Mr Emery kept Arsenal stable in his first season, so what’s he going to do now?

By Tony Attwood

You may recall that we recently undertook a bit of an analysis comparing Mr Emery’s first season at Arsenal with Mr Wenger’s last.   The full report is here in case you missed it but the long and the short of the analysis was that at home we conceded the same number of goals as the much praised Tottenham, and only four more goals across the season than Manchester City who won the league.  That is roughly one more goal conceded at home than Manchester City, every four games.  On that basis there is nothing wrong with the defence!

Which of course points to our problem – it is not a question of an awful defence, it is a question of an awful defence away from home – which clearly suggests tactics, not players, are at fault.

Now that is not to suggest Mr Emery got things wrong in his first year – he had to get to know the players and make things work during the season.  Now however he has a bit of a chance to sort the issue.

So I thought it would be interesting to see what he did in his previous second seasons.  Mr Wenger did the double; what can we expect now?

The general consensus is that at Valencia, come the second season, Mr Emery changed the team constantly according to a) whether it was home or away and b) the nature of the opposition.

In season one this is what he achieved

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 38 27 6 5 105 35 +70 87
2 Real Madrid 38 25 3 10 83 52 +31 78
3 Sevilla 38 21 7 10 54 39 +15 70
4 Atlético Madrid 38 20 7 11 80 57 +23 67
5 Villarreal 38 18 11 9 61 54 +7 65
6 Valencia 38 18 8 12 68 54 +14 62

And in season two

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 38 31 6 1 98 24 +74 99
2 Real Madrid 38 31 3 4 102 35 +67 96
3 Valencia 38 21 8 9 59 40 +19 71
4 Sevilla 38 19 6 13 65 49 +16 63

The number of wins went up by three, the number of goals scored actually went down by nine, but the number of goals conceded went down by 14.  So he got third place and automatic entry to the champs league.

And if you look back at reports, he did this by changing his line up according to the opposition, making it almost impossible for anyone to pick his side ahead of the game.  And this rotation included players like Mata, Silva and Villa.  He did not play the same starting 11 for two consecutive games all season.

Reports at the time also suggest that he brought a good number of players through the youth system too – which gives hope for those of us who love to see home grown Arsenal boys turning into men.

On the downside Dani Parejo (still at Valencia) complained of the length of his team talks and Dani Parejo said “there were so many videos I ran out of popcorn.”

On the financial side he spent the same amount of money as he brought in not least through taking some players who were much derided by fans (and we have a fair number of such men at Arsenal) into brilliant performers whom he could much later sell on.  Roberto Soldado was the lead example – but there were a number of years of moaning before that happened.

If we by pass his short time at Spartak Moscow Mr Emery next popped up at Sevilla – which the boss joined half way through the season.  So this is slightly harder to compare for a second season achievement, but I’m just taking complete seasons and ignoring the opening part-season.  So 2014/15 is season one.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Atlético Madrid 38 28 6 4 77 26 +51 90
2 Barcelona 38 27 6 5 100 33 +67 87[a]
3 Real Madrid 38 27 6 5 104 38 +66 87[a]
4 Athletic Bilbao 38 20 10 8 66 39 +27 70
5 Sevilla 38 18 9 11 69 52 +17 63

And then in season two he didn’t go quite so overboard in terms of changing players around for every game but kept to a smaller number of options depending on whom his side was playing.  He is also reported to have reduced the use of videos for players, and instead opting for more face to face chats.  The table at the end of 2015/16 read

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 38 29 4 5 112 29 +83 91
2 Real Madrid 38 28 6 4 110 34 +76 90
3 Atlético Madrid 38 28 4 6 63 18 +45 88
4 Villarreal 38 18 10 10 44 35 +9 64
5 Athletic Bilbao 38 18 8 12 58 45 +13 62
6 Celta Vigo 38 17 9 12 51 59 −8 60
7 Sevilla 38 14 10 14 51 50 +1 52

So a calamity – everything good went down EXCEPT the goals against were two fewer, and of course having won the Europa League he got the team into the Champions League.

Next up was PSG.   Mr Emery’s first season there was 2016/17 and with his club having won the league by 31 points the season before, coming second eight points behind the leaders was not what was ordered.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Monaco 38 30 5 3 107 31 +76 95
2 Paris Saint-Germain 38 27 6 5 83 27 +56 87
3 Nice 38 22 12 4 63 36 +27 78

But in the second season he made up for it.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Paris Saint-Germain 38 29 6 3 108 29 +79 93
2 Monaco 38 24 8 6 85 45 +40 80

He also won both domestic cups in his two years giving him five trophies in two years and seven in the past five years.  He is a man who wins things – although not always, and not always with historically the strongest clubs.

