Fourth place and a point at Man Utd… Emery out!

Ian Watson

Send your thoughts to…

Unai out
Emery is clueless. Just clueless. Any Arsenal fan who’s been watching (it’s harder than you might think) would have told you when the team-sheets were made public that this game was going to be boring, scrappy, and completely lacking the feel of a clash of two giants.

That midfield three needs to be banished to the depths of hell. I won’t be too hard on Torreira because what Emery’s doing to him is precisely what the Indian cricket did to Irfan Pathan when they turned an excellent bowler into a bang average all-rounder. As for Guendouzi, he’s always going to blow hot and cold but at the very least you’re assured of complete dedication and concentration. The problem, as anyone who is not Unai Emery knows, is El Capitan. An absolute shambles of a footballer who somehow manages to cobble together enough support from fans and colleagues with his piss poor Buzz Lightyear impression. The fact that we’re actually spaffing £350,000 up the wall every week only to go out and play that midfield is just… I don’t know. Just wind up the club and chuck that money into the ocean.

What is just as bad is the continued selection of Sokratis and Luiz as the central defensive pairing. Yes, Luiz had a decent game yesterday but that was largely because Marcus Rashford’s abilities and physicality have begun regressing about a decade too early. Also, defending against Jesse Lingard is only slightly harder than tackling an 80-yr-old lady carrying her shopping. What really concerns me is Sokratis. That man seems to have aged about 5 years in the past 6 months. He seems to be physically struggling to keep up with games these days and that only amplifies his problems with concentration. Rob Holding cannot come back soon enough. But even with that, I’m sure Emery will find a way to cock it up.

The bottom line is that if not for Aubameyang’s heroics Arsenal would be in dire straits and Emery would probably be looking for buyers for his London home. What terrifies me even more is that, after a long time, we actually have a crop of youngsters who look like they can make it. Saka, AMN, Willock, Nelson, Smith-Rowe, and Martinelli all look so promising. To see their talent get wasted by this fraud will be heartbreaking. The long term health of the club depends on moving this man out. My top candidate for the job at the moment is Brendan Rodgers. Sure, there are people like Allegri and Marcelino to consider but I think what Emery’s tenure has shown us is that experience in this league matters a whole lot more than USB sticks and video review sessions. The problem is, I don’t see Rodgers being keen to move down the table while his Leicester side look like good value for top four. Either way, something needs to be done because things are only becoming bleaker and bleaker as the weeks go by.


…Bear my rant.

The problem with Emery is he doesn’t have the balls!!

I have read he is tactical and shit but the only tactics he got is try to negate the opponents and force an error out of them, as it happened last night.

When you have firepower like that upfront you go for it, No matter who the team is. What’s there to lose? We are Arsenal and we are used to losing by huge margins.
Atleast going for it we would have some chance.

And the worst part is, it is not going to change. We are going to finish fourth and play champions league next season and get screwed by barca/Madrid etc in round of 16 10-0.

I kept my patience with Wenger and I don’t know how long and I am not going to do the same with Emery.

We need a bastard of manager at Arsenal. Get Simeone or to hell with I don’t care even if it’s Mourinho!!

We need some balls!
Abhi(Wanted to let it out!)


United and Arsenal both lost
Is it possible to say that both teams effectively lost that game?

For Man Utd, a defensive error cost them the three points after heavy investment in that area, they surrendered a lead at home against a key rival, they failed to take ludicrously good chances and failed to create a sense of momentum despite good support and a long period of domination.

For Arsenal, they fell behind when their captain seemingly ducked his head out the way of the ball, didn’t create much of anything until a huge defensive error gave them a big chance on a plate, the midfielders were all awful except for Guendouzzi, Ceballos managed to be the second worst player on the pitch despite only playing for half an hour and in the end I’m not sure they ever managed to clear the first man with a corner or free kick all night.

