Alfie gives his reaction to Watford disaster with player ratings

It’s time to address Sunday’s disaster class. A game we were obviously expected to win but were left with a sickening feeling after such a gutting and damningly poor second half.

Emery opted for the midfield diamond for the second consecutive game away from home, perhaps another indication of his dull and insistent pragmatism.

Mesut Özil surprisingly came into the side, deployed in behind the pace of Aubameyang and Pepe, with Ceballos, Guendouzi and Xhaka completing this diamond. This narrow formation contributed to our initial troubles, appearing extremely open in midfield in the first 20 minutes, allowing Watford to carve through this feeble midfield time and time again.

This lack of solidity was driven by the immobile Granit Xhaka, with Emery choosing to use him at the base a tactical mishap that was wrongfully implemented, and not for the first time has he made this mistake. However, Aubameyang’s excellent opener completely swung the first-half momentum and saw us seize control in the midfield, with Ozil and Ceballos coming to life and combining well on multiple occasions.

Whilst it was not always fluent and cohesive, there were certainly encouraging signs in this short period. Aubameyang’s second saw us cruising, and we appeared on our way to a comfortable victory, that could even get emphatic, after a difficult initial 20 minutes.

Our approach to the second half was nothing short of disgusting. A healthy two-goal lead against the side bottom of the league, low on confidence, lacking quality in the final third and increasingly vulnerable defensively, and Emery strangely decided to sit back and allow Watford to come onto us, despite consistently insinuating that he wants his side to play attacking football.

Sokratis’ moment of stupidity allowed Watford a route back into the game, gifting them an unmissable opportunity in a period where it had looked like they couldn’t convert a tap in from 3 yards out. Their momentum and relentless pressure grew, our stability withered as they pushed for their equaliser.

Negative substitutions failed to ignite defensive solidity and as Watford peppered our goal we grew increasingly aware we weren’t going to win this game. Luiz once again reinforced his reputation as something of a clown, and Pereyra took advantage from the spot. A horrendous tactical display from our coach and questions must be asked.

However, we must move on.


Leno 7

Maitland-Niles 5

Sokratis 4

Luiz 5

Kolasinac 6

Xhaka 6

Guendouzi 5

Ceballos 7

Ozil 6

Pepe 6

Aubameyang 8


Torreira 5

Willock 5

Nelson 4

Tell me your thoughts below and if you don’t understand some of my ratings, ask below and I’ll give some justification

By Alfie


  1. Emery 1/10

    positives – +1 for showing up in the game

    negatives – -9 insisting on playing from the back with error-prone defenders

  2. The idea that you can ONLY play out from the back, even from our own goal kicks, is the mind-set of somebody who self-harms. I was strongly behind Unai Emery, but I now see he is having battles within his own psyche. That is transferring onto the pitch. The second half at Watford was the poorest most confused display I have ever (yes EVER) seen by an Arsenal team. SO unacceptable that Emery must go. Because we are at the beginning of a new season a new manager such as Allegri or Mourinho would have the whole season in front of them to restructure our playing style. Act now before it is too late. Emery is not improving players he is damaging them.

    1. Fully agree and I have been watching them for decades.
      They looked like rabbits caught in headlights, no leadership no nothing.

      I saw a tribute on AFC website to Sol Campbell on his birthday. Now there was a proper centre back and leader just like our own Tony Adams.Look what we have now and no one does a damn thing to rectify a situation that has been going on for umpteen years. All this guff about playing out from the back is all very well except that it is suicide if you have a hopeless defence and players who are technically limited. A good coach will play the style of football that suits the players he has. Leno is probably the only one that has experience of this style of football and quite frankly even he doesn’t give me confidence. Maybe the penny will drop before it’s too late.

