Breakdown of relationship between Arsenal and its supporters deeply worrying

Online editorial: An eventful afternoon at the Emirates as Gunners lose two goal lead against Palace

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The long walk to... being stripped of the captaincy

Where to start? Grant Xhaka? Unai Emery? Martin Atkinson? VAR? Plenty to pick the bones out of on an eventful match on a weekend when Arsenal started in fifth place, and finished there too after taking a point from the home game against Palace. After last season’s corresponding fixture knocked a huge nail in the coffin of the club’s top four hopes, it almost has the feeling of this particular game being a landmark occasion in Arsenal’s season. Yesterday was just so wrong on so many levels, starting with the huge delays to get in which resulted in many missing Arsenal’s opening goal, and a fair number not even getting in in time to see the second.

Still, people will eventually learn that you cannot just turn up at the ground with fifteen minutes before kicked off and expect to see the start of the game, unless it’s a Europa League night. On the pitch, whether Arsenal will ever recapture the concept of defensive solidity as long as Emery remains in charge is another question entirely. Arsenal took the lead thanks to early goals from their two centre backs, Sokratis and David Luiz – both from Pepe corners. It should have provided the basis for a comfortable 90 minutes, but Arsenal were unable to control the game. Calum Chambers has tried manfully to cover at right-back, but yesterday reminded us that, against a pacey winger, he is sadly going to struggle in that position. So it proved as he conceded a penalty (albeit one given by VAR after referee Atkinson had booked Zaha for diving) and was caught upfield when Palace broke for their second half equalizer. Xhaka was covering and left to block the cross, which in the eyes of the fans present made him the most culpable player for the goal that followed.

Soon afterwards, Xhaka was substituted, as Emery changed the formation from 4-3-3 to 4-2-4. It was a substitution that on one level reminded me of the removal of Emmanuel Eboue, when, subbed in December 2008 after himself coming on as a sub due to a poor display in a below par Arsenal performance (albeit a 1-0 victory against Wigan), the crowd booed him off. That was a moment of sadness in response to the crowd vitriol and, with time acknowledging they were wrong, the Arsenal fans made good in time by converting Eboue into a cult hero, regardless of his qualities.

Yesterday though, was a bit different. Xhaka responded with antagonism. It was the wrong choice. First up, the head coach was making a tactical substitution. Xhaka might have provided an assist (his header fell to Sokratis) for the opening goal, but aside from that his contribution had been negligible, almost as if he was reluctant to make space to receive the ball. A crisis of confidence, maybe, and perhaps understandable given the reality that he is very much the bête noire of Emery’s side, his elevation to de facto club captain an unpopular decision with the supporters. There was some cheering when subbed in a previous home game against Villa. It’s difficult to dispute that very few fans feel he is worthy of a place in the first choice starting eleven, because he too often seems to symbolize the ponderous nature of the team, the lack of drive going forward, added to the fact he cannot make a decent tackle, which is a facet of his game that is badly exposed as a deep-lying midfielder.

So, in his shoes, the wise thing would have been to accept the decision that he was being replaced, run to the touchline, and allow his team to get on with winning the match. Instead, he seemed to have an issue with the decision, which was greeted with a cheer from the fans, and chose to make a point (rather like Mesut Ozil generally does) of dawdling off. The crowd started booing, Xhaka encouraged them to continue by raising his arms, apparently swore a couple of times, and then removed his shirt before walking down the tunnel rather than watch the remainder of the game from the bench. Fortunately he didn’t throw his Arsenal shirt to the floor, at least until he reached the privacy of the dressing room, but the enough damage had been done anyway. I’ve heard that coins were thrown at Xhaka’s car as he made his way out of the stadium after the game, which if true is just plain wrong. Whether or not you consider jeering one of your own players is justified, there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed, and that was unfortunate to learn about, and hopefully it isn’t true.

As for him remaining as club captain, assuming he did express profanities at the crowd, his position looks untenable. I’ve seen some express the opinion that Emery hung the player out to dry by making the change, but the manager needed to make a change, and from what followed, in terms of the impetus to Arsenal’s play, it was justified. Arsenal’s pressure led to a legitimate third goal and it is difficult to see, from the replays, how overturning Martin Atkinson’s decision can be justified. Atkinson himself should have at least made the final decision by looking at the footage himself. And for that matter, the fans in the stadium need to be shown the footage being analysed themselves on the screens in the stadium. Then we can see on what basis a decision is being made – and understand it. I have a feeling that if Atkinson had seen the footage himself, he would have allowed the goal. Given the enormity of the decision, he was wrong not to view it. For the record, the men making the decisions in Stockley Park, west London, were Paul Tierney, assisted by Dan Robathan. I think it’s safe to say their performance for yesterday’s game will be reviewed by their superiors. Did Martin Atkinson make a clear and obvious error? Answers on a postcard to PGMOL head and the man who played the key role in Manchester United’s 2003 Premier League title run-in, Mike Riley. Riley is under pressure from law makers IFAB to lower the bar for VAR intervention and instruct his officials to make more use of pitchside replays, as their guidelines dictate. Not certain I have seen that happen even once this season.

