Tough questions for Emery as battered Arsenal crawls into New Year


New years questions for Emery

As you wake up today, you – like many people -have been greeted by many questions, questions like…What will this new year bring? Will THIS be my year? Or even where are my trousers?

But for Arsenal manager Unai Emery he is greeted with far different questions, questions like what was Sokratis doing in the first half at Anfield? for a start. In this article I’ll address the key questions that Emery will need to find answers for sooner rather than later.

What to do with Mesut Ozil?

It was pretty obvious I’d start with this question, considering my past few articles, but this does seem like an important situation at the club with Mesut Ozil having many friends in the squad, any perceived mistreatment by Emery by him could cause ruptures to the rest of the team.

Unai Emery must be sick of big name players with egos these days, after only recently coming from PSG where most things are dictated by what Neymar is doing and woe betide anyone who wants to put a team ethic above individuals. Now at Arsenal, Emery is faced with a player in Ozil who has more twitter followers than Arsenal, such a big brand identity, as well as a a big pay packet that many would feel compelled to play the former German international, just to keep the accountants happy.

emery ozil

Ideally Emery would play Ozil and he’d justify being the highest paid player at the club, every week , but his form has been inconsistent, varying from scintillating to anonymous. I’m not sure what Emery is expecting of Mesut Ozil but it’s clear taking him off at half time, isn’t going to aid the enigmatic playmaker to make the desired impact.

Of course the more this goes on the more the media are turning this situation into a Pogba vs Mourinho drama , with Ozil cast as the lazy player not pulling his weight and Emery as the uncompromising manager falling out with his most influential player.

It is clear Arsenal need creativity and Ozil brings that, but if Ozil is not Unai Emery’s type of player, then although there are noises about the German wanting to fight for his place this season, I can see him being reunited with former Real Madrid team mate Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus.

To Sell Ramsey or not?

Speaking of Juventus,they as well as PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are all vying for the signature of Aaron Ramsey who can leave Arsenal for free in the summer. It seems odd that Arsenal are allowing a player to leave who is being chased by some of the biggest teams in world football, but that is the decision made following the club growing tired of negotiations with his new shark of an agent.

ramsey emery

The question now for Unai Emery is, should he try and move Ramsey on for a swap or transfer fee in January, to at least get something for the Welsh international or keep him for the rest of the season and get the most of him while Arsenal have him?

Personally I’d like to see if Arsenal can do an Alexis Sanchez style deal for Ramsey and try get a top player from one of these Big clubs, it remains to be seen what Emery will do though. See what those in the know say by checking out the latest bets online.

How to fix to the defence?

One of the most stunning things that struck people during the Liverpool versus Arsenal game, was the sheer ineptitude of the Arsenal defence , it was just too easy to get through to goal.

The main problem is that the goals conceded at Anfield, Arsenal have been conceding from the start of the season. There seems to be a blind spot behind the full backs, time and time again Arsenal concede chances and goals where teams float long balls across the wings. It seems either the full backs are too high up or the centre backs are not coming across quick enough to deal with the danger.

The other defensive problem was that there was a big gap between the defence and midfield, with no player stopping Roberto Firmino attacking the defence he was able to dribble through the centre backs and slot home his second of the night. Moving forward the team needs to defend as a team and not individual sections as sadly Lucas Torreira can’t be expected to put in man of the match performances every game putting out fires at every turn.

Who to bring in?

With all the possible outgoings at Arsenal and clear lack of quality coming off the bench, it’s clear reinforcements are needed but who?

First things first it’s clear the defence needs some help , Gary Cahill is expected to come in on loan, so he is adds experience and a body to the centre back position although I’m unsure of his quality at this stage of his career.


Arsenal could do with a quality full back with Aaron Wan Bissaka looking increasingly impressive this season for Crystal Palace, along with Ben Chilwell of Leicester City. Valencia left back Jose Gaya is another option who would be able to be Nacho Monreals’ long term replacement.

What has stood out recently is the lack of creative players especially in wide areas, Arsenal have been trying to address that by looking at Boca Juniors winger Cristian Pavon as well as Nicolas Pepe of Lille . Personally I’d be looking at Hirving Lozano of PSV and Inaki Williams from Athletic Bilbao as well as the aforementioned exciting options.

Tactical tinkering, continue or stop?

In October 2016 there was an article written by Get French Football News , titled “Unai Emery’s overly pragmatic approach is sucking the life out of PSG” that a few Arsenal fans have been sharing, where it speaks of the Spaniard marginalising creative players like Ben Arfa and Pastore who were so successful for PSG the previous season. It talks about Emery using central midfielder, Marco Verratti as a number 10 also, meaning that the team are more defensive than needing to be against smaller sides especially.

Reading these comments maybe some Arsenal fans can see similarities this season, with creative players like Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey being sidelined for more robust runners like Torreira, Xhaka and Guendouzi.

Constantly Emery sides seem to get the upper hand then sit off opponents, inviting pressure , for example in the recent game against Burnley, Arsenal took the lead and looked to be about to dominate the match but instead, sat off and allowed Burnley back into the game as they equalised. The tactical sitting off of opponents also explains why Arsenal have only lead at half time once all season, as if in the second half they throw caution to the wind and just go for it. Many might ask why not just go for it from day one?

emery tinker

It’s undoubted Unai Emery won Arsenal the game with his tactical changes in the North London derby, but it’s also true that in games like against Brighton, when he took the mercurial Ozil off at half time, he can kill any momentum Arsenal have in games. It does seem Emery needs to find a balance and quick, sure he has his trusty sidekicks but I feel he needs someone to save him from himself sometimes.

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