  3. Why should Luiz score higher than Sokratis when both were at fault? Perhaps Emery needs to be educated on the purpose of substitutes. How could anyone in his right mind remove Ceballos when he was the main driver behind the strikers? It was very irrational to remove both Ozil and Ceballos and then replace them with inexperienced players. I would have expected either Sokratis or Luiz to be replaced by Chambers after their calamitous mistakes but the coach opted to retain them. The substitutes made the game even worse and we have to thank Leno for his outstanding saves which enabled us to hang onto a draw. The bottom line is that Emery needs to be strongly advised about his tactics before it is too late.

  4. Your player ratings?????????????????????????????

    Leno 7

    Maitland-Niles 5

    Sokratis 4

    Luiz 5

    Kolasinac 6

    Xhaka 6

    Guendouzi 5

    Ceballos 7

    Ozil 6

    Pepe 6

    Aubameyang 8

    My ratings

    Leno 4 (stupid pass to Socratis)

    Maitland-Niles 2

    Sokratis 2

    Luiz 2

    Kolasinac 3

    Xhaka 3

    Guendouzi 3

    Ceballos 5

    Ozil 5

    Pepe 4

    Aubameyang 8

  5. Preconception then performance on a few players ratings.
    Time to accept where we are and move on. We only want to improve…

    1. Like him or not, Xhaka had a good game against Watford, I think 6 for Xhaka is fair, Leno deserve 4 why will he pass to socratis there in the first place, Niles should be 3 and am only given him 3 for that auba assist, Nelson should be 1.The rest I agree with.

      1. Xhaka was in possession of the ball near Watford D with no defender challenging him, and yet instead of taking a pop at the goal he made a lame pass to his right that was promptly intercepted by a Watford defender.
        Xhaka did not control the midfield as a DM & Captain and after his daft presscon there is no way I’d give him more than 4.5. He always passes back and sideways, worse than Elneny and that’s a damning statistic. I had high hopes on him, so I feel let down.

        1. The ‘pass it back’ cup is firmly held by Kolasinac. Just take a notepad and add a little ‘x’ every time he passes backwards and a tick when he does something useful. Passing sideways is no score. No need to stop watching the game as you do this, just keep your pen and pad handy. At the end of the game, or even at half time if you’re bored, add the scores up… and be prepared to be surprised. The guy is absolutely useless! Hope he proves me wrong in the near future. Miracles have happened.

          1. I’m glad someone has finally noticed this. This guy Kolasinac is big/huge for nothing. He passes back 90% of the time and just waits for occasional through balls to run to. When he eventually goes through his crosses/cutbacks are useless. He can’t take/dribble past weak opposition right backs. I’m waiting for Terney to demote him to the bench.

        2. I saw that too, what a bummer. He is bad at defending, going forward lame as duck, press conference like preschooler (we are scared of WATFORD).

      2. he wasn’t good, he just didn’t make an error. That is how low the standards are for him. Didn’t help us close out the game or try to gain control of the midfield. None of his balls really started counters either.

  6. That Erling Braut Håland kid is something else. 17 goals in 9 matches already, including a hat trick in his very first CL game. Wow.

    How can someone almost as tall as Ibrahimovic, be so quick?

    1. Perhaps because he has been trained by his footballer father since he was young

      His price tag must be very high, but Arsenal should get him before other top EPL clubs snatch him

      We need a great successor for Aubameyang and Lacazette. Nketiah could be a good option next season, but the team require a tall and fast striker that is dominant in the air

