For Champions League Qualification Emery must be fired and the time is now. by Kenyanfan
Going by the previous performance evidenced by results, it’s accurate to predict that indeed Arsenal will not qualify for the Champions League if Unai Emery is the manager for the entire season.
Going back to the international break, after two weeks to ruminate over Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Bournemouth, Unai Emery came up with the same plan against Sheffield United. It was an away game thus Emery picked Joe Willock to play as the most advanced midfielder, asking him to make off the ball runs.
In truth, our performances have not been good this season; nor can we claim to be unlucky. Through nine games this season, we have a goal difference of one. Only one game, 3-1 loss to Liverpool, has been decided by more than one goal. Arsenal have been playing on the margins of -1,0 and +1 the whole season, so games such as Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Bournemouth could easily have been 1-1 draw or a 1-0 loss.
Such came to pass against Sheffield United. Ultimately, we were matched by Sheffield United, newly promoted from the Championship. Rather than imposing ourselves and asserting our principles, Unai Emery had Arsenal playing reactively against a team newly promoted from the Championship, because he lacks any strong principles. He has been unable to settle on a system or ideas: Arsenal do not press; Arsenal do not possess the ball in the final third looking to dominate teams. In essence, we lack a clear structure of how to play. The one constant is that fullbacks get forward, but that does not help our structure, and nor will the insertion of Kieran Tierney or Héctor Bellerin into the team give us a clear identity.
Emery has imported the idea but has failed to place the team in a structure that allows them to play the ball out well from the back. The back four sit deep, joined by the two central midfielders (making it a backline of 6) The goal of playing out from the back is to invite pressure to then play through the lines. But while We invite pressure, there is no structural set-up to allow the players to rotate possession. Rather, they either have to play backwards, sideways or square. The fullbacks get put into positions where they can either go back to a centre back, play a dangerous ball inside to a midfielder or play a hopeful ball down the touchline for a winger.
These are not new issues. They were present last season. Luckily, Emery stumbled upon a system that worked, largely by bringing back the players he had side-lined in Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil, who gave Arsenal an understanding of an identity. That fell apart when Ramsey got injured. Before getting injured and eventually joining Juventus, Ramsey last played in the Premier League on 15 April. Since then, Emery’s side has played 14 league games, taking 19 points out of the possible 42: winning five, drawing four, and losing five, scoring 20 goals and conceding 23. That is, at best, midtable form.
Even extending the run to nineteen games, Arsenal have 29 points, a ratio which, over a full season, would put us at 58 points, which would be the lowest total since 1995, where Arsenal finished 12th with 51 points.
Over the last 19 games, we have scored 26 goals while conceding 25. The goal difference of one is indicative of Arsenal’s performances under Emery. Only three times have Emery’s Arsenal won by more than two goals in the Premier League, twice against Fulham and at home against Bournemouth last season.
Too often Emery brings Arsenal into games where the level is the same despite Arsenal’s tremendous attacking firepower and quality. This means that too much is left to luck; to things that can go our way, or can go against us, where we can pull back from a 2-goal deficit, as Arsenal did against Tottenham, or fall short, as Arsenal did against Crystal Palace last season, or we can protect a one-goal lead, as we did against Bournemouth, or lose it, as we did against Brighton.
Almost a quarter of the season has passed by, After an exciting summer. The reality of Emery’s football has brought the atmosphere surrounding Arsenal back down. Every week comes and goes, with hope that Arsenal will switch into gear, that the return of the full backs from injury, or Lacazette returning, or Emery bringing Mesut Özil back into the fold will see something change. But, ultimately, it will not. There is half a season of middling form, backed not only by what we’re seeing on the pitch, but by underlying statistics and analytics.
Arsenal will not get better under Unai Emery. With Champions League qualification crucial, and Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Chelsea leaving an open goal, it is time for Arsenal to move on from Emery, and find a coach who can get more from the sum of Arsenal’s parts rather than put the parts in positions where they cannot succeed.
Much love from Kenyanfan.