Are these the 10 biggest mistakes Emery has made at Arsenal?

Emery’s 10 Biggest Mistakes by Dan Smith

It’s fair to say this is the most Unai Emery has been under pressure since he joined Arsenal, with it looking like we are heading to be 9 points behind Leicester if we lose to them on Saturday. The Kroenke’s are hard to gauge in terms of; are they owners who are open to giving manager’s the sack; or do they show patience? Some might feel they gave Mr Wenger a couple more years than they should have, but that would have been out of loyalty and because of his influence in the club.

My inclination is the American’s will put saving money over what’s best for the club and think there’s no point in paying any compensation when they can lose him for nothing in the summer. At this point even if the Spaniard could get us back into the Champion’s League, and winning the Europa seems more realistic then finishing top 4, questions still need to be asked if this the man to take us long term to the levels we want to get back to?

So, after only 15 months, how has the coach got himself in a position where the Emirates is toxic again and it seems the majority of gooners want change.

10- Building From The Back
This is the new fashion simply because Manchester City started to do it. The difference is Guardiola signed Ederson on the basis that he was naturally good with the ball at his feet. That’s not the same as trying to teach Peter Cech a whole new way to play in the last year of his career. The juice doesn’t seem worth the squeeze, I can’t think of too many goals which have happened because our keeper has passed out to his defender. In fact, we have conceded goals because of it.

9 What Happened To Torreira?
Some got a bit carried away calling him the next Vieira after only a few games, but he played in what has been a problem position for us. Yet he seemed to struggle in the winter months and never was his old self after that. When his agent spoke of home sickness and wanting to go back to Italy, I wrote I’d take 50 million for him now. I’m not sure if it’s because of that or the form of Guendouzi, but there has been no rush to rush the Uruguayan back into the DM role. This is a pretty big mistake. In fact, by playing 2 or even 3 defensive midfielders at one time it forces Torreira to take it upon himself to run around like a headless chicken, with zero discipline regarding where he should be.

8- Ramsey’s Contract
Out of respect for the club Ramsey is yet to come out publicly and really detail why contract negotiations were ended last year, to this day saying it was never explained to him. What we do know is the deal had been agreed and while some can accuse the player of holding the club hostage to get a big pay rise, it was a case of dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s. It’s believed though when Emery learnt how much he was being offered he told his board that was a lot to be offering someone he could not guarantee a place to in the starting 11.

Some readers will deny this, but at the time they saw this as the strength the old regime didn’t have. In reality the Welshman was replaced by an additional DM until we went crawling back to him at which point, he had agreed to go to Italy. To balance the books, we have replaced his goals with a loan signing so at least the wage bill got smaller.

7- Getting Best Out Of Our Attack
It says a lot about the talent of Auba and Lacca that they have scored as many goals as they have, when you consider the lack of service. It means we have yet to play to Pepe’s strengths while it took Emery too long last season to realise Auba and Lacca need to be a partnership not one on the left. You sense a different manager would use his tools differently. No one thought in the summer that we would get to November with Ozil and our front three yet to have started together.

6- 5 At The Back
In his last couple of years Arsene Wenger started to introduce a back 5, something he hadn’t done for the first decades of his reign. With confidence at an all-time low in 2017 the defence was given an extra centre back as protection, a decision which was huge in helping us lift the FA Cup. Emery on the other hand would use the system because he didn’t trust his left or right back to umm …. defend! If a fit Monreal and Bellerin would play in a 4 but it was felt Kolasinac and Miles were more assets going forward. It of course the begs the question, if you can’t trust a left back to defend should he be a left back? And the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. It’s not like changing our formation to hide their weaknesses was the price for lots of assists and goals from out wide. In the Europa League Final, our final ball from our wing backs were awful.

5-3 DM’S
It’s like two steps forward, one back, as the times Emery plays a back 4, he undermines that by playing 2, sometimes even three DM’s. This goes against our ethos, sacrificing an offensive player, relying on the wing backs to be our outlet. To put that into perspective, Arsene Wenger would partner a DM with a box to box midfielder like a Ramsey, Wilshire or Cazorla. The 4 players ahead would all be offensive options. In other words, Emery will sometimes start 7 defensive players ahead of Wenger’s 5. Even worse, Emery has started to play this negative system even at the Emirates.

