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I can’t believe football is back. It feels like an age since Luiz rose high in the air to flick home the only goal of the match against Bournemouth. The fixtures from now to the end of the year come thick and fast but OGAAT (One Game At A Time) would continue to prevail. The ‘next’ game is always all important and for us that all important game is a premiership trip to Bramall Lane against 13th placed Sheffield United.

Sheffield is a very clumsy team in the sense that opposition never know how to gauge or engage them. They have lost three of their four matches at home but are yet to lose a single away match. It doesn’t rhyme, does it? They have beaten Everton and drawn with Chelsea both away from home. They narrowly lost to the mighty Liverpool team 0-1 at home courtesy of a howler by their keeper. Obviously, the big teams don’t awe them. If you are still not unsure about who they are, they have conceded only 7 goals, one less than Liverpool who’ve conceded the least.

They lead the league in the long balls and like to stretch the field when in offense. They deliver a lot of crosses and 43% of their attack come from their right flank, our left. I guess Tierney on that our left is very much used to such teams in the Scottish league, with a mix of the seventies and now. Trust Emery to have worked this one out having had the whole interlull to pore through the videos. Tierney is expected to make his premier league debut. With only 18% (the least in the league) of their attack coming from the centre, our central midfielders mightn’t  have much to worry about in terms of their creativity, but Guendouzi and co have to be ready for 90 minutes of sweat. Have you ever heard about hard running and fight?

Now to us. Nobody seems to have figured Emery’s team out. We keep peering, desperate to get to know him and his team. He is so elusive. Should we take him for his word and accept that it’s all about being chameleonic? After wk 8 this is what some vital stats say about the team:

01) Most goals for ————- 6th (5th of big 6) — City 1st (Liv 2nd) in the League.
02) Least goals against——– 9th (4th of big 6) — Liv 1st (Sheffield/Leic 2nd).
03) Most possession ———- 8th (6th of big 6) — City 1st (Liv 2nd).
04) Highest passing accuracy- 8th (6th of big 6) — City 1st (Liv 2nd).
05) Most attempted shots—– 8th (4th of big 6) — City 1st (Chls 2nd).
06) Most shots on target.—— 6th (4th of big 6) — City 1st (Chls 2nd).
07) Least shots conceded —- 18th (6th of big 6) — City 1st (Chls 2nd).
08) Most tackles.————– 8th (4th of big 6) — B’mouth 1st (City 2nd).
09) Most interceptions. ——- 17th (4th of big 6) — B’mouth 1st ( (Chls 2nd).
10) Most dribbles————– 1st (1st of big 6) — Arse 1st (City 2nd).
11) Least unsuccessful touches 14th (5th of big 6) – City 1st (Villa 2nd).
13) Most key passes ———–  6th (4th of big 6) – City 1st (Chls 2nd).
14) Most accurate long balls — 12th (5th of big 6) – Liv 1st (Evert 2nd).
15) Position on the table ——– 3rd (3rd of big 6) – Liv 1st (City 2nd).

These stats are chameleonic (1st, 18th, 6th, 17th, 3rd, …). The mathematics shouldn’t work out 3rd on the table for us. Most of us worry that we might have already exhausted our quota of luck for the season.

See the source image

It’s a bit curious but during the 22 game unbeaten run last season everybody was saying the same about us having the rub of the green. Can there be more to it than meets the eye? Can it be cunning Emery and his pigments? That would need a lot of convincing and I doubt am ever going to get fond of a chameleon. I love the beasts who vanquish through sheer motor power and elegance. That is not to say that at this moment I wouldn’t bite off the fingers that offers me 3 points at Bramall Lane together with all the pigments in the world. Helpfully our injured players are all back in one go to give us more hope (or is it more pigments?).

Sheffield has conceded only 7 goals but they have managed the least number of shots on target in the league @ 2.5 per game. Obviously Emery’s tactical balance should be tilted offensively. Lacazette is now available and I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be the PALs against their mean defence.

They would come from the wings and we would also come from the wings, toe to toe kind of. That shouldn’t bother us as we have the hard working pair of Chambers and Tierney as our full and flying backs. Sokratis and Luiz would be there for their aerial bombardment with Leno behind them. Of course we know that Xhaka and Guendouzi would be in Emery’s line up, once fit. The one position remaining to be filled is anybody’s guess. Ozil? Ceballos? Willock? Torreira?

Am still trying to figure that one out as this post goes to print. Meanwhile let’s have your opinion on the comments section. Who of these four names do you expect would start? Or whom of them would you like to start? I will chip in too as soon as I get it resolved for myself, the noises from the camp suggesting it could be a surprise.

