The process matters more than the results – Arsenal 18/19 season review

The process matters more than the results – Arsenal 18/19 season review

Judging from the title, you already know what I was thinking when I was typing the contents into my laptop. Yes, as an Arsenal fan, I didn’t care much about the team’s results, but rather, my focus would be the process.

In this review, I’ll mainly talk about the Arsenal first team on the whole. I’ve written a separated article to bash about a few frustrating players to watch on the pitch. No more rants in this one, I guess?


Home form, on the whole

Despite whatever the people may claim, the Emirates is still pretty much a fortress to the Gunners. Arsenal lost no home game in Europe while in domestic games, the wins and draws are still superior to the losses they had.

Not going to lie, a few results – a loss against Palace and a draw against Brighton – are pretty worrying and should be, honestly, something Emery must ask the players to address before the next season.

Therefore, what Arsenal need to do is to play well at home. They must acknowledge the importance of home fixtures and avoid dropping points in front of the home fans. Especially against the mid-table teams. No joke.


Away form, on the whole

The same old problem from the Wenger era is still here. While improving slowly, it appears that Arsenal still has a poor away record. Yes, they won against Napoli at San Paolo and Valencia at the Mestalla, but it’s not enough.

Arsenal clearly lacks confidence in winning away games. Thus, not only the fanbase must support their team but also, Kroenke should consider handing more bonuses to the players as an incentive to boost the team morale.


In England

In the Premier League, Arsenal did pretty well. While they still lost some games (especially London derbies), I can feel that the players are, at least, willing to fight until the final whistle when they’re behind. This is real progress.

In the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup, Arsenal went out in the quarter-final and fourth round respectively. Yet, since the opponents were Premier League teams (Tottenham and Manchester United), it was something pretty inevitable.

Grade: B


In Europe

In the Europa League, Arsenal were unbeaten in the group stages of the competition. Facing Qarabağ, Vorskla and Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal conceded only two goals and proceeded to the Round 32.

However, they had to stage comebacks at home when they faced BATE Borisov and Rennes. Against Napoli? Stong performance. Versus Valencia? They replicated the same. After all, under Emery, they played well to be in the final.

Grade: A-


Players – the good, bad and ugly

What was Mustafi doing?!

Arsenal fans may have picked Lacazette as the player of the season, but I personally feel otherwise. In the current squad, Leno should have been chosen as the POTS of Arsenal, to be honest.

Of course, I won’t discredit Lacazette’s hard work these days. Yet, while Leno is far from excellent, I’m more than happy to see him, as he always performs his best on the pitch in every game he plays.

Playing as the last guardian in front of an imperfect defence, Leno executes his job well. It’s time for us, Gooners, to give him more credit than ever. Without him, after all, Arsenal would have lost more games than we’ve imagined.

A short review of the remaining signings of the season

Lucas Torreira

The second-best signing of the season after Leno. He’s ruthless and fearless on the pitch. Sometimes he may underperform but should be able to adjust to the tempo of the Premier League from next season.

Sokratis

The third-best signing of the season. He acts as a solid brick before Leno and no question about it. His disciplinary issues, though, is my real concern. I hope that he’ll get fewer yellow cards and suspensions from next season.

Mattéo Guendouzi

One for the future but aside from shaving his hair, he should seek to improve himself to be a better midfielder. A season-long loan to a fellow English side like Norwich or Everton would be beneficial to the player.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

He’s in the “hall of shame”, in my opinion. Need I say more?

Denis Suárez

Should I criticize him harshly even though he’s a loanee? No. Setting the injury aside, though, if Suárez is not getting minutes from Emery, there must be something wrong with him, I guess?

For players who performed worryingly, you may want to read this. And for the players in which Arsenal need from next season, here’s another article for you to study at your leisure.


On Emery

If I can meet Emery and say only one thing to him, I’ll say, “you have my full support, boss”. And yeah, I’m serious about this. Arsenal are currently rebuilding themselves and Emery’s work now is satisfactory to me.

