Pepe Gets Emery Out Of Jail

Online editorial: Arsenal leave it late to take the points v Vitoria

Pepe Gets Emery Out Of Jail

The spirit of Vic Akers lives on: Juan Carlos Carcedo with Emery

Look at that table, eh? Maximum points from three games. Last 32 qualification nailed on. Pepe tripling his goals tally for the club with two stupendous free kicks. All’s right with the Arsenal world, right?

Hmmmm. Well a win’s a win for sure, but it really felt like Unai Emery got lucky with his last throw of the dice against Vitoria Guimaraes last night. But if you were using the best sports betting sites, you’d have been licking your lips before Pepe’s entrance, had you backed the away side. Now let’s genuinely assess the quality of the opposition. They were pointless going into the game last night, having lost at home to Eintracht and away to Liege. There would have found seriously long odds looking at if you’d backed a Vitoria victory. Granted, in the Portuguese league, things look better, where they are fourth (mind you a newly promoted club top the table, so who can say). But even with Arsenal’s shadow team, this should not have been the difficult evening it proved.

Emery’s team got away with some poor defensive play in their opening group game in Frankfurt, and the 3-0 scoreline looked good on paper. Last night, not so fortunate, as Vitoria twice made their hosts pay for mistakes. Tierney was caught too far upfield for the first goal conceded, and Maitland-Niles lost possession in midfield for the second, a consequence of the playing out from the back tactic being exploited when the control is not razor sharp. In between the two goals, another Martinelli headed goal for Arsenal confirmed Emery has strength in depth in his attacking positions.

It felt like the half-time scoreline reflected the reality that Vitoria were indeed the better team in the opening 45, and Emery removed Willock and Maitland-Niles for the second half to improve things, with Guendouzi and Ceballos replacing them. Even so, not enough was happening, and creatively, chances were not exactly flowing, and Vitoria could have even doubled their lead more than once.

There was a point in the first half when the Mesut Ozil chant started, although it did not really spread. Seeing the team line-up though, hearing Emery refuse to confirm Ozil has a future at the club, and recalling Ozil’s not so cryptic ‘You make me laugh’ tweet, it feels like curtains now. Given the lack of creativity at Bramall Lane, if Emery was going to consider re-integrating the number 10, last night was the night. As long as he is on the books, the debate will continue, but one suspects the decision has now been made. Freeze Ozil out, persuade him to move on. It’s then down to the player as to whether he wants to spend the next 18 months of a career which is nearing its conclusion collecting his wages and going through the contractual obligation of attending training sessions for games in which he will never play. It seems obvious there has been a personal fallout, presumably based on Emery’s frustration that Ozil does not follow his instruction in matches. If he has to adapt to the head coach’s ways to remain involved, it can’t be denied that he’s had plenty of chances. It now seems there will be no more. UPDATE – I can’t confirm this, but a rumour is that Ozil is effectively in the midst a three week period whereby he has been frozen out of first team action due to a disciplinary issue while Emery was absent. Let’s see if the story leaks out, but I am not going to publish details because I can’t substantiate it. Time will tell regarding the three weeks anyway.

Emery’s savior last night came in a different form – his final sub, Pepe entering for Alex Lacazette, who had failed to have as much impact as fans would have hoped. And with two excellent free-kicks, he turned the match around and gave his side the win at the death. It certainly feels like the team have found their best free kick taker, although it was probably just as well David Luiz was not playing last night as otherwise, it might not have happened. The winning goal came just before the conclusion of injury time and fans who had booed at half-time left on a high.

Let’s not pretend though that Arsenal look anything but an accident waiting to happen too often for Emery to be the solution to what the club needs at this time – which is a sense of solidity, a foundation on which to build confidence and credibly compete again.

The second stringers have flattered to deceive with a slightly fortuitous, albeit fantastic away win in Germany, and two easy home matches against poor opposition. Last night punctured the illusion they were any different from the first team. Emery got out of jail thanks to Pepe’s ability to find the net from a dead ball situation. Luck is a good trait to have, but it’s not something sustained success can be built on.

At times last night, looking at the positions players were taking up, it felt a bit like the total football of the Dutch team in the 1970s. But the quality and the intelligence is nowhere near the same. Emery is no Rinus Michels, and there is no sign of a Cruyff, Neeskens or a Krol in Arsenal’s ranks. So players get caught out of position and there is no colleague covering them. At times, the shape of the team feels ramshackle, like an abstract expressionist painting compared to the Mondrian of Klopp’s Liverpool. It doubtless makes for great viewing on TV if you are a neutral, and Arsenal have been on the box a lot this season. ‘What will the Gunners do next?’ – a mini-series you just cannot second guess. Pretty much anything could happen and there is always going to be some element of drama. So, on one level, exciting times… but probably not the kind of excitement that leads to success. Next up, Crystal Palace at home, and I doubt you’ll need reminding what happened the last time Roy Hodgson’s team rolled up at the Emirates.


