Please weigh in and give us your thoughts? Here are a few of mine, or at least a few questions I’ve been pondering.
What’s the deal with Unai and these two players?
It’s only been a few matches, but they’ve only played together for some 54 minutes (the opening ones vs ManCity). The take-me-out-of-the-starting-11-makes-me-sick rumors are a worry, as is the continuing silence on Ramsey and a new contract. Frankly, I doubt that the management junta will offer Rambo that Ozil-money he (supposedly) seeks. Let’s see what happens on Sunday as Ramsey returns to his boyhood club (Cardiff City). It was a while back, but he got a hat-trick on (his) one (and only?) trip there in Arsenal colors, as I recall. Is Mesut only “well enough” for a bench seat or could we see them paired again? It sure looked weird, IMO, Rambo pressing from a #9 position in the Opener.
Playing Style? Who’s In and Who’s Out? And Who’s Got Better Hair?
My take is that Emery seems very keen to change what we know from all those years watching Arsenal under Wenger. Press from the front, play out of the back and send long (and wide) balls to open guys–from the deep lying mids–rather than into a pack of players (and from the keeper). Sorry Sam, we shan’t indulge in El Futbol Ingles (route one, punt and pray, keep it down their end, call it what you will), the pragmatics of the situation notwithstanding. Thus far it seems VERY MUCH a work in progress.
We looked hardly on the same page vs City (Cech’s near own-goal the emblematic moment), quite fortunate to get back level at half-time at Stamford Bridge before subbing to hold that result and then blowing it, and (maybe) even more fortunate to come away with full points vs West Ham last Saturday. An injury to Arnautovic, a wildly caromed own-goal, and a couple of thread-the-nutmeg Bellerin crosses made the difference and we vaulted from 17th to 9th in the table. At least the trajectory there is good…
Instead of Wenger’s (pointless?) possession and passing and pressing the opponent back, (back, back) with the ball (and walking it into the net). Emery–like Pep at City and Klopp at the Kop–hardly needs the ball–or wants to play “protagonist” with or without it–to force mistakes and pounce. If we can get the ball back high up the pitch, direct would be the way and Aubamayang would be the guy to get those Theo, er, through-balls, into the net. He’s still on the bagel; and his would-be replacement, Lacazette, has yet to score either; that blast off the WHU defender’s chest only counts as an assist, I’m pretty sure. Instead, it’s guys like Iwobi, Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck getting the early season goals, players that many a Gooner thought might be gone or at least playing bit parts this season, with he who-cannot-defend-and-should-be-sold (along with his man-bun) Bellerin perhaps looking our MVP(!!) (On the question of Ramsey and/or Ozil, does Emery’s style even allow for both on the pitch at the same time? If Wenger wanted #10s all over the pitch, does Emery want even one?…)
Indeed, what’s up is down and what’s down is up (thus far) at the Emery-ates. What do you guys think of the new coaches playing style (philosophy) and it’s execution.
What About the Choices Made by the New Coach, Starting 11s and Subs?
The back line is bare-bones. Kos is back running but Chambers was run off to Fulham. AMN and Kolasinac are out hurt so–with the Greek philosopher’s help (Question: if a tree falls in the forest, is it always Mustafi’s fault?…)–it’s a rearguard that picks itself, with only one CB Holding down a bench seat. With the fullbacks encouraged to run wide (and wild) and forward, it’s been Nacho and Bells even if many enjoyed the extreme non-neutrality of the Swiss guy, Lichtsteiner, when he came on in the City match. And then there’s Cech (who gives what we expect) vs Leno and what might be a trial by fire in the rough and tumble (and much faster paced) PL.
My bet is that–early on at least–the PL will not be for BL (Leno) and that we’ll have to see him do his sweeper-keeper thing in the Europa League and League Cup matches, games which will surely also see changes in the deeper part of midfield, the true crux of Emery’s team. Thus far he’s gone with (Matteo) Guendouzi and Granit (Xhaka) and it’s been far from poetry, IMO. Thus far, the smaller man (but bigger signing…) Torreira has only been used as a sub. At Stamford Bridge (when he replaced Xhaka) our offense stuttered and the Uruguayan wasn’t able to track the guy (Alonso) who broke the deadlock and gave Chelsea the points. Versus West Ham (and this time paired with Xhaka), The little guy looked much better in creating pressure on the opponents by keeping possession and passing through the lines. Still, mistakes were made and our DMs were still witnessed chasing the Hammers on the break. Luckily, our net never bulged, and we were able to grab the points. Who starts in Wales and how will this most interesting part of the team evolve as the season moves on?
