Arsenal’s lack of preparation could see us miss out on Top Four again

Why Are We Never Ready for the Season? By Dan Smith

One of things that Arsene Wenger was criticised for in his final couple of years as manager was how he would start a season not organised and ready to start the season quickly. Under Unai Emery it’s a case of ‘some things change yet stay the same.’

After Euro 2016 the likes of Koscielny, Giroud and Ozil were given extended breaks to recover, by the time they played we had dropped points at home to Liverpool and Leicester, fielding a makeshift defence in the process.
That year was the first under the Frenchman we failed to finish in the top 4, missing out by a single point. It’s no exaggeration to say that wouldn’t have happened if we started the campaign without our best talent still on holiday. The difference between where we finish in 2020 could also be decided by the smallest of details.

With everyone about to go on international break, Pepe has started once, on a day we parked the bus. Our owners would have every right to question why an asset brought to take us to that next level has been deemed fit enough to be on the bench, but not felt the need to throw him in at the deep end? To clarify the Ivory Coast (with Pepe) were knocked out in the quarter finals of the Cup of Nations. Algeria won it and Mahrez started for Man City on the opening day.

The reason the majority of the Premiership voted for the English transfer window to be closed before a ball was kicked was to not disrupt their squads. We had been embarrassed in the past by the Ox playing at Anfield, despite knowing he was joining them within days, Sanchez laughing on the bench because he assumed he was leaving, while Mustafi was not in the squad this season because we were seeking a buyer.

Of course, the rest of Europe can still buy up ‘til tomorrow, which means Emery this week still doesn’t know what his team looks like.

Having started our first 3 matches, I assumes Monreal would have been picked this Sunday? Yet now, in a North London Derby, we have to play Kolasinac in a 4 where Emery doesn’t rate him, or switch to a 5 just to accommodate a full back, which means sacrificing an attacker.

Surely 3 weeks ago we knew Monreal might be heading to Spain so why not try and build Kolasinac’s confidence and coach him to be better in a 4 rather, than prefer a man with no long future in North London.

By the beginning of September our front three should have had a month to have played together and gained momentum, not Laca and Pepe having played one game apiece. Not knowing your best team, not starting your best attackers, playing a left back who can’t defend, are all down to poor preparation. If we miss out on 4th by a point, remember this period.

To be a big club, you need to think like one. From start of August Man City and Liverpool were ready, their managers knowing there is no room for error. Why do we think then we are good enough to kick off without our best players and not knowing who’s leaving or not? We are not good enough to be waiting a month to be playing a settled side, giving Pepe baby steps and now playing a left back who can’t defend in a 4.

It’s either arrogance or naivety…

Dan Smith


  1. It’s neither arrogance or naivety, it’s down to the simple fact that the transfer window is still open for most leagues.

  2. 100 percent right. I have never understood this thing”fitness” with Emery. An Arsenal player returning to work on 1st will take 3wks to get fit while a player in Liverpool, city and other top teams a player returning at the same dates will be playing a full match on 5th. Emery has a all round problem. He still feels guaranteed to have room for error because the Arsenal board is known to be soft on managers. That’s why kola who appeared once as a sub for us plays today as a starter. That’s why Willock is a starter for a team like Arsenal.Thats why we play 19 different styles trying to adopt to other teams style of play in 38 games. When will we ever play to our potential, perfect in it and let other teams find trouble and get headaches on how to adopt to us? Am a frustrated man under Emery. Everything about him is weird. I wanted him so much that I was very happy when he signed for us but am sorry it’s not working. Pragmatic approach day in day out is not what I dreampt of. I mean yes, it’s not bad to change tactics but start games with your best 11 , apply your own game style/plan and if it’s not working, try the pragmatic approach in the second half, make the subs to suit the same. Otherwise we are still joking.

  3. Well I don’t understand why the same people complaining about Kolasinac are the same ones yearning for Bellerin’s return. They are two sides of the same coin. Good going foward, rubbish defensively. For the 2nd year running, Emery has refused to sign a proper right back. We cannot be serious challengers of anything with the current personnel at the back. All donkeys!

  4. I don’t believe that it’s a fair comparison between us Liverpool and Man city with regards to being prepared for the start of the season. We are rebuilding with multiple new additions, this coupled with underperforming players in key areas requires some manipulation and patience. City and pool are established, performing squads with only some minor additions required. This is were we want to be. I would much prefer that we are in the position that we find ourselves in now, then having to field the same old dross, underperforming players that may have gelled, know there positions but ultimately haven’t achieved. You have to walk before you can run.

  5. Amazing article with great points Dan.
    I wonder if this will ever stop.
    I seriously and honestly hope Emery doesn’t plan to use this 5 defenders tactics and defensive squad. Lord please no, we don’t deserve that now.
    Arsenal’s way of handling stuffs can be so confusing and tiring.
    Why use Monreal time and time again then let him go when you know his replacement for now is inadequate?

  6. We won our 2 opening games and only lost to Liverpool, I think it’s a good start.
    The coach works with the players everyday and knows what is best for the team. At the start of the season, there were players who didn’t have pre-season with us, had fitness problem, or didn’t understand the system. We just don’t know.

    What I’m trying to say is let’s get behind Emery before the important derby and debate this later. In Emery We Trust!
    (In the event he get sacked, we still have F.Ljungberg, God Bless Raul).

