The positives and negatives on Emery’s time as Arsenal head coach

MY VIEW ON UNAI EMERY: by Alfie Culshaw

As we’re in another dull interlul period, I thought this would be a good time to fully address my current reservations over head coach Unai Emery, and ultimately express where I stand on the Spaniard.

As much as we may moan about performances, we can’t gloss over the fact that results on the whole haven’t been poor, and are what we’d probably expect, barring Watford away. We sit 3rd and just one point off last season’s champions who attained a staggering 98 points last campaign- that should only resonate positivity.

Adding to this, we’ve had a relatively tough set of fixtures, travelling to Old Trafford (which will always be a big encounter and occasion, regardless of how dire they are) and Anfield, as well as playing a North London Derby. With vital players returning to full fitness and set to fully embed themselves into the first-team set up, and a winnable run of fixtures approaching, surely it can only get better?

Emery is far from a risky head coach. His insistence and stubbornness in constantly deploying Granit Xhaka as the deepest midfielder in a 4-3-3, and Lucas Torreira as a box-to-box midfielder, despite both clearly not working, is becoming infuriating, and is somewhat reminiscent to Arsene Wenger’s latter stages when he refused to attempt to find solutions to ongoing problems. Emery consistently resorts to playing this dysfunctional midfield, which freakishly exploits our already feeble back 4, not providing the protection it so desperately needs.

It also leaves us with very little connection between the midfield and front 3, which so clearly has the potential to thrive on consistent and high quality service. Furthermore, he has a tendency to return to his pragmatic side when under pressure, often so unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive. To put it plain and simply, Emery isn’t utilising his resources in the most effective way. And this is essentially what a manager’s job is. Results may have not been poor, but they could certainly be better. Had we been more adventurous at Vicarage Road and Old Trafford, we may have found ourselves chasing Liverpool.

Arsenal are expected to play in a certain way- Wenger spent years implementing an artistic and creative philosophy at the club, only for Emery to somewhat diminish these values in his opening 15 months. I don’t know what he’s trying to do. Does he have a plan? We’ve played in a structureless routine, which sees us fluctuate between total defensive incompetence and attempting to sit on a lead or a draw in a dire manner.

Are we a possession based team? Certainly not- in fact Emery seems happy to surrender possession. Are we a counter-attacking side? I see no signs of us being good in the offensive or defensive transition. Are we a pressing side? Other than periods of the first half against Bournemouth, I haven’t seen any signs of a cohesive press. Within 15 months, it should be clear what sort of side Emery is trying to create, and so far I have absolutely no idea, and it’s hard to get behind. Within 15 months, I have more questions than I do answers over Emery, and that shouldn’t be the case.



  1. Good article. But Arsenal should keep Emery as long as the team are still having a chance to get a CL ticket

    We can only call for his dismissal when there is no hope anymore in EPL and in Europa League. Sanllehi has made it clear that Emery will be replaced if he doesn’t meet the club’s expectation

    Many here want Enrique or Allegri to replace Emery, but I bet most of them just watched those managers’ teams played occasionally. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so let’s wait till Emery fail to get a CL ticket first

    1. gotanidea, You do talk a heap of nonsense; sounds like a woman who is prepared to suffer a husband who continue to batter her with regular beatings when he gets home after spending house money at the Bookies and the Pub; a woman trapped ion the “Stockholm Syndrome”

      Alfie Culshaw has given a reasonable and honest analysis based on “true facts” which will stand up to “Judicial Analysis”. Unai Emery came with a reasonable CV but he[Emery] could not withstand the Rigours and Machinations at PSG and was ‘Booted Out.” Post Stan Kroenke(Owner & Chairman AFC) having dispatched Josh Kroenke to London for an objective analysis of the debacle and Crisis at AFC under Arsene Wenger and the failure to reach “Top 4” of EPL again And the resulting “sacking” of Arsene Wenger, much to the dismay of “some”; weeping, sycophantic anus licking demented fans; Ivan Gazidis(ex CEO) won the battle.

      Unai Emery has lost the “dressing room” and has been directed by Raul Sanllehi(Head of Football), Vinay Venkatesham(GM) post their regular weekly “wattsApp” conferences, that Unai Emery Must dispense with his instructions to the team, “Always Play from the Back Regardless” which “Playing from the BACK” HAS COST ARSENAL. (ex.) Socrates gifting Watford’s Cleverley a ball to his feet from Arsenals Box !

      Arsenal, save Liverpool, has the most destructive and devastating Attack Force in Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe, but, they do not get the service from the “defensive midfield” which Unai Emery deploys as was against a weak Man.Utd. Yes, Xhaka is slower than a “Sloth” both mentally and physically and in his absence Arsenal slammed Nottingham Forrest. Ceballos is an established No.8 as exhibited wonderfully against Burnley and not a No. 10. Similarly, Torreira is an established No.6, as exhibited against Fulham at the Craven last season and certainly Not a No. 10.

