One huge reason why Arsenal keeping coming up short

Against Liverpool, it was bewildering why Arsenal played a diamond formation allowing the Reds’ wing-backs all the freedom in the world to rampage down the flanks. Against Tottenham, it was a head-shaking moment when the name Granit Xhaka was on the team sheet alongside two other defensive midfielders.

There are many many more instances of these sort of questionable tactics and team line ups, and there is just one man to blame for all this, Unai Emery.

Now, this article is not about attacking the manager or calling for him to go but it is an article heavily laden with constructive criticism.

It appeared to me that Emery gave far too much respect to Tottenham, of course, he could not be complacent but where was the creative midfielder that was so clearly needed? Why did he not adopt the tactics on the field of play when it was obvious to anyone watching the game that Tottenham was there for the taking down the flanks? Why does he continue to persist with Xhaka who has proven himself to be a tremendous liability?

At Anfield, why did he not realise very early on that his diamond formation was not working? Why bring on Lacazette for the final ten minutes? Why leave Torreira on the bench when negating Liverpool in the midfield was so important? Why play Ceballos out wide when he is far more effective in the middle? Why continue to play out from the back when the Reds play such a high pressing game?

And on the questions go and it happens time and again, I can not remember the last time he put out an appropriate team to fit with what tactics the opposition were almost certainly going to deploy.

Emery really needs to sort out a way forward that is consistent and works because it does not matter how good or poor the opposition is we will keep coming up short unless the right team and tactics are deployed.

If the Spaniard cannot get his act together then he will have no one to blame but himself if the fans start to turn against him in significant numbers.


  1. It doesn’t feel any better this morning… that game was ours to lose, and although we drew, it feels like a loss to me! Gifting those goals like we did.. unacceptable!
    Losing to Liverpool & drawing with the spuds – urgh, what a crap week. Gutted!

    1. Yeah I agree Sue, spud were more happy with that point than us in the end, I’m starting to lose patience with Unai and his team selections,play your best players for god sake al this tactical crap is addling his brain,get rid of Mikhi and Xhaka they are not good enough and the sooner Tierney is fit the better,getting rid of Monreal at this stage was a cock up too.

      1. I feel exactly the same, Tommogun58! At least Tierney, Bellerin & Holding aren’t too far away…
        At least we have a 2 week reprieve now… it’s very welcome right now!! Sheesh, not sure how much more of that (crappy team selections, goal gifting) i can take!!

          1. Would have been nice to see Ozil, georgie.. hopefully after the break!
            Hope you’re ok.. i keep on seeing about this hurricane heading towards the states, it won’t reach you, will it?

          2. Sue, The storm will hopefully lose a good amount of power before reaching us in eastern New York.We have been getting rain at just the right time. I really can’t imagine 145mph wind in the Bahamas.

      2. Oh Martin, you are so right. Before the Spurs game I warned we would win without Xhaka but lose with him. We scraped a point. Is not hard to say why and it’s not magic. He is truly reckless, gives the ball away cheaply, has a slow mind and has a slow body. He really is not up to that heavy intensity level. He not good enough. He will….WILL cost us 4th place again. It has already started to happen. He plays like he is playing for the opposing team (Brighton Spurs). Please listen to Admin Martin. Without Xhaka we would have won that game. Definitely.

  2. This article is just that typical fan that thinks they know football more than the world’s best coaches…The problems in that game were not tactical intact in terms of tactics Emery came up tops but a problem of personnel in the defence…

    1. Huh, here’s number one, already with the lame áss excuses.
      Who sets up the team for Zonal marking with slow players just because he claims to play a high press?
      Is it me or whoever wrote the article?
      Is it Mourinho?

      Who sets up a midfield of 3 defensive players without creativity looking to contain Spurs weak midfield? I’m sorry but did you see how we got picked apart in the first half when there was no footballing brain, everyone from the back to the midfield had to be throwing in long passes to our attackers.
      So far this season, Guendouzi has been the only midfielder who deserves his shirt.