At PSG the selection process was less changeable, but this being PSG, one of the clubs that can rival Man City for money as and when required, he did show he was able to handle the big players too – which shows how little of history those who suggest otherwise, actually know.

So what does it all mean?   Probably that this man can handle star players, will change the team around to make the most of it if he has too, but does not feel obliged to, and wins something in his second season: twice the Europa League and once the French treble.

If he lives up to what he has done at his previous sides in past seasons we should be happy – although that slippage down the league in Spain 2015/16 would give the media and their Anti-Arsenal Arsenal chums, a lot of ammunition.

14 Replies to “Mr Emery kept Arsenal stable in his first season, so what’s he going to do now?”

  1. If we can bring in the right players and get shot of some of our higher paid, lazy players then we can get back into the top four, and hopefully challenge for the title.

  2. Tony

    There is one worrying aspect of Mr Emery’s second season at Sevilla and that’s the away form in the league. Sevilla played 19 games away from home, won NONE, drew nine, lost ten with a comical goal-difference 13-29. At home, however, things were better – 19 games, 14 victories, 1 draw, 4 defeats, GD 38-21.

    Oddly, Sevilla beat both Barcelona (won the league) and Real Madrid (won Champions League) respectively at home.

    Among things that doesn’t look well either are

    his league start in that season – five games, three defeats, two draws – and

    even more the finish of the season (probably due to commitment to Europa League) – 9 games, 7 defeats, a single victory (against the fiercest rivals Real Betis) and a draw.

    All four home defeats came in those two negative periods. In the middle, Sevilla played 24 league games, won 13, drew 7, lost 4 thus averaging almost two points per game.

    It’s similar to Mr Emery’s first season at Arsenal – start with two defeats before making a strong run without a defeat; a disappointing finish with four defeats in the last seven games. Both home defeats came in those two negative periods. In 29 games between two awful periods at the beginning of the season and on its end we picked 63 points or over two points per game.

    What’s happening with Mr Emery’s teams at the beginning of the season and at its end?

  3. “the finish of the season (probably due to commitment to Europa League) – 9 games, 7 defeats, a single victory (against the fiercest rivals Real Betis) and a draw.” This displays to me that Emery does not have a great understanding of how to balance the physical aspect of the game. He runs his players into the ground. This was confirmed in my mind when I heard about him making the players come into a training session just 7 hours after their plane from Napels had landed in London, and also the fact that we consistently come in with the most KM’s covered per game. That simply is not sustainable across an entire season.

    The way in which his teams performances dip at the end of these seasons would back that up as well.

    Perhaps it could be used to explain the differences between home and away performances? With the fans cheering you on it helps motivate you to play through the pain/stamina barrier. If anyone has ever worked out with weights, you’ll know that it’s things like this that can make a massive difference between how far you can push it (even something as simple as the Adrenalin release from a slap around the head).

  4. Haven been hired to principally get Arsenal back into playing in the Champions League next season, but Emery who has been saddled with this singular responsibility has failed to deliver on this assignment for the club which was given to him to deliver for the club last season as he missed out on a great chance that became available to him to seize it to kill 2 birds at the same time with one throw of a stone. i.e. Win a major title of the ELC for Arsenal and get them back to play in the CL next season simultaneously to happen in his first season coaching job at the club. But alas! Delivering the 2 were to no avail as all that Emery could do for Arsenal last season after getting the club to play in the ELC final was to guide his Gunners team to a humiliating defeat to Chelsea in ELC final to consequently miss out on winning a major title for Arsenal, and at the same time have the club failed to play in the Ucl next season.

    However, I think Emery has improved Arsenal last season in the PL but marginally over the previous last season when he guided the club to another Europa League Cup place albeit by his Arsenal managed first team squad finishing the season campaign in the PL in 5th position in the table last season as against the 6th position it obtained in the previous last season.

