Arsenal fed to the Wolves

Online Editorial – Another three goals conceded, another defeat

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Statistically, Arsenal have performed better away from home over the course of Unai Emery’s first season than they did in 2017-18. But after matches like yesterday evening’s it just doesn’t feel like the team are actually playing any better. It was as full strength a team as the head coach could field, remembering the injured list accounted for Holding, Bellerin, Ramsey and Aubameyang. And yet it was not until deep into the second half that the first Arsenal attempt was registered on target, Sokratis’ consolation goal that allowed misguided optimism to flicker after reaching the interval 3-0 down.

Defensively it was another horrorshow. There is a belief that Steve Bould can actually improve the defence, which is based on a couple of spells under Arsene when he was given more opportunity to impart his knowledge. If that is true Emery can’t be utilising the former centre-back on the training pitch. Sure, the club have some questionable defenders, but last night they had four of the more decent ones lined up. Monreal conceded a free-kick just outside the box for the first goal, and there was little anyone could do when it floated in over the wall. But the second and third were far worse, the second from a corner and the third a break after Xhaka was careless in midfield and the shot went under Leno’s arm.

To paint the picture even blacker, in spite of plenty of possession the Gunners offered minimal goal threat. They at least enjoyed a break with Manchester United losing at home to Man City, and if Solkskjaer’s team can rally to defeat Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday it will help Arsenal’s cause. The Gunners though, will probably have to win at Leicester and Burnley, as well as winning at home v Brighton to have a realistic chance of finishing in the top four. Beating Leicester and Burnley away though? It’s difficult to see. This is a team with deep-rooted psychological issues away from the home comforts of the Emirates. And you can’t see it changing soon.

The lack of creativity going forward though is a real concern. In this sense the runs of Aaron Ramsey were an obvious miss, but that is something that will be a permanent state of affairs after the summer anyway. Mesut Ozil did get on the ball but didn’t produce too much in the way of danger. It has been a familiar story too often of late to be a coincidence that the team have lacked a cutting edge, and there have been instances of that at home too. That they were nullified so easily does make you wonder how these players are going to manage to get a result at Leicester. Aubameyang might be back, although what difference that will make is questionable. Eddie Nketiah at least looked hungry when he came on, as he seemed to have a desire and incentive to impress that was lacking in his colleagues. It feels psychological, an overhang from the Wenger era and too many failures on the road. Something’s missing in the make-up of the team, even though on the isolated occasion they can find a performance.

The priority though, over the summer, has to be sorting out the defence. Start matches with the first aim of not losing them and build from there. That may not be Emery’s way. In the meantime, we have to get through what remains of this season and, in all likelihood, consider the Europa League as the best chance of making next season’s Champions League. And the reason for that is that three wins from the remaining three domestic fixtures looks highly unlikely. If they achieved that, they’d have 75 points. Chelsea are on 67 points and can get 76, although a draw at United at the weekend would mean a maximum of 74. United themselves can achieve 75 by winning all their games, but their goal difference is probably not healthy enough to overcome Arsenal, should they also scramble to 75. Emery’s team play at Leicester before the Man Utd v Chelsea game on Sunday. An unlikely win there would at least make the Old Trafford fixture more interesting viewing. United’s other fixtures are away to Huddersfield and home to Cardiff. Chelsea host Watford and then travel to Leicester.

So Arsenal’s situation isn’t terminal, but let’s face it, there is little reason to see a turnaround based on recent away performances. It does though feel that whoever manages to secure fourth place will limp in. My long held belief that 76 points would secure 4th place will be confirmed, although Arsenal will have to hope the bar is lower than that.


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  1. itsRonagain2

    Apr 26, 2019, 16:21 #113619

    Hi Bard - we re not so different are we to 1985 ish. Tired ageing players, poor team, unfit for purpose players etc. GG came in and chanced his arm with TA, Rocky, Merson, Hayes and Co and bought some solid citizens to bolster them like Bouldy and Dicho. I know the games changed but look at the never say die approach it engendered back then with those lads who were all as raw as f--k. It gave us a freshness we hadnt seen for years didnt it and lead us to glory in 89. Proper Arsenal! We could do it again i think and if Dick cant manage get some body in who can i say. I reckon Dick would relish it though provided he knew he was going to get time.

  2. peter wain

    Apr 26, 2019, 16:19 #113618

    frankly the loan of Suarez is a worrying indictment of Dick's judgement in the transfer market. It bodes badly for this transfer window. Last time the purchases made were not good enough. An ageing paceless Swiss full back clearly past his sell by date, a young Frenchman who has potential but is fast going back woods. Is he better than Willock? An ageing slow Greek centre half sorry we deserve better than this fare. Unfortunately the owner now 100% does not see things this way and they lack of investment this summer will see a continued down wood spiral. If we do not have money why invest what we have in poor players. Save our cash and play youngsters. Or alternatively Kroenke sell the club and let some one with ambition take Arsenal forward because £45 million is nothing for a top 4 club.