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  1. markymark

    Oct 27, 2019, 10:23 #115239

    Over on Le Grove Pedro has done a reasonable pro and con summary of Mourinho joining Arsenal. Worth a read

  2. Pauljames

    Oct 26, 2019, 19:02 #115236

    Performances of Leicester and Chelsea show how far off the pace we are to be honest , Dick must be a very worried man tonight . We simply don’t have what it takes in this league.

  3. TonyEvans

    Oct 26, 2019, 15:54 #115235

    There is a page devoted to Arsenal’s short-comings in The Times today; so well written and absolutely spot on - it could have been written by some of us on this site! Makes for depressing reading though, thank God for the rugby! Fantastic performance by England, if only Arsenal showed half as much skill, courage and sheer will to win.

  4. markymark

    Oct 26, 2019, 12:54 #115234

    Exiled in PT - yeah I get your point but throwing Silvinho who’s just been booted after a minuscule stay is a highly unlikely Arsenal choice. Despite a fair bit spent on transfers Allegri probably wanted complete say over transfers and big ones at that . I struggle to understand where Juve get there money but they were hoovering up at top end prices. Enrique just didn’t fancy it. Klopp didn’t fancy UTD so you can’t get everyone . The big about lack of English is a major factor . He’s struggling to impose any form of style on Arsenal . We are not transitioning properly and their are leaks that the players simply don’t understand him. That is on him . He’s paid enough to get a best in the business conversational English teacher over summer. Very poor from him . He needs to go We can then see who is available after that

  5. Exiled in Pt

    Oct 26, 2019, 11:26 #115233

    Mark, I am not saying we will go for the worst option, we just will not go for the best either. I don't believe in the love in for Raul. He was one of the men along with Gazidis that had the job of replacing le fraud! Why was there no attempt to sign a big coach then! You don't have to wait for a coach to be unemployed to approach him as far as I know? I do not see anymore ambition than what has already been set by this owner. Surely Raul would of known all about Dick's short comings as a coach coming from the same league . As for the language problem I find that a poor excuse really for players not understanding how to grasp the basics of how to play football. Been plenty of coaches that have struggled with English but still been able to get across the fundamentals of how they want there team to play.. We are only the top team in London because of our history in our own league. We are not a big club in terms of European trophies and on current form not the best. This owner and Wenger have done their up most to ruin the history and tradition of our club as Ron pointed out and in my opinion Raul will not change us into a team competing at the top, while the Krankies own us..

  6. itsRonagain2

    Oct 26, 2019, 11:05 #115232

    Exiled. Mate. I can’t stand him either. I just think that this regime we ve got now is just a deliberate continuum of wengerism. All of them in that crew. Llungberg. Edu Dick, the whole lot of them and there’s not a dominant personality there. I think it needs a force of character to change the torpor there. A man to come in and bring his own team. You’re right. It won’t hapoen because you can’t buy what it needs cheap and cheerful and a guy like JM isn’t going to go and work there and have that bunch of never been s imposed on him to work with. It would be a massive statement to do it by Kroenke but that bloke doesn’t have a massive statement in him.

  7. markymark

    Oct 26, 2019, 10:05 #115231

    Exiled in PT - Gazidis was the senior man in charge at the time. If we had wanted to go for inexperience then we’d have gone for Arteta last time. Unai was showing promise or so we thought . The problem is he’s had a nightmare mainly based on lack of comms. Imagine if you are a 25 year old footballer able to communicate in at least two languages and probably have a grasp of s third then you are faced with a manager who after a year has not improved his English. That’s on him. It’s no wonder there’s leaks and rumours. The new manager maybe a Nagelsman or may just as easily be Allegri. They are not going to appoint to fail . Unai’s short comings came out it doesn’t mean we will always go for the worst option. Silvinho was sacked after 3 months btw so he’ll need to really rehabilitate himself

  8. Exiled in Pt

    Oct 26, 2019, 8:42 #115230

    Was Raul not involved in the decision to bring Dick in!! All the time the club is owned by the yank we will not be bringing in any top class proven coaches. We will continue to shop in the second tier as we did with Dick. This is where Arsenal are at and in my opinion that will not change any time soon. In my humble opinion we are more likely to see Van Bronckhorst or Silvinho as the coach next season after Dicks contract runs out. I certainly don't believe this club will sack him during the season. As much as I hate JM I think your right Ron in that he would clear the traces of Wenger I just don't see it happening.

