What can we expect from Arsenal this autumn?

by Tony Attwood

A big player turnover in the January window?  Promotion of some of the very promising kiddies from the under 23 squad?  A constant sniping, increasing to all out attacks on every player in the squad?  Rumours of discontent among the players growing into talk of outright rebellion?  Talk that the Emery is considering his position and is ready to resign?

The first is unlikely indeed, the second possible, and the rest dead certs.

Of course only very foolish people will tell you they know what will happen in the future – but since most people who write in seem to consider me so foolish it is remarkable I am able to get my own breakfast, we can take a punt at the chances.

Mr Emery has got this far without anyone seriously questioning him, but that can’t be far away.  With all the wealth of PSG he let Monaco beat them to the league title, so how’s he going to do anything with less than 1% of their money?  He won the League Cup – that’s hardly difficult.  Etc.

The question then is, how fragile will his position get, as the attacks on all the members of the squad intensifies?

The footballing media would love another managerial change – it gives them something to write about without thinking for months on end, and the chance of saying “he was never going to make it at Arsenal” as if somehow they had predicted it before.

But the owner’s own plan for a club that generates him money, personally, means it is unlikely.  The building of the extra row of seats at club level, even though large swathes of club level remained empty for yesterday’s game, suggests there are a lot of well-to-do people who don’t know what to do with their money.  The seats become a trophy, not something to be used.  “Yes I’ve got half a dozen, but I hardly go; the quality of the game is so poor.  And last time I was there the waiter thought Merlot was a white!”

The likeliest route through the rest of this season is that Mr Emery perseveres with his “play out from the back approach” and ultimately the criticism spreads from just being aimed at the players who are getting used to it, to the manager, while allowing attendances to drop a little (meaning the press can renew their empty seats stories, the Telegraph can run its fake empty seats picture (taken at the Stadium when Arsenal were not even playing) and the pesky problem of the League position is handed forward to next season.

But… within this is a hope and a belief, and it is summed up by the headline from the Sun

“Manchester City cannot afford to play out from the back”   

That appeared in December 2016, and it came at a time when every journalist was writing headlines that started “Manchester City cannot afford…”  It was a fad and a fashion.  Except the fact that in the eyes of many pundits playing out from the back was stupid, and the manager had lost his marbles.  It was  a product of the “EVERYONE ELSE SHOULD SEE THE WORLD LIKE I DO” school of punditry.

I think many would agree now that Manchester City can play out from the back – but it took a little while to get there.

The Manchester City “debate” (I use the word in its vaguest sense) started two years ago with the their manager being accused of odd tactics to defend against a counter attack.  But now in retrospect there is talk of Manchester City’s “steep learning curve” and of ripping up the rule book, by asking players to do things they have not done before has clearly worked.

And the reality is that older players like Bacary Sagna were also being asked to play differently.

Thus the manager changed the approach, and as it eventually had success the criticism and notion that “the fans won’t stand for this” died away. Ultimately it became a system that simply meant players had to be in the right place at the right time.  When they were, and were not drawn out of position by the game itself, it worked.  At least judging by last season’s results.

So in trying to determine the future the issues are twofold.

One, do we have players who can develop the sort if positional awareness that the new approach needs?  Second, given that during this adaptation period the assault on the players from the media will get to such a level that some players may start to feel that it really isn’t worth it, and a transfer to a quieter club would be their best move.  Can we hold onto  them?

“You can see at this level that one v one is difficult to play so you need to use the goalkeeper as a spare man every time you can,” said Petr Cech recently.  “That is the role of the goalkeeper”.

I am not sure many people watching Arsenal have got this, or if they did, did not have any belief that Cech can do this.

So what can we expect from Arsenal? Angst, anger and turmoil.  And that’s just the press box, the TV studio and the journalists.  For the fans it is going to be a case of keeping calm and keep on going to the games.  If we don’t the reforms could fail.




12 Replies to “What can we expect from Arsenal this autumn?”

  1. Wow, Tony is that you accepting that man city’s success had more to do with the players overtime understanding the manager’s tactics than employment of the wealth of the sovereign state of UAE?