  3. John F

    Apr 26, 2019, 15:15 #113617

    Good points Ron and Magna. It would be rinse and repeat, Champions League,buy slightly over the hill players,fail to qualify for Champions League the following season,stuck with now fully over the hill players.No 89 We are now allowed 5 European teams in the Champions league top4 + the EL winners ,the only complication would be if Spurs and Chelsea were out of the top 4 but won C L and the Europa.

  4. Bard

    Apr 26, 2019, 14:12 #113616

    At one level our current situation tells you all you need to know about how poor the PL is. As others have said we are at the Everton, Wolves level with CL wage levels. I think Ron and others make a good point why not play the youngsters. My beef with the youth players policy is that they play very little and are only played one at a time. They would perform a lot better if there were 3 or 4 of them playing together. AMN has done well playing out of position. Is Suarez all that much better than Reiss. Is Wilcock that much worse than Xhaka or Guendo ? Buying a load of cheap imports does nothing for culture or team spirit. Ajax have made a success of playing them. Also we would then have a team worth getting behind. So what that they get spanked now and again. This happens already. Chelsea are only playing Loftus Cheek and Odowi because of fan pressure and Cheek looks a bloody powerhouse in their midfield. The final point is that we dont have the money to buy at the top of the market so whats to lose.

  5. ArsenalMagna

    Apr 26, 2019, 13:01 #113615

    Ron, I've been starting to think that way myself lately. If we make CL football, you can be sure we'll make a couple of expensive signings, but how much do you wanna bet on them being players past their peak or unknowns who could be very hit or miss? With Aubamayeng we got good value for money, Mkhi maybe not so much in terms of his wages, but we're only really an attractive club for 'established' players in their late 20s, which is pretty risky, in truth. I think a huge consideration is that with Ozil on £350k per week, a marquee signing will want AT LEAST £200k (just look at the Ramsey situation), and that is what Auba and Mkhi seem to be earning. I think the best thing might be to wait two years till Mkhi, Mustafi and Ozil leave, freeing up around £630k per week, get a wage bill that means we cope without CL football but have a squad maybe good enough to sneak in top 4 or win the EL every year. It would be better to build from within given that there is also a real lack of quality in the market right now, a problem for our competitors perhaps even more than us. Chelsea will be dreadful without Hazard, maybe even if Pepe joins in his stead, and their owner is disinterested and more hampered by FFP in any case. As for United, I hope they don't make the CL this year because then we'll see a massive exodus of players from their squads and they'll have to pump insane amounts of money in to try to remedy it which hasn't worked for them yet! Especially if United don't make top 4, I think we could afford to just do a slow, financially sound rebuild for a few years without falling behind.

  6. itsRonagain2

    Apr 26, 2019, 12:11 #113614

    Dare i say it, but im no sure AFC finishing 4th is necessarily a good thing or winning the EL though i dont think we re capable of the latter anyway. My point is that we all agree and i think DE knows that a total re build is required. My own view is that we need to give some of our own younger guys the nod to take us forwards and not spending money on the Eric Bailly s of this world which is what we ve been doing for many years and just accumulating a squad full of expensive flops on high wages. If we re outside of the top 4, DE can start to build with no pressure of CL etc etc with players who really do want AFC to do well and to be part of it. He can then instil some real hunger into the squad doing this and generate some camaraderie that we ve not seen for years. i feel that for a re build to have fabric and substance, buying cheap imports can only paper over the massive years old cracks. If Emery is really the man for the job, they should tell him to do this and give him the time to do it. Yes, i know the money argument prevails and thus the need for top 4 etc etc but surely some honour, pride and meaning for the club has to figure some where? We just haven't 'been Arsenal' for so, so long, its embarrassing and it cant all be heaped at Wengers door. Fresh starts commence at the bottom. Yes, we ll lose games and no doubt lose some 'fans' but who cares if we can at least see a plan and a direction. Right now, those games at Everton and Wolves are Arsenals trademark and its a disgrace i think.

  7. Nos89

    Apr 26, 2019, 10:46 #113613

    During the unbeaten 22 match run earlier this season, we started games slowly but won them in the second half. Please can we return to that form for three matches? A big ask I know but we can do it. Slight issue with finishing 4th is that we need to back it up with a Europa cup win, as if Chelski win it and finish 5th, we'll find ourselves back in the Europa League. Only way is finish 3rd hoping spurds flounder with the distraction of "champions" league semi final.