  9. markymark

    Oct 26, 2019, 8:22 #115229

    Ron - my point being whether Raul is good or bad it’s Raul who has the address book / pull power to get Mourinho to watch that match. Previously we didn’t have it. The only contacts in Lord Harris’s address book was an old dusty contact for Maggie Thatcher. Further point is he’s obviously more aggressive about managing targets so there’s already been one or two barbed comments coming from him . We are far more like a football club now even though it will still take 2-3 years to remove Wengoism . Compare to 4 - 5 years ago when the board said Wenger could have whatever he wanted . Emile Smith Rowe , Willock , Martinelli, Tierney are up there . But they do need correct instruction. If as rumoured Freddie is having to learn Spanish then all fingers point to Unai for failure to lead

  10. itsRonagain2

    Oct 26, 2019, 7:43 #115228

    London’s top club for sure Marky. Agree and it’s likely to remain that way. Chelsea s youngsters are men already. Yes of a sound loan policy now in fruition. I don’t think we ve seen anything yet to suggest ours are going to develop into really good players. Yes, some good signs of course but once again our fans are clutching at straws of hope that 1 or 2 make it. It’s fsr to early to say. I don’t go much on net spend arguments. It’s all been done before. Reality is that Arsenal are stuck with this owner and it’s obvious the outlook of the club is to hover in the top 6 region and no more. Spurs are an enigma club and don’t count. Liverpool even in their greatest yrs didn’t outspend other clubs very often. It’s was management and ownership quality that gave them their dynastic years. It’s looks likely again to be same now. I don’t share yr faith in this set up at Arsenal. Looks like a case of too many cooks there to me, faceless people with little affinity to Arsenal or London football under an owner who limits the parameters anyway. ASL s culture now is unrecognisable from what’s it’s been in yesteryear and my perception of it is that there is much to deter the better coaches from going there. We all like to see Arsenal as still a classy traditional club with good standards but reality is football has changed markedly and so has Arsenal’s place in its pecking order. This owner recognises that, is happy with it and any new man will live with that or stay away. Simple as that.

  11. markymark

    Oct 26, 2019, 7:21 #115227

    ItsRon - think you undersell Arsenal - any manager can look at Arsenal and rub their hands. Net spend is higher than Liverpool close to Barcelona beats Bayern and is nearly 3 times higher than Spurs. The assumption is we remain London’s biggest club and form the holy trinity of English clubs. Only European success really tarnishes being the pinnacle. Our board is laissez faire which is a bone of contention with fans but not necessarily a disadvantage to the Manager. Our Youth should rival Chelsea’s under the right manager. Plenty of reasons for a manager to join , particularly on a short term advisory basis. One further thought . The super player mega transfer is causing no end of problems. PSG cannot ditch Neymar. Barcelona would almost break themselves to buy him and half their players don’t want him. Messi is marooned at Barca and Real have been torn in two with selling Ronaldo. Overall most teams are attempting to create stars at the moment . This makes it all to play for again with the Martinelli’s of this world gaining importance. Certainly we will have less Gnabry situations under Edu , Raul, Huss. I’d go with your view point if Raul wasn’t in place. In regard to actual options I agree entirely with the two options of Mourinho and Rogers

  12. itsRonagain2

    Oct 26, 2019, 0:53 #115226

    In recently trying to make a case for Mourinho or Rodgers, it’s right to firstly ask why either would want the Arsenal job. Many reasons why not. The case though is that despite all Mourinhos jobs ending badly and accepting that he manages in the now and not constantly looking to some mystic notion of the future, he would rip Arsenal out of its insipid torpor and in doing so would relish expunging the ghost of Wenger that still stinks the club out. In fact he d be like a wrecking ball, manically demolishing every last Wengo esque fibre out of the place. For all his faults Arsenal in my view need the brand he d bring. The club could learn to win again. To play with some iron and some depth and to have a brutal injection of the dark arts of men’s football again. Everything we ve had as a club in years past, that Wenger sucked out of us till the club wept , leaving us in a dense sludgy sea of putrid anaemia. He may win nothing. He may be a partially spent force but he d give the club its sense of meaning back again in a yr or 3. Rodgers is different. He s a guy who the Club could get in as a genuine plan for betterment and would provide a stylish, intense present and medium term future. The big problem the club has now in seeking any quality coach is the fact that the rising damp in the club , coupled with its fans sense of numbness is perhaps a situ where any such coach might not want to risk despoiling their respective CV s. Kroenke and Wenger have wrecked the spirit and foundation the club was once known for. I ll not forgive either of them ever.