4- Mentality
Something that has been rightfully labelled at our club for years is our lack of leaders and personalities. This used to be attributed to Arsene Wenger staying too long. Did he give players too much of a chance? Did they in turn get too comfortable? By now Emery has made enough changes to the dressing room. enough time to implement new ideas, that we should be seeing some sort of improvement. Instead there are still too many away games where we show up with the wrong attitude, sometimes not willing to battle and it too easy for us to fall apart the moment things go wrong.

3 – Ozil
Written about many times over the last month but the issue isn’t your opinion of the player. It’s not that Emery doesn’t rate the midfielder, which he clearly doesn’t, it’s he’s replaced him with no other creativity. While he seems to focus a lot on what the World Cup Winner can’t do, he ignores he’s the best we have at making chances turning into goals.

There’s only so many games the Spaniard, with a straight face, could say this man wasn’t good enough to be in our squad, then walks away from a game bemoaning our lack of creativity. He’s been playing a DM at number 10, while Ozil has been left at home playing on his PlayStation. That’s a sackable offence.

2- Defence
I suggested in the summer we were getting a bit carried away with our transfer window. The world could see we needed to improve our centre-backs, magnified by our loss in the Europa League Fina. The answer was to swap Koscielny with David Luiz? Maybe it was the anger towards our ex captain for the manner he left but few seemed to comment that we had lost our best defender for someone Lampard was letting leave, even though he couldn’t buy a replacement. The Brazilian says the right things and I can imagine him being a leader, but he can’t play with Sokratis. The Greek is another who escaped under the radar while the likes of Mustafi are made scapegoats. He maintains with that partnership every week.

1- The Arsenal DNA
The most serious and Emery’s biggest mistake. Some look at football as black and white, as long as you win, it doesn’t matter how you get there. Yet there are a few football clubs in the world who have such a reputation where it matters the style of football you play. We are one of those.

Under Arsene Wenger we played a product which made us famous worldwide. In our toughest years that’s all we had, if nothing else, you knew you show up at the Emirates and see us try to play the right way. We are not even close to be the most entertaining side to watch in the country anymore. This I’m sure was checked during the recruitment process with Emery himself saying he rather win 5-4 then 1-0. Yet it’s in your personality, your either conservative or you’re not. It’s not even a criticism of Emery, he’s just too negative for us. Look at the players he’s sold/loaned or frozen out, they are mostly flair players. Remember at PSG he fell out with the likes of Neymar and Ben Arfa. He’s a nice man and I certainly wouldn’t disrespect him.

He’s not a bad manager, he just doesn’t suit us…

Anything Else You Think Emery’s Doing Wrong? Or Well?

Be Kind In The Comments Please

Dan Smith


  1. Oh well lemme see,
    1 “Good Ebening” 🙄🙄

    2 Failure to stand on a decision

    3 Obsession with Europa league, thereby treating and handling Arsenal as though we’re a mid table club when we are working to getting back to the top

    4 Good Ebening🙄🙄

    1. The “GOOD EVENING” MAKES HIM SOUND LIKE A WALLY. Someone above him should remind him that managers do not start incomprehensible press conferences and interviews with false politeness that marks their lack of real English out as being obvious. Though I can at least understand “good evening”. It is what follows straight after that I haven’t a clue what he is on about. And I am British, so how about those players whose first language it is not! He will be gone this month I believe and I CAN’T WAIT.

  2. Number 1 3 defensive midfielders. How many games has he actually played 3 defensive midfielders? Not more than 3

    Number 2 Torreira’s position has never changed. If torreira played in the “Vieira” position /he was always a central midfielder. Let’s just say he’s not designed as a box to box model, which is probably why he isn’t playing since Guendouzi does the box to box role properly.

    Number 3 You can’t blame Unai for loosing Ramsey. Wenger had 2 years to get Ramsey to sign the contract. The board pulled the offer 4 months into Unai’s tenure. Adding to the fact that the board got duped twice with Theo Walcott and the size of Ozil’s contract, it’s understandable why they pulled it.

