Do we have to wait until Christmas to end the Emery Pantomime?

Online Editorial: Will Dick Whittingless get another fortnight to rehearse after Leicester flop?

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A leopard can't change its spots - Emery has never sorted out Arsenal's inability to defend

As a child, back when Bertie Mee was the Arsenal manager, early Saturday evening television was often kicked off by an episode of Dr Who.. The music alone could have youngsters of a nervous disposition hiding behind the sofa. Several decades later, here I am again, almost afraid to peer through the gaps in my fingers. Only this time, I am relying on Stan Kroenke, rather then Jon Pertwee, to save the day.

I don’t seriously consider that there is anyone who knows a thing about football who believes the situation at Arsenal is retrievable under Unai Emery. Surely, even Raul Sanllehi and Edu realize this, which leads us to conclude that, for budgetary reasons, it is the Kroenkes who are keeping Unai Emery in a job. Remember, the owners don’t really understand football – they probably don’t see what the supporters do. There is a disconnect between the owners and the fans, and indeed now probably the owners and those advising them at the club – they simply cannot be listening if Emery remains in the job beyond the end of today. There is not one footballing argument to retain the head coach. The team are consistently conceding way too many chances to the opposition and needs tightening up. That can only be done by a different coach.

As for yesterday’s game, Emery retained the three at the back formation from Thursday, with Holding and Chambers either side of David Luiz. A midfield line of Bellerin – Torrieria – Guendouzi – Kolasinac played behind a front three of Aubameyang, Ozil (in the centre) and Lacazette. The system added little in the way of solidity, even if at times we did see three distinct lines, but it didn’t prevent Leicester playing the ball around, and Arsenal lost possession frequently. They played too much passing football in their own half, which put them under needless pressure. When a team is low in confidence, this isn’t a good policy.

The rain tipped down relentlessly, as it always seems to when Arsenal play these days. Early on VAR favoured Arsenal as for some strange reason, Guendouzi was not judged to have fouled Soyuncu, in spite of the evidence, and a penalty was avoided. A shame that subsequent events didn’t make that decision even out the non-award of a spot kick for the shirt tug on Sokratis at Bramall Lane. Then again, VAR might have deigned that an Ndidi handball prevented Aubameyang’s shot going in at the other end, but I’m not even certain it was looked at. Regardless, there was no getting away from the reality that far more efforts were coming in the direction of Bernd Leno’s goal.

There was a paucity of efforts from Arsenal – who knows whether playing the two orthodox strikers wide was the reason for this, but at the end of the 90 minutes, Arsenal’s attempts count was eight to Leicester’s 25. That kind of ratio tells you everything you need to know about Arsenal this season. Not creative enough in possession, not solid enough when the opposition have the ball. At times, it felt like a hot knife through butter when Brendan Rodgers’ team were on the attack.

In Premier League matches, Arsenal have won four out of their last 19 away fixtures. It was the home form that made last season a near thing. This season, not so good. Three draws at home out of six, they are currently sandwiched between Sheffield United and Bournemouth in sixth place. The last ten Premier League matches have seen just two wins. Both Spurs and Manchester United are lower, and will either improve or get a new manager in. Arsenal need to act quickly before they are overtaken.

After the interval, Aubameyang found the net but was plainly offside, after Arsenal’s best move of the game. The opening goal against eventually came halfway through the second 45, almost inevitably, from Jamie Vardy. Within ten minutes it was 2-0, as Emery’s players failed to cover the gaps. Switches were made but to no avail, Pepe and Saka introduced for Holding and Torreira. But where once you’d have expected to see a rally from an Arsenal team, at least some conviction, it felt like the belief wasn’t there, it was just a case of going through the motions until the final whistle was blown.

The art of management in the Premier League these days is the ability to motivate millionaires, and I’m not seeing much motivation here. A lack of focus and team spirit is all too obvious. The commentators on Sky alluded to a disconnect between Emery and his players. That adds to the one between the supporters and the head coach, the owners and the now demoted captain. This isn’t good for the club.

