A month by month summary of Arsenal’s crazy year since sacking Emery

A Year After Emery! By Dan Smith

It was 12 months yesterday that Arsenal sacked Unai Emery. The manager has said a few things since to defend his reign, suggesting he didn’t get his chosen targets. The Spaniard might feel vindicated a year on, as he’s third in La Liga while the Gunners remain far away from the level they used to be at.

There needs to be some context though. Three months of 2020 there was no football due to the Pandemic, meaning Arteta hasn’t been in charge of as many games as he would have normally been come December.

Some will also argue that comparing pre- and post- Emery is unfair as football now looks very different. Unai never had to play in an empty Emirates for example.

There was a moment where many gooners thought the club had refound it’s ethos and identity, but the fanbase is becoming divided again after our worst ever start to a Prem season.

This time last year it was obvious the dressing room had been lost. Let’s see how Arteta got it back – but how it’s losing its confidence again…

December 19
In typical Arsenal fashion, there seems zero contingency plan now that Emery is sacked. Unlike Spurs, who switch Pochettino with Mourinho inside 48 hours we wait 3 weeks to hire a new manager.
We choose our ex-captain, who’s in the uncomfortable situation of being Man City’s assistant as they destroy us at the Emirates, even though it’s strongly reported it’s when, not if, he gets the Arsenal job.

His first 2 games ever as a manager is a Boxing Day draw at Bournemouth and a home loss to Chelsea.
A key change to the previous regime, is the work rate of the strikers who are pressing, but it’s hinted that players are currently not fit enough to do that for 90 minutes.

January 20
Arteta’s first ever win as a manager is an impressive 2-0 win against Man United (he draws his other three League Fixtures).

Key changes in the squad see Mustafi start in the League having not done at any point for Emery that season. Xhaka also plays for the first time since throwing down the arm band at home to Palace. Our manager later admits 1 to 1 chats convinces both to stay, with both admitting to the mental pressure constant criticism was causing.

Ozil also starts every game till lockdown having been rotated previous.

For the second year running, the club can only afford loans. We bring in Mari and Cedric although both are strangely injured.

February 20
Successive wins over Newcastle and Everton put us 7 points behind 4th and 4 behind 5th which could now be a Champions League qualifying position.

Arteta then experiences his first adversity as manager, being knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiakos despite having won the 1st leg in Greece.

March 20
Little do the fans in attendance for our win over West Ham realise, that this will be their last game they are allowed to attend this year (apart from the lucky 2000 I guess?) Little does Ozil realise as he assists the winner, this will be his last game in 2020.

The night before our game at Man City, it’s announced Mikel Arteta has tested positive for Covid. On the 19th March, the season was postponed till April.

The FA agree to extend the season past June when the government suspend all sport indefinitely.

April 20
The majority of Prem clubs seem adamant to finish the season no matter what, due to fulfilling television and sponsorship contracts. Loss for the entire top flight is estimated at over a billion if the season finishes with zero match day revenue.

Arsenal are one of the hardest hit without matchday revenue, especially with it not clear if they will have the added income of European Football.

Arsenal’s squad is asked to take a 12.5% wage cut, money to be repaid if certain targets are met.

May 20
Project Restart is confirmed for June, so players are allowed back into social distanced training which gradually builds to contact training.

Some clubs fail to have relegation removed but the idea of neutral venues is changed. The League propose to complete the 92 remaining fixtures in the space of 6 weeks.

June 20
Due to the congested schedule subs are increased to 5.

Arsenal, the only unbeaten English side left in 2020 lose 3-0 at City, then 2-1 to Brighton. Guendouzi’s initial reaction to the latter is to boast about his salary. He hasn’t been in an Arsenal squad since.

Despite losing without him, Ozil is dropped completely. He becomes a meme as he sits in the stands at Southampton under his umbrella.


July 20
Arteta receives praise for how he beats Liverpool, and in particular Man City in the FA Cup Semi Final. The manner of how organised the team is seems to prove his man-management skills.

Dropped points though at Spurs and Villa means we have to win the FA Cup to be in Europe. Arteta maintains Guendouzi and Ozil are being left out for footballing reasons despite clubs being allowed 9 subs.

August 20
Arsenal win a record 14th FA Cup with this time Arteta tactically out thinking Frank Lampard, only the 18th man to lift the cup as player and manager. Ozil and Guendouzi were asked to stay away from Wembley.

Just three weeks later at the same venue we beat the Champions in the Community Shield again with Arteta’s tactics credited.