Finally I have a lot of sympathy for Pepe. He’s a young man in a new country and is playing under the spotlight of a big transfer fee in a team where everyone is under pressure to be better than last season. I think if he had joined Liverpool or Man City he’d be playing very little whilst he acclimatises to new training, learns the systems and settles in to a new home and new club. He’s getting none of that at Arsenal which makes life much tougher. I almost think we will only be in a position to judge him next season.
Minty, LFC


…If the absence of 16 conclusions on the United Arsenal game last night (Er, hello – MC) is a low key jab at how the game is no longer relevant/significant enough to warrant one, I approve.

God it was shite.
Tom, Walthamstow


…Talk about your fallen giants… That was utterly turgid. Dire, even. And I’ve watched some shite over the years, believe me. Last night however, I could not get the smile off my face! What a time to be alive.
Rusty Blue, MCFC (Sixteen conclusions on that, are you kidding me?)


Irritating Rash
Watched the game this morning (Australian time) and was disappointed with Rashford’s performance as a striker. I know that the old stereotypical “centre forward” is a dying species but he’s supposed to be trying to score and it’s easier closer in.. I’m not sure why he doesn’t spend more time in and around the box and wants to swap with Lingard so often. Maybe that is the coach but that doesn’t feel like Solskjaer. Even the chance he got in the first half, he has to be clinical, you feel that when Aubameyang gets the ball one on one he would score.. oh wait
Pete, Canberra


Captain Xhaka
There is an argument that you cannot blame Xhaka for United’s opener. After all, what was he supposed to do when the ball is coming at you that quickly?

It seems perfectly reasonable that you wouldn’t ask a professional footballer of any club in the land to stick their head in the way but then let us consider a famous picture taken towards the end of the 1997/98 season.

The picture in question shows three Arsenal defenders actually running towards a ball to charge it down – not one but three and none of the three were the Arsenal captain.

I appreciate that aside from perhaps Per, we haven’t had a decent captain since Vieira but I expect a lot more from an Arsenal captain – because it’s the captain that sets the standards for everyone else. Unless you’re Guendozi, who seems to realise our captain is crap so has taken it upon himself to drive us forward on his own.

I want a captain that gains us points rather than routinely loses us them.

Having said all that, fourth place with three defenders to come back – not sure how that has happened but you are one jammy bugger Unai.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


United left behind
Last night around the 65th minute, as captain Marvel AKA Ashley Young was preparing to take a free-kick from the right a sudden thought stunned me. Manchester United had only right-footed players on the pitch before the introduction of Fred.

Is that a first?
Plamen, Plovdiv (Wake me up when this season ends)


VAR is awesome
How can anyone not enjoy that (except UTD fans)?!

Arsenal celebrate
United celebrate
Arsenal celebrate again

All within 2 mins.

Screw the idea that it prevents celebrations, it triples them!
Dom Littleford


…I won’t dwell on the quality on show last night what I want to talk about is Kevin fu*king Friend his assistants and VAR.
If ever a ref seemed out of his depth it was no Friend of mine Kevin last night, his clueless officiating of the game was a sight to behold at one point awarding Arsenal a free kick for McTominey getting fouled only for VAR to tell him in his ear he was being a dick again. On to the Arsenal goal, yes it was on-side but due to the incompetent Linesman United stopped defending allowing Aubameyang basically a tap in, again the United players should play to the whistle (incidentally I think Mr Friend actually blew before the goal) but the Linesman was a big factor in the goal. Now VAR what is the point? I mean really, if handball in the box (missed by everyone’s Friend) isn’t reviewed and then given what is the point of this divisive system? It wasn’t as if it was hit at him from 5 yards away and he couldn’t get out of the way, he misconstrued the flight of the ball and stuck his arm there blatant as anything.
I still back Ole and his process, lets face it along with McTominey our three best players are all his signings, give him a couple more windows and some patience please.
Lastly I’ve been suspended from Twitter, I presume for either for calling TalkSh*tes Moose a Fat C*nt or a so called United fan a tit for saying Tuanzebe is a Championship player both are correct assumptions in my book.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


Nev’s noise
Has anyone else noticed how often Gary Neville goes ‘oooooohhhhhh” during co-commentry?