As the title implies, I care more about the process and evolution of the team than the results. My father taught me that results don’t really matter if the lads played well. It matters only when the whole team fails to deliver.

This is the case in the current Arsenal squad. They’ll win games, struggle in some of them and it’s normal. Sometimes, you can give everything and end up trophyless. This is, sadly, both life and football.

Look at Liverpool. Klopp took a few years to rebuild his team from step to step. It is also what Solskjær is doing with Manchester United now. And it’s never easy to bear the pressure from both the board and the fans.

I can tell that Emery is doing the same. The fans should back him up and the board should also give the Spaniard the funds for the transfer market. Considering the situation nowadays, 100M isn’t enough for an overhaul of the team.

A two-year contract may sound like a short time (it is, actually, with just 4 transfer windows involved), yet as long as Emery is doing the right things, he’ll certainly get my seal of approval.

I have witnessed Emery’s transformation from the coach who needed a translating device to understand English to the one who no longer needs one. He can do this and I have faith in him.


The final word

Arsenal showed improvement after Emery took over the squad. Still, they’re not yet ready to be a real title contender. Patience and progress are what should be able to make Arsenal Premier League champions in, hopefully, a few years’ time, if everything’s going well to them.

Top 10 underrated, entertaining games in 18/19 you may have missed

We love watching league games and most of the time, we focus on the big guns. And some of the matches in the past season may, sadly, left unnoticed. Here are some of our picks to discover some undiscovered gems.


Premier League: Wolves 4-3 Leicester City (19 Jan 2019)

While other fixtures like “Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham” and “Everton 2-6 Tottenham” were also interesting, this one caught my eye and impressed me the most. It’s not the big guns, but rather, Wolves and Leicester.

We all know how good the Wolves are this season. At the time of writing, they’re 7th in the Premier League, which is, honestly, a respectful achievement considering their status as a mid-table team in this era.

Back to the game. The Wolves were 2-0 up before Leicester made it 2-2. Jota scored again before the Foxes levelled things up. This didn’t stop Jota from completing his hat-trick and sealing the points in a spectacular fashion.

Both teams never gave up when they took the lead (and for the other side, trailing by one or two goals). But at the end of this thriller, the Wolves got their reward, i.e. the well-deserved win. Are you not entertained?


Liga NOS: Feirense 4-4 Chaves (4 May 2019)

When it comes to the Portuguese league, many may think of Os Três Grandes, which means “the Big Three” in Portuguese. And yes, I’m talking about Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and Porto. The familiar names to us.

Back to the game. Feirense, as the club at the bottom of the table, are heading for the LigaPro while Chaves can’t afford to lose games if they’re to remain in the league, since they’re just one point safe from the drop zone.

So what happened, basically? Goals kept flying before Luís Machado gave the hosts a slice of hope to win, only to be destroyed by substitute and former Feirense player Platiny. One point apiece, a priceless moment to remember.


Ligue 1: Monaco 2-3 Saint-Étienne (5 May 2019)

Monaco has been awful these days and are sitting 17 of the Ligue 1 table, three points from avoiding the drop. Saint-Étienne is the exact opposite of the situation – doing pretty well domestically with European ambitions.

Gelson Martins opened the scoring but Subašić’s injury turned things around. 3 goals by the Greens in 21 minutes sealed the points for the visitors before Carlos Vinícius’ consolation proved futile in creating a potential comeback.

For Saint-Étienne, the points proved to be vital as they’re still chasing for qualifications in European games. But for Monaco, the loss may prove costly, as they need points (and a miracle) to be steered to safety.


Dutch Eredivisie: Ajax 4-4 Heerenveen (20 Jan 2019)

Ajax are doing excellent these days, having won the Dutch Cup and hopefully, get both the Eredivisie title plus the ticket to Madrid next month. Yet, the team who beat Real Madrid and Juventus before struggled sometimes.

It was 3-1 to Ajax at half-time before Heerenveen did the turnaround. Lammers and van Bergen leveled things up. Huntelaar gave the hosts some hope before Pierie responded and silenced the crowd with the goal.