Off the pitch, 55 staff are made redundant. It’s reported this upsets players who feel they agreed a pay cut on the pretence they were saving jobs. It’s bad PR when in the same month it’s believed that Willian and Aubameyang sign contracts in the region of 200,000 pound a week.

Ozil says it validates why he wanted more details before agreeing to a wage cut, and hints that’s why he’s been frozen out.

September 20
Mirroring Emery’s League start 12 months previously, Arsenal win their opening two games before easily getting beaten at Anfield. Arteta insists everyone this season has a clean slate but still Ozil and Guendouzi are still left out.

Surprisingly, the manager declares Saliba is not ready, the defender who cost 30 million.

October 20
In the last hours of the transfer window we activate Thomas Partey’s buyout clause. It’s suggested we couldn’t offload as many players as possible due to their high wages.

The decision to not include Ozil in domestic and European squads is questioned when Arsenal lack creativity at Man City and home to Leicester.

November 20
Our first League win at Old Trafford in 14 years was viewed as a mentally huge moment, but we haven’t won in the Prem since. Home defeats to Villa and Wolves and a draw at Leeds again have been apparent in their lack of creativity.

This isn’t an excuse, but it is noticeable that the hectic schedule makes our concept of time in football not the same reality. For example, our start to the season was two months ago.

If you go to the start of September, some gooners were predicting a title challenge and claiming we had a better manager then Pep Guardiola. So it doesn’t feel right that two months later those same opinions could be the opposite?

Some will look at things as black and white as Unai Emery’s win/loss record compared to Arteta’s. The reality is it was clear Emery had lost the dressing room. Once that happens a manager has to go.

The current squad has lost its confidence, but that doesn’t mean they have lost faith in the manager. There is talk that morale could be low due to certain decisions, some that go over a coach’s head. Ozil and Guendouzi are popular members of the team, while in general there’s been a high staff turnover.

Ultimately, I think we have players not as good as some fans think. Even top names such as Aubameyang. Is he the leader you need when things are going wrong? Ahead of next weekend’s Derby, how many of our talents can you count on to have the right mentality?

If you sacked Arteta tomorrow I would say it’s unfair.

He would have had one window where we signed two players. In my opinion his most creative players had been dropped in a decision over his head and is the last 12 months a fair environment to judge a rookie coach.

His year has been half of which we were playing for nothing, one window with limited funds (and only a few games to work with them) and the majority of a year of empty stadiums and a hectic schedule.

It would be unfair to hire someone knowing they have zero experience, then give up on them, after not just a year but this year of all years.

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith

Tags Arteta Emery


  1. MA needs to go. The team is getting worse with every game and it doesn’t look he has a solution or a plan to change it. If this happened under any other Manager, we will be calling for his head. So why not MA?

    1. Aren’t some already calling for his head? His face is deteriorating due to stress but at least his hair is still intact. Put yourself in his shoes. Your team is struggling creatively, you have the best creative player in the country, the assists king, you have signed an A level defensive midfielder who can make that creative player work his magic but the imbeciles upstairs tell you to drop him to save few shillings, not only that they make you take the heat from fans and the media for it.

      They make you lie even though you are not a liar so you keep beating around the bush and contradict yourself when addressing the topic.

      Arsenal problem is neither the coach nor the players. Not even the owner. Our problem is that the club is run by imbeciles whoever they are. The longer these imbeciles run this club next time our friends in UK won’t be going to the Emirates stadium they will be going to the circus every week.

      We have a manager and the team capable of winning the title but we are struggling because of those imbeciles and their quest to save few shillings.

      Nonetheless Mikel will get through this with flying colours. We will be smiling before long.

  2. The honeymoon is long over and the board need to get their priorities right 2 good Arsenal players dumped and they are still looking abroad for players and not looking at the EPL. We bought SALIBA loaned him back for the season now he is here they say he needs to be loaned out again surely not abroad again the championship is the place he will learn more. We are not playing as a team too much back passing and ARTETA must know his best players by now we have a bunch of good young players if we are not going anywhere in the league this season blood them in don’t get rid of them and then rue the mistake later young players are always willing to learn and faster than one you buy in like SALIBA

  3. I said it from the beginning that appointing Arteta as Manager is a disaster. His authoritarian kind of management is backfiring on him. The doesn’t have backup plan. He doesn’t know how to solve the problem that he encounters. His understanding of the game is limited. Every team in EPL started the league on the same time, so why is it an excuse to start the late for Arsenal not other teams. The squad of Aston villa and Wolves cannot be compared to the squad of Arsenal, in terms of capabilities. Please don’t let Arteta sink us further before he gets fired. His time is up

  4. Amounts of games you play in quick succession can work in both ways for you. If you are doing bad it gives you quick second chance to correct things so you don’t have to wait too long to put things right. Also probably you can get away with much more bad results then in normal circumstances as few games over longer stretch can lead to a managerial sack but probably in short amount of time you can loose more games but get away with not getting sacked. So everything has its pros and cons. This can not be used as an excuse for Arteta’s poor showing. He has been simply put..exposed. It’s not just the results but the football we have been playing not attractive at all and so hard to watch. Also the issues that have come to forefront regarding Arteta is not getting along with not one but two three players.

