Arsenal-Leicester City–Where Does Arsenal Stand?  Winning Means That Waiting is the Hardest Part.

Unai Emery isn’t looking back.  The coach says we must improve. I’d agree.  While the results (since those pesky early losses) have been impeccable, they only look easy in retrospect.  And, easy is just how it is when it comes to taking those points for granted.

Leicester City?  Are they the formidable champions from just a couple of seasons ago or are they the club that has found themselves fighting against relegation in the seasons since?  

We shall see.  In the meantime, while we wait for our match, what might be gleaned from thinking about and maybe watching some of the other football?  

Moo-United travel back to the club he haunted (perhaps) more happily.  By dint of winning the early–and extremely up and down–match against Arsenal, Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea team sit tied atop the Premier League and can heap more misery on Mourinho. From an Arsenal perspective, we probably want United to take at least a point at Stamford Bridge; Joe-Say might want the quick exit, but the longer things fester on the red side of Manchester, most likely, the better.

In the 3 o’clock matches are a few derbies.  Bournemouth currently sit sixth in the table and host their South Coast rivals Southampton.  Meanwhile, Spurs play West Ham at the Olympic Stadium, while Burnley must travel to town to play at Manchester City.  The game I’m interested in, however, is Watford venturing to the Black Country to play at Wolverhampton. Both teams are solidly in the middle of the table and feature as much in the way of continental (mostly Spanish and Portuguese) talent as perhaps we’ve got in any of the weekend’s matches.  

Huddersfield Town host Liverpool in the late game.  You could call that one a Greater Manchester derby too, and, while no game is easy, we’re talking about a club that clawed its way into the Premiership through the playoffs and somehow stayed up against one of England’s biggest and most in-form clubs.  

(Sunday, supposedly, we’re supposed to suffice with Everton-Crystal Palace.  Seriously? Everton are in the mid-table morass while CP are only in the single-digits-won grouping below.  There could be some strategic/tactical interest in how their managers approach the match, I guess…)

Fulham came up by way of the same route as Huddersfield yet Gooners have seized upon our most recent match, a 5-1 victory in their home stadium, as something of a stylistic turning point.  Finally Arsenal looked good–at times REALLY good–in beating the cottagers. Can we continue? Not just with the winning, but with a brand of football fans might really get behind? It’s getting deep into the autumn but we’d still like to keep on (or start truly) enjoying the fruits of Emery’s football.  Results first, of course, but some swashbuckling “getting our Arsenal back” football would also be lovely, no?  I’m feeling less greedy; really I’d just like to ground myself a bit further in what the new manager is after. 

As such, if I can rouse myself–and the espresso is working for me–I hope to watch the neutral football with an eye to how these teams are setting up and playing the game. Which teams are attacking? Who’s playing on the counter? Do ANY of these teams actually want the ball.  Are any trying to play the attacking football former manager Arsene Wenger espoused?  Is Emery’s approach different or is he (only) the latest in the growing(?) cohort of coaches who seek to strike before teams can set their defensive lines, often in the split seconds of transition when control of the ball switches from one team to the other? 

If Arsenal are part of a larger trend, is it one that favors park-the-bus teams?  (Certainly we’re not one of THOSE quite yet?…)  Maybe it was Leicester City defying the odds to win a PL title that really solidified this approach. Or was it Mourinho’s dour style in his Chelsea (Internazionale and Real Madrid) stints that set the groundwork?  Guardiola and Klopp, with their pressing from the front, are the new wave and those moments when they can force turnovers and recover the ball in their opponents’ half come regularly and with plenty of excitement.  Call it (Pep’s) Ronda-style or (Jurgen’s) Gengenpress or even (Emery’s) Protagonismo, but it all sounds about the same to me.  Unfortunately, I feel I must use the term “sounds” (instead of “looks”) because we haven’t really seen much of an Arsenal press-from-the-front as of yet.

But, what am I missing?  You tell me. I feel, after all the seasons of watching Wenger’s teams and knowing what he was after, that I’m almost emerging from a cocoon.  Certainly it was easy enough–in years past at least here in the Goonersphere–to dismiss folks with novel formation and tactical suggestions.  Not so now, but I’m just learning.  Are there (other) English teams you like to watch? What about on the continent? How has the game changed? Is anybody playing attacking, possession-based football (Wenger-ball?), and should they? Frankly, I miss it, but, on the other hand, I don’t mind the winning we’ve had (lately) at Arsenal.

Don’t be shy, tell me what I’m missing (and where to find it)…

Go on then…

(In the meantime, picture me–waiting for Monday night–like these old dudes…)

by 17highburyterrace

13 thoughts on “Arsenal-Leicester City–Where Does Arsenal Stand?  Winning Means That Waiting is the Hardest Part.

  • Yes HT, we’ve been in limbo but it’d soon all erupt. I like the 1st match because one or two of those blokes not very much liked would be loosing points. West Ham might also do us a favour. Not placing much hope on Burnly and non at all on Huddersfield. Sunday would be such a bore and Monday evening feels eons of time away. Will it ever come? This must be a deliberate torture.

    Where do we stand? The truth is …. I don’t know.

  • 17tino, we’re on a Magical Mystery Tour, this is Emeryball, it’s like a box of chocolates, every game is different, every line up is unpredictable, it’s great, enjoy it, have a cup of tea, park the coffee, you’ve just emerged into a brave new world of hair raising defending, its gets the heart pumping. 😀

    Yep, a Manc vs Chav draw is something I’d vote for, West Ham stuffing the boys from Middlesex would be nice, not sure of the other fixtures as I don’t really watch any other team that intently.

  • Before we get HT asking ‘where everyone is’ while he’s sipping his first espresso this morning (at 3:15am in his time zone 😉 )? I think it’s cuz’ Seventinho broke BK with his last two paragraphs. Lotta’ meat on those bones brother.

