What is behind the attacks on Emery?

By Tony Attwood

At the start of his second season Wenger bought Overmars.  Emery at the same moment in his Arsenal career bought Pepe.

By the end of the season people were nodding very knowingly about Overmars who by the last game had got 12 valuable goals.

But here’s the thing: Overmars was a fixture in the 1997/8 side from the start, yet he did not score his first goal until the eighth game.  By 6 December he had still only scored three.  And yet he ended up as our second highest scorer.

Pepe saved us last night and we saw perhaps for the first time why he cost so much money.   And we are reminded that quite often top players take a while to get going.  Think of Bergkamp in his first season.   Or Henry in his first 20 or so games, looking a lost soul playing on the wing when he should have been in the middle (or so we said) and not scoring.

So maybe, just maybe, we should stop judging Emery by a set of mythical standards, and give him a spot more time as the club chose to do with Mr Wenger and Mr Wenger chose to do with Overmars.

Were people making as much fuss about Overmars not scoring as they were with Pepe before last night?  No, they were not.  But that doesn’t stop people going crazy now.  And that is the prime problem.   The media and their blogging followers smell blood and sniff easy stories, so the knives are out.

Talksport this week came up with the idea of comparing the last 47 games overseen by Arsene Wenger and the first 47 by Unai Emery – that is the games up to last night’s outing.

It is a clever thing to do, and I am putting those results below, but I wondered if there was not a third column that should be added for comparison: the first 47 games of Arsene Wenger.

Mr Wenger came to power on 1 October 1996 and my figures follow from that date which gives us 36 games in 1996/7 and then obviously 11 in 1997/8.

In 1996/7 Wenger got 16 wins, 12 draws and 8 defeats.

Moving on to 1997/8 up to and including the game against PAOK Salonika we had five wins and four draws plus two defeats.  A total of 21 wins, 16 draws and 10 defeats.

So let’s do the comparing.  Best total in each category is in red and the second best in blue, with the Wenger last 47 and Emery first 47 coming from Talksport.

Wenger’s first 47 games

  • Wins – 21
  • Goal scored – 79
  • Goals conceded – 40
  • Clean sheets – 15

Wenger’s last 47 games

  • Wins – 26
  • Goals scored – 90
  • Goals conceded – 59
  • Clean sheets – 17

Emery’s first 47 games

  • Wins – 25
  • Goals scored – 86
  • Goals conceded – 63
  • Clean sheets – 10

The most wins in these 47 matches came in Wenger’s last 47 games.   He was one ahead of Emery’s first 47 games.  So if Wenger was not good enough at the end, clearly Emery isn’t good enough at the start.

The most goals scored came in Wenger’s last 47 games with 90.  Emery is four behind with 86.

The fewest goals conceded was 40 in Wenger’s first 47 games – and you will remember that defence of Dixon, Winterburn, Keown, Bould and Adams.   Everyone told him not to touch the defence, and apart from adding Vieira in defensive midfield, he by and large stuck with that.

The most goals conceded was Emery in his first 47.  He has conceded four more than Wenger in his last 47 matches in charge.

Emery is however the best with clean sheets.  Better than the 15 with Wenger at the start and better than the 17 with Wenger at the end.

So comparing these three eras – the start for Wenger, the end for Wenger and the start for Emery we find that in two areas (wins and goals scored) Wenger at the very end was at his best.   The best defence was Wenger at the start.   Emery comes out top in one area – the most clean sheets.

Which means by and large that Emery at the start has done better than Wenger at the start but is doing worse than Wenger’s at the end.

And what does this tell us?

Basically that Wenger’s great achievements took a while to get going.  We won the double in Wenger’s second season.   And indeed after nine games in the 1997/8 season we were top of the league by one point

Team P W D L F A GD
1 Arsenal 9 5 4 0 22 10 12 19
2 Manchester United 9 5 3 1 12 4 8 18
3 Leicester City 9 5 3 1 13 6 7 18
4 Chelsea 8 5 1 2 22 10 12 16
5 Blackburn Rovers 9 4 4 1 19 9 10 16

Forget the gap with Liverpool at the top – we can do nothing about that except in the two matches we play against them.    But simply this season Arsenal are four points lower because Mr Wenger managed to get draws instead of defeats.  That is the difference between the two managers at this stage.  And who knows, now with the man who scored two last night, we can make up that difference.

Interestingly in Wenger’s opening nine of this season we scored 22 goals – more than the highly praised Liverpool this season.  And equally interesting by this stage in that double winning season we had conceded just two goals fewer than this season suggesting our defence is not that bad.

Now maybe that is a key statistic.  Everyone is screaming about how awful our defence is but in Mr Wenger’s second season – the one in which we won the double – at this stage we had conceded ten.  And that with the famous back four plus one.  This season we have conceded 12 and we are being told that the whole defence is a shambles.

Added to which we have not been playing our proper defence yet in league games – by which I mean the three injured players whom most of us expect to be the regulars from here on.  And maybe we were right in that regard, as they were not on top form last night.   They do need some games together.