      Really he came up top with his tactics?

    2. you conveniently leave out Xhaka. He was not a problem of personnel. He was fielded by the manager and cost us the game. Predictably.

      1. Xhaka cost us the game, but please be honest with your criticism, Xhaka played bad yesterday I agree but what about Niles who got roasted over and over again, I knew something like that might happen it mah have happened to anyone. The major problem with this arsenal team is not really the CB but our fullback,so many times yesterday Luis had to cover for Niles, what exactly did Niles and Kolasinac did yesterday, I know people will still try and say Niles is not a defender but the boy has been playing in that position for over 2 seasons now.

        1. I didn’t mean to imply Xhaka was the only player to make mistakes. I was just responding to the insinuation that our problems didn’t come from team selection or tactics but only because of defensive personnel.

    3. I have to agree with u on this one, Vic. I for one thought Unai was brilliant offering space to liverpool fullbacks, that was spot on considering that liverpool dont have any arial threat forward, i mean i dont remember any real threat coming from any of the fullback crosses. Further, by allowing liverpool some space out wide, he ensured that he had enough numbers in midfield to deal with their wingers, that too was a brilliant plan. What undid emery was individual mistakes from his players, he was never outplayed. The same can be said for the spurs game, we were undone by individual errors, not tactical ineptness.

    4. Sorted defence once Bellerin Holding and Tierney get fit and play .
      After that a midfield containing any 3 of AMN Willock Ceballos Torriera Nelson and Guendouzi will see us doing well.
      The 3 in attack we’ve got are the best.
      Positives are our injured 3 will have a fortnight to recover and Arsenal are still getting shot of Mkhitaryan. Only Mustafi Xhaka and Ozil to go. Patience fellow Gunners patience.

  3. Lol…Ooooooooh boy!
    Looking forward to the next game please, there’s nothing new that I have to say about Emery.
    I’ve always spoken bout what I feel bout him being here, but what do I know about football?
    I know nothing

  4. Emery has had enough time IMO. He should go. He will not change.
    He simply over thinks the game and under delivers.

    I read yesterday that under Emery we made more mistakes as a team than any other PL team. That didn’t surprise me.

    He also failed to fix a terrible defense.

    He managed to get his team to go backward last season towards the end and ruin our top 4 with a few very bad team selections.

    This season he does the same. No creative midfielder yesterday to feed our formidable front 3. Xhaka???

    The list goes on. This man is waisting our current squad and should go. The sooner the better.

  5. And to think there was one particular poster on this site who lauded Emery after Anfield with praise. Said just how convinced he was more than ever that we would reach a Top 4 position.And now this debacle a week later against the Spuds who were no better than us and were there for the taking.Yet this Manager sent out a side verify of creativity in midfield when that bunch were there for the taking.A delusional poster with far too much respect for a delusional Manager.

  6. I’ve been very critical about Emery and deserved I feel..same yesterday with the 3 defensive midfielders from the start of the game .
    But I will give him some slack because of the 2 errors leading to the goals ..
    The first one with Sok jumping for that header was just plain fcking stupid on his part when Xhaka was already there with Kane to try to win it .
    The second one .well we all know that Xhaka is a proper Tool when it comes to stupid tackles .
    So both were individual errors IMO ,nothing Emery can do to teach both morons not to have brain farts .
    Overall we looked so much better than spurs and deserved all 3 points but Emery really needs to sort his starting formations out .
    2points dropped but there was positives for a change and I thought the front 3 looked good .

    1. Dan, isn’t it Emery’s fault to put Xhaka and Sok on the pitch? I always maintained after the first game at home, it’s unwise to play Sok and Luiz together, as both are hot headed and are prone to errors and cards. Chambers should have played instead of either of them.
      Less said about Xhaka, the better. Any sane gaffer would have played Torreira as a DM and played Ceballos and Guendozi together, now that we know Emery is binning Özil on purpose. The missing creativity was there for all to see, but then Emery is the know-all you see!
      After the first 6 games last season I started to say that Emery is not what Arsenal needs. I maintain that position, with a little help from my friend Emery.

