Arsenal Tactics – Has Emery finally got the right balance?


Arsenal are on a 19 game unbeaten run. They have actually won 15 of these games and drawn four others. It must have been the draws in the against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Wolves in rapid succession that must have forced Emery to rethink rebalancing defence and attack. Clearly, Arsenal needed to score more but not concede in defence. For instance, in these three matches Arsenal were dominant and could have got away with wins if we had more balance.

After Liverpool and another tough game on the horizon in terms of an away match to Bournemouth, Emery tweaked the system to bring through a three at the back formation. It was a tactical reaction to try and ensure that the mistakes that may bring bad results like happened at the beginning of the season when Arsenal lost two matches on a trot, did not happen.
Arsenal came out with a win in the match. Something happened, Arsenal scored through an own goal and was about to rewrite this season’s script to go into the break with a lead, but Arsenal conceded, yet again. We needed a strong second half to win the match – but it was a return to winning ways.

The three at the back pattern was continued against a fancied opposition, Tottenham Hotspurs. Tottenham had beaten Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan and coming into the North London Derby, they were quietly fancied to stop the Arsenal unbeaten run. But as the game went on, Arsenal quickly did something they have not been doing – a quick goal in 10 minutes, courtesy of a penalty. However, again Arsenal conceded, not once but twice! It was 1-2 for the visitors at the Emirates. Then again for the umpteenth time this season, a scintillating second half saw Arsenal score three remarkable goals to take the derby win.

Emery had to make the substitutions that brought the performance and switched to Arsenals two fancied strikers on the pitch for this performance to come through, in a big way. If Arsenal can play like that always we cannot be beaten.
3.4.3 is a pattern that can finally bring out the best of Arsenal. It will have the two strikers finally playing together upfront, either Ramsey of Ozil playing slightly behind the two strikers in the false number 9 role, Torreira and Xhaka partnership in the anchor role is looking like the real deal and now there is Kolasinac and Bellerin playing wingbacks. Against Manchester United, this is the team that should play in my view.


With Xhaka out suspended, and Mustafi mysteriously substituted and possibly injured, then Guendouzi and Lichtsteiner, if Mavropanos is not back, can cover. Emery has been concerned about keeping the attacking flair working and ensuring the defense was sound. He must have nailed it… finally.

Nicholas Oyoo


  1. Declan says:

    I’m superstitious and I think it was Man U who stopped us getting 50 unbeaten having been unbeaten for 49 and now we are on 19 unbeaten and trying for 20 and it’s Man U again.

    1. Th14 says:

      No Iwobi in your line up?

      1. Sue says:

        No because everything changed when he was subbed

        1. ozziegunner says:

          Declan and Sue, if I recall correctly they ended the 49 game winning run, winning that game in October 2004, 2-1 including a dodgy penalty decision.

    2. Sue says:

      Oh no Declan ? you are right & have made me a little worried now ☹

  2. jon fox says:

    Interesting and misleading headline I ‘d say. “has Emery nailed it, FINALLY”! “Finally”, after all those long years and decades since this May, presumably. Well, if just 6 short months in the job is considered FINALLY getting it right, it is just as well he did not get the sack after all those draws and the club “stuck with him” under all that “fan pressure to sack him”. Eh Nicholas? If you want to know what FINALLY really means try this for size: Arsenal “FINALLY” sacked Wenger after 22 long years when the club was continuing to regress. Now THAT is using FINALLY correctly Nicholas, unlike YOUR ludicrous headline.How about you re-writing your headline in this ACCURATE way: “Has Emery got it nailed after just 6 short months?”

    1. snowden says:

      Our dear Old Jon Fox
      He can’t get of his box.
      He knocks, knocks, knocks
      He’s lost the keys to the locks.

      He can’t see the time on the outside clock.
      And he is stuck reading a Wenger old Clock.
      Wake up Jon, wake up Jon.
      Our much loved Arsene has gone!
      It is Unai Emrey we now rely on.
      Please dear Jon in future only Unai speak on.