  7. As a firm UE supporter til now, I am having great misgivings about how he is aping Wenger in not changing things that are constantly failing to work. Several matters, mostly connected: Playing out from the back is not working and costing goals. That is fact , not opinion and the evidence is there for all to see. But Emery is not seeing it, just as Wenger also failed to see things, so very often. That is deeply worrying. There is no defensive improvement at all since Wenger left. In fact we are even worse now than we were back then. I am firmly of the opinion that dreadful defenders can not be improved and that too is evident. BUT, the lack of teamwork, “hot potato” possession in defence and total of lack of marking throughout the defence is capable of improvement but has not happened. I am now doubtful that it will happen and the evidence is clear that it is not happening. Next point is the starting selections, even given the key injuries. To select XHAKA, despite all the evidence of his regular awfulness is a key fault shared by Wenger and Emery. There is also a general lack of workrate throughout the team that is alarming. We do have talented players who are just not playing to their standard of ability and that MUST be down to the manager. I am deeply disappointed in how Emery is running the team this season and propose to give him until end of October to show great improvement in all these areas or totally change my opinion of him as a suitable man to manage us. The constant picking of Sokratis is stupid, when Chambers is fit but not chosen. Holding is virtually ready to play and must, when properly fit, come in as first CB chioce with Sokratis dropped and the maverick Luiz only being third CB choice and hopefully soon got rid of for good. He is clearly a liability and worse than I (and presumable many other Gooners) even feared. As yet, he has been terrible in every game he has played and that must NOT go on! We are now paying the price for a decade of failing to find even adequate CB’s. When you are no longer even sure that the disastrous joke that was Schillachi is no longer out on his own as the single most appalling CB we ever had, then you know we are in deep and dangerous waters. Right now,I would even prefer the pathetic Mustafi to both Sokratis and to Luiz. It really IS that bad!

    1. Jon, it’s good to see the real JF back and still looking bacwards as well!!!

      You mention the name of Wenger as many times as you cite Emery, whilst referring to a game that took place last sunday, roughly sixty games after one left and the other took over.

      Since then, the kronkies have committed well over £200,000,000 to support UE and we have signed twelve new players, two players on loan deals and have let go many of the “dross” players that you say were not good enough and showed the incompetence of AW….you got your Arsenal back and everthing should be perfect.

      No more favourite players, no more defensive shambles, no more purchasing of “dross” players, no more substitutions that didn’t make sense and, finally, a mature level headed coach, with sound tactics, a plan to combat every other team in the league and the kind of man who would only select players who gave 100% – these were all the traits that made you despise Wenger and that you ensured all that listened to you Emery would put right…anyone who couldn’t see that were morons, idiots, living in the past and imature youngsters.

      What went wrong with UE Jon – as the question is not about AW, I assume you will answer me?

      1. Hi Ken, Now back from ten days hols and just, late last night, seen the Watford game. I won’t fall into your “trap” of discussing Wenger ever again with you directly, so no further Wenger comments from me. But a good try, old chum! I AM forced to have serious reservations now about how Emery is handling things though. The defence is worse now than ever before and UE has brought in two stinkers as CB’s. Worse still is the timidity throughout virtually the whole team and it seems to me the players are not trusting him and it shows. In common with nearly all Gooners who say on here, I loathe the dangerous and foolish playing out from the keeper which is greatly harming us. I also, like so many others , totally fail to see what UE sees in Xhaka. For the life of me I see nothing except long sideways crossfield or forward passing which is generally accurate but telegraphed and he seems to have nothing else but height and power. To keep repeating things that are failing is the mark of a previous nameless manager and not to be recommended. I have resolved to give Emery til end of October to START showing some definite progress, failing which I will be changing my opinion of him as our right manager. This is so, DESPITE Kronkes meanness and lack of funds for proper defenders, which has so hampered us for many years past. Even poor defenders can be taught some modicum of tactical discipline but there seems to be no sign at all of this right now. I retain my opinion that UE has brought a fine pedigree into the job. But we all know how very different and difficult the 100 mph PREM is from all other European leagues and he would not be the first manager to find this out. I am, at present, fence sitting therefore and time will tell. Though I do think one mere season and five games is a very short time to turn the sinking ship he inherited fully around. Klopp did no better in his first season or two either. PERSPECTIVE THEREFORE!

        1. Hope your hols went well…you were missed so much, we even had an imposter using your name to get comments for his/her post!!!

          I did actually clarify that my question was about UE, simply because the topic was Sunday’s debacle and how things have got worse, despite the £200,000,000 plus spent .