    I to tried to revisit the Fulham match 1st-half again last night. But after a very long week at work– my brain hit the ‘doze button’ moments before Laca drove home the 1st goal at 29′. All in wanting to reconfirm my impression– that HT had expressed (previous post)– where that first-half WAS well-contested by Fulham. Our goal was earned, but the Cottagers had their chances as well. Early on too (thanks to Hector sliding a beautiful pass middle– for Fulham’s Vietto to crank-off an in-stride blast– deflecting off Holding for Leno’s first difficult PL save.). Both teams had others (Mkhi ought to have had at least one) as well.

    That impression was correct– as I recall gnashing my teeth on Schurrle’s late leveller at 44′– in recalling my thinking (live that Sunday) that the second half could be more of same. While thinking ‘Ole salamanders!’ (anagramatically speaking: ‘Same old Arsenal!’– just a tad different).

    So– back to HT’s mention of:
    “Call it (Pep’s) Ronda-style or (Jurgen’s) Gengenpress or even (Emery’s) Protagonismo, but it all sounds about the same to me. Unfortunately, I feel I must use the term “sounds” (instead of “looks”) because we haven’t really seen much of an Arsenal press-from-the-front as of yet.”

    Took Pep a year– and Jurgen more than 2– to get the who and the what to come together– where their teams played their differing styles of press with consistency. If I had to liken what Emery’s vision is– to either of them? It’d be an derivative of Pep’s style. City consistently defenced half or more of the pitch with just 3 players last season. Mostly it was Walker (deepest, who could run almost anyone down on the counter), Otamendi (stopgapping at midfield) and Fernandinho roaming between those back two and the front 7 attackers to halt the ball from reaching their half. (with even, at times, LB Delph running forward). This style required a sweeper-keeper-distributor like Ederson.

    Pep’s front 6 (or 7) don’t press– as much as they intelligently cut off counter-attack lanes. Quick to the ball after losing possession or shot deflection. Almost instinctive– like rebounding is in basketball.

    I had watched Fulham vs Watford (1-1) 4 weeks back– where Schurrle and Seri were very good at starting counters from their third– outlet passing (25-35 yards) to Mitrovic (who is surprisingly adept running with the ball from midfield). We saw little of that from either– two Sunday’s ago.

    Arsenal were good. So was Fulham for 49 minutes.


  • I think you forgot about one other match that might be worth watching today… Over in Germany our boy Reiss is looking to round out a hat trick on his debut start! Exciting player.

  • aaand he’s replaced (and i may have misspoke regarding this being his first start).

    Still, two goals in 60 minutes will be great for his confidence.

  • Wow! Then that’s 4 goals for Reiss Nelson in his fourth appearance for Hoffeinheim. He had scored 2 goals when last I checked. Kid’s on a roll. So is the other English kid, Sancho at Dortmund. Nice for England.

  • 17ht, I recently made the observation that the teams have looked increasingly well matched than I have remembered it (save for the odd occasion when sides have to grind against opponents brimming with far better quality). Bayern have found it hard this season but are recovering. I just saw Barca struggle to string 4 passes together without losing possession, VS Sevilla, but ended up winning 4-2, a scoreline which flattered them, somewhat. Man City, despite appearing to have mauled a number of sides, have found themselves matched in terms of opportunities in most games played. They won 5-0 today against Burnley but it was 1-0 at the end of the half and from what I saw, it may have gone differently had the Ref been courageous enough to send Kompany off in the first minute of the game. Fine margins.

    My point is it may be a new trend, with clubsides being able to shop for more quality such that our opponents also have their moments in the games against us, only for our quality to show in the second half, after a tweak or two by Emery. You feel our opponents are lured into thinking we can be got at (of the ‘top’ sides) and so give it a go, thus making for more open games for us. With that score line vs Fulham, expect to see lower placed teams treat us with more respect and sit back for the counter, starting from Monday night. Maybe, we’ll have to be more patient before we may return to the era of wengerball-style dominance of teams. It looks like results (substance) over style (form) for Emery and if we keep winning, who can argue with that?

    As to your other posers, on the domestic front, I generally like to see how our close rivals are doing and so can watch such games, so long as Arsenal aren’t playing. On the continent, I like to watch games in the La Liga; Barca, Madrid and sides with ex-gunners (Valencia, Villarreal) or with Nigerian players. I do have a spot spot for Barcelona, for sure (they’re not the assured squad of players we once knew, but still give excitement).

  • Foloran Balogun, who can represent either the USA or UK (and probably Nigeria) is the leading goalscorer in the U18’s, where he got a hat trick in his last run out.

    He is a big, powerful centre forward, dare I say, a bit like a very young and raw Didier Drogba.
    English football is currently producing the best young footballers in the 16 to 19 age bracket in the world, that assessment is from foreign football journalists I listen to on the radio, so don’t worry, I’m not about to burst into Rule Brittania… 😄

  • Thanks for that Kev. Read an ESPN piece just now that Balogun (while no official switch) is competing this week with US U18s in a friendly, non-sanctioned tourney– his first call-up for the US.


  • No responses to this post all day Friday, so…I decided not to open the computer (at all!!) on Saturday. Didn’t watch any football either, except a bit of the Pool match in passing…From highlights, I got little info about the actual football, goal celebrations and reactions being the big story, it seems…

    Cheers for the comments (during my day off)… Loan watch(ing?) sounds like it was rewarding…

    Time to take the puppy out…and watch all the trees turning color… Maybe we’ll bark up (another) one…

  • Cheers Frozen and Seventeenho for two entertaining posts. Apologies for my absence and the low response rates in general. Lets hope things pick up now that the proper footie is starting again.

    New Post New Post 🙂

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