What’s Unai’s plan for AMN and Who is Going to Lose Out up-front?

READY—STEADY— IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TOP-4 DASH AND THE FRONT-4 CONUNDRUM.

Arsenal are looking up to Klopp’s Liverpool as a model to follow. It took Klopp three years to get Liverpool challenging (or so many think) for the league title. However the Arsenal world seem not fully cognizant of the fact that qualifying for the Champions League this season is a crucial step towards that objective. Arsenal have been out of the competition for two seasons running. Another season out would put them in a difficult place.

Last season Liverpool reached the Champions league final and netted about £72m. It is nearly equivalent to UEFA handing Virgil Van Dijk (who cost £75m) to Liverpool for free. For each year Arsenal find themselves out of the Champions league, the top-4 rivals are each getting a world class player “free of charge”. That’s a seasonal start on Arsenal which if allowed to build up any further would push them too far down the ladder to compete favourably. By the way, the true story of Liverpool in the championship is that they’ve been in the wilderness for 28 years under countless coaches.

Many see the Europa league as the best route to the Champions league but the hard facts are that cup games are always dicey and should be recognized as such. By the start of this winter transfer window, Emery would have been with the team for six months. He would have known the team well enough to know exactly what is needed to take the team one notch up. That could be crucial for Arsenal’s top-4 aspirations if the club is able, for example, to sign one or two quality players that would help fit the team better to the Emery ideas.

Meanwhile, before the January window arrives there must be things to do to get more from the talented squad they have. With nearly one third of the season gone there is this feeling that the team is yet to find its range. The results of matches so far have largely flattered their performances. Lady Luck has played a huge part in offsetting the teething problems of a team under a new coach. This international break possibly defines the end of this period of the gods smiling on them. Hope it also defines the beginning of the team snarling and baring its teeth.

With nearly five months of work, Emery’s ideas must be taking roots in the players’ muscle reflexes, the same way fingers with time begin to go smartly over the key board without the hindering conscious thought. I sense such a breakthrough for the team must be pretty close. It was seen against Liverpool and in some of their 2nd half performances. But theirs is just one half of the story. On Emery’s side, after these months of working with the team, his knowledge of the players would have moved away from the theoretical. It is reasonable to believe that by now he has a good knowledge of the players and their best positions and best combinations. He would also have learnt a lot about the premiership. On all sides therefore the soil has been ploughed, the seeds planted and germinating. Better first half performances would be good signals that the new growth is taking roots.

The club cannot afford to miss out on the Champions league for the third year running. Emery’s 1st phase of learning by trial and error must be nearly over. The next phase should be about getting the best out of what he has. The top-4 race holds little or no space for a late charge.

Close to five active months into his tenure, Emery surely must have decided on his 1st choice keeper. He knows his full backs. Decision on his central defenders isn’t much of a headache to him. At the moment it’s simply any two of a three. He knows his central midfield pairing, definitely.

The front four is the problem area because it has an unbalanced personnel. It is full of talents who unfortunately are jostling for essentially two positions only. Aubameyang, Lacazette, Welbeck (injured) as strikers, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey as #10s. Only Iwobi stands apart, his best position being the attacking wide left. Even at that, in order to accommodate Aubameyang, he is often displaced to the bench or played on the right where he is like a shadow of what he is on the left.

This international break is a good pause for Emery to re-strategize and that’s hardly anything beyond seeing to it that the players are used in there best positions.

If Lacazette plays, he plays as a striker with Aubameyang on the bench and vice versa. If they are played together then a 2-striker formation of sorts should be employed. If Iwobi plays it should be in the wide left position and Ozil or Mkhitaryan at #10. Ramsey’s case is slightly different. He is less of a creator and more of a deeper lying finisher. A role as the most attacking member of a 3-man midfield, in a formation with one striker, is tailor made for him: a deep lying 2nd striker kind of.

There is a vacancy in the wide right forward position. That place cries out for reinforcement. Are we going to see one in the winter transfer window? Meanwhile Emery seems to be working on Maitland-Niles for that role. I believe he’d prove a big success there with his pace and ball playing ability but if the need persists, Mkhitaryan becomes the only one playing not in his best position. That alone wont be much of an issue.

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As the season enters its 2nd trimester, Emery’s game plan should be to maximize the yield from the platform he has created by getting the best from the players available. It should be all about the top-4 dash. Any 3-year plan belongs to the cabinet, at the moment. OGAAT in its numerous forms rules the waves.

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Torreira’s Obsession with Balance Liberates Xhaka to Dictate the Game: Line-Up /Preview v Wolves

TOR’S OBSESSION WITH BALANCE LIBERATES XHAKA AS AUBA IS UNLEASHED FROM THE RIGHT.