There is a story going round that Raul Sanllehi has sounded out Luis Enrique to replace Emery, and although that is certainly worth considering, if for no other reason than he can’t do any worse, and a new manager bounce should lift the mood at the club, it was only a short time ago that Enrique suffered a family tragedy. The former Barcelona and Spain manager might want to take more time out. Maybe next summer, it’s possible, but for now, it's more likely a caretaker manager will be appointed, with Freddie Ljungberg the obvious choice.

That of course, depends on the appetite of the Kroenkes for necessary change, and the related expenditure. Emery though, even if he survives the next 48 hours, is a sitting duck. It’s only a matter of time now, and my prediction is that he won’t get the chop until the panto season is in full swing. It should be sooner of course, but Arsenal have a history of waiting too long to make decisions of this nature. The day to day running of the club may have seen a change in personnel, but the owners are the same, and the board has not changed too much lately either. We’ll see.


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  1. HBo

    Nov 13, 2019, 20:33 #115484

    I really don't want us to become another Man U or Chelsea and do a musical chair of managers. We did a very thorough search for managers at the end of last season, talking to almost everybody. At least half of this squad are still Wenger's people; let the manager shape the squad to his taste and judge him then.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Nov 12, 2019, 23:47 #115482

    Typo. I meant still has mileage in his tank.

  3. itsRonagain2

    Nov 12, 2019, 23:43 #115481

    Bard. I hear you mate. As ever. You’ve a good take on it there. I wd just ask though about the slide to where? At this instant I can see how this team looks like it’s nose diving and capitulating towards the bottom end of that league. I personally don’t think that can happen unless players down tools totally which wd force the owner to act. I don’t feel it’s at that stage though and to be honest I doubt there’s the indiv or collective character strength in the dressing room to make it happen. As a result I don’t think we can sink lower than 7th at worst. Likely 6th. The owners no doubt eyeing the likelihood of a plummet downwards of course. It’s not a strong league in reality. A few wins these next few weeks and SK will breathe easier. We ll be into the New Yr by then and the mindset will be ‘ it ll soon be May’ and they ll look at it then. Dick can go then at no cost at all and they’ve time to recruit the next candidate. I truly can’t see a mid Season sacking. The cost to the owner is paramount. He d take a season of failure to save the severance cost of letting Dick go. The so called spend in the Sunmer didn’t actually cost him anything did it. This man has nil interest in football. He really doesn’t. If as some of you lads predict that we re about 12th come Boxing Day, then I think you’re scenario might be real as the so called but mythical classy stable Arsenal model would then be seen to be being served and preserved in the face of an overwhelming case to act. As you say Arsenal are all about image. It’s how they attract sponsors , as the sponsors they’ve got love to imagine themselves in the same vein. We saw with Wenger that only when the case for change is stark sparingly obvious will the Club act accordingly. Dick still hasn’t some mileage in his tank yet I feel matey.

  4. Bard

    Nov 12, 2019, 20:22 #115480

    Ron in one way you are right but I have a different take on your conclusions. I do think the financial aspect is paramount but thats why I think he will be gone sooner rather than later. All this "we are behind the manager" is to protect the brand, it promotes the idea that Arsenal are stable and thoughtful. The reality is they cant let the club slide so I suspect that there will be a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes to assess what the options are. It will require a miracle to turn this around and I just feel he doesnt have the players with him. My money is Freddie til the end of the season and then appoint a new manager.

  5. markymark

    Nov 12, 2019, 18:52 #115479

    A plan you mention, Ron? Now what’s one of those lol! I’m thinking if they are speaking to Enrique that it will be at season end. the form is dire and apparently all the techie stats are looking dreadful. If Mourinho isn’t the way forward I suspect Freddie as stand in, until they make the next big choice. Sort of makes sense. With this sort of thing I suspect what they say and what they do are two separate things. Anyone who’s been in the corporate world of fun has probably had a shit manager situation. You never admit to the troops the managers shit otherwise you end up with chaos and complete disobedience. You simply move said shit manager out of harms way ( Basingstoke?!? ) or in Unai’s case Real Betis / Sociedad , Sporting this , Real that . Any nice middle of the road Spanish club will do!

  6. Goonhogday

    Nov 12, 2019, 13:33 #115473

    Sadly, that pretty much sums us up nowadays. We’re a cash cow to an absent owner. Yes, he’d love to win the league but only on his terms.