      Unai Emery is incompetent and is responsible for Arsenal having Lost 3rd place of EPL last season and Arsenal are only in 3rd place today because of the failures of others and Not the excellence of Arsenal, the excellence which Arsenal are deprived from exhibiting directly due to Unai Emery. Unai Emeery MUST be SACKED.

    1. I can’t understand why some fans justify Emery’s limitations with Wenger’s faults. Wenger period is what it is, past. We have Emery now with a squad if well properly utilized should be in second position with 3 points less than Liverpool. This shows that Emery is not good enough. Yes we are third and I can bet my life we won’t be in that position by the time we play Leicester city. That is how hopeless I’m with Emery brand of football. We were lucky or should I say we need to thank Leno for the whole 3 points in our last match. Our performances against Liverpool, spurs and manu were rudderless and dire likewise in other matches. Fans like innit, Ozziegunner and others that believe Emery is doing well should put aside our position presently and tell me if our performances matches our quality. He is underutilizing our qualities. I don’t like talking about his said preferred players by some fans as I believe the players are all ours and deserves to play but my problem with the coach is, he is not using them properly, give them responsibilities and make them accountable for their errors.

  2. The stubbornness of playing Xhaka is probably because he is the closest to a deep lying playmaker we have which he is utilising to try and compensate from the whole formation sitting deep to cover defensive weaknesses right now.

    Torreira playing higher up the pitch, I may be wrong here as don’t watch the Chavs all the time but isn’t Kante also being played higher? There seems to be a growing trend since VAR started rolling out for the tough tackling midfielder to be higher up the pitch rather than on the edge of the box.

    Sense of identity, well that’s harder to quantify, if you look at our league form alone then it’s hard to disagree, but if you take in to account the UEL/Cup matches then our identity becomes a bit more evident, 4231 has been the favoured formation, we have played a higher line, pressed intelligently, ball has been played out from the back quicker and with more confidence so with players returning to fitness I see no reason for this not to be replacated in the league.

    Everyone likes to give how long he’s been in charge and how much money he has had, and they look at our squad on paper but give no thought to how long he was making do with a squad not his own, how many of the squad have actually been available etc etc.
    Not to mention the comparisons to Wenger which always seem to ignore how dire things were at the end there,17/18 we finished 6th with 63 points, 12 points of 4th, a W/D/L ratio of 53/17/30 and had only taken 6 points of our main rivals.
    Under Emery last season with a squad not his own he managed to get us 5th with 70 points,1 point of 4th (2 off 3rd),improved our W/D/L to 60/14/26 and take 12 points off our main rivals.
    Now he has the squad his own but only just getting everybody fit, has us in 3rd,1 point of City in 2nd having only lost one game this season and the hatchets are out already 🤷‍♂️

    1. I hear ya, but do we also not look at how many bottom half teams that we lost to as well?
      After one season and 20% of the next, to be saying he hasn’t got his team, many players are injured etc is pretty lame. All teams have injuries and the players that are “his” include Lichsteiner, Denis Suarez, Sokratis and Luiz. Wenger’s deadwood Xhaka is his player now, Mustafi is making a comeback, Ozil is benched, Ramsey is gone, so let’s stay with whether he is maximising the potential of the squad. Chambers on loan last year and Nketiah this year are big mistakes and this hopefully will not be repeated with others.
      Can we have a definite system in place and a Plan B, not C-Z, in terms of first XI, their replacements, formation and method of play. At the moment all we see is a lot of players running around.

      1. At the moment we are at plan B in the league…. Sit deep to compensate for our weaknesses and aim to not lose. Plan A is how we play in the UEL.

        Last season he was without his own squad, no winger, no decent LB and his RB and main CB he inherited were injured for most of the season. He got backed in the summer to make the squad his own but guess what…. He has still been without a LB, RB and his most dependable CB 🤷‍♂️
        Add in Willock, Martinelli, Saka, Nelson, Chambers, Ceballos, Pepe as new faces in the senior squad this season and you would expect him to change the starting 11 around to find out what is the best mix, a process made harder by having to compensate for a crap backline.
        I mean c’mon as far as a defensive line goes any combination out of AMN, Sok, Mustafi, Luiz or Kola is going to be one of the weakest in the league no matter how you play it – just too many errors all rolled into one backline yet still only one loss so far. The guy must be doing something right don’t ya think?

          1. Your term not mine 🤷‍♂️
            No one ever said every player Wenger had was useless, and personally I will support every player in our shirt, even Ozil, Mustafi and Xhaka. I may voice an opinion and criticise them, when I feel its fair cop but I try and remain impartial and have no problems holding my hands up if I’m proved wrong 🤷‍♂️

          2. MadHatter, great comment mate…support the shirt and not the player…hold your hands up when proved wrong.

            As far as no-one saying all AW’s players were dross, however, that is incorrect.
            Also, it is UE who is choosing his line ups and the tactics used…plus the players he deicdes to ignore at any cost AND the players he selects at all times.

