Arsene Wenger for Christmas: Five Things He Would Change

We are in a cul-de-sac with Emery’s sit-back-and-be-vulnerable-in-defence-play-on-break-and-hope-for-our-exquisite-strike force-to-score-one-more-than-we-concede tactics. The football stinks of left-out-of-the-fridge Emerytaler cheese: neither sweet nor salty and full of  tactical holes.

See the source image

His last hope is that the full backs Tierney and Bellerin will give his team wings and that Guendouzi and Ceballos will make us forget Ozil and Ramsey. I appreciate and respect the fans who want to give Emery more time, but surely by Christmas things will have to be changed significantly to keep him in position? They won’t though, but at least we can tick the box of ‘was given proper time’?

mesut-ozil-unai-emery-aaron-ramsey-arsenal-gfx_1fe7nqjsqqaay1087jnx10o5im (1)

We need to get out of this cul-de-sac and get a long-term manager who can build on Arsene’s vision and style of football, but then fit for the twenties! This legacy is in danger of being lost and the club owes him to turn it round again. We need to pick Arsene’s real successor carefully, and in the meantime we need a quality interim manager… 

In my opinion, that should be Arsene. I would approach Arsene and ask him very kindly – begging with both knees down on earth – whether he would come back on an interim basis to get us our Arsenal back (on track). To me it looks like Wenger is waiting in the wings to do just that anyway, such is his love for the club.

arsene-wenger-2

And I reckon he would immediately make five changes:

1) Sort the Midfield by combining Xhaka and Torreira (similar to a Fabregas/Flamini partnership).

The biggest issue I have with Emery, which will come as no surprise to BKers, is our awful midfield football. We have Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Willock, AMN, Chambers, ESR (and Mkhi out on loan) to play with; don’t tell me a decent manager cannot put up a more than decent midfield with these fine, (mostly) young talents!! To be able to dance you need lose and moveable hips, and to play proper footie you need a well-oiled and -drilled midfield. I have never seen Arsenal play worse midfield football than under Emery; he never got the balance right.

The essence of getting the midfield right is combining the right skills in the three to four positions and opt for tactics that suit these players. Xhaka is our conductor and absolutely pivotal in our team, that is why he averages more games than any other Arsenal player since his arrival. He is not perfect but he offers something nobody else in the team does.

The big Swiss cheese needs a ‘hoover’ midfielder next to him and we as a club HAVE to choose to play with two naturally deeper-laying midfielders to really get the best out of Xhaka and Torreira. Emery is forcing Xhak/Tor to do more b2b stuff – even nr10 stuff – but that does not really suit either of them – and so he forces Guendouzi on to Xhaka instead of Torreira, who offers him nothing of what he needs. As a result the balance is gone and our football is sooo poor.

2) Reinstall Ozil as our creative midfielder, either in the hole or on the wings  (in a free role).

We need a connecting midfielder as the third one in front of the two deeper-laying ones… This has to be MO10, but Guendouzi and Ceballos can be tried there as well over time. They appear to work harder than Mesut but they lack an entire dimension of vision and invention compared to the German maestro. They also need many touches of the ball and slow the game down. Yes they both can dribble which is nice to see (and what most fans remember of them after the game), but the modern top game needs fast and accurate passers more than anything else. The man with by far the most key passes at Arsenal since his arrival at the club needs to come back, get an arm around him and will be told to go and express himself again on the pitch. Arsene knows how to do that.

3) Hard work and lots of running to be combined with (the valuing of) craftmanship.

Emery is a stubborn mule who prefers the ‘harder workers’ over Mesut. I never believed Mesut is not a hard worker (just very efficient as in constantly looking to add attacking value to our team), but that is a perception that Emery appears to have. He just doesn’t get Ozil and never will.

Key is that the one in the hole has the quality to find space with and without the ball; the latter only very few players have (Xhaka and Ozil do and that is why I would always play them when fit). With Laca in the middle and two on the wings of Pepe, Auba, Saka, Martinelli, Nelson – and good wing-backs too – we should be playing champagne football. But instead we are tasting flat lemonade… Arsene would give the players space again to express themselves and reintroduce the passing game as our main way of operating. It may not improve results straightaway but the eye would no longer be insulted by Emerytaler football.

