      Great post, full of detailed truth! I love people who actually SAY something worthwhile reading, with details, rather than boring platitudes like “I hope we win”. As if any Gooner doesn’t. So well said!

  6. Nigel Hill says:

    I dont recall anyone tipping us for top 4 during pre-season all talk was of 5th being a good season and expectations being 6th place…. most fans agreed 4th would be a fantastic season. I love the way that we have so many armchair managers who know what to do always with hindsight though. Emery is doing as well as anyone could have expected after 21 years of Wenger we were worried of a Moyer situation and we have not had that we have not taken a step backwards during this transition, Emery needs time to develop improve the team.

    1. Dan says:

      Thats what i said
      Tipped to battle for top 4
      5th would not be a good season

      1. Brian Nielsen says:

        If we end up 5th, that’s a great! There is nothing in our team that makes our team better than any of the other in top 4. Sure we have a few great players, but on a whole our team not a top 4 team. If we by any miracle end up in the top 4, without new additions, that’s a miracle, and it would have been even with say Pep as a manager.

      2. jon fox says:

        DAN . You are fast making me change my mind about your intelligence. If you truly (which I doubt IS the case) believe that we are no better off than under WENGER , YOU WILL BE A VERY LONELY MAN FIGHTING A LOSING BATTLE ON HERE. Loads of folk , me included, say you are totally wrong and being unrealistic.

        1. RichSAAlao says:

          So, are you saying Dan should join those who ”kill their prophets”, Don J. Fox ?

    2. ozziegunner says:


  7. Steven says:

    I think Dan Smith has a point. Why was Iwobi picked ahead of Ramsey?

  8. Adajim says:

    All this bashing is expected after all but it’s too early for that, almost everyone here want 70% of our squad change but realistically it doesn’t work like that,.
    Yes, defeat is hard to swallow especially against a relegation battling team but truth is, this fixture came at the wrong time for us, when soton sacked their manager 2weaks back I was praying the new manager appointment delayed before we meet them but it was an unanswered prayers.
    Playing against an hungry looking team who has nothing to loose and whose players want to fight to impress the new gaffer, with a depleted backline, it’s not a joke, no wonder the bookies gave us such high odds even with our unbeaten runs.
    Anyone who thought yesterday fixture was going be a walk in the pack doesn’t know English football. Ppl call for reinforcement at the back is confusing, we have 7cb already, how do we keep them all happy. If not for injuries and suspensions, out backline wouldn’t have been this expose, this makes us value what we have, especially those calling for mustaffi to be dropped, I hope you continue to get ur wish

  9. amo says:

    team selection was also to blame.our manager is trying but why not play Ramsey? what about Niles…Ozil. they have better qualities than say Iwobi and the like. we are going to see much of the team selection issue and then the Unai out will start. we have been lucky… critically analyse some of our previous matches..you will be shocked how lucky we have been.let the manager do what he is employed to do.

  10. Ron says:

    I cannot understand why Iwobi is constantly picked ahead of better players like Ramsey or Ozil. His assist rate is very poor when going forward and his defensive prowess is not existent. I just don’t get it !

    1. sydney says:

      Neither Ramsay nor Ozil fit in Unai’s system no wander he is starting them on bench and they are both likely to leave in the winter or summer.They are on high wages and contribute less performance wise, we need better players than them.

  11. Drew says:

    In wish people would stop bleating just because we lost to Southampton. Our run was going to end at sometime, and they have had good results against recently. Did any of you expect our new manager Unai Emery would come in and wave a magic want and everything would suddenly be rosy with never losing.
    If every time a team lost they sacked their manager what chaos that would bring. It has been mentioned that Mr Emery needs two or three transfer windows to see who does not fit into his team and who he needs to buy. His first season is a learning curve where he needs time to asses the good points against the bad.
    As far as I can see at least Arsenal are more difficult to beat now.

    1. jon fox says:

      Good perspective and true.

  12. AndersS says:

    1) We have stopped going backwards
    2) We have 4 more points than at this tage last year
    3) We may be lying 5’th, but we are 8 points in front of 6’th (which is where we finished last year)

    So suggesting, we aren’t better off now, is just way off..

  13. jon fox says:

    I would remind Dan Smith, with his foolish and untrue remark that we are no better off than under Wenger of this fact: Last season we finished with 60 points miles away from fifth place. This season with the season almost halfway through and a sub par defence left behind and also now mostly injured, we are still only three points off foutrth place andon course to gain 76 points, ie exactly tewo points every game. I make that 16 points, a mile in fact, better off than under Wenger. The team was terribly short of defenders yesterday and Emery was forced, against his wishes, to play a still woefully unmatchfit Kos. Anyone who fails to see the huge improvement in attitude, organisation , motivation and effectiveness under Emery is a fool. What DOES hold us back, PERMANENTLY, is KROENKE. THAT IS REALISM!!!

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