      1. Lugdush says:

        ??? nice one

      2. jon fox says:

        You appear to be under the bizarre and COMPLETELY WRONG, oh so terribly wrong impression, that I, who spent so many years slaughtering the last years under WENGER AND WHO WAS THRILLED WHEN HE WAS SACKED, am a WENGER FAN. YOU HAVE COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD THE POINT I MAKE IN MY POST ABOVE. Where have you been hiding your eyes. Have you not read ANY of my regular anti -Wenger posts on here(and elsewhere in social media?) So what the hell does “stuck reading a Wengerold clock” mean? You are either confusing me with someone completely different or you have just made the biggest and most self embarrassing mistake ever. Care to be a man, not a mouse, and explain which of these only two possibilities it is? You owe me a massive apology and I will gladly accept, IF it is forthcoming!

      3. jon fox says:

        Snowden For avoidance of ANY further doubt in your strange brain, I adore Emery, think he has worked wonders in virtually NO TIME AT ALL-which is what my first post said – LOUD AND CLEAR – and am amazed that anyone can so misinterpret it, since that is the only logical possibility for your self embarrassing huge mistake.

  3. gotanidea says:

    Oyoo, you finally post a balanced formation, instead of your 3-1-3-3

    As what @JJPawn always mentioned, 3-4-1-2 is a good option. This formation surprised Tottenham after the 3-4-2-1 and it eventually changed to 4-3-3 when Mustafi got injured

    Ramsey played as a false nine very well, considering the fact that he did not do well as a no 10 and he usually came as a substitute. Despite he did not start frequently, he is the current king of assists and the false nine tactics should be tried again with Ramsey/ Aubameyang/ Lacazette

    1. Kenny Rolfe says:

      Here we go again, coming out with this false nine position rubbish. Last time I pointed this out some friend of gotanidea said Fabregas played as one for Barcelona. So what you’re saying, any midfielder who plays the front of a Diamond is a false nine Where do get this from? Never heard it mentioned by Martin Tyler, never heard it mentioned by John Motson, never heard it mentioned by Carragher or Neville, in fact I’ve never heard it mentioned by any commentator or football presenter in sixty years of watching the game. FIFA false 19, that’s where you must of heard it or some other silly game played on the Internet. Ramsey played a midfield role behind the strikers, if you like, front of a diamond. When Dennis Bergkamp played in that position, as he did quite often, did you call him a false nine. I always thought he was great ten.

      1. Goona says:

        Old man,are you mad because new terms/phrases to describe a position are being created? False nine is here to stay.we do not care whether your gods of football Motson and neville have mentioned in your 60years of watching footi

        1. GunnerJack says:

          @ Goona. Young child, are you mad because people who have been in football for years question whether we need new words for age-old positions? Gotnoidea specialises in finding this junk and regularly spews out his latest findings on here, such as inverted winger, false nine and of course his latest find – TOWERING. So Man Utd no longer have a few TALL players… they now have ‘Towering’ players!
          Bandwagon jumpers/followers of fashion like you with no mind of their own will of course love this rubbish because they don’t have to think for themselves and can instead just jump aboard the latest merry-go-round.
          So please follow the advice from the Kinks and ‘Go and pull your frilly nylon panties right up tight ‘cos you’re a dedicated follower of fashion.’

          1. Goona says:

            Two nasty old men,shame.but dont worry you will kick on soon and find peace

          2. Kenny Rolfe says:

            Goona, I guarantee even at 68 I’m fitter than you’ve ever been or will ever be. Instead of carrying on playing you’re silly games on your computer you should get out and do some exercise. Thank you Gunner Jack for putting the little boys in their place.

          3. jon fox says:

            Kenny. we all know what little pubescent boys do in the privacy of their bedrooms while on their computers. There is a well known word that describes such as those and Goona. We who know the truth are on your side and well said. Young pups need to be housetrained, in more ways than one!

          4. jon fox says:

            Well said. And it clearly needed saying. This child has little brain and no idea at all how to use what little he has.

          5. Kenny Rolfe says:

            Thank you Jon, they won’t last long in our beloved game, They’ll soon be moving on to the next craze, probably NFL at Tottenham’s toilet bowl.

        2. jon fox says:

          Goona, you impertinent, “know nothing young and foolish pup”! You dare to insult someone who knows more about Arsenal and football in his little finger than YOU in all those months of your watching Arsenal . Have the guts and humility to humbly apologise to a devoted and lifelong fan in Kenny. Or be regarded for ever more by those who know the truth as a low life human being.