So Arsenal did enough to legitimately win a game they had conspired to draw, and the fans were happy… until this farce of a decision. Still, of course it shouldn’t have come to this. Two goals ahead at home, the team should be capable of managing a game, killing it where required to prevent the visitors building any momentum and picking them off as they need to take more risks. However, whether the reason is tactics, coaching or personnel, this isn’t happening. Hence the concession of another two goal lead, as we also saw recently against Watford.

It does not inspire confidence in Unai Emery, and one of the problems with the connection between the club and its supporters is that the head coach has failed to create a bond with the fans. One seemed to be developing as we were enjoying the 22 match unbeaten run at this time a year ago, even if those that watched the games realised the team were walking a thin line a little too often during that sequence. Sadly, though, the supporters cannot connect with Emery, and as much as anything its because they don’t really understand him on so many levels.

You can understand the logic of hiring him in May 2018, but deeper analysis of his record should have revealed that in one respect, he was a little too much like Arsene Wenger in his approach to the game, and that what the club actually required was greater solidity rather than worrying about a reputation as entertainers. Arsenal still entertain the neutrals, no doubt about that – because there is invariably drama. But that doesn’t equate with entertaining football, or indeed winning football. In a sense Xhaka symbolises both the so-so nature of Emery’s football, and the disconnect with the fanbase.

The fear is that the atmosphere is turning toxic. As Arsenal were trying to win the game yesterday, the Mesut Ozil chant rose and was sung loudly. It felt more anti-Emery than pro-Ozil, although the latter’s reputation is growing with every non-appearance as the team falters. I’ve heard from people with connections to the club hierarchy that they are not going to replace Emery mid-season, although truth to tell their hand may be forced if the stadium turns. The head coach at least did the right thing after the game by stating his captain was wrong in his actions and that the matter would be addressed by himself in combination with the club hierarchy.

It is simply impossible to envisage Xhaka will ever wear the armband again, and you cannot envisage his next first team start being at the Emirates. I certainly can’t see him being salvaged in the hearts of supporters the way that Eboue was, and perhaps the best solution for everyone would be for him to move on in January. Bought in 2016 for a substantial amount, he does have his supporters, people that see things the ordinary fan doesn’t notice, but for me he’s not the standard required. Since his joining the club, they have not once qualified for the Champions League. To think, we used to moan about the limitations of Mikel Arteta.

As for Arsenal, let’s look ahead. Liverpool away in the Carabao Cup, a home game against Wolves next weekend (interesting to see who writes the ‘View from the Dressing Room’ in the club programme for that one), trips to Portugal and then Leicester before the next international break. My money is on Xhaka returning to the team in Portugal, and then coming on from the bench at Leicester, simply to test the water. If he plays against Wolves next weekend, there is a danger he will be booed by his own fans whenever he touches the ball. Of course, fans should never boo their own players, and they shouldn’t really cheer their removal. But enough do, and this is the world we live in now. What players need to do is think more of the team than their ego in their reactions when their coach makes a decision. Accept it, troop off slowly by all means if the team are winning, but move your arse if they need a goal – the change is being made to effect that.

Xhaka’s stupidity yesterday made an unhealthy relationship totally poisonous. With him out of the team for the short term, the focus will turn on Emery. And ultimately, the failure to deliver consistent winning football lies with him. Arsenal are too conservative to bite the bullet, refusing to accept Emery cannot get the club out of a malaise that seems to have been going on since December last year, with sporadic good performances peppered all too frequently by defensive horrorshows. There is no consistency, no confidence, no foundation. This isn’t the early days of a George Graham or an Arsene Wenger where progress is obvious. This is a version of purgatory. We can’t know how long it will last, but I predict it will be a while yet, albeit under a new first team captain.

As for Xhaka, I’d suggest his best bet would be to swallow a large dose of humility, go public – on video ideally – and admit he acted wrongly, regardless of provocation and accept his inevitable demotion from the captaincy – maybe even resign it before it is removed. The club may even try to engineer this anyway, but Xhaka needs to work on rebuilding some kind of a relationship with his fans if he is to remain at the club. The thing is, I doubt his pride will allow him to do what’s needed.

It’s a sad state of affairs at the club right now, in the summer, Josh Kroenke addressed the disconnect between the supporters and his father, with some transfer activity quelling the feeling of discontent. Now that has shifted to the team and the manager, so expect some kind of a response, but actions will speak much louder than words. The fear is that yesterday could be the catalyst to a dog of a season, even if currently, Arsenal are still very much in contention to achieve their aims. They have lost twice in 14 matches in all competitions. And yet it just has the feeling of going nowhere fast.

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45
comments

  1. markymark

    Oct 30, 2019, 15:05 #115303

    It’s Ron - I have heard that Wenger had final sign off for electrical work at the Emirates so being part of the “fabric” is highly likely true lol. Exiled - this emotional IQ idea is basically giving something a scientific name for something that has always been there . It’s not though an indicator of weakness so for instance a Ferguson hair dryer treatment to a complete ingrate might actually be extremely effective and enlightened. Either way it worked. Unai going back to his team to vote again on captains is just plainly bizarre . So was letting the bookings guy do a pre match speech, when at PSG saying that Neymar was the boss. Frankly Unai appears to the master of a lot of his woes. Which is why his contract was not extended at PSG (sacked). Perhaps he also loves Xhaka for his similar crazy talk. We’re frightened of Watford being a prime example.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Oct 30, 2019, 10:21 #115293

    CG - Its the cosseted World we live in. Mustn't 'upset' or 'offend anybody and in no circs must you ever tell the truth or speak about things with candour, lest people are hurt and distressed. Its the 21 st century's age of enlightenment. Heaven help this Country!