  7. itsRonagain2

    Nov 12, 2019, 12:47 #115471

    Exiled - thats exactly how i see it. This owner just doesn't see any need to do anything with any urgency. We ve seen this since he came back in 2007. He knows the cost of everything he does but the football aspects are just an aside to him. Hes an absent Landlord. His Son and the others there are just his lackies. Theyve no autonomy.

  8. Exiled in Pt

    Nov 12, 2019, 11:02 #115469

    We all want the same thing here , just some of us are not so trusting in the owners to do the right thing. Because it happens at other clubs does not mean it will happen at ours . He will pick up enough points to keep them in that 4th to 8th place battle and will go at the end of the season . If there was any interest in changing things he would of gone on Saturday night. Why would they pay him off for Freddie to take over as caretaker , it's just not going to happen and there is no big name coming in not under this owner..

  9. TonyEvans

    Nov 12, 2019, 07:21 #115468

    Emery has to go now but expect more dither and delay from an Arsenal board that seem as clueless as the manager. The fact that we are still gifting 20 to 30 shots at our goal per game is more than enough evidence for Emery’s P45. What do the board think is going to change under this Wenger clone? If Emery hasn’t solved our defensive woes by now he never will and that should have been his priority from the word go - any damn fool could see that.

  10. itsRonagain2

    Nov 11, 2019, 22:35 #115467

    Great debating lads as usual on here. Great comments and thoughts. It’s a real mystery isn’t it trying to 2nd guess the clubs owners. We rarely acknowledge their role and difficulties but it’s a tough job finding themselves at this juncture so soon after Wenger, unless of course they had anticipated the ‘ the one after Wenger syndrome’ ? Arsenal will have a plan I’m sure if you guys are right and Dicks already walking the plank. I d like to think if that’s the case that they’ve done their homework and this time bite the bullet and bring a man in who knows his mind and not just one who s there to tow Kroenkes line and just give more of the same. At some stage They’ve got to ride a coach and horses through the last remnants of Wenger culture still fouling the air in the club. Ps while on Wenger. I do wish he d shut the f—-k. He s like a footballing Tony Blair spouting his ‘ wisdom’ in every footie topic known to man. The old goat had his day. Why the hell not just go with some dignity and accept his day has long since gone? Arrogance oozing from him. How he hid it so long is the thing that amazes me.

  11. Pauljames

    Nov 11, 2019, 21:12 #115466

    Wenger got two seasons once he’d dropped out of the CL, and that was with all the power he held and the credit he still had in the bank with hierarchy and some of the fan base.Dick has none of that and has already had a season and a half, plus the team is performing worse than it was even in Wengers last season. The comments being attributed to Sanhelli tonight do not exactly amount to a ringing endorsement either.

  12. markymark

    Nov 11, 2019, 20:43 #115465

    Ultimately Ron , Wenger wouldn’t have been sacked either. They will need the money from the Champions League and if Europa is at risk then financially they are screwed. It’d be looking deliberately wrecking your own house. Ultimately money talks as the “Partners” will pull out of deals or at least negotiate hard and revenue will drop. You then have a race to the bottom with the Kronke’s selling from weakness not strength . Therefore if Unai continues to stagger around he’s going to be toast

  13. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Nov 11, 2019, 20:16 #115464

    Proper fan representation at board level is the only answer to all our woes - trust me.

  14. Pauljames

    Nov 11, 2019, 20:14 #115463

    I don’t agree Ron. There are lots of owners in the PL and EFL who are absentees and put financial results ahead of on the pitch results , we are far from alone in that. And didn’t we spend more than Chelsea, Leicester, Man Utd and Spurs in the summer? There is no such thing as patience in modern football at Arsenal or anywhere else, so the idea that Emery won’t be sacked no matter how bad results get seems nonsense to me.