          1. Goona says:

            ????I think you geezers spend more time in front of the pc than I do.its sad really but entertaining at the same time.
            Anyway see ya later,I’m watching the game

          2. Goona says:

            ????I think you geezers spend more time in front of the pc than I do.its sad really but entertaining at the same time.
            Anyway see ya later,I’m watching the game

  4. ken1945 says:

    Nicholas, an interesting view on what Emery has done to date, I believe every single gooner is completely, amazed and overjoyed at what has happened since he took the reins:

    You say that, yet again, Arsenal conceded two goals in the first half, but didn’t explain how. It was nothing to do with formations of course!!
    The first goal was the result of a dive from Son that was eagerly given by Mike Dean (thanks ozziegunner!!) and, perhaps, a mistake from Leno.

    The second goal was an even better godsent opportunity for Dean to “see” another clear penalty. Needless to say, the replays showed that Son dived again right in front of him.

    Up until then, we were in complete control of the game against the best spuds team for years….aint that just a beautiful thing to compose and print!!!!!!!!!!!

    My point is, how on earth can any manager on earth can legislate for those two awful, but predictable, refereeing decisions?
    It happened so many times under AW (before he RESIGNED after 22 years, 20 of which were so successful we are trying to duplicate them again), and every gooner knew Dean would be Dean.
    But even Mikey Mousey Deany couldn’t stop Emery’s players from winning and the rest is history as they say.

    I am old school and believe that all managers will live and die by their selections and results, not fan power or protests.

    Looks like we’ve got yet another gem that could stay with us for a long long time and it will be exciting to see if he can become the most successful trophy winning manager.
    He knows who he has to beat of course.

    1. snowden says:

      Outside this site we are strangers but here we are brothers in heart.
      I agree with all that you say. However our manager is Spanish though from a different region to B & M. If the call came could he resist it? Somehow I doubt it. I don’t know the length and terms of his contract but what ever they are I am hoping we have him for at least five years.
      By that time he possibly will not have his son’s education to think about in deciding where lives and will be free from family limitations.
      Let’s hope his wife loves England so much she won’t want to leave.

      1. ken1945 says:

        snowden, great to know you fellow gooner.
        It’s great to live in the present and not keep looking backwards don’t you think?

        Your point regarding Emery and Spain is very true, and we can only hope that he sees our club as we do.
        Looking at the struggles at united since Ferguson left, we are so lucky to have signed Unai and long may it last.
        At the end of the season, if things are still positive, I hope we can offer him a contract extension of, as you say, at least five years.

        1. Andrew E says:

          Arsenal have never been a ‘hire and fire’ club so let’s hope the tradition persists. I don’t know the length of his contract but I think he has done enough in the short time he has been here to warrant a contract extension to five years. It is amazing how quickly he has changed the mentality and form of some of the underperforming players. He is a class act and has so far proved to be a great tactician and man manager.

          1. Tommogun58 says:

            yes well said, however these are still early days for him and his staff so although I think that top four is now definately possible there is still a nagging doubt about one or two players being good enough, but great so far and lets kick on against that outspoken prat Morenho tonight.

          2. ozziegunner says:

            Let’s hope the Arsenal Directors are organizing shopping trips and tourist site/museum tours for Unai’s wife Luisa and son Lander to cause them to fall in love with life in london.

          3. Andrew E says:

            They shouldn’t have a problem London is a great classy city and Spain is only a couple of hours away. Similar to getting from London to Brighton in rush hour!!!

          4. jon fox says:

            Andrew, Though it is true that we have never been a hire and fire club, what matters and all that ultimately matters in present and future hiring and firing is Kroenke. He was quite happy to keep an underperforming Wenger here far too long for many of us fans, BUT that was because he could rely on Wenger to not make financial waves and go on in the same tired old way that perfectly suits an unambitious for glory (but only for personal riches) owner. However, we now have a seriously hungry and pro-active man in charge- thank God and at long last – and he will clearly need proper scale financial backing to clear away Wengers deadwood left behind and replace them with better. He also let Wenger waste huge wages on duds like Walcott and many others, some still here, and on the chronically injured Diaby, not to mention the ridiculous and wrong wage hike on OZIL, who is clearly just coasting through the few remaining years of his career while not giving 100%(more like 30%, most games). Emery is the antithesis to Wenger and will soon DEMAND real money to spend. He will not be content to stagnate as Wenger did and THEN we will find out if “not being a hiring and firing club” is relevant in the future, as it has been in the past. We NEED KROENKE GONE to really move forwards and we all know that. Just my personal opinion, of course.

