Arsenal have to be proactive and act with ambition by Willem van der Vorm
When Emery was appointed I (and many with me) was of the opinion that we should give this manager some time to adjust to his new squad and the Premier League. To judge his first season was more a matter of watching for evidence of improvement than expecting results.
The manager started off with an unbeaten run that, even if it was fragile, was creating a positive feeling around the club. He was also credited for doing away with some of Wenger’s favorites by not giving automatic starting places to the likes of Ozil or Ramsey. It seemed he was running a meritocracy.
However, since the second half of last season the team has gone backwards in results, and progress on the pitch was undetectable. A near certain 4th place finish was squandered and not in the least because of his dodgy team selection and negative tactics. Add to that a complete capitulation in the EL final against a struggling Chelsea team which knew it wasn’t playing for next year’s manager anymore and it was clear the writing was on the wall about the decay that had set in.
Admirably, the owner supported the club with respectable investment in the squad over the summer transfer window and the likes of Pepe, Ceballos, Luiz and Tierney were brought in. It was hard to argue that the squad had not been improved.
Both Pepe and Ceballos in particular hit the ground running in their opening games. However, this could not stop the rot and our decay from last season is continuing at an alarming rate. Again the manager seems at the heart of the problem. He doesn’t seem to know his best team, he blindly picks non performing players (Xhaka, Sokratis, Kolasinac) and omits to play fit and better players (Holding, Tierney, Torreira) when available. His team selection and tactics also means we have little chance to win and our squad plays fearful and without clear direction. And given the lack of chances we create, the omission of Ozil seems now more like a personal vendetta than based on rational thinking. Perhaps Emery was so frustrated by his inability to manage Neymar that he decided to get rid of Ozil (our biggest name in the squad) just to avoid a similar situation. One thing is for sure, this team lacks creativity, and other than Ceballos, who should start every game IMO, Ozil is our most creative player. Spending a fortune on Pepe to start no creative players behind him seems like a waste of money.
The manager should not get the sack based on one game but based on the body of his work and the complete lack of progress in key areas such as defending, and our away record as well as a lack of chances created in away games despite having a talented forward line. We now have less points than we did last season at this time.
There is still a good chunk of the season left. Some of our competitors are struggling at the moment. Bring in a new manager (not a caretaker) now and we have the benefit of time on our hands, and we have the benefit of picking the best manager available before possibly Man Utd and Spurs pick ahead of us.
We are in 2019, almost 2020, gone are the days that you look for a manager to be in charge ad infinitum. We can not afford to give Emery till the end of the season based on the lack of any form of progress. To fail to qualify for the CL again would be a disaster and likely drive our best players away, as well as making recruitment of good players more difficult.
It’s time to be ruthless and act. We have been in decline since January of this year and that is not going to change with this manager in charge. He has been given time and money but he has not delivered meaningful progress. We are going backwards.