  15. itsRonagain2

    Nov 11, 2019, 19:06 #115462

    Lads. All of yr assumptions, suggestions, expectations and predictions are fatally flawed. You are all assuming that football criteria as opposed to financial criteria is uppermost in the minds of the movers and shakers at N5. They don’t and haven’t done since the day they decided to move ground. Mid table. Out of Europa League. Another yr out of the CL? SK cd not care less unless perhaps it looks this grim in say a years time. It costs a lot of money to sack Dick and that feckless crew around him so he s not going anywhere until it’s financially comfortable for the owner. Any new appt when Dick has gone will need also to fit the Wengo/Emery criteria as well. Arsenal will finish 5th or 6th. The doomsday scenario is unlikely to happen in a league that pretty poor underneath the top 3. SK and his advisers aren’t stupid. They look at the angles. What’s more , a guy like SK will still be naffed about having to bend to make him go to Wengo and arrange his departure. There’s no way a bunch of football fans with no knowledge about finances will make him bend again. SK wanted AW to stay and is aggrieved he’s not still there so don’t expect him to look at footie considerations. Fans are their own worst enemies. They keep trotting to games, buying the tickets while grouching etc etc. SK knows this. Unless he’s forced out by non attending fans , what you’ve got at Arsenal now is what you’ve got for the future. The last 12 years has taught you that. Titles. CL s ? Forget it. SK doesn’t want to know. Rubbing along as we ve done this last 4 yrs suits him down to the ground.

  16. Pauljames

    Nov 11, 2019, 18:40 #115461

    Evening Standard running with the line that they are behind him but .....Personally I’d be surprised if he sees the year out if we can’t get results v Southampton and Norwich.Dont forget that a defeat v Frankfurt on Nov 28 would leave Europa league progress in jeopardy too. It feels like he needs to turn things round pretty much immediately to carry on into 2020.

  17. markymark

    Nov 11, 2019, 16:54 #115460

    If I’m going to try and look at this totally neutrally ( difficult). The message today about backing him but..... results must improve is probably about right. A really aggressive message could have seen complete play to sack from the players and without the results must improve it would appear nonsensical. My betting is a few more bad results and we are in Freddie territory with a decision made on new manager end of the season

  18. Don Howe

    Nov 11, 2019, 16:37 #115459

    I wanted to give Emery a chance but our collective confidence is at rock bottom. They just don't believe they are going to get anywhere. He has to go. Sad but true. I don't suppose that he would do us the favour of resigning.

  19. itsRonagain2

    Nov 10, 2019, 20:25 #115458

    CG. Yes. It certainly did. I don’t think you have to even look at those 2 sides to see the gulf now mate. I saw Wolves earlier. They had power. Intensity. Identity. Toughness. A touch of the nastiness and 2 smashing goals. Leics similarly yesterday. For such a supposed great side Man C are alarmingly brittle at Anfield. Their record there makes ours seem wonderful. Stones looks like a lanky Mustafi too. They bottled that today whatever Guardiola says. Injury hit defence of course but they lacked reL belief I thought. Maybe they d bought the Liverpool SKY sponsored and promoted cheer leading. Ps. It was good to see Pep not give that arsehole Shreeves anything though. Can’t stand that arselicking crawling shit stirring lacky.


    Nov 10, 2019, 20:11 #115457

    Hi Ron, I don't think physique has too much to do with it - the current top teams aren't that imposing but they are organised, efficient & play with intelligence. Maybe as well as being poorly coached our lot are also a bit on the thick side? I would exempt PEA from criticism yesterday as the poor lad was clearly upset by earlier smashing up his £270k Lambo. This afternoon's match showed how far we have fallen didn't it - technique & tactical awareness a million miles above us. But empty seats could bring the current agony to a swift end, surely?

  21. itsRonagain2

    Nov 10, 2019, 18:41 #115456

    GR. hi mate. I wdt have a clue what’s Dicks style and tactics are to be truthful after all this time. When I say he’s Wengo Mk 2 I mean he displayes the same disdain for team organisation and defending and he s allowed the same lackadaisical culture to persist at the Club and seemingly refuses to recruit anything but light framed physically weaker type players in key positions who lack durability and intensity.

  22. Goonhogday

    Nov 10, 2019, 17:54 #115455

    If we lose the next three or four fixtures, he’ll have to go early. I’m struggling to find any positives in the football tactics I’ve seen. Bard is right, he will struggle to turn it around and I’m not sure the players are with him. I think it was just after the league cup final that fans stopped showing up on match days for AW. Yes, they’d paid up for the season but perhaps it was about damage limitation for the following season ticket renewals that spooked the board into announcing Wenger’s sacking in April that year?

