Whisper it quietly, but Arsenal have an excellent of finishing in the top four, despite all their shortcomings.
Of course, Man City and Liverpool are both light years ahead of the Gunners, but the also-rans can be surpassed.
After conceding 10 goals in 2 games, Tottenham’s chairman, Daniel Levy, may be ready to pull the trigger on his current coach. In my opinion, that would be a huge mistake, unless Levy gets really lucky with his next appointment. Pochettino is one of the best bosses in the Premier League and, I’ve always maintained, he’s over-achieving with a bunch of average players. In Pochettino’s system, sows’ ears are transformed into silk purses.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are blessed with more talented individuals, who don’t always gel well as a team. The same applied during Wenger’s reign, but since the arrival of Guendouzi, Pepe and others the talent gap has increased between the north London rivals, even if, in terms of points and lack of trophies, there’s nothing between the two sides. That’s why I maintain that Emery, like Wenger before him, is underachieving with the talent at his disposal.
Nevertheless, now is not the time to oust Emery. He deserves one more chance. Although I’ve read he used to ‘park the bus’ when managing in Spain, there’s no evidence to suggest he’ll do that in the Premier League. I’m not even sure he knows how to do that. I mean, even taking a goal kick is challenging for the coach, who struggles to communicate his ideas to the players, leaving them looking confused, defensively especially.
Instead of sacking Emery, who’s on a decent run, the board should watch how Man U and Chelsea flounder and use Arsenal’s comparative stability to make a play for third place. Man U, in particular, are struggling with a boss who’s so out of his depth that I can only hear bubbles when he talks. Actually, Emery’s no better in that respect but, at least, he’s got Ljungberg to translate and reinterpret his instructions.
Meanwhile, down the road at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea could go either way: they could plummet like a stone or they could snatch third place. The Blues are hard to predict. The problem they have is Lampard is an inexperienced boss, but he’s clearly bright, so you’d expect him to succeed in the end. It really depends on the patience of the chairman.
I’m guessing that Lampard will get this season to prove himself and it’ll be a straight fight between Chelsea and Arsenal for third. Spurs could yo-yo, as even if they stick with their boss, they have players running down their contracts, which is never ideal.
Man U might even struggle to finish in the top six, so poor are they. It all depends if they can find a better manager than the current incumbent. My guess is any boss would improve their fortunes, but the question is by how much?
While Spurs and Man U fire like damp squibs, some are saying the same about Pepe. I honestly think it’s too early to judge. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t hit a rich vein of form, at some point, during the season. If he does, then all the silly criticism we’re hearing now will be forgotten.
The same goes for David Luiz. He may have had a shaky start, but Arsenal’s defence has been in disarray for a considerable amount of time. Luiz improves that defence, in my opinion. He’ll need time to prove himself, that’s all.
Another thing that’s caused a huge amount of controversy is the announcement that Granit Xhaka is captain. The role has been devalued, especially since Emery named five skippers, with one of them being Ozil, who has about as much fighting spirit as a wet, white flag.
‘The Five Skippers’ may be a great name for a pub, and ‘The Famous Five’ may have worked for Enid Blyton as much as how five beats in iambic pentameter sounding like a heart-beat worked for Shakespeare, but the PentaGooners idea highlights how Emery’s confused thinking does not have a long-term place at Arsenal. Nevertheless, it may be worth persisting with him until the end of the season, when a sensible successor can be found.