    2. Ooh Dan you have my respect for that comment, how people blame the coach for individual errors I will never understand, we were on top when Sokratis decided to do whatever he did, Niles was left for dead when Xhaka decided to be Xhaka again and and the coach did what a proper coach should have done he brought in Ceballos and myki who is bad but also the only one who can play as a winger. Some was even saying that torrera should have started ahead of guendouzi against Liverpool now we’ve all seen what he did against Liverpool. Am not saying not to criticized the coach but don’t be biased with it.

      1. @lenohappy-while they were two individual errors it was still Emery who put both those twats in the team to start with.Calum Chambers should have been in for Sokritis and Ceballos or Ozil in midfield with Torreira and Guendouzi behind.That mob were there for the taking and its two point dropped that needn’t have been.Thats whyvits on Emery-wrong team selection AGAIN

        1. The only thing I will blame emery for yesterday is not starting with Ceballos and we all know what all the media was saying after the Liverpool match about him not starting torrera,I think that’s why he had to start him ahead of Ceballos and please don’t let’s talk about ozil we all know he won’t have made any real difference yesterday and besides I believed that Laca injury first the manager to play Myki ahead of ozil because Auba was moved centrally and ceballos was having a good game at the middle and we all know ozil sucks as a winger.About Chambers have always said it and I will say it again Chambers for me is not different to Sokratis and I will never listen to anyone who tell me Luiz is not better than Chambers, he may be good as a DM but definitely not a Cb, and Phil tell me what exactly did Niles did yesterday, can’t defend can’t cross the ball the way he plays you will think he’s Dani alves who has won everything in football.

          1. Well -the AMN issue needs to be taken in perspective.He is not a full back at all.But who else do we have to play there?Chambers does not have the pace that’s for sure.So while we wait for Bellerin to return we have no option other than to stick with AMN.And let’s not forget the player was preferred by Emery over both Lichstiener and Jenkinson last season so he was the better of a bad choice.I would still give him credit for sticking to his game as best he can.But it highlights how short we are at this level.

    3. I think if we had a proper creative player in the first half we might have scored more. We looked utterly predictable in attack and didn’t come close to fully taking advantage of our front 3.

      So yes we were not played off the pitch by Spurs in the first half but we didn’t come close to realizing our potential IMO.

  7. From what I have seen so far, people Re yet to admit it or they don’t want to say it,as far as I know and watched that match the worse of that midfield was toreira. What has happened to that guy? Since second half of last season he has been on the downhill. I think premier league football is too hard for him. If an offer of 40-50 comes in from Milan next window I would say sell him and buy a more resounding dm.
    Now so far this season I don’t have too much complains yet because I believe that once bellerin and tierny with holding is back we would have a clearer view on our defence, but so far neither sokratis nor Luiz has justified being choosing over Chambers. But at least Luiz has that killer pass in him so I would say drop sokratis and play Chambers with Luiz. Chambers is not erratic like sokratis, we we’re lucky Martin Atkinson didn’t bulge in that late shout for a pk.
    People complaining about Pepe needs to give it a break already, if you know how high up Danny rose play then you should clearly appreciate Pepe.rose didn’t leave their half yesterday no single cross from him and why was that because of Pepe. We should know how to analyse games by now. Our midfield needs sorting guendozi is a starter, either ceballos or ozil then put toreira or xhaka but not both of them, one must be drop.
    Emery should try martinelli instead of Miki because there is something about that kid, the hunger in his play.
    Leno should be doing better I know he is brilliant at stopping long shots but he parries too many balls where he should be catching them and he has faced less shot but still conceded 6 goals already. I think Emery should make it a challenge between him and Martinez to avoid complacency.
    And lastly for all his forward burst kolasinac should have done better in today’s game as I feel Sanchez was out of position and nervous throughout the game.but upward and onwards.
    Have a lovely week ahead my fellow Gunner..cheers!!!