BK wishes Danny a speedy recovery.

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Unai has a passion for psychology, ask Romain Molina the author of the new book “Unai Emery – El Maestro”. To Emery, football is all about emotions and structure, about the heart and the head, the expression and the discipline. That is what he loves to see from his team on the field and from the fans in the stands.

We have gone 15 games without a loss. The confidence of the team must be bubbling over. We, the fans, can guess as much. We’ve heard Xhaka say they are in the mix, Holding say they fear no one, Leno that they can match the best and Ozil that the team can only get better. We see it in the spring in Laca’s gait and in that audacious Iwobinho’s nutmeg of Milner. Confidence is good but Emery also knows that confidence is only as good as it is well grounded on, first of all, respect for the opposition amongst other things.

I have a lot of respect for Wolves. Make no mistake it’s not going to be an easy contest when we face up to them at the Emirate. This is the team that took 2 pts off a City team that was on full throttle on the day. The only other team that has been able to do that to City is Liverpool but it could be argued that Pep planned for a goalless draw that day and so had his normally marauding fullbacks sitting back the length of the game. Wolves also took 2 pts on the road off Manchester United. Last weekend all the experts agreed that the Spuds were very lucky to have gone home with the 3 pts against the Wanderers. Wolves xG was 2.41 goals with the Spuds’ at 1.63.

Wolves are gritty. They don’t park the bus. They don’t play with any complex. They contest for the ball everywhere on the pitch. Luckily for us they don’t have any Auba or Laca in their attacking ranks but we should know better than take our eyes off Raul Jimenez their striker who’s had a hand in 56% of their goals. Luckily also Emery’s very competitive nature has rubbed off sizably on our team. So far we are the hardest working in the PL this season. We’ve won more points than any other team from a losing position, not ideal but it tells a big story. The fans love the fact of our new found combativeness. When Liverpool went 1 goal up last weekend the fans upped the decibel level in support of our team propelling them into overdrive. The Emirate looks it would be a fortress, a part and parcel of the Emery revolution.

Emery’s 1st eleven has almost fully emerged. He has tested out so many things including Xhaka at left back, Ramsey at #10, Ozil wide right, Auba leading the line, Maitland-Niles right winger, Iwobi left back and so on. Against Liverpool he started the Fab 4 together for the first time. Are there any more feasible combos that he might still want to check out?  I think so and again why not. El maestro has been learning and winning.

Only Holding, Iwobi and Sokratis from amongst those who started on Thursday do I expect to be in contention for a starting berth against Wolves. This fixture looks like it’s come a tad too soon for back-to-training Monreal and Lichsteiner is doubtful with a muscular problem.

Against Wolverhampton Wanderers we may see this line up:-

——————Leno—————–

Bellerin—Mustafi—Holding—-Kolasinac

———-Torreira——Xhaka———–

—Aubamayang—Ozil—–Iwobi——–

—————-Lacazette—————

Bench:- Cech, Mailand-Niles, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Nketiah.

Hop in Gooners, it’s Emery on the wheels!!!

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Arsenal v Sporting CP Line-up and Preview: Rambo and Mkhi to Lead the Team to Victory

After last weekend’s spectacle, it will be a bit harder to get excited about this one v Sporting CP. Arsenal.com have done a good job in previewing the match, so if you haven’t as yet had a chance as yet, here is the link:

https://www.arsenal.com/news/arsenal-v-sporting-cp-brief

It is just a great opportunity for Unai to give his ‘fringers’ another chance to get football match fitness and to try things out in terms of formation and tactics. On the other hand, Emery wants to win the group and show UEFA and the sponsors that he takes this competition very seriously, so expect him to play a few first teamers as well.

This is my predicted line-up:

submit football lineup

Kola, Licht and Super Sok (if fully fit) could do with another game and are relatively safe pairs of hands. Guendouzi is a nailed on starter, but we need some experience in midfield so I expect the Swiss clockwork to start next to him. Rambo and Mkhi are likely starters and Auba up-front with Welbz as his shadow are also quite likely to start imo.