          5. Andrew E says:

            You make some good points Jon and I, like you, have little time for Kroenke and the blinkered and selfish way he has run this club. However, he only needs to look sideways at Man U to see the results of bad management which he hopefully won’t copy. The big difference is we got Emery after Wenger, they got Moyes. Unfortunately I just can’t see him selling the club in the foreseeable future nor can I see him dipping his hand in his wallet. What happens in January will be interesting.

          6. ken1945 says:

            There you go Jon, a perfect example of what I was saying when replying to your request regarding snowden.
            What you keep repeating is verbal diarrhoea that is so boring and expected, it lacks any impact whatsoever.
            We all have our own personal opinions of Arsene Wenger and most of us on here have now moved on to debate life under Unai Emery.
            I actually feel sorry for the fact that, for whatever reason, you can’t let go and enjoy the new era you wanted to happen.
            Try and discuss this new Arsenal and be thankful we have got Unai, probably the one and only good thing Gazidis did in his ten years at our club.
            The only thing that has to do with AW in tonights game is that of the sixteen players named, fourteen were signed during his tenancy and UE has coached them to nigh on perfection to date!
            Let’s go kick maureens backside and uniteds at the same time, thats what matters.

  5. jim wall says:

    Team v united
    …………mustafi…. Sok…….. Holding…….
    Bell……….. Torre……….. Guzz…… Kolas

    …………..auba…………………. Lacaz……….

    1. Tas says:

      Don’t you think Mkhitaryan has a point to prove to Mourinho?

      I belive our tactics against Spurs was that Miky and Iwobi was told to work their socks off attacking and defending like they did for 45 mnt then bring in the real talent fresh I think he will do the same tomorrow, but we canot afford to give corners or free kicks on our end because Man-U’s only tactics is long goals and set peaces with hight on their side, we probebly out play them but they will punish us in counter, but I’m sure UE knows that and that’s why we played short almost every corner against Spuds, I don’t think we will play two up front to start with

  6. Eddie Hoyte says:

    I don’t think Ozil will start that match.. I couldn’t find him in the training pictures that were took today.
    I hope We start the same squad of players who finished the game against Spurs. And I hope Ramsey respects himself if he starts and do the simple things like he did against Spurs.
    The through pass he gave Lacazette, an old Ramsey would’ve delayed that pass. I just want to see us whoop United so hard.

  7. LENOhappy says:

    @eddie,I think Ozil is still out injured,like someone said on a previous thread,back injury is a very dangerous injury especially when the coach did not know how you got the injury,am sure he will be fit for the Huddersfield match,I can’t wait to have him back on the field,I really missed his creativity against spurs.

  8. Kenny Rolfe says:

    Heard from a very good source, in fact ex player, that Ozil threw a sickie when told he would be travelling to Volska for the Europa Cup match last week. Apparently Unai told him “If you’re not fit for Volska, you’re not fit to face Tottenham”. Be sad to see him go but as Jon Fox said last week, Ozil’s time may well be up.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Kenny, if that story is true, then I see Ozil’s behaviour as a bigger reason to let him go than Ramsey’s decision to hold the club to ransom over a reported salary increase.

      Love him or hate him, Ramsey has shown a complete professional attitude towards AFC and, hopefully, gooners everywhere will respect him for that.

      I cannot see, however, a club like ours issuing a statement sayiing that Ozil is injured, knowing full well that it is something else can you?
      I thought he missed the Bournemouth game because of back issues and that was the reason given for him missing the NLD as well. Time will tell i guess.

      OT Did you see that Kos went off injured again tonight? Such a pity,and I hope it wasn’t as bad as it looked. would hate to see his career at Arsenal ended due to injuries.

      1. Andrew E says:

        I can’t see Emery saying he had a back problem when he didn’t. Why should he? He dropped him to the bench for the Bournemouth game and explained why, so he could have done the same for the Spurs match if Ozil was fit.