            Great sentiments though, surely all gooners should be doing this?

        1. did he not say when he got the job (UE) that he would rather win 4-3 than 1-0 ?
          then why sit back when you have offensive weapons that can outscore most PL teams?
          the man has no idea how to use this squad and he is a small time egomaniac
          time will tell but screwing with players only will buy him very little time.
          he has lost the dressing room and players know very well who should be in the squad and how that would help the team. UE skipped over that part of the job where managing personalities and getting the best out of the is good management.

          1. But does he really have the attack to out score people right now? 🤔
            Seems to me that we have Auba who has been majestic, Pepe who is finding his feet and a choice of youngsters who are showing promise but need time. So not what you would call a fully firing front line.
            Against that you have a backline with more fekking holes than a sieve.
            So just how sure are you that we can actually out score people when we have problems both ends of the pitch?
            Personally I feel we would have struggled and could have lost matches in the attempt which is why I think Emery has compensated by sitting deep so far. Might be ugly but one loss so far this season means he is doing something right 🤷‍♂️

      2. madhatter, it was Wenger who introduced the likes of willock and nelson to the senior side. Your man you support most, had his rb in Leichesteina, had a winger in Denis Suarez ,mid-fielders in Matteo and Torreira all brought in by him and used them all season. So what do you mean that he didn’t have his own players? And when we talk of plans in foot-ball, we don’t reffer to plans as per different competitions, we mean plans as per a game being played. That if you start a game with plan A and you find that it’s not working your way, what is the manager/coach’s plan B to achieve a good result in a particular game? But back to our ARTICLE, the TRUTH is your man emery for the past 15 months he has been in charge, he hasn’t reflected proper direction/style he is building our team.

        1. Firstly Emery is not my man…. I have seen 4 managers at this club and Wenger will always be the one I respect the most for everything he did for our club and the game in general.
          Secondly I never said he introduced them to the senior team but that they are now new faces to the senior team, they were either on loan or still part of the youth setup last season.
          Thirdly Lichsteiner was a poor buy I don’t disagree but the decision behind his purchase was sound, reliable RB to rotate with Bellerin just a shame his legs couldn’t take it which made him rash. Same deal with Suarez…. Got him in the hope of getting some width but never took to the league and picked up an injury ruling him out. Wenger picked a fair few duds in his time too 🤷‍♂️
          As for Matteo and Torreira, 2 players who were plucked from obscurity and played a season double the length of any they had before, both bright stars in our squad but still not enough to make the squad his own. Emery needs wingers and fullbacks to play his game 🤷‍♂️
          It’s not a different plan for different competitions but an attacking plan based on having a balanced squad which he has only been able to implement in the UEL/Cup so far due to player availability and a defensive counter attacking plan for when we can’t handle the demands for attacking which is what we’ve seen in the league so far – tell me as much as I love Wenger, where is his tactical flexibility that far outshines Emery’s? He played attacking football all the time and it would either work or go horribly wrong. Emery knew it would go horribly wrong so tried something different and let’s be fair it might be ugly as hell but it’s bloody worked…. We are 3rd,we are taking more points from our main rivals, Emery has won more games in his first 50 than any other manager, our win/lose/draw ratio is improving, and we have lost one game this season whilst still enduring an injury crisis that would kill off almost any team you care to name.
          First choice RB, LB, CB and support striker are out injured….. That’s like taking Robertson, TAA, VVD and Firmino out of Liverpool and expecting them to go out and play beautiful, exciting football – just ain’t gonna happen 🤷‍♂️

          1. Here is the simple truth. Emery is not the manager for Arsenal to progress as a club just like he was not the right man at PSG with all those players at his disposal. Players do not play for him once he starts getting into his bs favoritism .
            Consider this: he had a 4-0 advantage over Barca and he got blown away on the return leg despite having major talent in that PSG team. That tells me his players had no
            fight in them and this stems from all his poor management tactics. The Ozil situation is an example.All managers are guilty if this at some point (remember Wenger and Arshavin) but UE is too insecure to see past this. Tell me that no matter who the opponent a trio of Auba /Lacca and Pepe with Ozil behind them and Toreira/Guendouzi holding could not score goals? Seems simple and obvious.
            Now you can rotate your MF with Ceballos/XHaka/Willock of the bench and you got something. Keep in mind we had 4th locked down last year practically until we fell
            apart the last 6-7 games of the season. Why ? With CL football on our sight any player would play his best but under UE the politics took precedence and blew an excellent chance. I hate to be sceptical but if he continues this way we will fall short again.