    Nevertheless, there are hopes in us Gooners camp that us will see our darling club – Arsenal FC win multiple titles next season but if Emery gets his priorities at Arsenal very right in the transfer market this summer and in the next January window too when us Gooners are expecting him to revamp the Arsenal first team squad correctly with the addition of another 4 new top talented player signings to his first team squad who have top quality ability and capability performance delivering in games ingrained in them but hidden in them to avoid them being seen to not poach them from us as their isn’t the needed enough cash available in the club’s transfer kitty this summer to undertake some marquee incoming signings of finish article kinds. Thus, Emery has to be very intelligent for Arsenal when dealing with incoming and outgoing transfers for the club this summer. So that he’ll avoid not getting it right for the club in the transfer market this summer but get it very right. In addition, us are expecting him to promote the young Gunners of: Nkethia, Nelson and Willock from Arsenal PL 2 team squad to the club’s senior first team squad next season that should boost the squad strongly if he does it without having to resort to sign-in unecessarily some other 3 youth players in their place this summer.

  5. @Jigsol
    I believe with the squad PSG had assembled he was expected to deliver the European Cup but didn’t due to a strange semi final result against Barcelona which powers to be controlled , he was shown the door

  6. so he was shown the door because he did not make the most of the resources provided to him, Is that correct?

    Sounds really encouraging.

  7. Jigsol

    PSG are not a good barometer for measuring why a Coach is fired. Everyone knows they’re more of a state sovereign wealth fund than a football club. They’re paying for the Champions League, and rightly or wrongly, they hire and fire coaches on that basis. I mean, the current owners of PSG would’ve sacked Wenger in his 3rd season based on them using European success as their benchmark.

    So yes it’s easy to say Emery “did not make the most of the resources provided to him” if you live in a football fantasy-land where PSG are entitled to win the CL because they spent 200m on Neymar and Mbappe. But in the real world, PSG are still a small team from Paris who, until the Qatari takeover, hadn’t reached the last 16 since the mid 90’s, and still haven’t gotten past the quarter-final stage with either Ancelotti, Blanc, Emery or Tuchel.

    The point is, it’s incredibly disingenuous for fans of our club, where coaches/managers aren’t even judged on European success, to point to PSG sacking a coach as evidence of anything, except PSG’s delusional approach to winning The Big Cup at all costs.

  8. So, inability to make use of resources provided is not grounds to question the appointment of ue as manager.

    So can we speculate as to exactly what is was the the club saw in him that made them choose him for what everyone agrees is a very difficult job, bearing in mind the club’s finances?

    Was it winning the Europa cup 3 times with a team that could otherwise get no where winning the league and went one of those seasons without winning an away game?

    Was it the dossiers that he prepared on each player which indicated his full understanding of each player’s strengths and weaknesses so that he could use his coaching skill to bring out the best in the players?

    Or was it that he was the only candidate who did not stipulate that he required a substantial transfer budget to freshen up a squad that had got stale in recent years?

    I suspect it was the last alternative and the chickens are now coming home to roost.

    Like many other fans I see the immediate future as being a downhill spiral and I think the main cause is the board’s choice of replacement manager.

    I hope i am proved wrong.

  9. I can’t agree with that. I think it is the board’s decision not to invest in the club in a way that would allow any manager to compete with the likes of Chelsea, Man U, Man C and Liverpool.

  10. The Barcelona remontada was too much humiliation. PSG only wants progress in the CL so Qataries fired him.

  11. PSG has first class players but the board, the management and the all around organisation isn’t first class. Journalists here in France always complain about that. The commitment and the behaviour of the individuals is nowhere near those of Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern, etc, and it leads to players having more power than the club. None of the managers employed since the Qatari era has managed to resolve that because it’s a bigger problem, a structural and cultural problem. They have to make changes from top to bottom with their mentality and professionalism.
    In my mind it’s very unfair to Emery to put all this on him.

  12. Tony, by saying that the board did not want to invest too much, were they not looking for a new manager who would be able to utilise what we had, with only a few enhancements?

    So when UE comes along and tells them he has a dossier on each player and knows how to get them to work for him, was he not exactly what the doctor ordered?

    The season starts and he is now looking around for a way to get more money to be spent on players, and the obvious choice is our two most expensive players, Ramsey and Ozil. Get rid of them and more money is available.

    So when reality hits and the mirage of the 22 game unbeaten run finally disappears, he calls them back, by which time Ramsey is gone and Ozil is well and truly disenchanted.

    We then have the debacle of the Suarez loan, followed by the catastrophic last few games and the embarrassment of the 2nd half of the Europa Cup final.

    So we are now being told that EU needs 4 or 5 transfer windows to chuck out his dossiers from and to bring in “his” players.

    It may very be that the post-AW job was a poisoned chalice that no one really wanted.

    I suppose the only consolation for many fans is that it could have been worse.

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