  2. Yes, I have the crystal ball of a hunch in my mind that has showed me that Arsenal will be on top of the Premier League table by 1st January 2019. But if they along the line get a long winning run in their PL matches that includes in the bg games beating Tottenham Hotspur at the Ems and Man Utd at Old Trafford for the first in a decade.

    By the way, where is Mavropanos gone to? I know he should have a 2 game suspension in the PL for the red card he got in one of the Arsenal last game of last season if the suspension is carried over to this season. But if the suspension is even carried over, he should only serve one match ban to not play in our last Man City game I should think. But I could be wrong because I am not that sure.

    Anyway, if Mavropanos is good and has impressed Emery in training sessions alongside Holding this season, I think it’s about time the duo are played against Cardiff City in Arsenal next game in the PL. Emery should either start them or play them as substitutes in the match and also in our away match to Newcastle that is coming after the international break if he has plan to use them for Arsenal first game in the Europa League. Starting or playing them in our Cardiff and Newcastle games will allow the pair to overcome any match rusty that is likely to have built up in them due to their lack of first team game playing time in the PL since the beginning of this season.

    And besides, if the duo start or play at Cardiff and Newcastle, it will allow Emery a chance to take a different look at Arsenal defense-line which has been porous leaking in an average of 2 goals per game in the PL since the new season begun. And see how Holding and Mavropanos will perform as centreback pairing in the 2 games while Mustafi and Papastethopoulos are given a starting game rest for Cardiff.

  3. “With all the wealth of PSG he let Monaco beat them to the league title”; we might be going to hear that soon, indeed
    which is, of course, very unfair, if you take a close look at monaco’s XI that year:

    bernardo silva-lemar-mbappé

    how much is such a team worth today?

    as for unai , he coached the following XI:

    aurier- marquinhos-silva-kursawa
    cavani di maria

    the first leg of that team against barcelona was an absolute masterpiece, the second was a “riley-kind-of-robbing” … i’m not blind, though, and i can’t say i’m not worried about what seems to be going on with mesut; i hope unai is not weak enough to be throwing his artist’s liver to the dogs; those beasts are ravenous, they’ll never be satisfied … and we risk being deprived of one of the few true geniuses of the game

  4. No that is me acknowledging that no matter how good the players are it takes time to change one’s style. It is true in all walks of life I imagine. I’ve worked in the creative arts most of my life and I know that for myself, and for many people who work in the arts it is hard to undo the habits picked up and then rebuild them. Don’t know where you got your idea from Jules.

  5. OT: Corruption News – Sidibe Gets FIFA Assets in Landmark Attachment Order.

    Opening paragraph:

    World football federation FIFA has been stripped of all its South African trademarks and is now forced to hand over documents that could expose corruption and millions in kickbacks at the highest levels of government and the country’s local soccer authority.

    This could get interesting, if FIFA has to release a bunch of documentation.


  6. The inability to learn is not so much about age, as attitude. Lots of people leave high school, convinced they have learned everything they need to get through life. And they never learn again.

  7. @tony, I got that from the fact that for over 50articles since guardiola won the league you have constantly reminded us that city won the league due to the wealth of the sovereign state of UAE. I can’t remember you once acknowledging the work of the manager or even the players. If I hadn’t watched the league for myself I’d have thought city’s line up was made up of dollars

  8. Jules – Please remind me again what the average league position for Man City was before they were given a bottomless pit of money to play with?

  9. My only question on this ‘playing out from the back’ tactic is,does it deter professional players from making accurate passes to teammates, avoid giving away balls cheaply or finding it extremely hard to win back balls from opposing players? Imo this is where the Arsenal problems start. It has to do with Composure,awareness,team confidence, individual skill and fighting spirit.

  10. @ Le Gall
    I actually had made that kind of statement recently not with this fact though. And still believe it brings everything into perpective, that statement is a fact and very true, critical yes and that is why the last man was technically sacked. Nobody accessing anyone comparative would be fair more than the facts available.
    Remember, he won Europa severally, but what was he able to do at PSG Uefa Champions League outings. In Spain, he had respite, winter break, not expected to win the league, and nobody dreamt he was coming home with Cupa de Ray, so for himself, he concentrated on one thing, Europa.
    But that Spanish scenario is not in existence in England.

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