  3. Exiled in Pt

    Oct 30, 2019, 10:18 #115292

    All getting a bit to deep for me football is a universal language is it not? We going to blame Dicks failings on his emotional intelligence now and Xhaka having counselling what a state we are in . As for losing it in his second season at PSG did he not win the league and both cups in France and decided he would leave at the end of the season and not take his option for an extra year. It has not worked out for him and he will go at the end of the season hopefully with Xhaka and Ozil . Until then we will just bumble on as we have done since 2007

  4. CORNISH GOONER

    Oct 30, 2019, 09:57 #115291

    This is now way beyond ridiculous - Xhaka to receive counselling from the Club, WHAT!!! Multi-millionaire footballer probably making shed loads more through social media, his choice, needs the support of his mates so that he can continue providing inadequate team leadership ( maybe with a few more joint 2nd, 3rd & 4th leaders ). I am now positive that AFC are stumbling down the same destructive path trodden by Man U over the last few seasons. Le Grove recently published a bit of a "kiss & tell" article about Dick's appointment - OK that was probably a lot to do with Ivan but this latest revelation does make you wonder if much has since changed. By contrast the England rugby team have today been fined for standing up to the intimidating New Zealand haka - Owen Farrell having the temerity to smile at them. What a captain & what a team - winners all of them.

  5. itsRonagain2

    Oct 30, 2019, 09:57 #115290

    Hi Marky - The Wengo culture in the club isnt so much about what type of wenger ball we saw on the pitch, its in the basic fabric of the club, imbued in the people that work there from Kroenke downwards to the toilet cleaners. The ways they probably look at things, the methods they approach problems and the procedures they follow. Im betting there are many there who still rue the day AW went and still detest enforced changes. Theres no more conservative club than AFC and he had 22 years to make his imprint stick. In fact he welded it to the floors and walls there. The same thing happens in large corporations when a CEO retires. It can take years to change the mood and if the natives there are resistant to change, the guy at the top is on a sticky wicket and in many cases is undermined. In a football club the product on the pitch doesn't start with the coach and his crew, it goes back far deeper than that. As you say, Arsenal have wrought some changes, but be honest, who are they? Who has gone in there with a track record of changing clubs outlooks and imposing their will on things to create a new club 'DNA'? The ownership there have played with it a little and tinkered at the periphery. They've brought people in who wont rock the happy boat, who ll make a few right noises here and there for fan consumption but just carry on regardless behind the scene. Its a social club and has been for many years. The players have had their slippers and cardies on for donkeys years. The voting for skipper alone is just a small part of the evidence for what its like there.

  6. markymark

    Oct 30, 2019, 07:49 #115289

    Five elements of Emotional Intelligence By understanding one's own feelings they can understand and evaluate others .According to Daniel Goleman, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence. Unai Emery - Self-Awareness.- very low Self-Regulation. - no major issue Motivation. - loses it in 2nd Season (PSG & Arsenal) Empathy. - maybe ok Social Skills. - low Overall he doesn’t have the tools , I reckon

  7. markymark

    Oct 30, 2019, 07:20 #115288

    It’s Ron - not sure where this deep rooted desire for Wenger remains? Literally 50 people have been changed since Wenger went and Josh was sent to do the job Stan didn’t want to do. I’ll give you the point that the latest incumbents see Wengerball as being an Arsenal tradition . My question to that would be, even ignoring GG for one minute. What Wengerball? Do we mean the expansive powerful running of Vieira and cutting attack of Pires or the ultimately unsuccessful Barca lite of latter years. As for Unai , what was the man doing close season? Sitting watching more Peaky Blinders? I’d say spend a few bob to have a top conversationalist Langauge teacher bring you up to speed . It’s been a long time now and he’s still mangled. Brings back my previous point that Auba and Lacazette probably have 5 languages between them they can get by in. 12 months down the line they are probably looking at Emery and thinking yer right ! He’s bound to be losing credibility . Next point go back to your point of failure and do it all over again . I.e Captains vote . Emery has a low emotional IQ index . It’s why he now is going to have a very painful conversation with Ozil. In that regard I suspect Emery and Zidane are quite similar

  8. itsRonagain2

    Oct 29, 2019, 23:03 #115287

    It simply appears that Emery is out of his depth in the rabid, media saturated and intensive PL. I say this with everything about his performance in mind , teams picked. Tactics. Type of play. TV interview demeanour and of course his lingual skills. It’s so very , very tough to go abroad and converse esp when you have to go and pick it up quickly after perhaps not having had tuition in advance. It’s not just a language to learn , it’s the culture that underpins the language that is harder still to appreciate and master. It’s unfair to accuse him of being a rambling waffler etc. The man is clearly doing his ultimate best to conquer the hurdles. He’s given it a great shot , though he’s a distance to go. I think he’s a likely a very nice guy. It’s no shame to fall short in performance when he knows he’s given his very best. It’s hard enough to learn just a culture of a country even when the native language is English. The in yer face scene which is the EPL doesn’t seem aligned to his personality. It can happen be it a football coach or a lawyer or a teacher who goes abroad. I’ve seen a few fall at these barriers who otherwise have much to offer and a high expertise. I think Dick will eventually be worn down by it and leave of his own accord by mutual consent with the Club. That Club is at odds with itself and borderline farcical now. The cultures I’ve mentioned are compounded by the cult of Wenger that still permeates the place. The owner cherished the Wenger cult and given his choice Wenger would still be there. I’m sure if it. It needs a wrecking ball type character to go in and strip the place to the bare brickwork but for that to happen it needs an owner to realise it and chose the right man and give that man full choice to bring in his own people. This will not happen. Those fans hating on Xhaka would be better served turning their short sighted ire towards the Boardroom.

