A very bad day at the office for Arsenal. Wolves devoured our more or less strongest available team and made us really worried about the stamina, quality and belief left in our Gunners.
It is so easy to blame the quality and mentality of the players; if it is was just that simple! It is also easy to blame the manager’s tactics and football vision, as I often like to do. I liked that starting 11 v Wolves, especially from a defensive point of view. Yet we copped three in the first half and lost our belief and energy more or less after the first goal went in. It probably was a combination of fatigue and Wolves just being a good team that can play football which did it for us.
We needed to win the CP game first and then see what happened at Wolves, as we all knew that would be a very hard game to win. Had we won v CP we could have rested the key players with the aim to have them fit for the Foxes game (and hope for the best v Wolves with our second string team in the main). Emery chose a weakened team and we lost with CP having more shots, and shots on goal, than us. Then we had to win v Wolves and Emeritus did put his strongest team up, even though a few were not fully fit/ in the red zone. It back-fired and we conceded six goals over both games and did not get a single point.
We should not fool ourselves regarding how good we are this season under Emery. The stats really do lie. Recent away games v Everton, Watford and Wolves should make us very worried about next season when the real Emery influence will start to show (there are still remnants of Wenger – good and also not so good – in this team).
OK, he will be able to strengthen the team this summer and make it more his team, and maybe this will make it all different, but I would not yet count on it. We are lucky that MU and the Chavs also have rubbish PL seasons so we are still in with a shout to finish in the top four some how. Luckily, we are in the semis of the Europa League, and if Emery has anything in common with Wenger it’s his ability to do well in cup competitions. That might save him and us. However, Emery will need to refocus and reenergise his team for which he has very little time. My only advice is to not give up and keep believing. As Churchill once said “If you are going through hell… keep going.”
I still believe in our first team but realise that our squad is weakened right now (without Holding, Bellerin, Ramsey and Welbeck and some of the fit players struggling to play at the required level) and that fatigue is playing its part. Strategic choices will have to be made re which games to focus on most, who to play when and the formation and tactics to get the best possible result given the circumstances.
The good thing is we (and the BoD) will really see what Emery is made of over the next few weeks, and that will also help those with the deep pockets to decide how big his summer transfer budget will be (and whether he is the right man for Arsenal after all).