    1. @Lucia, thank you for that, people need to base there criticism on the match not because they dislike the coach or a particular player, torrera was our worst midfielder yesterday, the only different between him and Xhaka yesterday was that penalty at least Xhaka still played one powerful shot,we pressed toth from the beginning but Sokratis decided to do what he does best and Luiz who was supposed to cover for him was nowhere to be found.

      1. Why are the Xhaka lovers bagging Socra. All the team know Xhaka could not win a header to save his life so score went to assist. Did u even Xhaka even get a foot off the ground
        Ferreira is a smart but the manager played him up front that’s why he has been average the last few games. HE IS A DM….manager
        And Xhaka…..What Elsa can be said. I was sad to hear about mikhi simply Because it wasn’t Xhaka. Good riddance to mikhi

  8. i like the many questions…same question marks to me..why put xhaka? why ozil was dropped? why toreira downhill now? why put miki ? why not put martinelli or willock? why leno didnt catch that slow ball from lamela? why sokratis fought the ball together with xhaka and not drop back? why need 2 defenders to challenge ball from the air? why arsenal defenders too weak? a draw with tot at home ground is a lost. lost to liv, now draw to tot is a lost too..bad 2 weekends.. arghhhh

  9. Xhaka is very bad but what worries me is he is the only one doing the dirty work even thou he does it so terribly,

    If I were Emery I will try out chambers out dm, as much as people like torriera he has not been doing more than a decent job for a very long time, If not for the amount of criticism Emery got at anfield for not starting pal and torriera, he would have started torriera from the bench. People even blames Emery for torriera playing bad what a world we live in

    1. Xhaka was very bad but if not for giving away a stupid needles penalty he would have been better than torriera who offered absolutely nothing

      1. Agree. Pitbull lost his mojo but Xhaka is consistently average whilst always having the potential to cost us a game.

      2. Try and keep up, Torreira is a DM but the manager inexplicably has him as an AM and even worse Xhaka behind him for the last few games now

        1. Torriera as an attacking midfielder I missed that game..

          Sarri deployed kante to play in a midfield 3 with joginho spearheading it from the middle that didn’t make kante to play bad or stop intercepting/breaking opponents attack it means he can join attack and also defend its called a cm, torriera has not been playing well for a long time and many still blames Emery for torriera playing not playing well the only thing I blame Emery for is playing him and xhaka at all, both should be on the bench until they sought out them selves

  10. It always amazes me how these “world class” managers do not see what is blatantly obvious, yet us no idea fans all see it !

    World Class manager : Thieir wings backs are slaughtering us, but my diamond formation looks pretty, diamonds are a girls best friend.
    No idea fans : Do something to stop their bwing backs !

    World Class manager : I`ll continue to play Xhaka to give the opposition a chance, it`s not the winning, but the taking part that counts !.

    No Idea Fans : Give me strength !

    The only thing that is world class is their wages !

    1. please don’t describe Emery as a “world class” manager unless you are one of his fanboys. If he was coaching Liverpool last year, they would not have won the CL. If he was coaching Ajax last year, where would they be?

      Emery is just a tier 2 coach, unlike true “world class” managers like Guardiola and Klopp. Even Sarri got Chelsea back into CL and won the
      Europa Cup in his first season.

      Emery can help us get back above Spurs only by switching job to be their coach!

  11. How can you have a keeper who is only good with long range shot but can’t seems to hold onto that Lamela type of shots. Leno has not truly been texted this season yet he has conceded 6 goals already, only God knows what has happened to torrera.