  9. markymark

    Oct 29, 2019, 19:01 #115286

    CG - I know it’d take a lot for you to say that. I’m pretty sure it’s becoming a common hold view. This is a very clear example of why communication is so, so important . Emery has zero connection with the fans. No one obviously advising him ( putting the captaincy back to the vote is laughable ) I do wonder if he’s got a low emotional IQ? I know this is very PC but if you believe in that sort of stuff it’s basically ability to read situations and build relationships. He appears very poor in this regard

  10. Pauljames

    Oct 29, 2019, 17:41 #115285

    Agree Cornish , another impenetrable ramble that told us only two things, Emery is indecisive and muddled - just like his team.What is also annoying is that the fact that we were robbed of two points by VAR has been completely lost in all this Xhaka talk - a more eloquent manager would have focused on the injustice on Sunday, thus pressuring Saturdays officials to give us a break.

  11. CORNISH GOONER

    Oct 29, 2019, 15:57 #115283

    Another awful press conference from Dick today - completely incoherent. We would set the language thing to one side if the results were there but they are not. I hate saying this but, for the first time ever, I hope the next 3 games are a disaster because surely someone at our complacent club will then have to do something? Given our recent history though, all that would probably mea is the catering manager or chief steward resigning.

  12. GoonerRon

    Oct 29, 2019, 15:33 #115282

    @ Don Howe - I’m not so sure about your view of Xhaka as the lightning rod. If since the start of this Emery has played Torreira instead of Xhaka in all the games he’s played, didn’t make him part of the captains group and the exact same substitution as Sunday had happened in a Carabao Cup game I don’t believe he’d get the crowd on his back at all. For me, it’s not just about Xhaka’s lack of suitability for our midfield, it’s the fact that Emery has continually picked him in our biggest games, then made him club captain which lessens the likelihood of him being dropped.

  13. Don Howe

    Oct 29, 2019, 14:20 #115281

    Xhaka isn't a lightning rod for anyone or anything. His lack of ability is obvious to all of us. It isn't apparent to either Mr Wenger or the current manager. Whilst I happily accept that they both know more about football than I do, I knew that Ozil was a waste of space before either of them did and that Wenger was a waste of space a decade before the majority woke up to it. I also knew instantaneously that Sideshow Bob was excellent. Significant facts are apparent to all people at different rates. Xhaka can't attack and he can't defend. Everyone in the stadium bar Emery has worked that out. Hence the joy at his removal.

  14. markymark

    Oct 29, 2019, 06:15 #115280

    Tipping* - Ripping

  15. markymark

    Oct 29, 2019, 06:14 #115279

    Yet another day and the buffoonery of Unai is being picked to pieces by the press. The subtext of the booing of Xhaka really being a booing of Emery himself shared by fans and the press alike . Pretty in-depth articles in the Timed , The Athletic and Sky tipping his tactics to pieces. Still Unai with his detached air and language barrier problems says the team will pick its new captain. One think I think Unai didn’t mention in his power point interview was his inability to learn from past mistakes

  16. itsRonagain2

    Oct 28, 2019, 23:40 #115278

    GR - good comments re VAR. I speak as one who has no time for it in football but see and acknowledge it’s suitability and it’s fine workings in cricket and rugby. Both sports that have moves and manoeuvres more suited to VAR analysis. I think when people are questioning and wondering what the f—k is going on with it, they make the error of thinking that the refs and the VAR controllers and the footie authorities are all at one in both desiring it in the first place and secondly in wanting it to work. In my view this is far from the case. Refs will see it as the eye in the sky and a threat to their jobs. Lino s too. The powers behind it want to get analysts of the game off their back and think the can get consistency of decisions by it as the so called experts blest on about. Another flawed concept that is. It’s as flawed as the rationale behind VAR in fact. At that ASL game I think the ref s call was right both times. The cheat Zaha needed booking for his aeroplane dive. It wasn’t a pen. The goal by Socratis was a perfect goal. The ref thought so and gave it. He didn’t look at the screen in my view because his mindset wS one of f—k it when VAR over ruled him. He basically thought ok have that then, knowing VAR was wrong both times and he without a doubt couldn’t be bothered to challenge a stupid piece of machinery that the authorities have imposed on him. I’m not sure how long he has left on the refs list. Not long I venture and I guess he’s seeing his time out and will be glad to see the back of his job as a referee. The truth is he got it right both times in that match and was made to look a mug. He ll know though that it won’t be him that looks daft when the dust settles on this , it ll be the barmy VAR instead. It’s brought a lot of politicking into football between the vested interests and it needs removing and given a very limited role if any such as judging offsides.