Currently 55 minutes gone in tonight’s game and we’ve already had it three times.


Pep and the Champions League
For me the most interesting subplot in football at present is Guardiola’s relationship to winning the Champions league.

Again on the eve of champions league football he comes out and states that he doesn’t have to win the champions league in order to be a success at City and that the owners don’t expect this of him. I like Pep and admire him and his football teams and what he says may be true on one level. No one could ever call the team he has created or label what they have achieved as underachievement.

However. There is no denying that winning the Champions league would elevate City and Pep to another level. The rest of Europe loves the excitement of the premier league but I can’t help but think it order to truly gain the respect of the great European power houses you have to do it in Europe. Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Milan, Ajax etc count greatness in terms of European cups, nothing else. When you win the European cup you love to another level as a club, you join a club above your league, win it multiple times and you become a European great, your legacy is assured.

Pep knows this. He also knows that there has rarely been a better time to go in search of European success. Real and Barca are in transition and are beatable, United, Chelsea and Arsenal the same, PSG have the players but not the pedigree, Munich the same, Milan are a joke, Ajax have been raided. Now is the time for a team to establish an era of dominance in Europe, win the champions league 2, 3 , 4 time perhaps.

And yet despite all this Pep makes excuses for failure, calls the champions league a lottery of a competition, clings to the safety blanket of the premier league, although less safe now with Liverpool in the mix. Undoubtedly there is a great rivalry with Klopp that Pep does not want to lose, however seeing Pep play a weakened team in the first leg against spurs last year, seeing his failure to win the champions league with Munich on the back of their treble winning season with Heynckes I can’t help but think that the main factor holding City back from greatness is Guardiolas fear of failure.

He looks to me like he wants the Champions league so bad and it would mean so much for him and his legacy as a coach that he is terrified of not succeeding again. That’s fine if that’s the case. My life is muck compared the Peps and if he chooses not to go for it then that’s fine.

However I don’t believe him when he says he doesn’t want it, that City don’t want it, they want it so bad it hurts cos they know what it would mean. I get reducing pressure on your self and your team but that can backfire as well. If Pep and City want greatness, true greatness then they have to go for it, if they do it is there for the taking, but whether Pep will or not as I say for me is the lost fascinating thing in football at present.

Can’t bloody wait.
Dave LFC (or we might just win it seven times for the larf!)


Firstly do you realise Mike Ashley has owned Newcastle for 12 years now…. time flies when you are having fun doesn’t it ?! My main question (I don’t have an answer) is why would he inflict so much pain on a world class manager in Benitez, to make him end up in his 3 year reign with a net profit on transfers of £34m? He then appoints Steve Bruce and happily blows £68m recouping £35m so Bruce is already £33m down and yet still loses 5-0 to Leicester and they look like relegation fodder. Is it too simplistic to state Ashley just didn’t like Rafa and made him ‘suffer’? Then tried to support Bruce to show Rafa up and now it’s all gone a bit wrong?

In looking into it I ended up reading 50 crimes against Newcastle, give it a go. I shook my head that much I had to grab the Deep Heat afterwards

You need to read these to truly understand what has happened. It’s Bury and Bolton-esque but subsidised by Premier League money. If Newcastle do go down and fail to come straight back up there is no telling what Ashley would do.

Lastly quick apology To Ed QtR. One of my predictions was that Palace wouldn’t get a win until September 28th. Having played 7 won 3 drawn 2 lost 2 and Meyer seemingly still getting nowhere near the side it looks like Hodgson is nicely on course for another safe season.