        1. Andrew E says:

          Sorry he was dropped for the Bournemouth game!!!

          1. ken1945 says:

            Andrew E, that was my point to Kenny as well.
            From his actions so far, I don’t believe Emery would have any problems telling the fans/media what was happening if the Ozil situation was true.
            As ozziegunner said previously, back spasms are really debilitating and a player has to be in peak condition to play in the premier league.
            For some unknown reason, I feel less confident about tonight than I did against spuds on Sunday!
            I must congratulate Ramsey’s ethics as well and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him starting tonight. To think I wanted him out of the first team squad because of his wage demands…still it’s nice to be proved wrong in this case. Still hoping his contract can be sorted out.

          2. ozziegunner says:

            I agree with Andrew and Ken, it is inconceivable that Unai Emery would make a statement to the media, which was incorrect, given that even the tightest camp can leak like a sieve to the media.

          3. Kenny Rolfe says:

            I very much respect the views of Ken, Andrew and Ozziegunner and absolutely agree with what was said about Ramsey’s professionalism, however my Cousin, a very truthful man I’d like to add, shared a box with an ex Arsenal player from the George Graham era at the previous weekend who told him this story. I don’t wish to release the players name for obvious seasons. As for Unai holding back the reasons for leaving Ozil out, saying he’s not physical enough is one thing but saying he refused to travel is another. Personally I would still like Ozil to stay, I think it’s a balancing act between what games he’s selected for but have 100% faith in Unai Emery to make the right decision.

          4. jon fox says:

            ozzie, However, it was noteworthy that when asked how Ozil was , Emery dismissively said “he has backache.” Despite Emerys basic English, the meaning and body language which I saw was quite clear and he , imo, does not buy it for a single moment. He clearly studied Arsenal in detail even before arriving to manage us and will be acutely aware how lazy Ozil is. KNOWING IT , PRIVATELY AND SAYING SO IN PUBLIC THOUGH ARE DIFFERENT MATTERS. I therefore disagree with your, Andrew’s and Ken’s take on this one. I am strongly of the opinion that neither Ozil not Mkhi will be here next August. And hope not too, since lazy players are team poison and always have been, everywhere. It is precisely why I could not stand idle, coasting Walcott for virtually his entire Arsenal career.

          5. jon fox says:

            Ken, I would ask your help in firstly reading again my post above about how Emery “FINALLY”(in clear sarcasm) was getting it right in so short a time. Insultingly, an individual called snowden then came on here and mocked me for being a “stuck in the Wenger years”. You, more than anyone on here, know how wrong an accusation that was. I answered in typical Fox fashion as you will see. I would love your comments as to how you think this man could so misinterpret my crystal clear original post. I do NOT want to re- open our own wellworn differences on the later Wenger years but merely ask for your observation on the specific point I ask you. Unless this snowden is a complete thicko, I just do not see how he could have misinterpreted my original post. Do you, please KEN?

          6. Kenny Rolfe says:

            Where has Snowden been these past few years. No one advocated the removal of Arsene Wenger more than Jon Fox in all the time I’ve written on this site and rightly so may I add. Believe me I have utmost respect for what Arsene done for this club in the first ten years. Without doubt the finest football I’ve ever seen in a lifetime of attending Highbury / Emirates and in the Invincibles, the best English team ever, regardless of teams who succeeded in European Cups. However Arsene has now admitted himself that he stayed to long at Arsenal, I always felt he should have left around 2007/08 but he’ll always be an Arsenal legend and the man that changed the modern game in the history of World football with he’s incredible foresight

          7. Andrew E says:

            Kenny, I’ve said the same about Arsene Wenger on a number of occasions and will always have a high regard for him for transforming AFC into a world renowned club. He did stay far too long though but that’s history and now we are lucky to have a top class manager in Unai Emery so let’s look forward.

          8. Kenny Rolfe says:

            Definitely Andrew, can’t wait for him to have two or three transfer windows under his belt.

          9. ken1945 says:

            Jon, i read snowden’s post as having a go at you for bringing up Arsene Wenger again, when Nicholas (the author) was talking about Unai Emery.
            I believe he wants you to not dwell in the past, as that only keeps dividing the fanbase, along with your continual insistence that AW was sacked.
            It really doesn’t matter if he was or wasn’t does it, we should all be looking forward and giving 100% to the new regime and kicking Maureens backside tonight!!!
            You asked for my opinion Jon, so there it is, perhaps snowden will give you an answer himself, I don’t know.