    1. A very good resume of the Arteta era to date.Despite the recent run of poor performances since the Man Utd match, it is far too soon to talk of showing our Manager the door particularly with the impact of injuries to key players such as Partey and the highly talented Martinelli.I may not agree with a number of his decisions and selections but I remain optimistic that Arteta will turn this ship around by the end of next season by which time a number of poor performers will no longer be around, one way or another.I think I am right in saying that neither Xhaka nor Ceballos figured in the match against Man Utd when Partey and Elneny dicated in midfield.Since then we have been overrun in midfield and created little up front as the players concerned have lost confidence.Until Arteta takes the bull by the horns ,and leaves out Xhaka and Ceballos we will continue to struggle and be faced with a drop into the relegation territory.Until Partey returns Elneny should be used as a DM and be flanked by AMN and Willock who had a very decent second half yesterday.

      1. Grandad, how many more excuses??. Are we playing the old injury card again. Partey just joined us. Its not like he is our Sanchez who we depended upon so much to carry us. Other one you pointed out Martenelli same again he is not yet a player who can carry so much of our expectations n has performed beyond expectation but not to level that we can regard him as some one with out whom we will struggle. Also when he was fit if you remember Nkeitiah was preferred by MA. He benched the dude.

    2. So, you want us to be relegation contenders before the board show him the exit door? It’s not too soon, but rather too late. He was supposed to be gone long time

  5. Arteta was knocked out of the Europa league in the round of 16 the club’s worst finish in decades. In the league Arteta led Arsenal to 8th place and the club’s lowest points tally in decades and now this season the club’s worst start since 1992. The FA cup win when the sting had gone out of the season post the break does not hide the fact that Arteta has a worse record than Emery with a stronger squad. Unlike Emery who had no English Arteta has been able to talk his way out of the firing line. Top 4 or the sack is a reasonable deal.

  6. Let’s get Allegri, time to switch our attention to a proven track record manager. I actually applaud the board for hiring n taking a gamble on young unproven manager Arteta but clearly that plan has not worked while all the omens were there for him to succeed and bring beautiful football back to Emirates. What I don’t want now is club to wait wait n wait till we are in really bad situation then managers like Allegri don’t want to take the project on. Learn from Chelsea’s past they have always acted quickly that has brought success to them. Time to act Arsenal!!!

    1. The imbeciles won’t hire a proven and strong personality because they will be exposed for fraud that they are. Mikel is here and we have to support him. He might be a yes man but he is our yes man. He is inexperienced but he is our inexperienced coach. If we don’t support or believe in him who will? Spurs fans?

      We should give our full support, have a little patience and hope. It’s not yet the time to call for his head. And I believe and hope it won’t come to that.

      There is no guarantee even if we bring Allegri (who should have been a first choice had our club not being run by imbeciles) that our team will change overnight. The only person capable of changing things quickly is Mikel himself because he is already here and he knows the players and what is the problem.

      And I don’t personally for one minute think he is not doing something to address the situation. I am very sure he working on a permanent solution to address the problem.

  7. Our 8th place finish last year is an accurate indication of the strength of our squad. We have a large number of players who have achieved very little at Premier League level. Very few of our players have actually played for a top 4 team in the EPL I think the squad that Emery inherited was superior to our current squad. Unfortunately after a decent first season under Emery, we had a disastrous transfer window in the summer of 2019 that significantly weakened us. That’s why we dropped down to 8th last season. Emery was shafted by Sanlehi. After that window we were reliant on too many novices and new players unfamiliar with the EPL. Pepe, Ceballos, Tierney, Saka, Nelson, Willock, Nketiah, Martinell, Guendouzi. We also had Holding and Bellerin together with Tierney who were out with long Injuries. That’s half the squad made up of new, young and injured players. Any unbiased analysis of our squad would have concluded it was much weaker than the previous season.
    This years window may have improved us a little but not by much and certainly not enough to challenge for the top 4. Partey hasn’t yet played often enough to judge his impact on the team. Once he returns we will have a better idea of the strength of our team.