          Your example of klopp, however, is a red herring in my views, as I cannot recall his teams ever playing tippy tappy in their six yard box.

          I was also interested if you would use the word “dross” to describe luiz and sokratis, along with the”scared” quote from Xhaka as a indictment of UE himself?

          I’ve just been reading that leno has said there were angry scenes in the dressing room after the game nd AMN coming out to question UE’s tactics directly.

          It feels and looks like a shambles Jon and sitting on the fence is not an option.

          1. Ken, It seems to me that it is my plain speaking words that so upsets you esp about a former and nameless manager. Why do you feel my Klopp example is not a good one? It seems to me to be very apt, as Klopp finished 8th in his first season and not top four next year either. He also had real proper funds to spend and now, in his fifth season, he looks the greatest current manager around, together with Guardiola. With great respect, whether or not I choose to sit on the fence for a further short period, is my call entirely and NOT yours! Unless you do not believe in all of us having the right to our own opinions that is! I DO believe we all have the right to challenge the opinions of others but NOT to state that they may NOT have them. I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT YOU OF ALL PEOPLE, GIVEN YOUR WELL KNOWN FAIRNESS IN LIFE MATTERS, WOULD AGREE WITH THAT COMMENT. Would you care to rephrase that comment then, Ken?

            As far as dressing room problems go, I would be surprised and even disappointed were that not the case and it at least shows that some, hopefully most, players care. I remember the 1997-98 season when we lost to Blackburn before Christmas and fell to 7th, I believe it was and plain speaking took place in the dressing room, which aired and cleared up all our problems and we won the title. Winning the title is not a possibility now but dressing room plain speaking would be a start at least. Something needs to change right now and a change of team attitude is vital. Timidity is hopeless. That is mostly why I want the likes of Ozil and Mkhi gone ASAP, and why I was Walcotts implacable foe all those lazy years. IF UE has indeed lost the D/R he has zero chance of success. Time will tell! But not too much of it!

          2. Jon, our former manager concerns me not one iota – his legacy is there for all to see.

            As for my comment about sitting on the fence…re-phrased to read:
            Sitting on the fence is not an option in my opinion.

            Can I ask you again, however, if you believe that luiz and soks are “dross” signings ?…along with the “scared” quote being an indictment of UE?

            As for klopp, I was making the point that he never tried to play ping pong in his owsix yard box and would definitely have given up on it, after the previous seasons disaster…what do you think?

          3. This is in answer to your post below, which has no answer option. I made my opinions on Luiz and Sokratis plain in my post above, if you noticed Ken. Dross is too good a word for Sokratis and about right for Luiz. I have not yet read the “scared” quote , though have seen it referred to. But it is clear Arsenal are a timid team(as I wrote) and scared is just another word for timid, so I agree, if what Xhaka said was that we are scared. BUT XHAKA IS A FINE ONE TO TALK ABOUT OTHERS BEING NOT UP TO IT, AS HE IS APPALLING AND MUST BE SOLD ASAP. Klopp is a truly great manager and has moulded a team who individually are, IMO, inferior to City but collectively at least their match, into what I see as this seasons Prem champions. Despite the funds he has had, City has spent far more and Klopp is disadvantaged in comparison to Guardiola. No sensible Gooner should be anything but furious that we could and should have appointed Klopp years ago but stuck, stupidly, with the nameless one and thus Liverpool got him instead. It shows how incompetent our board and decision makers were at that time. Of course the great Klopp would never keep repeating constant things that were not working, like unsuccessful back passing with inferior players, as both Emery and his predecessor have done, though in diverse ways. That is, in part, why he is, IMO, the worlds best manager today, pound for pound as it were. Thanks for the rephrase too.

  8. No scores for me but just my thoughts..

    Leno : Has improved and must improve more

    Maitland-Niles : Not ready

    Sokratis : Not good enough for most teams in the EPL

    Luiz : Has proven quickly why he should not have been signed

    Kolasinac : Worthy to wear the shirt and always tries

    Xhaka 6 : A walking catastrophe about to happen. Never improves

    Guendouzi : Tries hard and would improve with a better partner in midfield

    Ceballos : Needs time to adapt to EPL

    Ozil : Who?