  23. Exiled in Pt

    Nov 10, 2019, 17:54 #115454

    Bard, I agree he has to go in my opinion as I posted last night, if the owner had any interest or ambition to be a top team he would of been sacked last night. He is still there!! I just do not see them getting rid until the end of the season, its cheaper than sacking him now. I hope I am wrong but this owner in my opinion is the biggest problem. How long do they need to explore other options we have all been saying it since the start of the season...

  24. Bard

    Nov 10, 2019, 17:30 #115453

    Exiled mate not sure about that. In todays world patience is in short supply especially if you are charging top dollar. My take is that the 'we are behind the manager' stance is PR spin while they explore other options. You dont have to have worked a day in in football to see that this is only gong one way. As PaulJames says we are only 3 points ahead of the 15th placed team. He needs to go now.

  25. Pauljames

    Nov 10, 2019, 16:54 #115452

    We are 3 points ahead of the 15th placed team, if this current run continues through to Christmas we will be bottom six, simple as that. I don’t see how Dick rides out the stick he’ll get inside the stadium if he doesn’t start winning some matches .

  26. John F

    Nov 10, 2019, 16:18 #115451

    The board are probably looking at the four games coming up Southampton,Brighton at home and Norwich and West Ham away and think Arsenal could win them all and every thing will be hunky dory.I think Arsenal may struggle in front of a cynical crowd at home and nothing suggests to me that these players under him can win away either.These games may well decide whether the board will react or not.

  27. Pauljames

    Nov 10, 2019, 15:36 #115450

    Exiled I don’t think Dick and Wenger are comparable for any number of reasons . Arsenal’s board / owners are no different to any one else’s in that they simply won’t be able to ride out a lengthy and voiceferous fan campaign to oust the manager. He is not going to the last the season unless results improve this side of Christmas.

  28. Exiled in Pt

    Nov 10, 2019, 15:15 #115449

    Let's remember Wenger went at the end of the season not during it. This board in my opinion will leave Dick in charge until the end of the season. Why pay him off when it's a clean break at no cost to them come May. Season ticket holders empty seats are paid for it will not hurt this owner financially and it will not stop the tourists going for their day out in London and their half and half scarfs!! Many of us said many years back the problem at our club was far deeper than just le fraud and Ivan... Nothing will improve until the owner is gone and that doesn't look likely any time soon and why would any top coach want to take on this job with a board that will never back them.. I hope I am wrong as I can barely find the interest in moaning about it any longer..

  29. Bard

    Nov 10, 2019, 15:02 #115448

    The board may well be 100% behind Dick (why would they intimate anything else) but the fans arent, the atmosphere will be toxic sooner rather than later. Agree with you Goonhogday mate empty seats and fan disillusionment did for Wenger and it will do for Dick. There is no way he can turn this around. We looked a very poor second to an excellent Leicester. I dont want to lay the blame solely on one player but Holding was woeful yesterday as was Bellerin.

  30. Goonhogday

    Nov 10, 2019, 14:07 #115447

    Hopefully, the Krankies won’t bottle it and wait until we’re mathematically out of the top 4 contention and all cups! Apart from an early glimmer of hope, nothing has changed and we’re drifting again with the same old issues. I can’t figure out what goes on in the boardroom but we look and behave in the league like a PR disaster. If the fans start finding better things to do on match days and he’s really lost the dressing room, I think they’ll have to act and replace him sooner than later.

  31. Pauljames

    Nov 10, 2019, 13:27 #115446

    Not sure what Ormstein knows or what the board are thinking but there’s no way Dick is riding this out unless results improve immediately after the break. He’s clearly losing the players and once the home fans turn en masse a manager is finished.period.

  32. GoonerRon

    Nov 10, 2019, 12:59 #115445

    Up until their goal it was better than what we’ve seen of late (not saying much I know), and it did feel like the game was in the balance until they scored. That said, the moment we went behind there was zero belief from the players or the away fans that we’d get back into it. It feels like Emery’s time should be up but based on comments from Ornstein today it doesn’t seem like the club top brass agree, so this could get messy. @ Yes it’s Ron - I’m not sure I agree that Emery and Wenger are the same - their output in terms of results are - but in terms of approach and style they seem diametrically opposed.