  8. Give Arteta a chance to disband the Mafia holding this club to ransom. I think players are not giving much of a choice when it comes to team selection. Player power needs to go!
    Offload these problematic players ASAP.

  9. Dan you say: “It would be unfair to hire someone knowing they have zero experience, then give up on them, after not just a year but this year of all years.”

    Winning and losing is not about fairness. Sure MA needs time, but when you transform players who won trophies and championships on the world stage into players incapable of the easiest tasks, then questions must be asked.
    Arsenal has quite few older players with bloated long term contracts. The team has no choice but win and win now.

  10. Leaving aside the Ozil question on which Dan and I have always taken poar opposite views, there is nothing but comon sense in this article and I appreciate DAN AS A FAIR MINDED MAN WHO WRITES WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR.

    Shame he has a blind spot on OZIL but nobodys perfect, even though I would be perfect, were I not so humble and modest!!
    Realists on here like DAN and myself know that you cannot get rid of our forest of deadwood in such a short time as he has had (esp in this pandemic)and so he has to make the best of what little money Scrooge Kroenke allows him to spend.
    He has years of drift to turn around at our club and no one can do that in the time that such as Mogunna, ICW and others of their sad ilk irrationally demand.

    1. @Jon Fox
      But why do you believe MA has any intention of getting rid of the deadwood? He extended Luiz, signed Mari, Soares, brought back Ceballos and convinced Xhaka to stay. Most if not all of those players I’ve listed are deadwood, yet MA continues to collect them. WHY??? As for Kroenke, he just authorised big money deals for Partey, Aubameyang, Gabriel and Wilian. Kroenke is NOT the enemy at this club.

      1. Go back to the day he arrived at our cub
        He’s the enemy
        You say partey and Gabriel.like we should be impressed ?
        The sell of martinez and a couple of young players paid for Gabriel
        So having finished in our worst position in 25 years wow a found 45 million
        He must have known ozil would be dropped , what creativity did we buy ?

        1. @Dan Smith
          This Kroenke bloodlust must stop. Kroenke is the owner and a board member. Kroenke’s job is to approve investment of club resources. It is not Kroenke’s job to seek out replacements for players, that is the Director of Football’s role. If we didn’t find a replacement for Ozil, blame Edu he is the one directly involved in targeting and recruiting talent.

          As for Martinez paying for Gabriel, that is absolutely fine. EVERY club must balance the books to remain financially healthy. Would you have preferred we hanged on to Emi and he walked out on a free a few months later like Sanchez or Ramsey? As for Partey, yes we should be impressed. We paid a reported £45M and gave him over £200k a week…during Covid times. Wasn’t that the 5th biggest EPL transfer deal of the summer? Open your eyes and see Kroenke is committed to this club!

  11. Hehe! It seems the trophies MA quickly delivered were all down to “new manager” syndrome. Heck, even Emery nearly won us the Europa League in his first season. Therefore, the implications are clear. We need to hire and fire managers every year like Real Madrid and Chelsea. It is a strategy frowned up but it produces results…and results are all we can now hope for really as beautiful football became extinct at this club about 3 years before Wenger was kicked out.

  12. Please remember my fellow Gooners that the club made the decision to bring MA in. They knew his managerial skills were in their infancy. MA himself knew he would be a sheep to the wolves in situations like this!

    Lets look at it this way for instance.. Xhaka has played the same way under every manager that has been there. Does he change the way he play in each game? No, he’s limited to one style. Backwards and sideways. Pepe and Willian (on paper) were the ideal candidates for supporting our attack. They have often gone missing. Aubamayang signed a new deal because he was phenomenal in front of goal. Where has he gone? His body language last night was the worst I’ve seen. He looked beat after 30 minutes for a captain. Attack has improved on paper. But on the pitch it’s obvious to see it hasn’t. We all know that you cannot turn stone into gold but what I have seen from most of these players are individuals looking for a free ride! I can tell you now, Fergie would have had some of these players emptying the bins at Manures training ground. If every player was played on performance we would see much more value for money! What chance doe MA have with a bunch of guys who don’t respect the badge or the stadium. To lose the odd game at home is acceptable. To lose three on the trot is a team that has no commitment, passion or fight! I know one thing for sure. MA has more Arsenal blood in him than most of that lot on the pitch. What does MA have to do? Doe he have to run on the pitch and move their lazy limbs for them?