    Pepe : Needs time to adapt to EPL

    Aubameyang : A world class striker out on his own. Should be captain!


    Nelson : Not ready to start a game

    Willock: Not ready to start a game

    Unai Emery : One dimensional and pretty clueless. Not sure what he expected in the EPL but he is being delivered a huge slice of self harming abuse due to his inability to actually manage a team in the right formation!

    Well, around half the team are just not good enough or ready. The manager needs to change his ways and quick!

  9. After 16 months I don’t see any team improvement and very little if any individual player improvement. He said he would improve the defending, but somehow it has gotten worse under Emery’s charge.

    Club has spent around 200 million for a “coach” who has no style or philosophy, poor tactics, and sets up team not to our strengths, oh no, but rather in a subjective attempt to disrupt the opponents attack.

    If he hasn’t gotten things sorted with the return of Holding, Bellerin, and Tierney, (Entire new back 4 hopefully), then he should be sacked in early November.

    Letting Emery continue to flounder and flail while he is drowning at yet another big club in not doing Arsenal nor him any favors. Time to change now before the season is too far gone, and we have lost out on too many points.

    Letter to Josh please, regarding Emery and his failings, and perhaps Freddie as a caretaker until the end of the season.

    1. Know how you feel Durand but there could be a problem with Freddie – he could (rightly) feel that such as Xhaka etc are useless and should be dropped in favour of one of the youngsters but unfortunately they haven’t really performed as well as we’d hoped either. Both Nelson and Willock look very flimsy when up against hardened professional midfielders and the imported youngster Guendouzi hasn’t learned from his first season, holding on to the ball far too long too often. Saka so far not had a fair chance so no idea if he’ll make the grade. Hope so as he’s looked very promising so far. Anyway, to sum up, a brand new manager appears to be the only solution at the moment unless Emery has a massive rethink.

      1. Get your point gunnerjack that is a possibility. But the way he was setting the u23’s up to play and coaching them was very positive and they played some nice attacking football. Maybe he could do the same for the first team you never know, but emery just isn’t working out unfortunately. I feel keeping him on too long could do more damage, you can already see the rifts forming within the squad, he’s not just losing the dressing room but turning the players against each other. He’s also fast losing the minority of support he still has left from the fans

      2. Fair points GunnerJack, but Freddie has shown ability to coach and improve youth, hopefully it translates to improving veteran players as well. Something Emery has clearly failed to do.

        Not sure about Freddie’s tactics, but they can’t be worse than Emery.

        Plus Freddie has Arsenal DNA and a style of play as opposed to Emery with no discernible style he plays.

        1. AlexLaca9 and Durand. Hope you don’t mind me replying to you both with just the one comment. You both make the same point really, and it’s a good one, and I too hope he can coach both the young and older players should he get the chance. I would certainly give him the chance myself and it would be good to see it happen soon, to give him more or less a full season to see what he can do. However it might never happen so we’ll just have to wait and see.

          Anyway, Emery is still in charge and it’s Eintracht shortly so let’s hope for the best. They were only beaten by Chelsea in the semis on penalties last year and even though they have lost players I don’t see an easy match. Be interesting to see our lineup.

  10. Talking specifically about David Luiz: here’s a man who played 160 games for Chelsea and gave away 3 penalties. He plays 4 games and gave away 2 penalties, please a factor in a couple of other goals.
    So what gives? He can’t be so bad as we have seen in the 4 games, so I’m perplexed.

    1. It’s Emery playing out from goal kicks even when pressed close up. It’s an oxymoron. Even Barca know when to play out and when not to. Emery is lost in space. In my honest view it’s Emery taking the players backwards with his crazy ideas. Luiz is innocent.

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