  17. 600NER PETE

    Oct 28, 2019, 21:28 #115277

    GoonerRon .agree regarding the VAR. I don't think there has been or ever will be a worse decision using VAR. I was 100% behind bringing in VAR as over the years I have been fed up with decisions not going our way. For some bizarre reason decisions are still going against us but none so ridiculous as the one yesterday. As you say unfathomable. It should be so straightforward using the technology but unfortunately we seem to have complete morons being employed making a simple system a complete shambles.

  18. CORNISH GOONER

    Oct 28, 2019, 20:58 #115276

    It always amuses me when people speak of "The Arsenal way" or "Arsenal values". I'm really old now & can't even remember why I started supporting L'Arse all those decades ago. But I always felt the special aspect of the club was, way back, some very special innovative managers ( one in particular), some special players & a special ground. As for the Board to me they were a bunch of Old Etonian & City types who rather looked down on the plebs. So in this age of "populism", which I intensely dislike, I feel the fans especially the away set have every right to show their contempt for Xakha, Emery or the Club. The PL is awash with cash & a bloody good example of the divides in society. The fans pay huge amounts of hard earned money only to be served up the current rubbish fodder. I don't think Liverpool fans would have been so polite for so long & have a good record of getting rid of poor owners. But even the bean counters at AFC must have worked out that it would be cheaper to dump Dick now if a new broom could salvage Top 4 this season. It is already nearly too late.

  19. GoonerRon

    Oct 28, 2019, 20:57 #115275

    The VAR decision was just so utterly unfathomable. If a ref got a decision wrong previously it was annoying but you often accepted they were human - what I can’t accept is a ref making the right call, another ref making a terrible judgement and the initial ref not taking the chance to see a replay and confirm if his initial instinct was right or not. Especially so if the pitchside screen is supposed to be used when the VAR assessment is different to the decision the ref arrived at on field - so why didn’t he use the fucking screen? If he does there’s no way he disallows the goal. Never. There’s clearly plenty of problems we need to sort but winning / drawing at Sheff U and beating Palace keeps the pressure off for now - we’d be right in touch with the top 4 and 6-8 points clear of Spuds/Man U and 11 games unbeaten. A point at Leicester would have been a decent result instead of now being almost must win. Referees making mistakes was part and parcel of the game but now this shit should be 99.9% right and instead we’ve got a very shitty end of the stick with it this week. As for Xhaka, I’ve personally never booed an Arsenal player. It’s clear he’s the lightning rod for the fans frustration with Emery and almost all of the criticism at his play is entirely justified. I just find it distasteful and doesn’t look good on anyone concerned with the club. Hopefully this episode at the very least means Xhaka is benched, we appoint a more suitable captain and find some fluency and balance in midfield without him.

  20. markymark

    Oct 28, 2019, 20:41 #115274

    SKG - it would be a great idea wouldn’t it. Think it would take Government interaction and doubt sadly it would happen.

  21. Up For Grabs Now

    Oct 28, 2019, 19:59 #115273

    Not been on this website since Wenger finally departed, as he had/has successfully killed off my interest in the club and football in general which I had been fervently passionate about since 1970. My only interest was to get him out of the club and once that finally transpired a decade too late, I was done. Today I thought I would have a quick peek to see what people are thinking with the continuous never ending farce that is Arsenal FC post Wenger. Nothing it would seem has changed one iota, with Emery just being a Wenger mark 2, according to the posts I have just read. It still baffles me that those who run this once great institution, have allowed it to drift to such an extent, that it today is just a byword within the football world as a comedy farce club. So incredibly sad, that the club I once supported with all my heart, has just become what it is today - A rudderless ship, heading nowhere, other than perpetual mediocrity.

  22. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Oct 28, 2019, 17:05 #115272

    I have made this point a few times, we need fan representation at boardroom level and I do not mean letting a member of AST or some other Arsenal fan organization into a board meeting under "any other business" after all the other serious business has been done and dusted. I am talking about a Arsenal fan board member who has the proxy vote of 30,000 plus fans, so that when he speaks the owners know he speaks about their match day revenues, then we would be taken seriously. I know, I know pigs may...…. but it is the only solution to these Groundhog seasons and the "rudderless" way the club is being run.

  23. Newpark

    Oct 28, 2019, 16:46 #115271

    I think it's correct to break the game down as a whole. Firstly, the performance, not great again. I will freely admit, I wasn't there and didn't watch but I gather it was a positive first half which could have yielded more than the two goals we got followed by a rubbish second half that saw our lead disappear. Yet again, defensive frailties, firstly by letting Zaha in the box, then seeing him yet again go over for a legitimate penalty, we are not learning. David Luiz for the equalizer was lost far to easily by Ayew, he is making more mistakes in an Arsenal shirt than he ever did in a Chelsea shirt. Agent Cech anyone? Secondly, I'm sorry but we were well and truly robbed by VAR or whoever made that decision. To give that as a free kick against Callum Chambers in the Palace box was nothing short of a disgrace and so against what we know as football. There isn't even a need to break down the incident, it's just never in a million years a foul by Chambers. Finally, Xhaka. Wow, I do feel for him, i don't agree with booing your own players but his reaction is appalling and worth of being sold i think. I do not like him as a player, he is not good enough and doesnt offer anything to the team so should be on the bench at best. This was as unsavoury a moment as you can imagine and he has displayed a shocking lack of leadership for what was clearly a tactical decision to take him off. He should first be stripped of the armband, then given time out of the team, then probably sold come January or Summer. Guendouzi and Torreira need to play now, get them in and get then building a partnership in there.

