Inevitability, No Identity, No Inspiration – Maybe Arsenal need Intervention?

The 3 I’s that led ailing Arsenal to another abject away defeat by Joel Miansiantima

Upon witnessing Arsenal succumb to yet another insipid defeat away from home: Three words starting with ‘I’ emerged, once the final whistle shrieked to bring a miserable Monday night at Bramall Lane to a close. The first one: Inevitability.

Sheffield United, after a 12-year absence from the top-flight, draped in their famed red and white kit welcome Arsenal to Bramall Lane, dressed in yellow and black on a chilly night in South Yorkshire. A French striker scores in the first half for the home side. A boyhood Blade fan turned manager in the home dugout keeps his team compact to secure a memorable 1-0 victory over the Gunners. However, this is merely not a simplistic overview of yesterday’s game. This is New Year’s Day 2007, Arsenal’s previous visit to Bramall Lane.

Even as far back as 12 years ago, these difficult away fixtures invariably threaten to go awry, once things start considerably heating up for the Gunners. Therefore, from the moment spouts of fire began erupting from the sidelines at Bramall Lane and the locals engaged in a rousing rendition of “Greasy Chip Butty” (United’s pre-match song, to the tune of John Denver’s Annie’s Song), already it seemed this encounter was only going to finish one way. A simple look at the statistics supports this uneasy feeling of inevitability.

Arsenal’s away form, in truth is woeful, as they have now accrued a paltry 11 points from a possible 30, in their last 10 away league games. Coming into yesterday’s game, only Watford and Everton had conceded more goals from set-pieces since the start of last season than Arsenal’s 21. Lys Mousset’s close-range winner duly raised that damning figure to 22.

Which ties into the next I: Identity.
Or rather lack of identity, in Arsenal’s case. Before the game, it was obvious what Blades boss Chris Wilder would aim to do: Play a deep defensive block to deny space behind the defence and utilise his overlapping centre-backs and the distribution of Oliver Norwood in midfield to stretch Arsenal and create chances. Which is exactly what he managed in the end.

It feels pertinent to mention here that Chris Wilder’s men have kept 25 league clean sheets, since the start of last season: the most in all four tiers of English football; an example of how a distinct managerial philosophy has been imparted onto the players and has taken shape at Bramall Lane.

On the other hand, it is very difficult to decipher what style of play Emery is looking to impose. Thus far, Arsenal’s performances have been wholly disjointed, with a notable lack of creativity in many of these games. The Gunners created just one clear-cut chance yesterday evening, not including Nicolas Pépe’s glaring miss in the first half.

Even if you look to defend Emery’s tactics, you still find yourself rather perplexed at their execution. 68% possession, hoping to split a deep-lying defence with an accurate through-ball? Where was Mesut Ozil? Trying to over-run Sheffield United out wide and put accurate crosses into the box with your full-backs? Where was Hector Bellerin? Why was Kieran Tierney not starting? Consequently, Emery’s long-term prospects at Arsenal look ominous, unless he can muster more of the third ‘I’ away from home: Inspiration

On the touchline, there certainly appeared one manager capable of inspiring his team to play above the sum of its parts, as shown with the LMA Manager of the Year award he received back in May for his side’s unlikely promotion.
Contrarily, the other manager, with two Champions League winners on the pitch, a Ballon D’or nominee and Premier League Player of the Month striker, as well as a record £72 million signing, could not even inspire the opposing keeper into any significant action in the second half.

Quite frankly, if Emery proves incapable of instilling more inspiration into his team’s performances and cannot produce more wins away from home in the league, the Arsenal board may be pressured into executing a fourth ‘I’ by the end of the season: Intervention.



  1. Fully agreed. Have no clue with Arsenal is doing with selection or execution. I was really hopeful that after the break we would see Bellerin, Holding and Tierney in the line up if nothing else so that we could see what was possible. Of course this ignores the creative issue but if you were to at least start Ceballos you are showing an attempt to add creativity (and I am ignoring if he really is capable – he has played one good game in the league. Maybe they have another creative mid who could play but I guess not).

    Look, I get the Ozil angst but do we have to lose right now, we can’t break anyone down when set – we are a pure counterattack play and not really good at that in the league – give him a couple of games to see if he helps. If not, put him away, but Emery’s stubborness on so many levels means that he doesn’t even try.

    Speaking of stubborness – does he actually think that playing out of the back is going to come around? We are awful at it.

    1. Agreed, I also get Ozil doesn’t defend but last match surely he will offer something different.
      I don’t know about Emery’s infatuation with Xhaka but why did he field two holding midfielders against opponents who sat deep? Xhaka should have made way for Ozil, accompanied by Ceballos, they both positioned between the opposition lines, Guenduozi/Torreira as holding midfielder (the latter is quicker and better when we chase goals).

