1-0 Not to the Arsenal, and quite rightly so. No point in doing player ratings as all worked hard but just could not get through the wall of Blades. For that we missed a player who committed his best years to us but was left home to plan for Halloween. Under Emery we are losing our identity, reputation and enjoyment of the game, so why keep him any longer?
Eight Painful Observations
- It is all well and good to try and play via the flanks but it cannot be our only way of attacking. Sheffield United had figured out that we like to get behind defences from the wings and they had it covered almost all day long. The Blades also had a solid wall in and around their ‘D’ and we just did not have the inventiveness to get through it. We also missed aerial power up-front and so we laboured and laboured to create half-chances at best… and in the end we managed just three shots on goal. It SCREAMED out for Mesut Ozil but we all know that the only way to get him back in the team is for Emery to get sacked.
- I have said it many, many times, and I know not to be the only one who’s said this: Guendouzi and Xhaka both playing deep just does not work. Either of them need Torreira to play next to them to get the best out of them, but LT11 is as unloved by our Spanish Manager as MO10. Here is the thing: we will not win an away win under Emery if Torreira does not start, simple as that.
- Willock is a brilliant player but not in the hole. Play him next to Xhaka and he will shine, play him in the hole and he will suffer. Joe needs to do B2B football and there need to be players in and around the hole to whom he can pass the ball and combine with. Wenger would not have sacrificed Willock, such a young talent, at half time. He would not have dented his confidence like that, but Emery likes to pinpoint the blame somewhere else. Ceballos came on and he was neither bad nor good, as in effective. It is like putting on another Guendouzi: both run a lot and like (a lot of touches with) the ball a lot, but lack the quality as yet to make the difference.
- Does Pepe have a twin brother/ did we get him instead? The talent is there but he lacks composure and technical precision and I am hoping, badly hoping, that it is down to frustration/ a lack of confidence at the moment. He needs to be given a rest till after the international break in November and then start anew. Maybe Henry or Bergkamp can be hired for a few months to get Pepe to his best again?
- Emery made changes but they all did not work. It was more of the same rather than coming up with something better. Ceballos is clearly no Ozil. Laca is also no Ozil but we became stronger once he came on and tried to own the centre in attack. It was too little too late. And if Emery is so keen on wingplay for Arsenal, why not bring on Tierney and Bellerin and refresh our efforts? Kolasinac and Chambers worked hard but just lacked the quality when putting the ball into the box.
- But the hardest part of it all was our laboured efforts to play the ball out from the back. We lack movement and technical ability for this and it made us look like a bottom-half PL team. Emery’s tactics are obviously to sit back and win games on rebounds and counterattacks (a third of our goals are scored like this), but for this we need far better passing, both short and long, and also better runs by our attackers. We were bad in all departments and hence only managed three shots on target – one every thirty minutes!
- The goal we conceded was a poor one. A number of players – including the keeper – got their positioning wrong and we paid the price for it. In away games it really is not good to concede the first goal, and I think we all knew it would become a hard night for us after we did. We cannot say the Blades did not deserve to go infront and it is also no coincidence that it happened.
- The only positive I can take from this game is that the players really wanted to win and gave their all, and that on a cold and damp October night in Sheffield. So we have the spirit, we have the quality squad, but we really, really lack a manager that can take us forward. The sooner the BoD realize this the better.