  24. ArsenalMagna

    Oct 28, 2019, 15:19 #115270

    Interesting comments, Marky. I saw that Joe Rogan said he had had guests of his podcast saying they'd had sleepless nights looking at what people said about them on his Youtube videos, and he replied that they shouldn't read the comments at all, and that he doesn't. I've never booed at home matches but take your point about its effectiveness. Given how pampered our players are, the fear of booing might be one reason they generally do better at home. I lost all respect for Xhaka when he made that comment about wanting to move to a CL club, even though he's a cause of us being without it, and he strolled off yesterday when we were losing, all of which makes me think he's selfish/arrogant - so I don't have that much sympathy for him if I'm honest.

  25. markymark

    Oct 28, 2019, 14:50 #115269

    Some thoughts about social media. 1: the only reason Xhaka is going to know if people are slating him is because either he or his wife have some sort of interactive social media presence. This is likely to be done to create wealth . As in Ronaldo’s advertising revenue from his site probably pays as much as his Juve contract. The only other way to find how vilified you are, is to obsessively google yourself . So very simple don’t form the pact with the devil by setting up media sites and simply don’t review yourself online. 2: If people boo get over it. Some of the people moaning about this never attend anyway. 3: as with Wenger if you want him out best do a boycott. Obviously it wasn’t the only reason but when Wengo was having to justify low crowds due to Mother’s Day rather than boycotting him. He was gone within weeks. Boycotting the Emirates and booing Emery will have him out in weeks. Not saying it’s nice behaviour but it is very effective “bad behaviour”

  26. Colonel Blimp

    Oct 28, 2019, 13:54 #115268

    Looks like us and the Mancs are gonna be slugging it out for 5th place this season. Wow, can you contain your excitement. What a season we got in front of us folks.

  27. Cyril

    Oct 28, 2019, 13:50 #115267

    I commend the last comments on VAR. I was at the game yesterday and now as I’m celebrating a goal, I’m doing so thinking that the damn thing could be disallowed at the same time. It’s ruined my whole enjoyment completely. VAR scrutiny and playing to the exact letter of the law will of itself lead to farcical decisions as this is a contact sport. The goals will need to be scored contactless to remove any doubt. It will always have to be the ‘perfect goal’. Yesterday was the copybook example of this. The game has changed for the worse. I signed up for one further year nearly a month after deadline day and in a way am pleased to experience this new version of football. I will be much more informed next time around. Shall I jump out of my seat when we score or shall I not ...? The main ingredient of it was the spontaneous reactions. It’s been taken away. It’s like having a Sunday roast with just vegetables and gravy!

  28. 600NER PETE

    Oct 28, 2019, 13:02 #115266

    It's a bizarre situation for me regarding football. Having supported Arsenal since 1968 and it being a really important part of my life it's odd to get excited by it so rarely now. If Arsenal are playing I still have to follow the match live because they're in my blood, but like others on here (who must still care because they're still contributing to an Arsenal website) I have become less and less passionate about the game. We score goals and we concede goals and I can't seem to be bothered to react either way. My season ticket is long gone and the advent of Sky, all seater stadiums, petro dollars and the mediocrity of Wenger's last 10 years have over time virtually killed it for me. The VAR decisions are the latest reasons that football is no longer the game I loved so much. Oh to stand on the Northbank once more and cheer on some real heroes whether we were winning or losing. COYG!

  29. TonyEvans

    Oct 28, 2019, 12:42 #115265

    Normally a VAR decision like that would have me fuming, but such is my indifference at the moment it has barely registered. I agree with Redshirts that VAR is just a another nail in the coffin of the game I used to love. The TMO in rugby was almost as bad on Saturday. Technology was meant to put a stop to obvious errors (think of Lampard's 'goal' for England) not to pick over every second of the game. What about the Brighton penalty - ridiculous decision - both defender and attacker were looking up at the ball, so how could the defender see he was going to tread on the attacker's foot! The pure, unadulterated joy you feel when a goal is scored is being completely ruined in so many instances because of the wait for VAR to confirm a goal, and when it does it is almost an anti-climax. As for Xhaka I don't normally condone abusing your own players but in this instance it somehow seems acceptable - I think the booing was a symptom of the wider anger building against Wenger mark 2, and Xhaka was just unlucky to be the target. He didn't help himself either by ambling off the pitch and he should be man enough to take the flak anyway. As for Arsenal what a shambles we are - so glad I don't go anymore, but I can't help but feel so much sadness at the dreadful demise of a club I used to be so proud to support.

  30. KC38

    Oct 28, 2019, 12:36 #115264

    Re booing of players always happened, Paul Vaessen? Point is some players deserve it, to walk off a pitch when we are desperate to win a game of football shows no heart or care for the club. The booing was totally warranted and sends a message to both player and manager.

