Emery Vindicated as Monreal, Mkhi, Sokratis, Monreal and Leno are NLD Heroes

Rambo (Stu Macfarlane)

What is the definition of ‘cruelty?’

I am too bummed to find out but it feels like it should be that game.

Rather than whine about an offside goal I want to acknowledge that Arsenal had some players that played like real heroes today and were possibly a penalty kick away from being legends.

I am not going to look up the definition of ‘heroes’ either because then I will probably look up ‘cruelty’ but the movie is over and I want to focus on the heroes.

My non-Oxford definition is “there when you really need it.”
So, rather than wallow let’s respect five heroes in particular… Sokratis, Monreal, Leno, Mkhitaryan and Emery.

Sokratis stamped his name in the hearts of Gooners today. None of us is surprised, but that right there is a hero. Kane has so many facets to his game and he’s not easy to contain for an entire 90 minutes but Sokratis was the main reason he was so quiet. A hero today.

Monreal is apparently wanted by Barcelona and I am sure it is as a backup and that may surprise many of us. He is however another that when you really need him he always steps up. A hero today.

Image result for sokratis and monreal

Leno isn’t fashionable yet.

Maybe he will be now.

I actually think that the first of his double save was better as it did not just hit him; he moved his leg to save a shot from 4 yards away. Unreal reflexes.

Without exaggeration, one of the best double saves I have ever seen. A hero today.


Arsenal needed an outlet and some relief from the pressure. Step up Mkhitaryan. He not only worked hard defensively but also regularly offered transitional threat where others were struggling to do so. A hero today.

If you have a team that is not quite as strong as your opponent in certain areas, then you really need a coach who has guts to make big decisions and try to win through tactics.

Emery took big risks with the fanbase with his team selection and regardless of whether they were right or wrong, they certainly weren’t very popular. Many managers would be too scared to drop players in form and choose to make the system accommodate those deserving to start over choosing the appropriate system.

In addition, potentially unsettling a fanbase like the one, we have, but I love his guts. I am fully aware that most see his guts and hope it is not over thinking but Emery deserves much credit when he is right. Let’s not forget that he is also primarily responsible for the fact that we played one of the most dangerous attacking teams in Europe and he organized us to where they had less chances than we did and very few overall. A hero today.I am sure I have missed a few more heroes so here’s to the whole team – we are impressed.



* We clustered and cut off Trippier’s crossing threat very well. As an experienced defender, Monreal even cut off the whipped ball around him with clever body positioning.

* It is huge that players believe in Emery’s ideas.

That looked like a team who rallied around a new idea and reaped the benefits.

* I don’t think I have seen Granit Xhaka run with the ball before! His burst between the lines in the 60th minute and set up a good chance for Auba.

* I totally understood the reason behind leaving Torreira, Ozil and Auba on the bench.

Torreira has not been as good as he was in his first four months and a reminder that Arsenal found accountability in July.

Ramsey was better for this set up than Ozil.

I absolutely do not understand why people criticize when either Laca or Auba are left on the bench.

They have not been effective enough together and more to the point we have to manage their fitness with Welbeck out. Equally, Iwobi and Mkhi would have been very unfortunate to be dropped for Auba to play out of position.


Deserved his spot

* I would imagine that it is very hard to control your temper when playing Spurs. To their credit they are very physical (over aggressive today, I felt) and foul you frequently. Being the NLD and the over aggressive nature it must be hard to not want retribution.

* First half we were so well organized defensively and particularly impressive when defending one on one.

We were never tempted to bite and I think Spurs were trying to get us to.



* Iwobi and Mkhi both held or drove with the ball well. Spurs funnelled us wide and Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torreira were not involved in the first phase of the build-up. My concern was that Iwobi was often isolated with help coming too late.

* Every coaching decision has an up and downside.

I understand that the modern day decision to allow the swirling free kicks potentially opening up a free header is due to the desire to catch them offside and/or give your keeper room to attack the ball.

Driving runs

For me, if I were going to do this then I would run out as a unit. I understand that you cannot do it every week as they will catch you out with a deep runner but I would use it in the bigger games.