    1. Fair enough, our midfield trio usually consist of Ceballos-Xhaka-Guenduozi, Torreira only features when we face top 6 oppositions. The regulars are not defensive midfielder per se, but I think most fans have qualms about their positional placement. Emery positioned them deep and even demanded both CM to cover their respective flanks. You must have seen Ceballos and Kolasinac double teamed a player down there. That makes us very slow in transition. He could play a 4-2-3-1 formation but then can Auba and Pepe defend? I think that’s the dillema. He can only play a 4-3-3 but he doesn’t have the right personnel.

    2. Vieira was a box2box midfielder, but Torreira when he came to us or when playing for Uruguay is a DM, even if he can play as a CM or an AM.

      He’s the only of the 3 (Xhaka, Guen) who can tackle properly and who can focus on marking players for more than 30 seconds.

      We need 1 DM – Torreira, 1 B2B – Guen or Willock, and 1 AM (Ozil or Ceballos). This way our defence is at least as good as now, but our attack is better.

      Emery is however dedicated to playing without a proper DM, using instead a deep-lying playmaker (Xhaka) + a b2b (Guen). The result is defensive weakness and slow attacks due to Xhaka’s inability to turn fast or pass with his right.

  3. Emery is his own worst enemy and if I were to bullet point his weaknesses other than what Dan has mentioned, here they are:
    Constant tinkering
    Stubbornness beyond reason
    Friction with players
    Playing favourites
    Defensive mindset

  4. No idea how to play the team. Should never have let Arsene Wenger go. Expected it.

    Give Freddy Lunberg a chance or better still ger Patrick Viera.

  5. Emery has his faults, but I must respond to some of the accusations here:

    10. Building From The Back: All top teams do this, because they have to control the game. Unfortunately Arsenal don’t have any technically gifted playmaker to hold the ball since Cazorla left

    9. What Happened To Torreira? He obviously couldn’t handle the physical aspects of EPL in the second part of last season. Luckily Xhaka is frozen, so he would get another chance to show his work rate and skills as a mobile DM

    8. Ramsey’s Contract: Arsenal wanted to use cheaper and younger players, rather than paying Ramsey more than 250,000 per week. Hence the contract withdrawal and our young midfielders’ promotions

    7. Getting Best Out Of Our Attack: Emery obviously can’t utilize our attackers’ prowess. But not Ozil’s, because he is finished

    6. Five At The Back: The three-CB formations are not as effective as before in EPL

    5. Three DMs: Klopp also plays with three DMs and he is very successful with that. Many big teams have ditched their no 10s and Arsenal should have followed them

    4. Mentality: Leniency towards the players has been plaguing Arsenal since Wenger’s era. I think the discipline at other top clubs is different

    3. Ozil: When did the last time Ozil do his best at making assists in EPL? His performance in the last EPL game was also uninspiring

    2. Defence: A CB should play until his forms drop, which is happening to Sokratis now

    1. The Arsenal DNA: The merry-go-round passing style in Wenger’s final seasons is very boring. I miss the quick and physicality of the Invincibles

    1. “Building From The Back: All top teams do this”
      Why should we follow the trend blindly? Man City lure opponents into their half, play out from the back with speed and precision in order to catch the opponents off guard, exploiting the expanded space between the lines. What about us? I can’t think of any reason, they are so slow and by the time they successfully bring the ball to the opposition’s half, they’ve already regrouped.

      “Getting Best Out Of Our Attack”
      The front three is often isolated, too much space between them and the midfielders. In a midfield triangle, the anchor play a pivotal role. They set the tempo, directing the line, collecting loose balls, breaking plays, covering positions, and so on. That’s why Pep and his players often said Fernandinho is underrated. And that’s why Xhaka is not good enough, he can deliver long passes here and there, but what about the rest?

      Despite the lack of assists, we missed his passes in opposition’s third. No build up play, no drive, no movement around the penalty box, we are so predictable. Last season our fullbacks registered the number of assists only topped by Liverpool’s fullbacks. Did they carry the ball by themselves? Someone must have supplied them right?

      Replace Sokratis and Luiz with Holding and Chambers, whoever really, and our defensive situation will remain the same. It’s the structure, system, and tactics that are absent here.

  6. The only mistake here is a wrong casting Kroenke brought. Wrong coach with opposite football philosophy to Arsenal, incapable himself of casting players to start in all EPL games this season.

    Kroenke does all this, giving another month to kill us more, we will lose against Leicester and of course Chelsea does the job, at home too, both will be 9points above us while Man U & Spurs win will see them one point behind us but could have been above us as they were close to win this week end when we got lucky to not lose.