  13. John F

    Oct 25, 2019, 22:05 #115225

    Bloody he'll Leicester just won 9-0 away from home,they look the real deal again. Did we get the wrong man?

  14. John F

    Oct 25, 2019, 21:39 #115224

    The players look to me that they are under strict instructions to play a rigid coached style of play but are wanting to have a bit more freedom of expression and some may be even ignoring Dicks over coaching from the touchline.The result is muddled thinking amongst the team which transmits into the way they play.Luckily Geundozzi kept on running through the Vitoria defence to win the free kick despite Dick shouting at him to pass the ball down the side.We have gone from a total freedom of expression football manager to one that wants to micro manage every movement on the pitch.Someone who can balance the two would be good but not Maureen he has a poor record with bringing younger players through.


    Oct 25, 2019, 19:38 #115223

    Very interesting that Marky. I wouldn't mind Jose having a crack at the job - maybe he is at the last chance saloon. But I know what the street-wise younger generation will be saying - does he still have that "special sauce"!

  16. markymark

    Oct 25, 2019, 19:33 #115222

    Obviously we were playing a Portuguese side but Mourinho was in the Exec Box last night rumoured to have been a guest of Raul. Perhaps CG we’ve found the reason for Unai looking downcast

  17. markymark

    Oct 25, 2019, 19:17 #115221

    CG - that’s great to hear the Ales have come to the rescue. I find a lot of my advice is solved with booze! Randomly I’ve regained the taste for Guinness. Maybe I’m helping cure an iron deficiency. We can’t really argue with anyone’s opinions at the moment as it all leads the same Way doesn’t it?!? All the anger has gone though I feel. I’d say at least part of this is his inward personality. The club does need a big personality in the hot seat. If we think about Mourinho, he’d been having us in a lather with pro and anti elements and then he’d slate us all off ranting against the lack of atmosphere and how can we be expected to win when we sit there like lemons lol! Maybe Allegri would drop philosophical discourse worthy of Marcus Aurelius! Instead we get mangled protagonist rubbish meaning nothing and seemingly understood by no one. I’m now wondering will Edu be the smiling assassin?


    Oct 25, 2019, 15:22 #115220

    Two world class free kicks saved Dick from a massive embarrassment - will he be as lucky with the astute Woy Hodgson as his weekend opponent? I thought Dick looked like a man who has now been given a written warning, very subdued - blimey, young Hector is more fluent than he is! But the fare he is serving up is pretty dire & I thought Robin VP & Keown were on the money in their summing up - no improvement under Dick who has now run out of excuses. Possession without planning, pace, power, preparation, pragmatism & any other relevant "P's" you can think of inevitably leads to piss poor performance which is exactly what we are getting. I have to admit Dick needs to go & fast. And big thanks to Marky for his booze advice - a couple of Cornish ales does wonders in calming an old chap down a bit - wife & 2 dogs very grateful!

  19. ArsenalMagna

    Oct 25, 2019, 13:56 #115219

    Pepe on his adaption to the Premier League: 'It is a league totally different to Ligue 1, with a different intensity.' I have been saying exactly that: you can see that his dribbling is world class but that he lacks sharpness/timing for the final ball, but that it's not surprising given the higher tempo/pressing rate of the EPL vs Ligue 1. Judge Pepe negatively after 18 months at the earliest. As you say though Kev, this was a poor performance from most of the team - Vitoria hadn't even scored a goal against Liege and Frankfurt... I actually just watched most of the last 10 mins of the game as I'm in that space I was in when Wenger was in his last days at the club - where you know a win means more of the same problems repeating themselves and where you've become a lore more numb/disinterested. Not sure if I'll watch Leicester away as it'll probably be another meek surrender.

  20. Sarflunden

    Oct 25, 2019, 10:47 #115218

    Utter shambles. When you have to pull off half your midfield at half time you know your manager has lost the plot (if he ever had it). It was just like watching the last days of Wenger. Half-empty ground (did we set a new lowest attendance record last night), the crowd swinging between restless and boredom. Even the guys where I sit were lost for words. What were the tactics? If we had any I couldn't see them. As for all the keyboard warriors who have been having a go at embarrassed are you now?

  21. itsRonagain2

    Oct 25, 2019, 10:46 #115217

    Cruff Krol and Neeskens. I ll be drooling in a minute!! But hey, those 1970s eh! There were no classy footballers about then ? Just hackers and kickers surely? Football started in 1992 matey and anything before then is irrelevant. I know this because Sly football told me!! Anyway, i digress. Great hits from the lad last night. Credit to him. I only saw the goals though. Perhaps thats the best way to watch Arsenal these days.