  8. markymark

    Apr 26, 2019, 07:49 #113612

    Cornish - keep em coming! Anything to relieve the gloom, at least the Eggman ain’t around to deluge us with his continual unfunny bilge

  9. John F

    Apr 25, 2019, 19:14 #113611

    Laughed at that Cornish and another joke is that I read that Mustgaffi is on 90G a week.


    Apr 25, 2019, 18:32 #113610

    Years of complacency & failure to invest means chickens are really coming home to roost. No good blaming Dick as yet as being the Europa's most successful manager is no mean achievement & buys him time. The Kloppmeister now has an excellent team but it has taken 4 seasons for him to get there & I don't think the 'Pool ever had as weak a squad as ours currently. No chance in the league now as Burnley & Leicester will be licking their lips at proving that we still "don't like it up 'em"! Can't stand Vardy but his attitude is exactly what is missing at AFC. Spurs Erickson is allegedly on £75k per week which is a win win for them - whether he stays or not. Now remind me, how much are Ozil, Mikki, Mustafi & countless others on? A 4 year job for Dick if he can be arsed imo. Finally, I need some assistance as I cannot understand the Governmental row which has erupted over the 5g telephone contract. What's wrong in giving the contract to that well known Geordie firm - Huawei (The Lads)?

  11. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Apr 25, 2019, 17:40 #113609

    It is the range of performance from Arsenal that amazes me - they can turn up and beat all teams bar Citeh and Liverpool. However if we don't turn up anyone can beat us and than is part due to not having a proper captain and of course some of our players clearly regard their agent as their manager and Emery as just the trainer. I have said for some time that 4 or 5 of our younger "Arsenal" players in the squad would bring some care for winning games, as we are now, the overated and more "exotic" members of our squad only turn up when they feel like it.

  12. John F

    Apr 25, 2019, 16:11 #113608

    The way I see it as this team appears with a few rare exceptions to be incapable of producing a good away performance why not try some of the youngsters out like Willock and Eddie to inject some enthusiasm.Next season we will have the two mentioned as well as Smith Rowe ,Nelson and the wonder kid Saka and Arsenal fan Medley.Belik was doing very well at Charlton and Chambers has received plaudits for his D M role at Fulham even Martinez was doing well at Reading.We have some good youngsters coming through who need time in the first team.I just hope Dic k doesn't block their progress by playing the usual duffers.

  13. Don Howe

    Apr 25, 2019, 15:47 #113607

    It's hard to establish an even thought position on this. Here's my two penny worth anyway. 1. The Fraud left Dick with an awful situation which he has made an excellent fist of. 2. He hasn't sorted out the defence. We tend to see this as an isolated unit because George Graham did. Dick and his predecessor see it as integrated (ie part of attack and defence). It needs good new troops. It needs Martin Keown. Let's all write and suggest it. Emery isn't a moron. He might listen. 3. Defensive midfield. There's only the Uruguayan. Could AMN do the job as well? The minimum is two. 4. Attacking midfield to paraphrase Ernst Stavro Blofeld " Sack Ozil NOW". He is a false 10. a non player. a non inspirer. Miki is worth keeping. Xhaka pants. Elneny not good enough. Sideshow Bob needs a rest. He's 19 for goodness sake and he needs to be taught to tackle. Iwobi, Wrighty reckons that he's a player so keep him. 5. The young ones. Give them a chance. Get Fabregas back and let him coach the midfield and play when he can do so. 6. Our attack is superb. We have to give them service. Not a bad season and we cant be disappointed that they have run out of steam. 7. There is a mental problem away from home.

  14. Exiled in Pt

    Apr 25, 2019, 14:35 #113606

    With money spent on a new back line in the summer ( ha i am allowed to dream ) , i would love to see Ainsley and Torreira in the middle of the park , last night was another perfect example of how poor Xhaka is . Constantly slowing play down where was the sense of urgency , when we move the ball forwards at pace we look dangerous, we seem to of forgotten that in the last 3 league games ! Last night like many others we just looked so predictable . Agree with you Ron , Willock would of at least passed the ball forward and moved with a bit of pace. Guendozi has been great but the boy needs a rest he looks like everything has suddenly caught up with him and it is only to be expected at his age .

  15. GoonerRon

    Apr 25, 2019, 12:44 #113605

    Optimism is draining at a pace right now. I like the shape of the line up although Mkhi and Ozil should never be the team together away from home and Iwobi is a truer but shouldn’t start as many games for us as he does. When we had 65 minutes of safe, uneventful passing the last person we should bring on is Guendouzi. Why not give Willock a free hit - we were highly unlikely to get back into the game and at least he can travel with the ball and has an eye for goal. If we get a draw at Leicester and Man U beat chelsea we all be level on points with two to play - that will be kind of interesting.