A win would have made Ajax’s journey to seal the title easier but against the mid-table side, they failed somehow, They still have two more games to play and still have a chance to lift the trophy, on goal differences perhaps?


La Liga: Huesca 3-3 Celta (4 April 2019)

Huesca and Celta used to be rivals in the relegation zone. And in the second-half of the season, they produced a stunning game to keep the race alive.

Naturally, we’ll think that Celta, with a better squad, would have won the tie easily. Huesca, though, took the lead once after trailing two goals down before Ryad Boudebouz had the final say and slotted the ball past home.

Huesca are relegated after losing to Valencia at home while Celta, having beaten a heavily rotated Barcelona squad, are pretty much still in need of points to prevent the drop to the Segunda.


German Bundesliga: Frankfurt 3-2 Hoffenheim (2 March 2019)

Frankfurt may be the black horse in both the Bundesliga and the Europa League this season. But undeniably, they have a good fighting spirit (at least at home), which is clearly shown in this game.

Joelinton and Belfodil’s strike cancelled Kostić’s opener before Nagelsmann’s man received a piece of bad news as Nuhu got sent off. Haller levelled the score before Paciência netted home for the winner.

Frankfurt are still much in the contention for the final place to be in the Champions League next season as they’re currently fourth. At the same time, though, they’ll need to be wary of Leverkusen and Gladbach’s form.

Wouldn’t be the feel-good weeks for Frankfurt supporters.


Italian Serie A: Lazio 1-2 Chievo (20 April 2019)

ChievoVerona may have been relegated from Serie A and had a terrible record during their short stay but the away win in Rome may be something for them to remember.

Having gained an advantage in numbers since Milinković-Savić got a red card, Vignato and Hetemaj struck twice in the second half of the game and the goalkeeping proved Caicedo’s consolation pointless.

Luis Alberto’s marching orders later in extra-time ended his side’s hope of a draw. Aside from Lazio, Chievo won only against Frosinone at home but to replicate the giant-killings, the latest date for them to do it would be 2020.


UEFA Champions League: Ajax 3-3 Bayern (13 Dec 2019)

Ajax in Europe this season fear no one and you can tell from this six-goal thriller. Three goals for both teams, two 90-minute goals, two red cards, two penalties scored and still no winner. How was it not an underrated game?


FIFA World Cup: Belgium 3-2 Japan (3 July 2018)

Belgium went 0-2 down thanks to Haraguchi and Inui’s goals plus Japan’s motivation to prevail after seeing South Korea winning against Germany. They eventually won against Samurai Blue, credit to Chadli’s extra-time winner.


UEFA Nations League: Netherlands 2-3 Germany (25 March 2019)

As a follower of the Dutch national team, it hurts for me to mention this game, but Germany played well and didn’t give up until the last minute. Still, Die Mannschaft still have a long way to go to regain glory in the future.

Who should Arsenal look for when Emery’s gone?

I really don’t want this to happen but Arsenal, as a team in the process of rebuilding itself, may need to sacrifice someone in their job in order to achieve something big. Certainly, I hope that Emery won’t be the one.

But it’s football so everything can happen. The big question is, let’s say, Emery is gone the next day I finish the article. Who should be considered as the one to replace him? I’m listing three coaches as a suggestion.

Option 1 – Florian Kohfeldt (Werder Bremen)

You may not know who Kohfeldt is but if you’re familiar with Bundesliga, he’s the current coach of Werder Bremen and is just 36, older than Koscielny for three years.

Oliver once asked me, before writing this article, why didn’t I choose Nagelsmann in place of Kohfeldt. I would like to have him in the PL, however, the young German’s future at Leipzig makes it unlikely.

Kohfeldt is a coach with an attacking mind and hence, in the current Bundesliga campaign, they score almost in every game they play in this campaign. The exception? The one of Bayern Munich away.

Who was the keeper to do that? Not Neuer but Ulerich instead.