    1. wow….with your tag you are bagging the keeper? Even the best keeper has no chance when you have a defence like ours at the moment

  12. As a practising Neuro Surgeon ( I`ve been practising for 2 hours so far since my purchase of “Neuro Surgery for beginners in two hours ” video ) I can see there is something fundamentally wrong with Emery and Xhaka`s brains !………………they were seperated at birth !

  13. The listing that follows in not who I consider to be our midfield pool at the club, but is taken directly from the official AFC website;

    Miki Could go (Roma)
    Smith Rowe Currently Out on Loan

    Given the above pool of players, and what each could potentially bring to the table, WHY, WHY, WHY do we insist on fielding Granit Xhaka week in week out ????

    I am even tempted to move Chambers into the above pool (DM) given his exploits at Fulham whilst on loan there.

    Xhaka not only consistently makes errors, but makes extremely costly errors and the time has now come to look at an alternative.

    Mustafi’s errors are well documented particularly given the “exposed” position he plays in, however, if he made half the errors Xhaka does (often glossed over in the middle third of the park)you can imagine the stick that would follow.

    In Emery we trust, but please Unai time to drop what seems to be your trusted (?) go to player – I’m afraid your trust is increasingly misplaced.

    1. All I can say is that Xhaka looks great in training where if you foul your club mate it doesn`t result in a penalty !

  14. I think errors in Xhaka Luiz Sokratis and Leno is the main culprit. He could’ve dropped Xhaka and the Liv starters yes he could’ve put more out there. We need to do in midfield and defence what we done up front in summer, pay that bit extra and get some undeniable quality in in a CM player and CB. Guendouzi, I’d like to see us now put our faith in him and have him force a duo with Torriera, Xhaka needs to be disciplined he must get dropped for doing that at all in a derby never mind one where you’re a goal down in first half in front of your own fans, needlessly reckless to be polite. Another one, CC done nothing wrong, we looked solid for first time in ages with him there, Emery then replaces him and all of a sudden leaks and stupidity, so you may have some fair points on Emery also being to blame. It really is a let down, those strikers deserve better and I’m glad Auba told them that the goal deficit shouldn’t have happened.

    1. Problem with that BOT is by the time with have sorted our defence out our forward line will be gone or retired

    2. What are you talking about who did Emery replace all of a sudden?
      Seems like people’s hate for Emery is affecting the way they think and see things

    1. maybe ozil should be playing in the left back position. after all, if he is good as his admirers think he is , then, he should be able to play anywhere on the pitch. are you reading this mr.emery.

  15. Our squad has trimmed the deadwood who don’t contribute much but right now we have only 21 players over 21. we have 5 under 21 players as part of the squad, so it seems a little light given our usual luck with injuries. With mustafi and possibly mkhi out we are down to 19 plus with injuries that number is down to 16 senior players. Management did a good job cutting the squad now we need to reinforce it.

    OVER 21
    Bernd Leno
    Emiliano Martínez
    Matt Macey
    Héctor Bellerín
    Rob Holding
    Kieran Tierney
    Sead Kolasinac
    David Luiz
    Calum Chambers
    Shkodran Mustafi
    Konstantinos Mavropanos
    Henrikh Mkhitaryan
    Mesut Özil
    Granit Xhaka
    Lucas Torreira
    Dani Ceballos
    Ainsley Maitland-Niles
    Alexandre Lacazette
    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 
    Nicolas Pepe

    Player under 21 who play in 1st team
    Matteo Guendouzi(U21)
    Joe Willock(U21)
    Emile Smith Rowe(U21)
    Reiss Nelson(U21)
    Gabriel Martinelli(U21)

  16. Xhaka for Arsenal;

    Penalties conceded – 5

    Total errors leading to a goal – 11

    (So I read, I am trusting this is accurate).

    The above in his 3 year stay to date!

    O.K. I could have included his goal tally to be balanced.

    But the constant recklessness (not being hard, just reckless) has obviously become a real problem and the “bad” is far outweighing the “good”.