  7. I am sorry to say this the Emery is neither going to win the league for us or put us in top 4 very soon. I will be happy if I am proved wrong. With this defense even the guys beyond top 6 are going to give us a tough time. We are miles away from ManC or Liverpool. But do not forget in 2016 Liverpool was in dumps & it was Klopp who got them there.

  8. To be fair we have been hit with some serious bad luck.
    Bellerin’s long recovery, Tierney’s injury.
    CB has been a horror story.
    Mustafi’s unwillingness to leave.
    The wrangle about Koscielnys 4 mill transfer fee.
    Holding still injured.
    Having to send Saliba back on loan so we can pay in installments.
    We wind up signing David late on then expect him to be sharp
    and combine perfectly with Socritis after two games.
    Torreira struggling to be fit.
    Mkhitarians unwillingness to leave.
    The Zaha madness. 80m is 50m too much yet we pay 70m for Pepe?
    A lot of the problems is financial or lack there of.
    The Sanchez debacle and losing Ramsey for free.
    Saddled with Mkhitarian, Mustafi and Ozils 350k p/w.
    We are always low balling + playing transfer poker on the edge.
    Liverpool and City just bang the money down.
    To top it off Ozil is attacked by knife wielding
    muggers meant he needed more recovery time!
    It’s a wonder Emery has not been driven nuts by the shenanigans.
    A win tomorrow + we can celebrate our team organisation.
    A loss and it will be a long painful two weeks on JA.
    VAR better be spot on 🙂

  9. Yet with all the points the writer is complaining about,we have won 2 and lost one of the three opening matches,and the loss came to the Champions of Europe by the way.Today we feast of on the Cock and remain in touching distance of the top team (4-2 i believe is what the score will be).There was no reason to throw in a half-fit player against the likes of newcastle and burnley.Thats the work of squard players.As for keeping on changing formations and starting lineapps,(Reminds me of Ranieri who was always ridiculed as Tinkerman)i like the way Emery has always replied to that question.He sets up his team according to available staff and the opposition he is facing.

    1. Well said!by the way how can you compare marhez to Pepe?marhez has been playing in the pl for few years Pepe is new?? Laca until had been struggling with an ankle injury since pre season and how do you that Emery hasn’t been coaching kola as a full back,I can’t believe you are not taking into account important factors??

  10. I sometimes wonder whether someone must always find something to complain about. We bought Kieran Tierney as our long term left back to replace Nacho Monreal. It’s true he is still recovering from a long term sickness but we expect him by October at the latest. Why then would anyone make an issue of that? In the meantime Kolasinac will fill that position. Perhaps the only issue should be playing our strongest team for the London derby for it doesn’t make sense to leave your strong players on the bench. The next question would have to do with tactics and identification of which player is best at which position. This is a tricky one as it is usually the prerogative of the coach to select the players. Sometimes the coach finds himself in a dilemma with some players like Mustafi. Although he has been put on sale there is no willing buyer! What do you do with him? Let him get money for doing nothing or start playing him in non crucial games? The question then arises as to which game is not crucial! All these are issues which we have to contend with. Everyone would want a perfect start but is it possible in real life? I don’t even believe that Liverpool is home and dry. What happens if they get a serious injury to just two major players like Van Djiki and Muhammad Salah? This is not a fanciful question but a real possibility. Haven’t we been without Holding, Bellerin and Tierney? Why should anyone imagine it can’t happen to another team? What I see as primary to our success is to have the right calibre of players and the correct tactics and team selection. The rest will fall into place.

  11. Unfortunately everything about Emery seems muddled…His tactics,his squad rotation, his substitutions,his formations and..dare I say it…his continued poor command of the English language.If Josh Kronke and the Arseanal Board really do want Arsenal to challenge for the Premier League once again I can only see the current manager as a “stop gap” option.He was a necessary choice to allow Arsenal to finally move the Club past Wenger and Gazidas and the mess that they had left behind.
    That said this should not mean that Emery should be allowed to create his own problems either.His reticence to play Pepe has left the player a little ring rusty.His desire to play Xhaka no matter what..leaves the team exposed in the middle of the pitch.Its no coincidence that Xhaka’s reintroduction coincided with poor performances by all those playing just in front or just behind him.Luiz shelled most of the blame for the Liverpool result yet the team were set up in the best way possible to amplify Liverpool’s strengths and expose our own weaknesses.The Manager now has a game against our fiercest rivals at a time that they are struggling for form to turn things around.Play our best team and utilise tactics that play to our strengths.Failure should not be considered the end of the world but should he make the same mistakes again they will surely come back to haunt him later in the Season when the Board and the fans will cease to be so forgiving..

    1. Fully agree … the big worry is that 15 months in to his tenure I have no idea what kind of football this guy is trying to play … which leads me to believe that tinkering is his philosophy and guaranteed to fail .. parallels with Leicester are really silly … his endless rotation is replicating the lost decade under wenger and is not what top managers do … this is a massive game and may well determine emery’s future at the club … I just hope he has learnt something from the merseyside debacle

  12. Some very good points Dan.Of course the situation has not been helped by injuries to Bellerin,Holding and Tierney who would be first picks when fit.Similar difficulties have arisen in other Clubs indeed the injuries to Sane and La Porte could well impact on the chances of Man City retaining the title.!Liverpool to me seem to be a well prepared side and quite frankly I cannot see past them as PL Champions this season.

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