Kohfeldt may be a young and energetic coach in the Bundesliga. But as Emery’s successor, he’s still inexperienced and it may need to take a few years to see if Kohfelt is really the man for the Arsenal job.


Option 2 – Adi Hütter (Frankfurt)

If you follow the Europa League closely (like I do, as an Arsenal fan), you may be impressed with Frankfurt’s run. And allow me to introduce Hütter, the mastermind behind all the well-executed plans by the SGE on the pitch.

After replacing the outgoing Kovać, the Austrian decided to lead Frankfurt to be back to basics. He got the best out of the players, including Jović, Haller and Rebić. The clip below shows how he did it:

This is why Frankfurt are scoring a lot these days.

Of course, it’s not just attacking. Inside Hütter’s mind, he also knows how to defend and his approach is pretty down-to-earth to understand:

Did Leverkusen watch this over and all over again before thrashing Frankfurt today morning?

Hütter’s mindset will help Arsenal to defend better than the current standard (at least Mustafi will be gone) while not compromising the attack.

It may not appear to be very balanced but the Gunners should be able to improve under him. At the same time, Hütter has yet to gain experience in the PL, which allows me to present to you my final choice today.


Option 3 – Daniel Farke (Norwich City)

By far the most logical choice, Farke is the genius behind Norwich’s amazing run in the Championship this season, after joining them from Borussia Dortmund II in Germany. And the clip shows how he did it:

Under the German, Norwich has a quality fighting spirit on the pitch. Their home atmosphere is one of the best in the league and this helps the players to better at Carrow Road, no matter what the score is.

The only problem for Farke to become the Arsenal boss is that his club won’t let him go at this stage as they’re preparing for the Premier League.

As an admirer of Farke’s Norwich, I really don’t want this to happen. But who knows if he’ll be available sooner or after a few weeks next season?

The players Arsenal should consider for the next season (including the Academy talents)

Spoiler alert: It’s going to be a long one.

As a fan of Arsenal myself, whenever I see the team playing poorly, I always ask myself, “who would I bring to the Emirates if I had the power to do so?” And in this article, I’ll list them out, from a fan’s point of view.

I’ll list out three players for each position I would like to strengthen. “The ideal one”, “the realistic one” and “the one from the Academy”. In total, we have 18 of them in this list. Are you ready for the marathon?

Position 1 – Goalkeeping

I can’t deny that Leno is doing superbly these days. But as Čech is retiring and there are rumours that Emi Martínez may leave Arsenal, chances are Arsenal need a new face between the sticks in the cup games.

The ideal choice: Iñaki Peña (Barcelona B)

I’m a Barcelona fan myself and I don’t really want him to leave, from a Barcelonista’s point of view,.While he’s not exactly ter Stegen’s heir, if Cillessen decided to leave, he can serve as a back up to the German.

However, as Valverde really loves ter Stegen, the Spaniard may want to leave Barcelona for more playing time. He’s a good replacement for Čech. Or an upgrade, as he can save spot-kicks and has good aerial abilities.

He certainly won’t come cheap and you may argue that the level of Segunda División B is different from than that of the Premier League. considering Barcelona’s relationship with Arsenal, though, it could happen.

The realistic choice: Jack Butland (Stoke)

Despite the fact that Stoke are 16th of the Championship table at the time of writing (and the truth that I dislike them a lot), it doesn’t deny the fact that Butland is still one of the best keepers in England.

Leno will be the No. 1 keeper soon and Arsenal will need someone with experience to the team with Dejan Iliev, the main man for the U23, yet to get any minutes from Emery, which is depressing.

Butland can be seen as a balance of both players. Having played in the Premier League with Stoke and now in his prime (26), he’ll be a good buy for the Gunners when we set the unofficial rivalry aside.

The one from the Academy: Matt Macey

Currently on loan at Plymouth Argyle, Macey is one of the crucial players there, despite making mistakes and leading the team to a relegation spot.

He’s possibly the second or choice keeper of Arsenal. But if he’s to play regularly, maybe he will need to search for a club for minutes.