Also as someone stated the other day a big thank you to all the writers for the imaginative, thought provoking, annoying, short sighted, disagreeable, possibly award winning pieces. Keep up the good work, where would the fun be if we all agreed with each other eh?
Hong Kong Ian (can we have a Monday where ALL VAR mails are banned ?) LFC


World class
In reply to Fat Man (Scouse), I often think the same. I agree that the term “world class” is awful and that it is too readily applied to excellent but not particularly generational talents. However, the game always has been and always will be about systems rather than individuals. Ronaldo works best in a front three as he needs space ahead of him in which to freely perform and this allows him to destroy, and Messi has mostly played behind one of the best systematic midfields ever created to give him time to devastate. We’d be very happy to have both turn out for the Baggies but they would both probably be rendered pretty average if our centre backs aimlessly lumped it forwards in hope expecting miracles, which, granted, those players might just deliver. I for one would be up for seeing that experiment. How many special talents have we not seen due to managers not maximising the impacts of genuinely special players with their tactics/approaches or playing alongside colleagues who just weren’t able to competently support?

Sterling and De Bruyne are playing so well at the moment because they both have attributes identified by Guardiola to make his system work. He has also coached Sterling in particular excellently to maximise these. Sterling’s game is all about movement and positioning. De Bruyne’s is all about technique and vision. In Guardiola’s system, you cannot have one without the other. Options are key for City and they actively work De Bruyne into positions where he has time and space to pick out moving players in the six yard box.

In Klopp’s system, a high press is complimented by a midfield that is the best in the world at winning the ball back once possession is lost. To make this work, Klopp has identified these traits in Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Henderson. He has not gone for outstanding technicians, interestingly, because his chosen midfielders have the attributes he values to make his system work. He can overload wide areas by getting both fullbacks forward safe in the knowledge that his midfielders will be compact enough to win it back instantly.

I suggest Manchester United emulate the French side to get the best out of Pogba. Pogba makes mistakes but can also win you a game, therefore reinforce your defence and play conservative full backs. I would argue Solksjaer is some of the way there in his transfer dealings. I would suggest United purchase a target man as Pogba does clip plenty over the top of defences and Cavani would not be a bad short term option. I suggest Spurs try to find the next Wanyama or Dembele as they don’t appear to be as good at winning the ball when their opponents are on the attack deep in Spurs’s half than they used to which Pochettino’s system replies upon. I would break the bank for Ndidi as he wins most of his duels and Spurs are at their best when breaking from deep with a narrow focus which seems get the best out of Kane, Alli, Eriksen, and Son. It’s why I tip Leicester to have a great season this year. A midfield of Ndidi, Tielemans and Praet have been signed to hold the ball, to move into channels and to spring Vardy and Maddison into action. Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and Arsenal will struggle as they have good players, but due to lack of a system and specialists to make any sort of plan work, they will not be challenging.
Rich (no stats), Cambridge


​Fat Man, I hear you say that the problem with stats is that you “you can use exactly the same stats to prove the opposite.”

So does that mean Man City are the worst team to ever play in the first division because they have won four titles in ten years? I mean that would be the exact opposite some are saying about them right now and according to you, the stats can be used to “prove the opposite”. That would mean winning titles can make you the worst team……somehow.

Also, you said that someone who says what he sees is just as right as someone who proves it with stats. You say that the quality of football has dropped, fair enough but then you go on and claim that commentators and other fans seem to think that football is better because of the price is higher (which I rarely see anyone claim) and think they are wrong. You compared it to the Sterling being world class claim, which you simply stating as “not true”.

I’m not trying to say that stats are infallible or that eyesight observations are wrong. Its just that in the first part of your mail you seem to advocate subjectivitism and how its good in football and then in the second part you more or less went against your own philosophy by just made broad statements about certain things and labeled anybody who have a different opinion wrong or misguided.