  2. Emery was brought in to ruin arsenal fc completely.

    He has no idea what he was doing. I am sure he will leave arsenal before ozil.

  3. The fans that keep saying give him until the end of the season what exactly are they hoping for. If Emery by some miracle gets us to top 4 will they be willing to watch another season of football like this.

  4. Before we pile on any further let’s clearly make note of the positives…we have some incredible talent up front with Auba, Laca and the youthful prospect Pepe; with some depth to boot, if we can find a way to properly groom the likes of Saka and Martenelli(hoepfully we won’t lose them like Gnabry)…in the midfield we have Lucas, Guenduzzi and the Madrid loanee…on the backline we have the ever hopeful Bellerin, the new kid Tierney, the returning Holding and the summer signing, Salibas, whom we sent back for playing time purposes…so before we get too carried away about our assessment of this club let’s first recognize our true assets…now the billion dollar question is can our current manager figure out what to do with this cast of characters so that we can secure a top 4 spot …from what I’ve witnessed so far, I’m unconvinced, to say the least…even more worrisome there is nothing about his body language, tactical nuance and/or team selection that would suggest he believes it either…for how many years did we have to watch a manager not playing his best 11; for how many years did we have to wonder in amazement while our old manager continuously played his favourites regardless if their selection made any footballing sense; for how many years did we have to watch post-game press conferences where our manager took absolutely no accountability for his actions or inaction’s; for how many years did we have to watch games where we dominated possession but had few if any real scoring opportunities; for how many years did we watch our team play negative football on the road even though it was clear to all that we weren’t going to win too many games in the trenches; sadly those days aren’t over yet, so this rather uninspiring manager better get his shit together before he continues any further down that road we have all too frequently traveled or he will become but a forgetful footnote in the storied history of this once great club

  5. I’m presently watching man city vs Atlanta and I’m in love with football again after last night debacle. This is a coach without any of his cbs but make shift cbs and you will think Rodi and Fernd had been cbs all their career. Yet he is not sacrificing is attacking play and talents for his limitations at back and his team is 4 goals up. How I wish he could handle our team for a month to show Emery how it is done

    1. Sue, if Leeds United don’t give Eddie game time Arsenal should relocate his loan to a club where the coacb/manager appreciates him.

  6. I know he’s no longer our player, but what’s happening with Ramsey? I read that he was left out at the weekend to rest for the game tonight, yet he’s not in the squad! Sounds familiar doesn’t it??!!

    Sol Campbell has joined Southend United. Jeez they had 2 sent off tonight & lost 7-1, yikes!!!

    1. We are here lamenting about our team and its woes and you are talking about Ramsey and Campbell!
      Are you for real?

      1. Jesus Christ, that’s all I’ve done, if you care to notice and it’s done my bloody head in! So, yes to talk about something different, for once, is very welcome! Because come Thursday it’ll be back to the doom and gloom 🙄

    2. I watched the match against Inter Milan and he didn’t play either Sue. Even Emre Can was brought in from the bench (Ramsey was available). Also no Alexis, maybe he picked a fight with Conte, bad choice then 😂
      Was expecting to see old faces but surprisingly only Schezny made the cut.

        1. Last time he got a red if I’m not mistaken? Good riddance 😂
          Yes, also agree with Truth, he will find it hard to break into the first eleven with midfielders they have at disposal (Pjanic, Khedira, Rabiot, Matuidi, Bentacur, Emre Can, etc)
          The depth of the squad is crazy!

    3. I hear from my Italian friends that the euphoria around Ramsey has turned into disappointment. IMO Ramsey was always going to find it hard to shine for Juve.

      Even at Arsenal where we have had an average midfield for quite a while, he failed to impress as a complete player far too often. Unless if I am having a brain fart and forget someone, Cesc was our last true high caliber midfielder with quite a complete game. Of course, Santi was awsome but arrived at a much later age as more or less the finished product whilst Ramsey and Cesc joined at a developmental stage.

      With the right manager, Geundouzie could develop into a star. (Like Gnarby did 😉

      OT: I would even consider Mourinho at this stage. He can’t be much worse than Emery and he has managed Ozil and knows how to use him. (Although Mourinho would not be my first choice.)

      1. I read that the Italian media haven’t been very impressed, so far. I did wonder if he’d get a regular spot in the team though, as they have some superb players!

        Totally agree about Douzi. I’ve said before – he’s our future captain.

        Truth.. Oh I don’t like Maureen, not one bit. I’m fed up with Unai & would like him to be shown the door! But, Maureen.. I’d be gutted if he was appointed ☹

  7. Emery is a fraud. His continuous presence in the dugot is more akin to cancer.
    I’ve never seen Arsenal so inept at everything. Where are we heading to?
    During the Sheffield game, our bench was way stronger than the starting XI.

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