          2. Haha how selective… He got a 4-0 lead over Barca playing his system, they lost it in the return leg because the players abandoned his way of playing to please Neymar – they even bloody admitted as much 😂

            Sure Auba, Laca and Pepe can score goals if Ozil turns up to supply them. We don’t have that right now though do we? We have Auba, Pepe finding his feet and a youngster and Ozil when he was given the chance supplied nothing 🤷‍♂️
            Add on to that just how weak our backline is an you can begin to see why we haven’t been so attacking in the PL so far.

            As for last season, many things contributed to the collapse. Injuries, player exhaustion (eg season was twice the length for Guendouzi and Torreira), players not performing well enough and yes even mistakes by the manager – that’s football, you can’t put it all on Emery 🤷‍♂️

  3. Best formation for the Gunners at the moment should be


    Hector Holdin Socratis Tieny

    Matteo Lucas T

    Dani C

    Nico Pep Aubameyang Bukayo Saka.

    Based on the current availability.

  4. i am always wondering , why, the people , on here, that are calling for unai emerys head, already,are not prepared to give him the same amount of time that they gave wenger.wenger was a dead man walking for at least 6 of his last seasons, yet, none of his fanboys would dare call him out.i ask the question , are the same people who wanted wenger to stay on and on and on , are they the same people that are calling for emerys head ?. if the answer is in the positive that that is rather spooky.before anybody gets on my back, i have nothing against mr.wenger, i am sure he is a nice person, but he did need to go .good luck to him in whichever pursuit he decides to take up next. should we not wait until emerys contract is up at the end of this season and then judge him?. i am not a fan of emery either, he is not arsenal material, in my opinion, but i think he deserves to work out his contract, and then see where that takes us . patience my friends. what i would give to see fluent football at the emirates, that would be wonderful. and i dont mean the cross pitch game that was preferred in wengers final seasons.

  5. I support one who sees Emery as arrogant and rigid on useless xhaka midfield which doesnot link up to our striking line atall. Thanks to our brainy finisher Aubm. Ure the saviour of that tactles guy. He even makes me say ozil is innocent.

  6. Our last six games:

    Goals for: 17
    Goals against: 3
    Wins: 5
    Draws: 1
    Losses: 0

    Current league position: 3
    Clean Sheets: 4


  7. I was not been selective but is is an illustration of how players band together when the manager
    has issues. i think you can agree to that and ultimately unless you can manage the entire group and not your core picks it falls apart.
    Granted as you mentioned we don’t have all players in form but whose fault is that? Should UE not
    be responsible? Is it not his job to think of the entire group and club than his personal ego?
    Who should we blame for player exhaustion last year as you said? Is it not the managers job to rotate his group and think how we can finish strong? Why did City and Liverpool were able to push to the last game and we were not?
    I was excited to get a change from Wenger’s stubborn way but this guy is just as bad and he certainly is not Wenger’s pedigree.
    Time will tell.

    1. But Emery is managing the entire group, the only one not responding (for whatever reason) is Ozil. All the youngsters we rave about are going from strength to strength with each passing game, the squad has some fight to it now which it lacked before, we have seen evidence of pressing etc etc.

      You can’t blame Emery for injuries or player form, he only has so many options to work with. Pepe still finding his feet for example, impacts his chances of out scoring the opponent if he was to go offensive. Emery can’t help that, Pepe just needs time, he could pull him off but who goes in to replace him? Nelson hasnt exactly hit the ground running either, Saka and Martinelli are both better on the left but all three are just youngsters – putting the pressure to go out and out score another team when our backline is so weak would kill their confidence wouldn’t you think?

      And last season he tried rotating the squad to compensate for player fatigue but once again only so many options and it’s not as if there weren’t senior players on the pitch who should have done better in every one of those games – it’s just the way football goes 🤷‍♂️
      Comparing Emery in his first season to the two top teams which have been put together over a course of years is hardly a fair comparison, they have the players the manager wants to play their way.
      Emery has been making do with what he inherited, which whilst that doesn’t make the players crap, it does mean they may not be the right fit for how he wants the team to play.
      Judge him at the end of the season if he’s failed and still playing timid football – not now when he hasn’t been given a fair chance, I don’t think he has ever been able to play his strongest 11 since he took the role 🤷‍♂️

      1. you said Emery is not your man yet you are way out there to cover or him
        The fact we are third in the league disguises a lot of problems and if you look a little closer you can see that unless we got a bit lucky to come back and beat Villa and tie MU
        we would be 4 points further down and would not look so rosy for UE.
        We can paper over the issues but what he inherited is a pretty good squad and with Pepe and Tierney even better. Having not played his best 11 is because he does not know who the best players are and as another poster noted neither does he have a defined style since we do not possess/counterattack well/ or press well.
        Again I hope we win the league and Emery is God but all signs pooint the other direction…

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