Aren’t they just doing the same thing as you though by “watching with their eyes”? I’m pretty sure they will sometimes cite stats but youre making it sound like people have never seen De Bruyne play and just look up his Wikipedia stats.

I’m sure De Bruyne will not fare as well at Newcastle but seriously you can say the same pretty much any player. Its a team sport, of course putting a good player among less good ones will drag said player down. This is not the 100m sprint you know.
Yaru, Malaysia


PC gone mad
So the Silva joke has dragged on long enough and I must say, this era of hyper political correctness is exactly why people like Donald Trump get elected. We all make jokes with friends, be it about wives, women, politicians, other people’s looks and what not. While the age of political correctness has taught us not to be a dick, it has also left us very confused with certain segments taking it upon themselves the responsibility on what is acceptable or not. Also know by many as liberals.

Since yesterday for instance, my Twitter feed is lit up with people defending a well known bigot simply because he got heckled on the streets of New York. The same woke crowd makes it a point to chant “all men are trash” on at least a daily basis. Also, God help the person who retorts with women are trash too as all hell with break loose.

Is it a surprise then people are confused on what is acceptable and what is not? That they are sick of this moral policing that often goes on the moment someone makes an inappropriate remark.? That they yearn for a simpler time when you could make a faux pass and not be flogged in public?

On to the Silva joke. It was a joke between friends. Neither minded it nor was it obviously meant as an insult. Let’s move on. As they say, actions are judged by intentions.


…It’s a sign of the times that I feel compelled to start by acknowledging I’m a white male. Now my “privilege” is established, I disagree with Minty, LFC’s mail.

I learned of Silva’s tweet from sky sports news at 8a.m. They showed the whole tweet uncensored. There were no *’ing out of racial slurs or swear words. I’m not saying either are a pre-requisite for racism, but it’s a relevant factor. If they’re willing to reproduce it it either shows there’s nothing there or Sky are racist simply for showing it (who in Sky you ask? Considering the subject matter I’d miss a trick to say anything other than “All of them!”). I felt sorry for Sterling even having to address the matter, it was a waste of his time when he’s already doing so much on and off the pitch to combat real discrimination.

I think the biggest problem with racism (of course after racism itself) is that people don’t understand what it is, or consider anything that has a reference to race in it as racist (anything about sex as sexist…). Faux outrage detracts from true victims.

Referring to the colour of someone’s skin is factual, however making assumptions about a person BECAUSE of the colour of their skin, which leads to them being discriminated against (not offered a job they are qualified for, subject to physical abuse) is racism. This is important because you are being judged based on an objective factor you didn’t choose, rather than the subjective factors which are your individual attributes.

I think it’s also important to identify the root cause (sorry, I’m an auditor) is discrimination. Sexism, racism, homophobia are all as abhorrent as one another, but the common thread is discrimination based on a group identity rather than judging someone based on their individual attributes.

To be more clear, “unlawful” discrimination is the enemy. Discrimination occurs every day in our lives, what ceral to eat, which shop we buy it from. But to stick to football, if a player gets picked in the starting 11 because he (or she) crosses like Beckham and the opposition can’t defend set pieces, that’s selection on merit, but you have discriminated on a subjective factor (to start one player ahead of another) rather than an objective one.

So, to Minty’s article. Do ALL Muslims not like “that they’re only ever in films as terrorists…”? Sounds like a sweeping statement in more ways than one. If that were true, why did people of Muslim faith act to be in “Four Lions”? Obviously this is hyperbole to prove how easy it is to make something sound discriminatory when the subject matter was the opposite.

Slighly more relevant to the comment is that Islam is a (voluntary) set of beliefs, not a race. It is no more a race than anyone who believes Elvis is still alive, or that Kettering town are “by far the greatest team, the world have ever seen”. You can hold Muslim, Jewish or Christian beliefs irrespective of your race.