Ultimately, I do not think that the risk is worth it.

I do not remember feeling as nervous 5 years ago and before this tactic was employed but I am seeing multiple opportunities every game across the league from these deep free kicks.

I would stay goal side, man for man as I think this trend is promoting ‘passing responsibility.’


* Small complaint on a day of heroes… Iwobi needs to not be flatfooted defensively.

I wished that Lacazette’s movement had been more dangerous.


* Not sure how exactly I feel about Emery making his last sub with 15 minutes left. Part of me is impressed with his guts (again) and proactive approach. The other part of me starts getting nervous that someone is going to go down.

I’ll lean closer to being impressed and his lack of fear!



* I hope that the spirit in the camp is positive after a very positive day, particularly about Auba and Laca who could wallow.

If I were asked if I would take 1-1 with such a heroic performance before kick-off I would have taken it.

Arsenal should have beaten Spurs and not many have and will play them away and can say that.



I woke up at 3:15am.

My stomach was hurting. Never happens.

I had a high level of anxiety over the game much like you did, I am sure.


What was strange though is that I haven’t experienced that for over a decade. I think I had intentionally developed an inbuilt defensive mechanism due to the possibility of being disappointed because I did not really believe in the tactical ability of Wenger to change the situation. I was hoping to win but mentally prepared myself to lose.


Regardless of what happens at the end of the season I still feel great hope. Even if Emery doesn’t work out I still feel hope.

I think my 3:15am pains were because I do not feel like I have an inbuilt excuse, as I know that Emery can fix problems.


That is what ‘having my Arsenal back’ means to me.


If you like my work follow @GunnersTown and @mike_mmcdonald

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2 Responses to Emery Vindicated as Monreal, Mkhi, Sokratis, Monreal and Leno are NLD Heroes

  1. Mike March 3, 2019 at 10:21 am #

    Torreira tackles Rose and the referee takes a yellow card from his pocket,meanwhile spurs players surround the referee and react as a team to the incident. The ref puts the yellow card back in his pocket and takes out a red

    Earlier in the match there were 2 very nasty incidents…..Sanchez cynically stamped on Kos’s leg (the second match in a row that he has been attacked in this way) and Rose ploughed his studs into Leno’s chest and God knows how he avoided broken ribs. There was little to no collective reaction by the Arsenal players and both Spurs offenders stayed on the pitch.

    This is a real issue as the capacity and likelihood of opposing teams to carry out these sort of assaults are directly linked to the expected reaction of the team. For example if you take out Kane, Aguero, Sane or Hazard in this way you can expect a team reaction and this will probably result in a red card which is a line teams won’t risk crossing. Against Arsenal this is a risk worth taking. Past events sadly prove we are seen as a soft touch. So we either collectively change our attitude to protecting our team mates or continue to be targeted. A simple choice.

  2. Victor Thompson March 3, 2019 at 4:14 pm #

    Mike, I agree that Spurs were dirty in their play. Rose in particular has not changed since he broke into the Spurs team. He is a diver and a cry baby. He shrieks in pain and writhes about if he gets the slightest touch, but he deliberately makes dangerous attempts to injure opposing players and the foul on Leno was an example of that.

    Anthony Taylor was an even worse referee than Mike Dean. In comparison to Rose`s challenge the one by Torreira was a gentle contact. Taylor allowed Harry Kane to back into defenders at will and he actually made Sokratise recoil with the force of the shove he made while backing into him. Referees must know that the only legitimate upper body contact is a shoulder to shoulder impact. Kane has perfected his backwards contact and he gets away with it regularly. He is not tryinng to play the ball, he simply takes the defender out of the game by knocking him backwards.

    As to the comparison of the different football we played, Sissoko and Wanyama used brute force to try to win the midfield battle and they both repeatedly lobbed long balls upfield in the hope that there would be a runner to pick them up. In comparison we owned the midfield which surprised me given Emery`s selection and we played the ball out through Mikhitaryan and Ramsey. Our defence was excellent and well drilled and we really deserved to have had a blank sheet, The reason we didn`t was not the fault of our team, but rather the inept performance of Taylor.

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