A start for Iwobi or Mesut is definitely also on the cards and I hope we will see AMN and Smith-Rowe getting some time on the pitch again. After a couple of hard fought draws it would be good to win again, especially with a difficult PL game v Wolves ahead of us.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments

Arsenal v Liverpool from a Pool Supporter’s Point of View

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So wasn’t it interesting and thoroughly entertaining to see two teams slogging it out to win!? Both teams setup to attack and left nothing out there. What I thought was very apparent was the need to win the ball back promptly (the Guardiola way) so the attacking players could do their do! Great to see Milner, Torriera, Wynaldum and Xhaka sticking their foot in and getting around the pitch. Milner is like a man possessed, one minute scoring next minute cleaned out on the floor! To be fair not sure what team won the midfield battle.
Liverpool settled well although Klopp still says that we didn’t press well enough! Liverpool kept the ball and seemed determined to break at pace. The Arsenal defence held their own but always looked susceptible to the quick movement of the front 3. Many a time the Arsenal team were retreating but seemed to soak up the pressure pretty well.
The mane goal should have stood admittedly but that was a tough call for any ref as initially he was offside. That said, Mika should have scored that header as he got above the keeper. So two big chances gone a miss.
The game wasn’t littered with chances and half time came at an ok team for both teams although as a Liverpool fan I always felt VVD and Gomez had the spades covered.
Talking of Van Dijk, Klopp obviously saw a weakness in the Arsenal back line that being height. VVD won most Ariel battles and too should scored a number of times. Arsenal centre backs played ok on the whole but they always looked weak in the air.
Laca as you guys call him was a constant threat all game, sharp movement, great first touch and a real eye for goal. The threat was increasing and whilst I never really saw Arsenal scoring Laca took that goal magnificently. Sharp movement, no back lift and a perfect shot in an acute angle.
For the last 20 minutes I still felt either team could score but felt confident Liverpool would get chances. No real clear cut guilt edge chances for the remaining of the game and to be fair draw was a fair result.
Arsenal are clearly improving, the style has changed and Emery has them playing without fear. He asks his big players to stand up and over the last 10 games they are obliging. For me, I don’t buy into the Xhaka hype, great left foot but doesn’t do enough and hasn’t justified his high promise before Arsenal bought him. The striking options will frighten most defences and Arsenal will now always create chances. Supported by fast wing backs and a magician in the middle the AubaCazette partnership will guarantee 30 goals a season. Encouraging. However Arsenal are fast approaching the same situation Liverpool faced 3 years ago – great going forward but very vulnerable at the back. Emery will need time but I would address the centre backs as both aren’t good enough for me and will ALWAYS give away chances especially against the top 6. Sort that out and add depth we’ll be looking at a top 4 challenger- hopefully toppling United along the way. Liverpool and Klopp on the other hand have adapted to the EPL and now can boast one of the strongest defences in the league with great balance. Both teams are similar, great attacking threats, promising managers but Liverpool’s edge is in the fact they have played together, their understand the managers demands and now have a solid defence. Arsenal don’t have this and this will take time. Good luck to Emery, he had shown promise now it’s all about building his own team and adapting to the different challenges each team faces. Good game, good teams- fair result.

By Dave – a visiting Liverpool supporter.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

MOTM is XhakaReira, Arsenal Have Their Supporters Back, Laca’s Bergkamp Moment of Stillness: 8 Observations

In anticipation of a match report by David the Pool supporter, here are my quick observations of a pulsating full-of-life game that will be remembered for a long time:

Virgil van Dijk stuit van dichtbij op Bernd Leno.