Going back to objective factors, when you think about it, it’s odd that “ginger c**t” is on a completely different level to what JT allegedly (a court found him not guilty) said. Both are dictated by DNA so in a world of equality, each would be equally vile. The implication in both cases is that, due to your genetic code, you are inferior, yet one is considerably more heinous that the other.

I in no way intend to diminish the suffering experienced by the victims of discrimination, but I wasn’t a slave owner, and people my age (31) were never slaves (unless building the stadiums for World Cup 2022), so an obligation to hold guilt about things I never did (but people of mine and many other races have done through history) isn’t a useful baseline for tacking racism its the modern context and applications.

The premier league requires all stadiums to be seated, they should also require a code of conduct for fans, which clubs must enforce (correct me if this is already how it is). Make it part of the terms and conditions when buying a match day ticket. Night clubs enforce dresscodes and football clubs should enforce the code of conduct. If you can’t be in a family entertainment environment and suppress your bigoted views, you shouldn’t be allowed into family entertainment environments.

Back to Minty for the end of this ramble. I hope Raheem doesn’t get racially abused again at pitch side, and I would definitely hope if he did, that he didn’t look back and place any blame on himself for “facilitating” it. The problem is the perpetrators, not the victims for failing to respond in such a way as to prevent it happening again in the future.


Players over-protected
I was listening to 5Live on Saturday with Darren Fletcher (the Scot, not the commentator) and he was talking about Stoke’s 2-3 defeat to Forest on Friday night.

Nathan Jones has been defiant about Stoke’s plight, and he made a comment about not being able to legislate for the players’ mistakes on the pitch (sorry, exact wording escapes me) and that they’re doing ‘good work’ on the training ground.

Fletcher’s point was about calling the players out and implied that Jones was wrong to do so. he also asked who judges this ‘good work’ because the results aren’t showing it. I really struggle with this; if you’re losing games, it’s not just the manager’s fault. Of course, the psychology and man management of situations like this are both important, but the manager is always the one to take the flak. For example, it’s been noted that Butland is in terrible form. I know the manager should be looking for ways to arrest that slide, but Fletcher’s comments just smacked of protecting players.

I’m not sure what the answer is of course, just thought the mailbox may have some views on this too.

Final thing: just a shout out to Fat Man. I don’t always agree with his mails but I always find them interesting and evocative. Cheers.
Stu, Southampton


Multiple response
1. Agreement with Paul McDevitt. Liverpool have certainly been lucky with goalkeeping errors this season and the last, but if there was ever a team that deserved some goalkeeping luck, just rewatch Loris Karius in the Champions League final against Real Madrid. Luck always evens out, it sometimes just takes longer than a game or even a month to do it. The best teams put enough pressure on their opponents that eventually something will give, just not always in every game.

2 . Fat Man sounds like an old man shouting at clouds. Of course KDB is aided by playing in a great squad, but you act like Beckham played with a bunch of Sunday leaguers or that Henry didn’t set the assist record playing for an incredible Arsenal squad. Great players get to play with other great players, and then they make each other better. Saying “let’s see how well X player does playing in whatever is the crap team du jour” needs to go away. I’ll tell you how it would go, X player wouldn’t play quite as well, but they would still be great.

3. Finally, on the Bernardo tweet. Was it racist? Yes. Did he mean it to be racist? No. Does that make it any better? No. Did Pep make it worse? Yes. Did Sterling lose his credibility by standing up for a teammate? No. Should Bernardo have apologized? Yes. Does he deserve to be suspended? No. Is social media, or the most part, a cesspool that gives a voice the some of the lowest scum of the earth? 100% yes.

The fact that this debate it still happening is mind blowing. There are multiple countries where black players are subjected to monkey chants, and basically nothing is done. I live in a county with a president who spews hatred against minorities, immigrants, and women, and who tries to bribe other countries into investigating his political rivals, and yet he will likely win re-election. Let’s focus our ire on the people who truly deserve it.
Ryan, MCFC in Maryland