    In other words, we are supposed to be way behind without luck and barely fight for Europa.

    To be out of title race after 5 games and out of 4th place after 10 games has never happened in Arsenal. We finished 5th because everyone did bad, but it was already a huge blow.

    Think Emery will not be sacked, it would cost money to Kroenke and Emery his Eurpa league great hope! A second door to CL hope! This is where we stand! Fighting for Europa is our Target under Emery! That is all Kroenke!

    1. What rubbish. When does Kroenke pick the team, decide the strategy or decide the substitutions. Every match day I assume. I am reasonably sure that Kroenke alone did not make the decision to employ Emery, this was done by the board as a whole. You may be right that Emery will not be sacked but if he is it will be a board decision based on his ability to perform the job he was hired to do.
      In my opinion it’s not quite reached the point of no return and as long as we remain in the Euro league he will survive. It should be remembered that Emery won 3 Euro league cups with Sevilla, but Sevilla never finished in the top four in that period. He will never get Arsenal into the top four, he has not got the the right mentality for the ELP

  7. 10 – This is just the way the game has gone. I for one do not miss the days of the ball being punted/headed from end to end for a few mins after every goal kick. Nor do we have the strong aerial presence in our current strikers to make it work.

    9 – Torreira faded end of last season because it was about twice the length of any he has played before, same with Guendouzi – both had only played about 25 games per season previously. Torreira may be perfectly fine at tackling players and making intelligent interceptions but unfortunately he lacks the height and physicality that Emery is looking for in his DM (he wanted Nzonzi and got given Torreira) which is part of the reason Xhaka has been played there instead and Torreira further forward.

    8 – This probably has little to do with Emery other than probably being asked if Ramsey was an essential part of his plans – he is a coach not a manager so the decision was probably made by the board 🤷‍♂️

    7 – I personally don’t think we do work with those as a front 3 – Auba is wasted out wide. Either way how could he have maximised them so far this season? Laca was injured, Pepe was adjusting and Ozil (allegedly) wasn’t giving enough effort – now is the time for him to show he can get us attacking properly again.

    6 – We are really using him trying out diff ways to combat our shoddy defence as a negative? Two CBs were being left too exposed, going to three made it slightly better but then the FBs were giving enough going forward – potentially much better to come with KT and Bellerin now both back fit and in form, Holding should join them if/when he blows the cobwebs away and refinds his form.

    5 – He very rarely played 3 DMs – he played 3 midfielders defensively, there is a difference and it only came about because no matter what he tried with the back line we were still too open 🤷‍♂️

    4 – The weak mentality was already here before he was – hours many times did the team capitulate under Wenger? In fact I’d say that is one thing he has most definitely got right, there is more fight to the team now and players give more effort (even Ozil who I have always thought as lazy in defense is doing much more now)

    3 – Ozil – this very much depends on how you view Ozil personally. I am not a fan but I have seen him slowly but surely improve his work rate and effort over last season and again this season. You may not agree with Emery benching him but it got the end result he wanted from Ozil 🤷‍♂️

    2 – I think that Kos and Monreal leaving screwed the plans for the defense. All our CBs were calmer with Kos alongside, Holding was looking good before his injury and the club no doubt wanted to see how he bounced back, Saliba will be here next season so Kos would have given us a bit of balance at the back until the summer when it could have been looked at again. However he left, we tried to get Upamecano but not enough time left to get a deal done so we grabbed Luiz instead 🤷‍♂️ Monreal would have kept his starting spot until KT was fit but he left leaving us at mercy of Kola’s performances.

    1 – I honestly don’t think he has eroded our DNA or that he even wants to. He did try and stay attacking (despite being unbalanced upfront with no natural width) until injuries to the defence made it all but impossible to go forward without conceding. Unless you enjoyed that bit of our DNA where when it wasn’t working we carried on regardless and got smashed for it 🤷‍♂️
    Matters were made even worse this season when Laca got injured. However all is not lost as we are actually better balanced upfront this season (if people stop trying to push Auba out of position), Pepe is finding his feet, Laca is back from injury and refining his mojo and we have a lot of promising young talent that is settling in to things and growing game by game.