    If was the owner I would sack at least half of them for failure to perform! Free-riders!!!!!

    1. Arteta s inexperience is glaring . He fails to get his team playing in a cohesive manner. Poor selection and tactical naive , our manager is all at sea. If the results don’t improve, say goodbye to him and let’s move on. Arsenal can’t be an experiment in coaching development

  13. Dan…

    It is no longer a coincidence that your articles ooze a great depth of reasoning and articulation, particularly at a period when the club has hit a low point, and everyone is inflamed. Thank you for taking out time and effort to bring such to our notice, even though only a few might appreciate it.

    A problem is said to have occured when reality deviates from expectation. We expect a win, reality produces a loss, then it becomes a problem. A problem is solved by identifying the cause of the deviation and rectifying it, and then waiting for reality to determine whether the solution works or not. Essentially, it seems to all that such a solution to the Arsenal has not yet been found.

    In a bid to find the solution, we all have expressed our so-called expertise, often suggesting formations, tactics, and even which player should play, often based on our limited and stifled knowledge. Interestingly, after yesterday’s loss, everyone has gone clueless, and the only solution now is to sack Arteta *smiles*. Isn’t it funny that no one seems to have blamed formation, or Auba down the middle, or start Willock, albeit restore Ozil, which many think will work *smiles*.

    In my opinion, there are four possible factors to be probed for the solution, three of which many have spoken about: The coaching team (including Arteta, and the sins of Unai, and Wenger), the players (including past and present, including Van Persie for leaving Arsenal), Management (including the Kronkies, Edu, past agents, etc). However, isn’t it sad that very few fail to the blame the fourth factor, “the fans”? We are the only faultless, immaculate, impeccable group that cannot be blamed because everything we say or do is always right.

    In conclusion, in finding the solution to the Arsenal, we all are to be blamed. For example, isn’t being impatient a negative factor we are transmitting to the club, which kills motivation and strengthens fear of failure?

    Let us not use our powers to develop a cancer that in turn will eat us up. Please, let us be patient in good or bad, rainy or sunny, let’s tell these players and most importantly, the coach, that they can do it! They should believe! And we give them all our support! We will be with them in their lows as well as in their highs! This is positivism, which any day, anytime, is superior to negativism or neutralism.

    Be encouraged dear friends, stay firm!


    1. It was a delight reading your comment. One of the best I have read here. A really good response but I don’t agree with what you said about the great Arsene.

      The direction our club have taken since the great one left shows how great he really was. Wenger the great made a tortoise finish in the top 4 of rabbits race and made it look easy. Since he left the tortoise won’t even come out of its shell.

      1. HH…

        Thank you for your kind compliment!

        I only made a list of factors that have been blamed for Arsenal’s decline, for which many have included Arsene. It doesn’t mean I agree with all, including Arsene, as he has played his part, for which many accusations aimed at him are often mere opinions.

        Again, thank you for your own lovely comment, which demonstrates positivism. It is hard to remain positive amidst negative events, and I do understand, however, only few see a vision, but in due time, all will embrace the returns! Only if we can stand firm!


    2. Hello Fire,
      Yes indeed, I found your piece an interesting and inspiring read after wading through the majority of post match loss outpourings.

      As patience is a virtue that is not shared by many you just might not be able to preach successfully to most of the currently unconverted.

      I do fear for Arteta, even though I know the job in hand is tough, even for the most experienced manager. Getting rid, brings a new man and even more disruption. For me, results would have to get much worse and over an extended period before I was concerned for Arteta’s position.

      1. SueP…

        Again, thank you so much! Indeed, we need all the positivism we can get, not just for the ailing Arsenal base, but for the world at large.

        I totally agree with you that many are thoroughly inflamed in mind, and such messages would sow no seed in them. But, we all need to be encouraged.

        Again SueP, it might sound purely prophetic since the present observations seem not to support the process, but I emphasise the process is right, and the blips will smoothen out sooner than later. Arteta will succeed and the Arsenal ship will turn around for good!!!

        Please friends, stay firm and be encouraged!!

  14. He should start in lower divisions or leagues that have less competition. The guy accepted to be thrown in the deep end. Let’s not sacrifice the team for one guy. Age is on his side to learn the ropes

  15. Arsenal lack creativity especially in the mid- field and generally some players are not good enough. Although no excuse for Arteta and the team for not performing but it’s still early, 10 games out of 38. Solve the creativity problem in the mid field, integrate the youngsters to compete with the senior squad members and let Arteta allows the players some freedom.

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