  31. Paulo75

    Oct 28, 2019, 12:19 #115263

    What a shambles we are. On the basis of the last 18 months there is no argument to support Emery turning our fortunes around in the remainder of his contract. Proving to be yet another poor bit of decision making by the Club. I'm no fan of Xhaka and am mystified by his continual selection but the booing is distasteful stuff. This situation could have been prevented if Emery put his faith in a more able bodied midfielder i.e. Torreira. Tough decisions have to be made now by Raul and Co, otherwise we're heading for top 6 at best and another EL failure. As for Ozil, absence surely makes the heart grow fonder - amazing how so may forget what a bone idle, uninterested luxury he is for 90% of the time.

  32. Don Howe

    Oct 28, 2019, 12:16 #115262

    1)Xhaka gives us nothing. he can't attack and he certainly can't defend. If DE can't see that the guy is useless then he's as poor as Wenger. 2) The refs are throwing a hissy fit by not looking at the TV themselves. The FA and PL will simply chuck them out and not before time. The footage needs to be shown on screen. Rugby does it, why not football. If its on the screen then the crown could see that Zaha was fouled for the Pen and so was Chambers for the winning goal. 3) The crowd singing for Ozil. I don't want to share my support with people so mentally challenged that they would have the player in the club let alone on the pitch. DE is freezing a liability out. He is right and he needs to abandon Xhaka as well. 4) DE needs a radical change or he is toast. 5) The game stinks and I'm this close to giving it up. My son has now done so, the whole thing having been spoilt by Murdoch Wenger and petrodollars. 6) Watch and enjoy a game on S4C's welsh language Sgorio programme, and you will see what we have lost.

  33. KC38

    Oct 28, 2019, 12:05 #115261

    First point VAR, we have been very unlucky this week with decisions but very lucky against Villa no penalty awarded. The real issue is why do we have to score 3 goals to win home games against mediocre teams. Xhaka sums up everything about Emery, he cannot see what 60000 people see, holding midfielder that cannot tackle, is slow, is petulant, is a liability in our own 18 yard box and has a shocking attitude, therefore only a fool would make this man our club captain. This lack of insight of man management provides the evidence as to why the team is lacking in discipline and mentally weak. Players like Xhaka get managers sacked, now or in the summer it’s gonna happen. Any decent manager with ambition appreciates balance to a football team, the fact we keep conceding so many goals yet he cannot address, brings in to question his ability, if not ability its sanity. I sadly struggle to watch us, as a defensive unit we are an embarrassment, it’s frustrating and self-defeating. I love attacking football but football is about having the football and not having the football, teams get between the lines against us so easily, counter on us so easily, it all points to philosophy and coaching, Emery is simply not good enough.

  34. itsRonagain2

    Oct 28, 2019, 11:13 #115260

    Guys, at least Liverpool got their much needed pen when it was most needed. Does Fergsuon work there now as an adviser? It was about as genuine as Zaha s was. Mane - another diving cretin, week ,in week out.

  35. itsRonagain2

    Oct 28, 2019, 11:04 #115259

    PS i meant to mention too that Zaha is and always has been an annoying, highly over rated, egocentric diving cheat and the score in that game was 3-2.

  36. itsRonagain2

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:56 #115258

    Hi Kev - ive always been firmly of the view that Dick was brought in BECAUSE he was much like Wenger. I wouldnt be at all surprised if Wenger had a hand in his appointment either. As for the dogs abuse of Xhaka being due to the world we live in, it doesnt make it right. Im all for Xhaka on this. In fact he didnt respond strongly enough to the idiots who abused their own player. They should be grateful he didnt and i dont thnk he should apologise at all. Losing the Captaincy of the club is no great loss. The role is a joke anyway. There are 4 others!! He ought go public and explain that he regrets being so controlled in his reaction. The crowd doing that was a mindless herd reaction. A few start it and the rest join the jamboree like lemmings. Same old, same old as in many other situs in this silly social media driven mad World where every mindless idiot out there has a megaphone.

  37. Nos89

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:53 #115257

    This is a terrible state of affairs. Whilst the club is a faint image of the club I grew up with, the supporters booing and goading their own player in such a manner are also nothing like ones I used to attend matches with. Especially, at home. Granted Xhaka is not Arsenal captain material, and has shown little of his footballing qualities for the last two seasons. However, we've had worse players that didn't get that sort of treatment. The toxicity of the wenger situation hasn't left the club. This is where Emery comes in. He is struggling in a way I didn't think he would. Appointng Xhaka as captain was a poor decision. Continually persisting with him is a poor decision. Pitting Chambers against Zaha, with the much quicker Bellerin sitting on the bench was a poor decision. With Mourinho visibly lurking in the background we might see a change sooner rather than later.