  17. Give it time and as usual the result won’t look so bad,we have already played 2 top 4 teams,are above spuds
    ,Chelsea,man utd…we a have the international break,more time for new players to gel in, injured players to come back,we will definitely improve,see things are not as bad as people think!

  18. In all fairness i think everyone here is kicking a baby that is learning to walk and asking why its not running.If there is any fan that thought we would contend for the EPL title at the begining of the season then such a one is delusional.Surfice to say that we would loose points,and if we are loosing points to Liverpool the champions of europe,or to Tottenham that contested Liverpool for that Champions league,then there is no shame in that.How we loose the points dont matter whether its a Luiz mistake of Xhaka blunder.Very few people play a perfect 90Minutes without a blunder.Only problem is that for defenders and DMs,such a blunder almost always ends in a goal.So its easy to pick up on them and call them all sorts of things.A year ago being 0-2 down half an hour into the game meant the game is lost.The team is getting together well,i beleive we will win something this season-Europa or FA.And i beleive we are going to be an exciting team around mid october

    1. Agree 100% all players make mistakes but Xhaka makes them 90% of his playing time….no positional sense, can’t win headers, can’t dribble, doesn’t know what a tackle is, makes blatant fouls, a red card waiting to happen….no speed and yet he is our captain? What has happened to my beloved Arsenal
      In the spuds game my son told me Xhaka would never be substituted because it would mean admitting he was wrong and true enough…he wasn’t. I have lost hope for this manager and now can’t wait to see him go. Well he will.manage his own way out this seadon

      1. Another thing that people dont consider is the lack of world class managers on the market.If you think its easy to replace a manager at a club like arsenal,ask Chelsea and Man United.With all their moneys,all they could muster are the newbies that are going to be sacked before new years!Look at what we were being linked with,Arteta seriously?Emery is still around for some good time

  19. Well I’m different from most in that I’m not going to constantly persecute the manager….. Only mistake he made against Spurs imo was playing Xhaka, for all his qualities that would make him an almost perfect 6, he is too slow in movement and thought to be playing for a top PL side.

    Most people I’ve seen here and elsewhere wanted at least PAL and Torreira to start with different views on who should make up the rest of midfield and defense, so if we can’t come up with a common consensus on who should be our main starting 11 why are we expecting the manager after just 4 weeks with the new signings/youth to have it all sorted out?

    Seems to me that we have a lot of depth to our midfield now – Guendouzi, Willock and Ceballos have all been on fire at one point or another this season and we know there is more to come, Torreira is hopefully just rusty after his extended break. As for Ozil, Xhaka and Mhiki….. each has their champions saying they should start and each has people who would drive them theirselves to be rid but regardless of how we personally feel about them there is no denying that they are our experienced midfielders which could be the reason the manager values them.

    Same goes for the defence….. we all expect KT and Bellerin to take the full back slots when fit but many different opinions on who should make up the CB pairing.

    I’m afraid it will take time and “tinkering” to work out which team has the best chemistry….. That’s kinda all part and parcel of rebuilding something ?‍♂️

    1. For a long time someone talks with his sense and not hate for the coach and players.

      I heard start your best 11 week after week, yet we fans can’t settle for a 1st 11 of our own with different opinions most biased by there love for one/two players in their line-up, to me the best players at arsenal is PAL and leno (Leno based on last season performance) others should merit their place to be in the eleven pepe made that list because his our record signing and no competition for his place. Only few people hard guenduozi in the 1st team eleven yet he went out and won man of the match when fan favourite torriera was clearly struggling, we made some signing that are intresting that doesn’t automatically make them our best 1st eleven only there performances will earn it, If xhaka,torriera and our cb don’t put up a consistent performance other options should be looked at it’s not tinkering it’s finding best combination of players I don’t care who replaces them ozil,willock if it’s the combination that works perfectly let them play game after game

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