I want Emery to succeed, not because I love his face but I don’t want the pains of further stagnation. I also don’t want us running from pillar to post changing managers. It might get us into United’s type of recurring mess.

Three points and another clean sheet to the good guys. COYRRG!!!

By PE.


  • Great stuff, PE. You know my view re the line up from the previous post. Of those four I would like them all to start if possible! 🙂

    But yes Ozil just has to start for me and I think he will.

    More tomorrow! 🙂

  • Ah … the four starting? That’s interesting but that would leave only two attackers. Isn’t that a bit conservative for Sheffield?

  • Emery has to improve these starts if he has to get the fans fully on board. Am particularly appalled by (7) least shots conceeded @ 18th and (9) most interceptions @ 17 both showing our weakness without the ball. Also am shocked at our unsuccessful touches @ 14th. One would have thought we are a highly technical team.

  • Redme …. you seem to know a thing or two of the noises from the camp and of course from the terraces aka The Magician. You must believe we need to run on sweat and some oil.

  • Basically we are good at dribbling, PE, and the rest is mediocre, mid-table stuff. We all know this but as we are still third (well were before the Saturday games) it is still kind of okay. It is a bit like having seen your girlfriend with another guy and not having had her for yourself for many weeks, but she still has not broken up with you, so all is well…

    I guess we did relatively well because others were even poorer and we all know that luck runs out eventually (as it did too last season… in the end we ‘won’ nothing but EL qualification). But there is reason to be hopeful for improvements with Laca yet to kick-start his season and Bells, Tierney, Ozil and Holding to come into the first team. And surely sooner or later Pepe starts getting it right.

    Re including all four and not having enough attackers…. a good midfielder also adds to attack (Willock is currently our third highest goalscorer for example!).

    —- Torr —– Willock

    Would work for me and happy to replace Laca with Pepe if the Frenchman is not fully fit.

  • TA … she might not have broken up with me but she sure has broken my heart. You see, my heart is like a chinaware. Very easily it’s in a thousand pieces.

    That again is not a bad team (I mean the 4 of them starting).

  • Great stuff PE.

    Sheff utd have always been defensively strong and playing route one footy.
    We will be in for a tough time if we are static in our play.

    Am in a pub in Ealing broadway watching the manu** match. Unless Liv picks up their game we have a chance to reduce the deficit to the top with a win.

  • Wk 9 …. Chl, City 3pts each. Liv, Tot, United a point each. We need a win for it to be net gain on the top 6 race. Is it time to call it top 7? Leicester has refused to go away.

    Predicted line up:


    Laca to start on the bench.

  • Fine post , which I will refer back to once I have recovered from the disappointment of Liverpool’s equaliser.

    Team: Tierney to begin his long-term career as Arsenal’s left back, continuinging the great tradition of Winterburn, Cole, Sansom, Hapgood etc

    AMN & Kolasinac will drop to the bench for Hector and Tierney. Holding will alternate with Sokratis.

    But who gets dropped for Lacazette? Will Emery play PAL? Will Ozil get a game or will Ceballos take his place? Torreira or Douzi? Does Willock have a chance to get first team appearances?

    So many interesting combinations to ponder.

  • Erik …. yes 17 successive wins was becoming insulting to the premiership. All the same it is United that I consider as our more realistic competitor. So I was caught in that crossfire and at the end their draw suited me perfectly.

    I can’t believe how we suddenly are so spoilt for choice: Laca or Auba, Guendz or Torreira or Willock, Chambers or Bells, Pepe or Saka, Holding or Sokratis and so on up to Leno or Martinez. That’s why Emery is not complaining about the contested fixture.

  • Sorry for hijacking this very interesting post by PE to make a few comments on results and refereeing.

    Firstly, results. Spurs dropping two points against Watford at home (as that old proverb says: “You don’t make a fortress out of a toilet seat!”) was hilarious even if they salvaged their bottoms with a late goal following a stupid mistake by the opponents’ keeper. Watford played a very decent game and it’s bizarre that 50% of their points and 60% of their goals scored have come from the matches against the North London rivals. Spurs still don’t have midfield sorted, their full-backs are not reliable and the attack is flat without Son. Watford had their own chances to seal the victory including 3 on 2 counter-attack, a great penalty shout and a lead for almost 80 minutes.

    VAR in England is a proof that you can give the best computer to a monkey and he still won’t be able to write anything on it. Today’s game between United and Pool was no different.

    Liverpool saved themselves from a defeat but they look much weaker to me than they were last season. Their reliance on their full-backs’ creativity will bite their bottoms soon.

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