Arsenal: Ancelotti sacked, time to make our move

After their 4-0 Champions League victory over Genk and having secured safe passage through to the Round of 16 Napoli called time on Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure. The timing certainly seems strange but a change of management at the San Paolo has been inevitable for quite some time now with Gennaro Gattuso set to replace the 60-year-old.

Freddie Ljungberg managed his first victory as the interim Head Coach on Monday night but we must not let our hearts rule over our heads and allow ourselves to be drawn into making a permanent appointment based on nostalgia. The reality is a club of this size requires a top coach who can at the very least make Arsenal competitive again.

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Ancelotti has a CV that speaks for itself. He’s managed Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and most recently Napoli. The Italian has won three Champions Leagues, the Premier League title, the Scudetto, the Bundesliga, the French championship, a sh*t load of domestic cups and was voted as the world’s number one coach on two occasions.

Need I write anymore? Click here to read a piece I contributed to immediately after the news Arsene Wenger was set to leave the club was announced and you’ll see that Ancelotti was my number one choice then. David Seaman agreed with me and that was my claim to fame at the time but all jokes aside you know it makes sense.

18 months of Unai Emery resulted in zero progress, in fact I believe the team have regressed therefore to restore our Champions League status (yes, I’m desperate to see us finish fourth) it’s going to take somebody experienced, somebody who the players will respect and somebody so high-profiled that he’s big enough and strong enough to take on KSE and their team of puppets when he disagrees with something.

Come on Arsenal, make your move!

Podcast: A win at last, West Ham 1-3 Arsenal review

Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal ended a baron spell of 9 games in all competitions without a win at the London stadium on Monday night when they came from behind to beat Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United. Harry Symeou looks back at the game itself, talks team selections, midfield balance, Brazilian wonder kid’s and more.

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Arsenal: Martinelli the catalyst and Pepe finally explodes onto the scene

Gabriel Martinelli

Arsenal have won a game, I repeat Arsenal have won a game! I was honestly beginning to forget what winning felt like and whilst particularly in the first half it wasn’t exactly vintage Arsenal we won’t dwell on that too much.

When you’re playing as poorly as we have been of late it’s all about the result and the hope is our first away victory in the league since the opening weekend of the season will lay a foundation on which Freddie can now build.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much confidence a single goal can breed into a side totally devoid of it and Gabriel Martinelli’s equaliser was the catalyst for what followed. A nine minute period in which the Gunners blew West Ham out of the water and completely turned the game on it’s head could prove a huge turning point for our season.

He may only be 18-years-old but it’s been clear for months that in Gabi-Gol as I’ll now call him we have an exciting young talent. Last night’s calculated and accurate finish was his 8th goal of the season and in my opinion he has got to be starting on that left-hand side week in, week out.

Reiss Nelson who? This kid is miles ahead of him and if it means Lacazette is left out in order for him to be accommodated (because we sure as hell shouldn’t be dropping Aubameyang) then so be it.

Ladies and Gentleman, Nicolas Pepe has finally arrived in the Premier League. That’s the player we all thought we was signing, rapid, skilful and a ruthless finisher. The Ivorian also proved he’s got the stomach for the physical side of the competition – how Aaron Cresswell wasn’t shown two yellow cards is beyond me but it was Nico who had the last laugh on the night.

One final point because I don’t want to spoil the podcast that will be dropping later today but it looks to me as though Freddie has at the very least begun addressing the transitional issues he spoke of after Norwich. Xhaka (although extremely sloppy in possession at times) and Torreira were noticeably more conservative in their runs forward and were clearly instructed to offer greater protection to their central defenders.

West Ham weren’t exactly prime Barcelona but I thought for the most part our defensive performance was a lot more convincing. I still hate that our central defenders take so many risks in possession but hey ho, small steps right?

We travel to Standard Liege on Thursday and that’s followed by the visit of Manchester City on Sunday. Hardly the ideal Premier League follow on having just picked up our first win since October 6th but perhaps we’ll only concede three now instead of five. Just kidding, come on you Gunners!

Podcast: Freddie’s under pressure | Arteta and Marcelino linked | Feat Konstantinos Lianos of the Daily Express

Freddie Ljungberg

Host Harry Symeou is joined by fellow Greek Kostantinos Lianos of the Daily Express to discuss the rumours Freddie Ljungberg has lost the faith of the players, whether or not Mikel Arteta is in fact the front-runner to replace Unai Emery and why the appointment of Marcelino would cause uproar.

Available now on YouTube, Apple Podcast’s, SoundCloud or Spotify.

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Arsenal: Marceli-NO! Could the club be set to appoint another ex-Valencia boss?

Former Valencia boss Marcelino is being heavily linked with the vacant Head Coach’s role at the Emirates Stadium. Judging by the social media response the 54-year-old’s appointment (if it were to happen) would cause a meltdown like never seen before.

The truth is, it would be somewhat underwhelming – even more so than the appointment of Unai Emery back in the summer of 2018.

He’s certainly not my preferred choice and if truth be told he isn’t somebody I even considered when racking my brain about who I’d like to see replace Emery.

This next appointment will tell us a lot about the ambitions of our American owners KSE. Josh Kroenke told us to “be excited” during the summer and we find ourselves at the time of publishing four points above the drop zone – exciting stuff that…

I am not at all keen on Marcelino and despite the stories doing the rounds I would be shocked if the club were to go down that route. However, credit where it’s due he did a fantastic job at Valencia. He guided them to Copa Del Rey victory having beaten Barcelona in the final last season and led the club to Champions League qualification after a slow start to the campaign.