    1. I agree with most of your points. However I’m not sure about Holding. Last EL match, Kolasinac was struggling to get back into his post, clearly signalling to Holding to cover him while he was about to make a run to the center. In the end he couldn’t make up his mind and stopped halfway. I’ve seen that happened before, actually it was mentioned by the commentator that Holding should have covered the flank as a precaution (it was a fast break and he stayed in the center). Also last game Origi outplayed him.

      Don’t get me wrong, he is talented but he should be given enough time to develop. I recall Wenger were to hasty back then, fielded Holding and Chambers in the first game of the season against Liverpool (can’t blame him because of the situation). As of Chambers, his confidence took a hit and the following games he played badly. Thankfully he could restore his confidence after succesfull loan spells but we should not repeat the mistake. Saliba too, he should be eased into the first team by playing second fiddle first.

      1. I completely agree 350oz.

        I don’t think Holding is the finished article yet either, I only mention him as he would have been a factor in the boards plans. He was showing great promise last season before his injury, and whilst he is yet to find that form again this season it’s still early days for him, and Emery, for all his faults, seemingly won’t rush players back to fitness.
        This is the main reason for Sokratis and Luiz still being the main CB pairing imo – there just hasn’t been anyone to replace them – Holding isn’t 100% going on recent matches, Mustafi is still rebuilding his confidence, Chambers has been filling in for Bellerin and who knows what’s going on with Mavro (still waiting to see more of that lad) 🤷‍♂️
        The board were counting on Kos and Monreal to offer some stability to the back line and couldn’t sort a quality replacement in time when they left – hopefully the rumours about going back in for Upamecano in January turn out to be true 🤞


    Emery’s greatest mistake was to buy unskilled midfielders (Guendouzi, Torreira) in addition to selling our more technical MIDFIELDERS (Carzola, Iwobi, Mkitaryan etc)….

    It’s what’s haunting him. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.!!!

    People keep talking trash about how Lampard has transformed Chelsea…. blah..blah… It was Sarri that set for him the foundation by buying the most skilled midfielders in the league (Kovacic & Joginho) to enable them dominate the midfield.

    2. The second mistake is not playing a TALL DEFENDER (i.e. one over 1.90m)
    All the great defences (Liverpool, Man Utd) use extremely tall defenders. It’s the sole reason why they concede very few headed goals. That’s where MAVROPANOS comes in.

    Aubameyang on the left with Lacazette and Pepe WILL NEVER WORK no matter how much that front-three is loved by fans.

      1. Martinez
        Mustafi… Mavropanos… Luiz
        Pepe… Aubameyang…Ozil

        We have to play an extra defender b’se the other midfielders not listed are simply not good enough for Arsenal.

  9. I for one did not see the transfer window as a massive success. I know it appeased a lot of fans because of the Pepe and Salliba signings. They were great although Salliba is yet to play a game for us and Pepe for some reason sees more of the bench than the pitch?. WTF?

    Then, we did NOT properly address the defensive issues. We brought in Luiz to shore up the Centre back position. Not going to take us far into the future and nothing more to say about that. We brought in Tierney who again, seems to be out of favour. He is also young and not adapted to the EPL. With the players that were realease and sold (Ramsey, Walcott, Mertesacker, Cazorla, Čech, Elneny, Koscielny, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lichtsteiner and Wilshere), we had a massive amount of cash released. Then take into account that Pepe will be paid over 5 years and you suddenly realise that, A: Kronke did well out of it financially, B: The squad is smaller and (in theory) easier to manage and finally, C: Emery can still not manage a squad that has been streamlined by himself and the club.

    Overall, when you consider who left and who came in (plays regularly), is it really any surprise we are heading south under a manager who seems to confuse us all with his odd-ball decisions!?

  10. Whatever Emery has done wrong he has done one amazing thing. We are so boring we will be put up as a cure for insomnia by the NHS. Plus we are totally non-addictive. Never did I think we would be the most boring team in the EPL, but sadly and concurring with your last point……we are.

  11. So the best way to get Ozil to shine is to have true DM with a box to box and Ozil in a free role…if he has very little defensive duties and is left to set up play on the counter its his most effective role. When you say DM its a player who is excellent protecting CBs and the positive effect is the opposition is then concerned with the Ozil space and time. In this shape Ozil with a front 3 like PAL would be very dangerous. Add Martinelli in for variety and opponents would be stretched

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