A word here for my avatar guy, who has yet to play a single minute of football, Mohamed Elneny. Consider me concerned. (Doubly so, given that I prefer Mo’s dreadlocks to Kenny, er, Matteo, G’s curls…) Is he off in order to free up money for a mega-offer to Ramsey? I hope not. (And I think the accounting here is a farce).
Elneny, IMO, will run all day and show for the ball, something I believe Wenger valued a lot more in his deeper lying midfielders. I’m picturing Mikel Arteta here, and, later, Santi Cazorla, even if those guys also had the big passes that Granit with his left and Guendo with his right foot, seem to possess. Elneny can hit an accurate and quick pass, but doesn’t have that sort of range. His skill-set however, just might not fit Emery’s system.
What’s different, to my eye, is the spacing. If the keeper and CBs are expected to push and play the ball forward and wide–the FBs moving well upfield into the opponents half–so too are the DMs. Do G & G have the strength to hold off defenders? The skills to turn them inside out before launching their big passes? Torreira, tiny as he is, gets to balls (and spaces) quickly but also relies on going to ground when he feels contact. That works in South America and Italy. I wonder about in front of (keep-play-going) English refs. I think Elneny could play a role in this regard. If’s he’s not gone by tomorrow (the Euro transfer deadline) maybe we’ll see what he can do in the Europa League as we ease into that competition. He could always be sold in January (just as Ramsey could sign on for the longer haul). Your thoughts?
And, finally, coming full circle, onto the (big) point(s).
What do you think of the Emery-Era so far? In truth we could call it the Gazidis and his guys (GAG?) era–as opposed to the decades under Wenger. Sven’s been recruiting (is Dortmund to Arsenal, the quickest ticket/shortest route to London?), Unai then takes the (round?) pegs and plugs them in the (square?) holes, while others (Raul, Huss) work to sort out the money issues. Let’s not forget that Wenger watches (from afar) while still on the Arsenal dole. Hmmm, maybe we can afford to pay Rambo his (Ozil–or should we say Arsene?) money–next summer when Wenger’s wages drop from the books. (Whoa, that might not have been Gazidis’ best work, at least from a pound and penny perspective…) What do my fine fellow Gooners think of the club under the new man (or men)?
As those who know me will guess, I believe we’re sacrificing more than (Wenger) money and that results (and entertainment value) will suffer too, but maybe that’s all OK if it’s in the name of change. After our first three games does anybody (seriously) believe we can challenge for the title? (And wasn’t that always the standard to which AW was held?) Who knows, stranger (or more Leicester-er) things have happened, I guess. Maybe next year there won’t be any forest fires out here in California and the skiing will be nothing but dry powder from October through May in my mountains above Lake Tahoe… Next thing you know, we’ll all get along and support the president, just like you guys in Britain do with your Euro (and non-native) friends. I could go on and on, but this isn’t the venue (or so I’ve been told).
Before I run away, I ask for your predictions.
Frankly, when it comes to the BIG GOAL of the season, getting up for the much-derided 4th place trophy, I think Emery’s ideas need to create better performances sooner than later, i.e., we can’t keep riding our luck. There’s always the back door (winning the Europa League) but let’s not forget that a few strong CL teams will be parachuting into that competition when they can’t make it out of their groups. (See Atletico Madrid, a year ago.) Gooners are loving the early season troubles at MouroonedChester United, but that’s juxtaposed against strong starts for Chelsea and Spurs. We’ve got a nice run of games all the way through until November, but–after our stuttering start–we NEED to keep making three points per match AND showing improvement in settling the squad and playing better football. I wonder. Some are saying 21 points from these next seven matches will come our way. I’d be more than satisfied with 15 and think a dozen is (far) more likely. That’s my prediction, though I’ll hope it’s a baker’s dozen (13)…
What say you?
If a point total is all you can give, go on and give it. If you’d care to weigh in on the more touchy-feely elements I’m trying to describe, even better. On the internet, all truths are relative and all opinions equal. Or maybe, since we can’t look one another in the eye, the beholder can scream as loudly as he (or she) likes, enhancing their truths–or at least the truth-iness–of those shouts. Or something. Regardless, please weigh in and share your thoughts.
Go on then…