So if we are going to get rid of Emery is it because he has a defence which is two goals worse than Wenger’s across nine games?

I suspect it is very likely that Mr Emery will leave at the end of the season when his contract is up, not because he is pushed, but because he knows the media and the Arsenal supporters are just impossible to deal with.

Emery’s team has won more games and scored more goals than Wenger’s did in the first 47, as Wenger headed for the double.  But that is simply not good enough now because nothing is ever good enough at Arsenal any more.

And what lies behind all this negativity about Emery?   An utter, total and continuous desire to knock Arsenal in order to destabilise the club, undertaken in the knowledge that as the media lead the charge, so the bloggers and their coat-tail hangers-on will do the same.

The media did everything they could to get Wenger sacked in his first couple of months in the club, and continued to knock him thereafter until he left.  Now they are doing the same with Emery.

The enemy is indeed not at the gates and knocking them down, but inside the gates destroying the club from within, and the enemy will continue to run the club until supporters wake up to the way they are being manipulated.  This is not the time to demand Emery leaves, but rather the time to recognise the game the media and bloggers are playing with out club.

I don’t know if Emery is a good manager or not, but I remember how badly Ferguson struggled at first at Man U, and how Wenger did with Arsenal at the start.


18 Replies to “What is behind the attacks on Emery?”

  1. You can’t compare that era and now… You’re talking about 1996 while this is 2019.. You talk about Wenger, fergi, how about Mou and conte who won the league in their first seasons? How about pep, how about conte again who has turn intermilan to a competitive team again? Pls Emery with all the quality in his team is a flop

  2. 10 clean sheets in his first 47 games in charge CANNOT be better than Wenger’s 15 in the first 47 of his Arsenal career or the 17 of his last 47.
    While I understand the general direction of your analysis and grudgingly concede to your logic, the conclusions drawn from your statistical analysis, are wrong.
    Congratulations all gunners, for last night’s nail biting victory.

  3. A good piece of analysis, I have watched, and supported Arsenal for sixty plus years, my father took me to see them at Highbury as a youth and I was hooked. I have been to the Emirates,but now watch games on tv. Certainly after they moved grounds, supposed new era, they have been fairly consistent at home, but terribly inconsistent away. Is this bad management, bad choice of players bought, they all seem to be similar in style. Do they lack mental strength, and can a different manager alter that mind set. Are we being destroyed from within as the article suggests. There are no easy answers, sport and the media’s reporting is brutal,there are no permanent winners.

  4. Cannot dispute those stats. And let’s see what the likes of Pepe does to a team that has looked a little tactically disjointed this season, he is clearly a very dangerous player, as is Martinelli.
    I think the problem Emery has though, there is the perception the team are going backwards, with wengers faults, real or perceived not having been dealt with, plus a few more faults added. There is a creativity issue, and the Ozil situation, which was on the lips of my little group last night. I find that Ozil thing baffling, can only conclude there is something we don’t know about, because this one seems supported from above.
    Let’s see what our attacking threesome can do, there could be something very special.
    But I fear things are closing in on Emery a bit, just a gut feeling more than anything I can substantiate, but lots of ex players going for the kill, lots of Freddie praise ( nothing wrong in itself, but perhaps pointed), some very odd performances and despite the stats in the article, some bad numbers, shots against etc.
    But it’s possible things may click, sometimes things just do, especially with more complex systems of play, and Emery will put two fingers to his critics come June.
    My main take away from last nights game, we could have at least two more very special players in our future, whether it is Emery, Freddie, Paddy, Jose, Big Sam or whoever at the wheel

  5. It is unfair to use stats to compare coaches. The teams are different and the method of play is different as are the Laws. I preferred the Weger game rather than Emerys but both have their place in footballs beauty.

    There are lots of games to go before we have a settled squad of gelled players. The Emery teams put out so far have had a variety of strengths & weaknesses but have delivered reasonable results. Obviously losses are not wanted but are part of the game in the EPL.

    Every one of our players has qualities for the team, it is only a matter of them gelling.

    As the boss says ‘we are on the right way’.

  6. This is not Emery’s first rodeo. He knows about the circus that circles every large club. He most assuredly saw that in Spain. Perhaps the difference, though, is that both Real Madrid and Barcelona have at least one very supportive media outlet/newspaper in large part to combat the ‘other’ team in a league that is largely a duopoly. We do not have this…perhaps this is something Kroenke et al could look into as part of a larger commercial strategy.

  7. I’m all for patience with Emery (and the team), but Van Persie’s comment last night was interesting. Someone had sent him a video (presumably from training), from which RVP concluded that the players couldn’t understand what Emery wanted of them. And RVP added that, even with all his experience of different managers, he himself couldn’t get what Emery was trying to communicate. RVPs message was that whatever the message is, it needs to be clear. (At least that was the gist of the comments). Language skills apart, I struggle to understand anything Emery communicates. So i guess it might be the same for the players.

