Arsenal v Wolves: 1-1. Once again we dropped points from being in the lead and now got two points from our last three PL games (SW, CP and WW).
The bullies of Ashburton Grove have won and Captain Granit Xhaka wasn’t even in the match squad. How did we do? Wolves were allowed an incredible 25 shots of which were 8 (30%) on target (we managed a meagre 10 shots/ just 4 or target). Who replaced Granit Xhaka? A beast of a DM? Well you tell me whether Guendouzi at the foot of the diamond is the answer? Stats are not everything, but 8 shots on target against 4 for us will tell you that we have been lucky to get a point from this game. And we were.
If you still weren’t sure before the Xhaka scandal what Emery’s strategy for the team is, I hope it is now. He does not believe in protecting the defence with strong defence-minded midfielder(s). Guendouzi is very promising on the ball and when we are playing out of defence, but he has little sense of effectively (and pro-actively) protecting the defence. Xhaka is neither a typical DM and needs Torreira to sit next to him, and together they can form a strong partnership. Guendouzi needs such a partner even more than Xhaka, but with Torreira and Ceballos playing higher up in midfield, as per the diamond-formation philosophy, the curly dribbler was left on his own time and again. Hence 25 shots/ 8 on target!!
Under Emery we leave so much space between defence and midfield, and I guess only the stubborn few will still believe he can get the midfield right. When we were leading against the run of play, and this will be all you need to remember once Emery has been given the boot, he takes off our only capable defender-midfielder, Torreira, and puts another winger on, Saka. He has either no desire or no clue as to how to make us play compact in front of the defence and kill a game off. And this is costing us points game after game – either by conceding early and having to fight back for a result on the backfoot or by conceding late on when winning.
I should maybe talk about the good things of the game: Xhaka may have been left with Mesut’s playstation but at least Torreira and Ozil started, and as the Meatloaf song goes, two out of three ain’t bad. The defence worked their socks off with a few excellent performances (Luiz and Chambers) and the super-exciting Tierney made his PL debut. Auba and Laca have been reunited and combined well to score a fab goal.
But we have fundamental problems at Arsenal – we let bullies win and have a poor manager – so I am in no mood to focus on the positives. Let that not hold you back though, fellow BKers, to give us your positives of the game and try and give us all hope.
I leave you with this BBC article on the game and encourage you to listen to both managers post-game interviews: what a world of difference! How I wish that Nuno was our man rather than Wolves’.