  33. itsRonagain2

    Nov 10, 2019, 10:55 #115444

    Hi Kev. Mate, everything in yr 2nd para has been the case for at least 10 yrs. everything is the same. Emery is Wenger. The owner was happy with AW. He didn’t want his reign to end , hence the nearest thing to a clone was brought in. I honestly can’t see SK having the interest or the stomach to go through a coach change till season end. Arsenal are still places where SK is content. In terms of a potential relegation fight that’s been suggested, I ll risk controversy in saying it but in reality, such a fight to avoid the drop would be the first time there has been objective of any interest in the club for yrs! Can you imagine the games actually meaning something again? Points actually being vital? What a refreshing change after the sterility of the treading water shite the club has fed up this last 10 years. In truth, faces with a relegation fight my biggest fear would be with these players that there would be no fight! They d more likely sleep walk their way to the drop by rolling over and accepting its inevitability. Such is the culture of AFC now.

  34. itsRonagain2

    Nov 10, 2019, 10:53 #115443

    Hi Kev. Mate, everything in yr 2nd para has been the case for at least 10 yrs. everything is the same. Emery is Wenger. The owner was happy with AW. He didn’t want his reign to end , hence the nearest thing to a clone was brought in. I honestly can’t see SK having the interest or the stomach to go through a coach change till season end. Arsenal are still places where SK is content. In terms of a potential relegation fight that’s been suggested, I ll risk controversy in saying it but in reality, such a fight to avoid the drop would be the first time there has been objective of any interest in the club for yrs! Can you imagine the games actually meaning something again? Points actually being vital? What a refreshing change after the sterility of the treading water shite the club has fed up this last 10 years. In truth, faces with a relegation fight my biggest fear would be with these players that there would be no fight! They d more likely sleep walk their way to the drop by rolling over and accepting its inevitability. Such is the culture of AFC now.

  35. John F

    Nov 10, 2019, 10:33 #115442

    David Ornstein is claiming the board are 100% behind Dick and will not react to noise.They plan to still review at the end of the season.

  36. ArsenalMagna

    Nov 10, 2019, 10:25 #115441

    So I actually watched the game yesterday more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. I was actually relieved when Leicester scored as Emery has to go ASAP. It was sad seeing the players look so unmotivated and flat, and even our attacking play was dreadful. Agree with John F that Enrique is not the right man for the job. I don't trust the club's top brass to get in the right type of manager - they'll probably go for an attack-minded, continental type, when we actually need someone whose philosophy centres on balance, like Allegri or Mourinho. Sad because I think we actually have the nucleus of a great team, but alongside our weak owners, the culture of football is really changing for the worse now, which is also a challenge in rebuilding, as we have all discussed on here many times. I'm 27 and don't recognise the amazing game characterised by the Keane vs Vieira rivalry etc, instead I now see too many mercenaries and divas, most of whom turn up only when they feel like it. The worst thing is the disregard for sound defence, mislabelled as 'philosophy'. Sad times indeed.

  37. RobG

    Nov 10, 2019, 10:08 #115440

    'Look behind you' is invariably the Arsenal cry these days, as that's generally where the ball is, instead of heading back the other way. John's point is absolutely valid - getting the wrong man out, can all too often be followed by getting a namesake in. FL as a caretaker until the summer would be a better - and cheaper - option. If we are going to opt for another overseas appointment, surely Allegri would be the better bet, rather than Enriqe ? At all events, the longer the delay - the harder it's going to get.

  38. John F

    Nov 10, 2019, 09:39 #115439

    Dick whittingless ,brilliant. Every one knows he is a busted flush and should go but I am not convinced by Enrique,his time at Roma has echoes of Dicks at Arsenal.Conceding 50+ goals and falling out with players and the crowd.Chelsea pulled out of getting him as they claimed he was too arrogant.The danger is that in the rush to get rid of Dick that fans and the board just make the same mistake as they did at the end of Wengers reign and the club ends up having to do the same again next season.

  39. Rob Admin

    Nov 10, 2019, 09:18 #115438

    Possibly the greatest ever opening paragraph to a Gooner editorial. The chaos on the pitch is not all wasted, it has spurred me on to finish my tiling and provided the spark of literary genius above.