  38. ArsenalMagna

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:44 #115256

    On the first point re: VAR, disallowing that goal was scandalous. When you consider that United got two undeserved penalties from VAR yesterday as well, and it does make you wonder about, let's call it 'bias'... VAR could actually be a great system, and something I think Arsenal fans should embrace as we've received the most rotten luck with officials over the years. However, it needs to be operated intelligently, which it certainly isn't at the moment. Regardless of that, however, this is obviously as good as it gets under Emery, and the officiating shouldn't distract from that. I've switched off/detached from this regime now as long as it lasts as we've been here with Wenger's last years. Worrying to hear the club won't sack him mid-season as he's obviously the key problem here. It would actually be better to go on a bad run of defeats and draws, with bad atmosphere at the stadium and lower attendances pushing Emery out, than to persist with a man who could only deliver us EL or 4th place through luck. As for Xhaka, I cited before that his inclusion is due to completed passes into the final third and in building attacks being apparently very high, up there with the best in the EPL. Seems odd as I seem to barely ever see him make such passes. In any case, he is in every other sense a liability and not good enough for this club. I can see there's two sides of looking at how justified he was in reacting that way: he does get unmatched abuse from fans on social media and in the stadium. On the other hand, that is part of being a footballer nowadays, and he is pretty arrogant in general: said he'd like to move to a CL club at some point, even though he's a mid-table level player at best... As for the chants for Ozil, sadly beyond the bastion of intelligent observation on this site, most fans think he'd God's Gift. You only have to look on the BBC Football site to see the admiration they all have for him. Sadly, they don't understand football, as Ozil can only thrive vs weak opponents, unless he has a team of superstars to dominate the game around him. These same people on the BBC also argue that Wenger was OVERACHIEVING even in his final years, and that's why Emery can't improve! Unbelievable, as Emery being the same philosophical mould of coach as Wenger doesn't mean we can't do better. I don't think the bulk of fans are right to play their part in bringing us success again. Let's not forget that all the AKBs that defended Wenger on this site and elsewhere for years are so much to blame for our current malaise, as had they been more intelligent in their approach, we could have rebuilt from 2011/12 without him and we could be competing with Liverpool and City right now.

  39. Redshrtswhitesleeves

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:30 #115255

    Didn’t take long for us to become a laughing stock again did it. A ‘big’ ambitious club would act now and change the manager but we all know Arsenal do not fit that description anymore. To think we could have had it all when we were on top in the early 2000’s only to be ruined by the greed of Wenger, Gazidis and the Krankes and reduced to the unpalatable shambles we have become. The stink of greed, failure and defeat is all engulfing at that horrible ground we moved to in order to ‘compete with the best in Europe’. In a wider context the game at this level is royally f***ing itself with more and more fans becoming disillusioned with what it’s become with Sky, kick off times all over the place, greed, money etc. And now this ridiculous VAR. It has been everything I thought it would be ie an utter farce and the game did just fine without it for 150 years didn’t it. Won’t be long till we have four quarters and players wearing shoulder pads and helmets at this rate. Boll**s to the lot of it!

  40. RobG

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:26 #115254

    I wasn't there. And that's one small mercy. Even two or three weeks ago, on here, I was still defending Emery. But that looks to have cooked his goose. I can't see how this is going to continue beyond this season. Unless there is a total meltdown, he will probably stagger on. But this means this is a 'ghost' season where we are longing for May before we have reached November. And, with the active transfer window in the summer, it looked really positive. But we are leaking goals like a sieve. Fifty last season and we are well on course for that this time around. At all events, Emery's place in Arsenal History looks like a transition between Wenger and who comes next. I know that's an issue for another day but I really think they should revert to a British based Manager, who can define what he wants clearly, from day one.

  41. Colonel Blimp

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:05 #115253

    Must be some kind of record to throw away a 2-goal lead both home and away so early into the season. Maybe we can have an open top bus parade to celebrate.

  42. Bard

    Oct 28, 2019, 10:01 #115252

    John mate if you cant handle the demands of top class sport then dont play it. I dont hold with abusing players but thats the world we live in. He needs to concentrate on becoming a better player rather then throwing his toys out of the pram.

  43. John F

    Oct 28, 2019, 09:46 #115251

    Put yourself in his position ,you walk down the street with your wife and some Arsenal fans shout you are shit. You get vile abuse when posting pictures online and when you turn up to work the abuse gets worse and is done by hundreds of people, all for doing your Job.What man wouldn't crack despite what money you are on .As I said yesterday he isn't good enough to play for Arsenal but what is he supposed to do if he keeps getting picked.Fans are allowed to give as much abuse to a player that they like but as soon as it is returned they get all offended by it.

  44. Bard

    Oct 28, 2019, 09:42 #115250

    As usual the media picking the bones out of VAR and Xhaka's substitution. Interesting but side shows. I would happily pick up north of £100000 a week and get booed. Another example of the mental weakness of Arsenal. Yes the VAR was hard to digest but if you go 2 goals up it should be game over. Shut up shop and take the 2 points. The really interesting question is, have Arsenal learned anything from the years of tolerating Wenger's mediocrity ? If they have they need to signal their ambition and ruthlessness. Sack Dick and get someone else in. He has had 18 months and we havent made any significant improvement. For whats it worth the discontent levelled at Xhaka is symptomatic of the dross we have been watching for years, its not a one off.

  45. Sarflunden

    Oct 28, 2019, 09:28 #115249

    Feel sorry for the guy who took my ticket. Only saw flashes from the game but it seems like the usual story. We're just too easy to play against. McManaman put it well. You know what your up against and all teams know how to counter it. We change players but it's still play it out from the back with two suspect CB's and a midfield who can't dominate. So errors lead to goals and points lost. Can't see Emery leaving before the summer. Can't see him staying after it.