  1. Tactically, technically and in terms of fitness, we matched the Pool team yesterday. After losing out against Citeh and the Chavs at the start of the season – not deservedly so against the latter – Unai has made progress with Arsenal in all the above mentioned aspects. We did not sit back and absorb pressure, but we also did not commit too many players forward; there was a good balance and it was telling to see that Van Dijk was Pool’s best attacker..
  2. Key to all this was the DM-pivot formed by a match made in heaven, Xhaka-Torreira. They bossed the midfield for large parts of the game and found that perfect balance between protecting the defence and supporting the attack. Torreira was MOTM but it could also have been given to Xhaka. In fact, I would give it both of them as they get the best out of each other and together they are three men on the pitch..
  3. Holding and Mustafi had a good to very good game. They clearly struggled with containing the aerial threat of Van Dijk and we got away with things a few times, but other than that they combined high energy performances with relatively cool heads. The same cannot be said about the goalkeeper who clearly is all about energy and presence but does not always make the best decisions in the heat of the fight. I don’t blame him for the goal as it looked he would have pushed the ball out into safety had it not been for Holding’s heel being in the way, but some of his decisions to come out and leave his goal empty behind him were not too clever. Still, Leno had more than a decent game given that he is new to these sort of PL encounters..
  4. Emery’s subs were very good again yesterday. Welbz, Rambo and Iwobi brought renewed energy and penetration to our attack and that proved vital to claim a point and we could have had all three of them with a bit more quality in our finishing (shame the last chance fell to Bells’ poor left foot). I would have liked Unai to have started with Welbz or Iwobi and bring on Auba for the last thirty minutes, but, in hindsight, his strategy worked very well and we finished the game as strong as we started it..
  5. We got lucky with the Pool ‘offsite goal’ but we were also unlucky that Mkhi, who is lacking a bit in sharpness in front of goal at the moment, did not score from his free header early on. The home of football’s woodwork was also kind to us and it just shows you that however good tactics, the players etc are, luck always plays a role in football (and in life); that’s why for example the Chinese cherish it so much! I think it would be hard to argue for anyone that a draw was not a fair result on the night..
  6. Mkhi, Ozil, Laca and Auba all gave their all to keep the Pool defenders busy and never let them settle down and this was vital for the outcome of the game. Unai really has got this team working hard and for each other and that is great to see..
  7. The home fans were terrific and really, really stood behind the team, and this was also vital for the outcome of the game: Arsenal Have their Supporters Back!..
  8. The last observation goes to the fabulous Iwobi and Laca. The Nigerian produced two moments of attacking genius that led to the goal and could have led to us winning the match at the end. He found Laca in space and he found Mesut in space when there was very little of it available. For this you need a cool head and good overview and lots of feeling in your head, and this is so much harder to have in a top game when the pressure is on late on. Alex Iwobi – you rock! And then there is the hard working Laca who could still find a Bergkampesque moment of stillness to produce that goal! Love that man.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Arsenal-Liverpool Live-blog: All Guns Blazing: Lacazette, Aubameyang, Ozil & Mkhitaryan All Start. Emery Goes With Experience in Attack.

Line-ups are out and we’re ready to host some real competition at Ashburton Grove.  Whaddayathink?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 109 Comments

Laca Plays But Auba Leads the Line: Arsenal v Liverpool Preview

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Klopp’s Liverpool come knocking. They are a relentless, dangerous side. They have a £66.9m Brazllian between the sticks. A £75m Dutchman marshaling a back line of stalwarts. They have conceded only 4 goals this season. Milner, Wijnaldum and whoever else from their rich collection of midfielders, form the hardest working midfield in the premier league. Up front they have Salah, Firmino and Mane who last season were the most devastating trio on the break. But don’t be fooled, Klopp has been at it all week wondering how on earth he is going to contain the Arsenal offensive fire power on a record setting 19.5% goal conversion rate. He knows he has 11 men in his team against our 12. Our voices would be unrelenting in our support of the Emery revolution. But the boys must fly off the blocks.

That must be Emery’s opening move: to get the 12th man on board.

What else? First we take stock. Who are available and who are not. Guendouzi is out. By the new FA rules yellow cards are not carried over to a different FA competition but red cards are. We should expect that those who started against Blackpool would not start against Liverpool. So players like Mustafi, Ramsey and Mkhitaryan would have been pencilled not to start, but Guendouzi’s unavailability might bring a slight rethink. Lichsteiner starting and playing the whole 90 minutes gives hope that our crew know Bellerin would be fit for Saturday.

In terms of strategy, do we need to go toe to toe with Liverpool?  They are far ahead of us in the energy game which is not purely a question of stamina (so far this season we are leading the PL in grounds covered).  Therefore Emery’s response might be us inviting their press and frustrating it. That is the reason why Leno should be a must starter, and our better ball players Holding and Torreira as well (unfortunately our master ball circulator, Elneny, misses out on injury). As the tempo of pressing teams invariably drop after the interval, Emery’s 2nd half calls would have that in mind.

Up front Emery might go for Aubameyang leading the line, playing off the shoulders of Liverpool’s inevitable high defensive line. That by itself is already a huge contribution to our play. Bet on Van Dijk and Gomez to be troubled in mind by the presence of our elusive gazelle with acres to run into. Iwobi starts wide left in the position that allows him full expression. Similar to what City did when they tackled Liverpool in a goalless draw, our full backs should be conservative with their forays upfield. Faint signals coming out suggest that both Monreal and Bellerin might be fit to start. We pray so.

Liverpool have a very industrious midfield. Emery is likely to respond to that by instructing #10 Ozil to play deeper, more as our most advanced central midfielder to give a formation hybrid of 4:2:3:1 and 4:3:3.

Would Emery think along these lines? If he does, watch out for a line up such as this:-

submit football lineup

Bench:- Cech, Lichsteiner, Mustafi, AMN, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck.

Body punches 1st half. Sucker punch 2nd half. Arsenal to win 2-1.

COYRRG!!!

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments