Emery on the Edge?
It’s just an away match in the midlands–one we won 5-2 the season in which Leicester actually went on to win the PL title–but it’s also a match that seems to represent everything about Arsenal’s current malaise.
Will it be Unai Emery’s last match in charge? Frankly, I doubt it, especially if Arsenal can eke out a result (a draw keeps the gap at 6, a win, of course, would cut it to three) but a loss would make this Arsenal team sit in the middle of the table and 9 points from the top 4.
At least we now know who Emery will be playing. Here are your line-ups:
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Kolasinac, Torreira, Chambers, Guendouzi, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Subs: Tierney, Papastathopoulos, Pepe, Martinez, Willock, Martinelli, Saka.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Perez, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy.
Subs: Justin, Morgan, Gray, Albrighton, Ward, Choudhury, Praet.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).
It looks like a 3 CB formation with young guns Rob Holding and Calum Chambers flanking David Luiz in the center; Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin working as wing-backs. With Granit Xhaka likely done as an Arsenal player (at least if Emery continues as our manager) and Dani Ceballos hurt in midweek, our midfield options are limited so less favored guys like Lucas Torreira and Mesut Ozil get their chances alongside Matteo Guendouzi. Then goal-a-game guy (and new captain) Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will work it out with a (maybe) fully fit (we hope…) Alex Lacazette.
In my mind it’s a strong line-up–and I like the group at the back–but I have to wonder what a coach with a more let-em-play attitude might have been able to create (by this time) with the available group (including big signing Nicolas Pepe and, of course, Xhaka, whose fitness issues are not physical). Unbelievably, besides Ceballos, our only injured player is Reiss Nelson, a player who might add value but certainly not one we would have expected to rely upon.
I never believe that a single result should define management policy–nor who stands in as the on field coach–but many will disagree. For me, Emery should have been done after a single (failed) season–with (for me) unwatchable football and a routing shunting of blame away from himself–but he got a 2nd season. Will he be able to complete it–and meet the expectations of the club and it’s supporters? Another chapter gets written–right now.
I’ll be watching and trying to describe the action but I’m just 2 eyes (and 10 fingers–and one very small mind). Help me out, eh…
Go on then…