This ied another tough match for Unai Emery. But this time he is facing Maurizio Sarri who is a couple of weeks younger than him in the Premier League and who is also implementing a new philosophy. It’s more of a level playing field.
Maurizio, in his opener, had it easy against Huddersfield with a 3-0 win. That is very good for the morale of his team but he wouldn’t have learned much. Unai’s match against the City machine was the opposite. It was a baptism of fire that must have given him a whole lot of new materials to work with, materials that are as much for him to use in adjusting to his players as they are for the team in adapting to his philosophy. Emery would have learnt, if nothing else, where and how not to play some of his men.
He values Ramsey energetic pressing. But Ramsey at #10 starts a chain reaction that displaces Ozil to the wide right which in turn displaces Mkhi to the wide left displacing Auba to the striker position and Lacazette to the bench. Against City it prove a chain reaction that left the attack ineffective.
Emery would be mulling over new options. A 4:2:3:1/4:3:3 with Ozil back to the hole behind the striker and Ramsey out of the equation as was the case when he was substituted in the 54th minute in the City match, or a 4:1:4:1 which Emery regards as good for pressing and which has a fitted spot for Ramsey.
Sarri is known for favoring intensity and high pressing. Cech looks in the best of shape but one would have thought that matches against high pressing teams would at least have been reserved for Leno.
The public controversy which now surrounds the choice between the two keepers might have turned it into more of a dressing room than a field decision. The choice of Cech against high pressing teams worry me not only because of poor ball ability with his feet, but also because the nervousness it generates does degrades the quality of the other players decisions.
If Ceck starts as is looking very likely but not definitely, Emery should give him and his mates a little extra room for going long with the ball. Agree the team is learning but we need bits and pieces of compromises here and there to help keep pace in the race.
The line up I would like to see (4:2:3:1/4:3:3):-
BELLERIN. MUSTAFI. SOKRATIS. LICHSTEINER.
MKHITARYAN. OZIL. AUBAMAYANG.
BENCH:- Cech, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck.
Alternatively, a 4:14:1 formation:-
BELLERIN. MUSTAFI. SOKRATIS. LICHSTEINER
MKHITARYAN. OZIL. RAMSEY. AUBAMAYANG
BENCH:- Cech, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Welbeck.
Of the two formations I expect Emery to settle for the former (4:2:3:1/4:3:3). It’s more of what the team is used to. A bit of evolution in the revolution.
We should take the City encounter as the conclusion of Emery’s pre-season. He must have learned a lot about his team in that one match. Against Chelsea our season starts. What we need in this match is a good performance that would assure us that Emery and his team have hit the tarmac of the new era. We can’t wait to tighten our seat belts.