  16. peter wain

    Apr 25, 2019, 12:11 #113604

    It does not seem fair that this team should get in the Champions League. Realistically we are so poor and although the stats show we have more points I do not see an improvement in our play. How can we have bought so many slow defenders? The Swiss free transfer is a disaster as is the elderly Greek centre half. As for Mustaphi you just have to laugh when Dick says please do not criticise him as he cries!!! Frankly our club is in a complete mess from owner to tea lady. The owner injects no funds institutes a wage cap which no other top club has. The manager does not know a good player as he buys total dross and the coaches cannot teach the basics of making at set pieces. Last nught was a foregone conclusion and Sunday will be the same. We need massive investment in the defence now not some 17 year old Brazilian winger who will not play in the premiership.

  17. Paulo75

    Apr 25, 2019, 11:49 #113603

    We are just so weak and easily beaten away from home that its gone beyond embarrassing. I think Emery is far from blameless in all of this. Yes, he has inherited a bang average squad but he has failed to improve their defending as a unit so the old familiar results on the road continue. Obviously I want us to get into the Champions League to allow us a bigger transfer kitty and the ability to attract a better calibre of player. However, going up against the top European teams at present would be humiliating. The standard of clubs currently in positions 4-6 is miles away from those in positions 1-3, painful as that is.

  18. Exiled in Pt

    Apr 25, 2019, 10:39 #113602

    Nozzer, your spot on mate but the playing from the back is something we will have to get used too. It's how Dick wants to play and most of the other clubs in football. As RobG said it will all depend on this summer and how much dead wood we can shift and what the club is willing to spend. Imo we will be fighting for the same position next year 3rd to 7th. We have some really good English youngsters on the edge of this first team I hope they get an opportunity rather than mediocre signings like Suárez.

  19. nozzer

    Apr 25, 2019, 09:54 #113600

    Another dire away performance. Since we gave got ourselves in a good position to secure a top 4 spot we contrive to ruin it. Fortunately utd and Chelsea are doing the same. We are terrible at the back and have an appalling record on the road. We have a big problem in that we have several under performing players that we can't shift due to the contracts they were given. If emery achieves champions league he has done great. Who he brings in and promotes from the ranks is key now. Ozil is a free transfer to Fenerbache waiting to happen. Cut our losses on some of the others as well. Buy some defenders suited to the premier league who can defend and forget this obsession of playing from the back all the time.

  20. nozzer

    Apr 25, 2019, 09:54 #113601

    Another dire away performance. Since we gave got ourselves in a good position to secure a top 4 spot we contrive to ruin it. Fortunately utd and Chelsea are doing the same. We are terrible at the back and have an appalling record on the road. We have a big problem in that we have several under performing players that we can't shift due to the contracts they were given. If emery achieves champions league he has done great. Who he brings in and promotes from the ranks is key now. Ozil is a free transfer to Fenerbache waiting to happen. Cut our losses on some of the others as well. Buy some defenders suited to the premier league who can defend and forget this obsession of playing from the back all the time.

  21. Wengerballs

    Apr 25, 2019, 09:20 #113599

    This match has been the nadir to date of Emerys reign. He should have brought Neketiah on much sooner and why leave Willock on the bench. How much hungry, young talent have we shipped to the Bundesliga who become instant hits there while we limp along with a squad full of aged, slow, complacent, overpaid has-beens. Pathetic.

  22. RobG

    Apr 25, 2019, 09:16 #113598

    Rob Admin - that's a bit fatalistic. Our defence is often poor and the whole squad is the sixth best in the Prem' and is closer to Wolves/ Everton at one level, than it ever is to City or Liverpool at the other. If Emery gets anything out of this season more than sixth place he will have punched - or got us to punch - above what we should. The big issue is how we resolve this and whether we do ? The changes this summer will be crucial. We have a definite four or five leaving through being out of contract. We need to move on two or three more and then it will be a combination of bringing back Smith Rowe and others and making three or four signings that will give us some solidity. It's not impossible. That's not to say it will happen. But it's certainly doable. The one uncertainty is how much money the Krone's will allow to be spent ? Come August we will know the answer.

  23. Rob Admin

    Apr 25, 2019, 08:50 #113597

    Is anyone really surprised? Arsenal today are nothing more than a bunch of bargain basement buys and a few half decent players. For your own sanity just accept that we are the new Tottenham Hotspur.... show up for the big games only and living in the past thinking we are a big club. The Arseanl way, the institution, has long since sailed.