He’s not the answer to our problems but equally he’s not the poor manager some would have you believe. A decent coach who did a good job at Valencia and was ultimately dismissed due a disagreement with the ownership regarding ‘sporting matters’.

If anything, his track record of speaking out against his superiors at the Mestalla and at Vilarreal before that should be enough to put the Kroenke’s off of him. You’d have thought they would be after another ‘yes man’.

Arsenal: My Starting XI to face West Ham United

Arsenal take on West Ham United at the London Stadium on Monday night in a relegation six-pointer! Can’t believe I’m saying that but ahead of this one we sit just four points clear of the drop zone! Worrying times and these words could come back to bite me in the ass but we’re definitely too big of a club to get relegated.

*Cue the Leeds United example*

Anyway, here is the starting XI I would pick for Monday nights game NOT the one I think Freddie will go with…

Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Özil, Martinelli, Pepe, Aubameyang.

Shocked? Confused? Can’t work out why certain players are in there? Click here for my explanation on Saturday’s podcast.

Arsenal: This is not the time to take a gamble on the club’s future

Mikel Arteta

According to multiple reports Mikel Arteta is now the front-runner to succeed Unai Emery as the Head Coach at Arsenal. Funny that, because we were told the same thing last time and out of the blue a former Paris Saint-Germain boss turned up with his dossiers (a fat load of good they did) and stole the position from right under his nose. Very sneaky, sneaky indeed!

The Butler from the Adam Sandler Movie – Mr Deed’s. The man we ACTUALLY hired when we thought we were getting a three time Europa League winner.

At this stage, I’d still advise caution in regards to taking these reports as gospel but seeing as that’s what’s hot at the minute we may as well discuss it.

Is Mikel Arteta the right man for the job?

Seeing as he has NEVER managed any side it’s impossible to know for sure and there would undoubtedly be an element of risk in appointing somebody so inexperienced – even if he is a former Arsenal captain.

Yes, he’s been working under arguably one of the greatest coaches of our generation but unless you’re a fly on the wall you couldn’t possibly know how much influence he’s had on the success at Manchester City in recent seasons.

Mikel Arteta
Arteta made over 100 appearances for Arsenal between 2011-2016

I take great encouragement from the fact Pep Guardiola was adamant on having him work alongside him but some people are just better suited to being number two’s – take Steve Clarke, the current Scotland boss for example.

We will be looking at Arteta’s credential’s in greater detail during one of this week’s podcasts but I guess my scepticism around this potential appointment is a consequence of how far we’ve fallen from where we need to be more than it being a lack of faith in the Spaniard’s ability to manage a football team.

The club’s demise began during the final years of Arsene Wenger’s tenure but the decline has accelerated since his departure. Arsenal are in free-fall and my personal opinion is that we simply cannot afford to take a gamble on the likes of Arteta because he is a ‘cheaper option’.

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Planning for the longer-term isn’t a bad thing generally but given the way things have gone this season it’s likely we are going to spend a fourth season (next season) staring through the metaphorical railings with envy into the Champions League promise land.

Now isn’t the time for a gamble, Arsenal are in desperate need of a stabiliser and that can only be someone with experience, who is tactically astute and somebody whom the playing staff will believe in instantly.

Podcast: West Ham vs Arsenal preview & Aubameyang linked with Gunners exit

Host Harry Symeou looks ahead to the Premier League clash with West Ham on Monday night at the London Stadium. Both sides are struggling but the Gunners away record is a huge cause for concern. We also discuss the reports linking Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a move to Real Madrid.

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Arsenal: We need an experienced Head Coach sooner rather than later – Blog

Freddie Ljungberg

So many of us wanted rid of Unai Emery that we temporarily lost sight of the fact that whoever was going to inherit this sh*t show, experienced or not was going to have their work cut out. A leaky defence, an imbalanced midfield and a £72m winger who’s simply not been good enough – perhaps our summer transfer business wasn’t as good as we thought it at the time.

Arsenal are currently on their worst run of form for over 40 years and after Thursday night’s embarrassing defeat there are no signs of it getting any better. The draw at Norwich last weekend highlighted the same old problems but there were some positives to take from the trip to Carrow road.

At the very least Arsenal were entertaining again and throughout the first half played confident, expansive and attacking football. Our defending left a lot to be desired but we expected that.

Fast-forward to Thursday and not only was our defence as porous as ever but our confidence looked completely shot. We are a side who currently find themselves in free-fall and when you’re walking away feeling as though Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac were two of our best players you’ve got to be concerned.

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We all want Freddie to succeed, even more so than I wanted Emery to when he first arrived purely because he’s somebody with whom we have an affiliation, a love and respect for. However, two games into his tenure as interim-boss I’m beginning to have serious doubts about whether or not he’s out of his depth.

During Emery’s tenure Arsenal brought in no fewer than twelve players but it’s impossible to look at that squad and not feel it still needs a major overhaul. That for me, is a tell tale sign of just how bad the Spaniard reign was. The demise started during Monsieur Wenger’s final years but it accelerated substantially following his departure.

Ever since the trigger was pulled on the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla boss the club have been linked with a whole host of names. If you believe what you read you’ll have seen the club have a fourteen man shortlist. Fourteen!

Arsenal as a football club are at a crossroads. Either make a statement, hire somebody with a proven track record who can navigate the club through these troubled times and end the wait for our return to the Champions League or take another risk with a second-rate manager and watch us disappear into the abyss.

It’s time for KSE to put their money where their mouths are and go get a Max Allegri or a Carlo Ancelotti. The idea of hiring Mikel Arteta or even Patrick Vieira feels slightly naive – you never know it could prove a master-stroke but given our precarious position it’s a risk I certainly wouldn’t be willing to take.