  8. Agree Dublin, thinnk there are too many tales of communication issues coming out to be just spun or an agenda.
    If there is a problem there, that’s a big problem for Emery unless he finds a way to solve it

  9. The knives have since been continuously drawn out by the Gooners from their pockets attacking Emery with them immediately after Arsenal lost at away to Liverpool this season in the Premier League. And the Gooners have not return their knives to their pockets since them but have continued to attack Emery with their knives relentlessly with the sole aim he will run away front the club by resigning as the Gunners head coach. Or the club owner Stan Kroenke will take action through his Son Josh Kroenke to instruct the Arsenal board to fire Emery and pay him off his severance entitlements to leave the club.

    However, after Arsenal have defeated Victoria Guimaneas 3-2 in a tough Europa League Cup matchday no 3 at the Emirates Stadium, thanks to Nicholas Pepe’s 2 sublime penalty kicks that turned the match around to the favour of Arsenal, I watched the Gooners on my TV who were watching the match at the Ems returning their knives back to their pockets with a sigh of relieve. For, they had drawn out their knives in preparedness to start attacking Emery if Arsenal had lost the match. But thank God for His divine heavenly intervention that changed defeat of Arsenal by Guimaneas that looked to be on the cards to a win for Arsenal.

    Nevertheless, in the Arsenal home match next Sunday in the PL against Crystal Palace, Emery should ready the Gunners properly to beat Crystal Palace in the match collecting the maximum 3 points at stake in the match but not miss to win the match for whatever reasons. The reasons that will not guaranteed the not drawing out of knives by the Gooners from their pockets to attack Emery MUST be avoided completely from happening in the match by Emery and the Gunners. Hmmm.

  10. Sorry, I ment to say 2 sublime free kicks by Pepe but not 2 penalty kicks as I erroneously typed.

  11. Great point on Unai Emery’s contract situation. He is an intelligent person and certainly don’t want outside source which he can’t control to destroy his reputation. The problem never was the manager because the problem always been the toxic fans. They feel this and they feel that but never in a proper analysis like Tony does. Wenger plays good football, fans wants tight football. Emery plays tight football, fans want good football. These situation erupts no thanks to sugar daddy clubs like Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester. Liverpool were patience enough with Kloop despite early discouraging results but now have world at their feet. The extraordinary success with Wenger had picked up a few parasites along with Emery is struggling now. The general game plan has always improved under Emery since start of the season, only bad luck and player mistakes make good work undone. I hope the team keep improving and young players get experience to finally put the media charmed fans to bed.

  12. A comparison of 47 matches between Wenger and Emery is still too small a population size. For our enlightenment, let us use say 65 matches from all competitions, which is where I think we are now. It is true the eras are different, but we can get a general outlook of what is happening. Unai is under very strict scrutiny as of today.

    Make no mistake, Gooners everywhere are even much more keen on how their club is doing than before. This is not about Kroenke doing what he chooses to do when it pleases him to do, but about how AFC can be a winning machine built to last. No obfuscation or pandering to mere sentiments. Pure hard facts are more helpful. UE is skating on very thin ice.

    We won the game against Vitoria but it wasn’t a pretty sight – Ceballos and Guendouzi took charge of our midfield on their introduction but they kept getting in each others’ way and they both effectively shut out Torreira who thereafter became a fringe player on the day.

    Again we can do much better if we see our players and Coach are pulling in the same direction. Something is still not quite right about how we are playing. Crystal Palace may be the next big test that he may once again fail to pass and we will still be asking for more time for a Coach whom even his own players find very hard to understand! Saka said so, AMN said so, and we all are seeing how he has frozen Ozil out of the team.

    Unai must be held to account very quickly or we shall be kicking ourselves for being too forgiving of the lapses we are seeing today.

  13. Never mind what is behind the attacks on UE, at least for now, even on this forum, where comments are more level headed, questions are being asked. UE’s credentials are, from all appearances, impeccable but what gives?

    The reality is that almost all who care to raise a voice are saying AFC is not doing as well as expected. The AAA and the mainstream media have their own agenda and will never disappoint you when they speak about AFC. Do we hold the same views about what is said here?

  14. Tony

    You incorrectly state

    “Mr Wenger came to power on 1 October 1996 and my figures follow from that date which gives us 36 games in 1996/7 and then obviously 11 in 1997/8.”

    By the time AW took Arsenal had played 8 league games and not the 2 you state.

    So by my back of fag packet calculations the correct figures for AWs first 47 games were 30 in 1996/7 and 17 in 1997/8 from my unchecked calculations

    Draws 13
    Defeats 12
    For 79
    Against 42
    Clean sheets 20

  15. Mike, all the data I have shows Mr Wenger stayed in Japan to finish their season, before leaving and taking up the reigns at Arsenal on the date I have said. Just checked with a couple of sources and they agree that date.
    Mr Wenger was appointed before that, but he said, “I have never broken a contract in my life and won’t start now” so although Arsenal wanted him in England much earlier he was not here.
    Just checked with Wiki, and they have him taking over on 1 October as well

  16. Tony.

    Everything I read does indeed suggest that AW took over on 1 October which was in the middle of an International break.

    The point I was making is that by 1st October in 1996 Arsenal had played 8 league games and not the 2 you suggest.

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