  9. Palash says:

    Against mourinho’s defensive tactics we need creativity in attacking I don’t know where will it come from ozil don’t play well in big games ,mikhitariyan is not that guy anymore Ramsey(poor man’s Thomas Mueller) is hard working but not creative.I think January is very crucial for our season we must buy 1 or 2 quality players in January

  10. JJPawn says:

    United can be dangerous with their younger players. Also, if Sanchez plays, motivated to make a point. However, it seems Emery is indeed getting better with the team shape. Many of his wins were lucky, but this last one had more organization and class, and it showed. I was impressed with Arsenal’s confidence and gumption. Emery’s strength of playing a weaker team to greater achievements is coming through now, we are in the top four. However, getting beyond the top four means the stars have to be motivated better than what Emery has done so far, as both Ramsay and Ozil seem out of sorts. Emery has problems with top players elsewhere. To maintain top four and climb, Emery has to learn to allow attacking stars more creative space rather than insist on a pressing without the ball, as the two ideas are contradictory.

    For the top four this is a decent formation, I think it is Arsenal’s most lethal. But it needs Ozil to trigger it.

    I like Sokratis just booting the ball when there is danger lurking, as if he does not care about playing from the back. I think Holding is coming along, while Mustafi doing better that people think.

    The middle worries me, and I would consider a faster player there to go beyond Xhaka. It would be nice to see another tackler there as well, as we must dominate the middle, as Pogba has to be without service, when his head drops.

    At times I have wondered if Kolasanic is wasted as a wing back, when he should play in the middle with physicality.

    ————–Lacazette—Aubameyang———– [Beauty in motion and strikes.]
    ————–———–Ozil/Ramsey————-——– [Free Ozil. Let him ‘think’ and create]
    Monreal——-Torreira—-Kolasinac–—-Bellerin [Max flex attack/def & dominate middle.]
    ——–Holding——–Sokratis——Mustafi——– [Should be solid.]

    1. Sue says:

      Sanchez is injured

      1. What? Injured himself furiously playing the piano?
        ION I can’t wait to break our OT duck tonight! It’s gonna be a bloodbath for utd!

        1. Sue says:

          ??? He’s the half time entertainment tonight… he’s going to show John Lewis how you really play the piano… next year’s Christmas advert??? Hahahahaha
          I don’t share your enthusiasm right now QD, after all these years I’d like to put the Old Trafford/Maureen hoodoo to bed…. COME ON ARSENAL!!!!

          1. Haha. Well am feeling optimistic. Those nasty statistics about us at OT were created by Wenger. Today it’s a fresh manager that will create fresh statistics for us. I have waited for this moment for a long time. One of the painful reasons I wanted the old manager out was because of our consistent near certain humiliation at OT…every start of season I would deduct 3 points for our expected loss there…but that’s all about to change tonight ?

          2. Sue says:

            I sure do hope so QD ?

          3. jon fox says:

            Sue, not only do I want to put the hoodoo to bed but also Mourinho to bed, PERMANENTLY and then send that same bed out on the stormy Pacific Ocean without a lifebelt or paddle. But I am not heartless; he can have a duvet! To be more serious, I think England will be seeing Mourinho manage here for his last ever season this year. He will clearly be sacked at latest by end of this season and probably as soon as United exit the CL. He will not again be offered a job at a British top club and will refuse lower offers. So it is au revoir MAUREEN, very soon now. And don’t come back!

  11. Break-on-through says:

    Was reading some interesting things earlier. Emery is said to have gotten the job because he spoke very highly of the players already here. That along with his cv of course. He didn’t think there was a need for a large overhaul. He thought they were a great bunch of players who were under performing. Then I read how Arsene left the club in much better shape than people give him credit for. Whereas Fergie left a proper mess when he left.

  12. ozziegunner says:

    JJPawn, Unai Emery supposedly had one problem with “top players” in all the clubs he coached previously and that was Neymar at PSG. The club had paid so much for Neymar’s transfer, that he apparently “ran” PSG on the field; what Neymar wanted he got and he wasn’t pressing for anyone.

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