4) Arsene would be best placed to help us find his real successor

Gazidis did not find a manager who would build further on what Arsene had established. We can only guess why that was the case (and then left the club six months later).

Wenger dedicated the very best part of his managerial years to the club so he could leave a legacy behind. At the end he was knackered after working tirelessly for 21 years at top level, whilst managing the stadium change and the arrival of very strong, oil-fueled competition. He and Arsenal needed that break. The American, assisted by what appeared to be a very thorough recruitment process, managed to select a coach who is in almost every sense the opposite of Wenger: a people management style akin to Mourinho’s, very limited communication and language skills, old ‘Manu style’ football of focusing on turnovers and counter attacks and, in the process, making us very leaky at the back and pretty ineffective in attack, in spite of having a £175m strike force. Could he have picked a more un-Arsene-esque manager?

Arsene should be included in the panel that finds his real successor, as to safeguard his legacy (values, love of beautiful and winning football, etc) and find the right person. That would be both the decent and right thing to do.

5) Arsene would have one to ones with all the players and make them believe in the future again

This is super important of course. Arsenal can be a British AND European top club, everything is in place for it. But we need to keep hold of our talents, young and established, as football careers are short and there are currently teams were it is a lot nicer to play football. We desperately need Arsene as our interim manager till mid  2020 or even end of 2021 before it is too late.

By TotalArsenal.

 

 

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Arsenal v Palace Preview and Line-Up

Arsenal v Crystal Palace – October 27th, 2019

In 1854, the famous Crystal Palace Exhibition building had been relocated from Hyde Park, London and rebuilt in an area of South London next to Sydenham Hill. This area was renamed Crystal Palace which included the Crystal Palace park that surrounded the site where various sports facilities were built.

Original Crystal Palace (1)

The original Crystal Palace team were an amateur outfit who first played here as early as 1861. They competed in the very first FA Cup competition in 1871–72, losing in the semi finals to the Royal Engineers before disappearing from historical records after a 3-0 defeat to Wanderers in the second round of the FA Cup in 1875–76. It was in 1895 that the Football Association found a new permanent venue for the FA Cup Final at the sports stadium situated inside the historic Palace grounds. Some years later the owners, who were reliant on tourist activity for their income, sought fresh attractions for the venue, and decided to form their own professional football team to play at the stadium. The owners wanted a club to play there and tap into the vast crowd potential of the area. Although the Football Association disliked the idea of the owners of the Cup Final venue also possessing their own football team and initially rejected their proposal, a separate company was established to form and own the club.

Crystal Palace Football Club, originally nicknamed “The Glaziers”, was founded on September 10th, 1905 under the guidance of Aston Villa assistant secretary Edmund Goodman. The club applied to enter the Football League alongside another newly formed London club Chelsea. Unfortunately for Palace, it was Chelsea that was accepted and the club found itself in the Southern League Second Division for the 1905–06 season. The club was successful in its inaugural season and were promoted to the First Division, crowned as champions. Palace also played in the mid-week United Counties League, finishing runners-up to Watford, and it was in this competition that the club played their first match, winning 3–0 away to New Brompton.

In 1905, the Crystal Palace Company who owned the FA Cup Final venue situated inside the grounds of The Crystal Palace, wanted a professional club to play there and tap into the crowd potential of the area. They formed a new club called Crystal Palace F.C., to play at the stadium. When the First World War broke out the Palace and grounds were seized by the armed forces, and in 1915 the club were forced to move by the Admiralty. They found a temporary base at the Herne Hill Velodrome. Although other clubs had offered the use of their ground to Palace, the club felt it best to remain as close to their natural catchment area as possible. When Croydon Common F.C. were wound up in 1917, the club took over their old stadium located at the Nest, but in 1919 they began the purchase of the land on which they would eventually build Selhurst Park, their current home.

Selhurst_Park_Stadium

Here is a look at our complete home league record against Crystal Palace.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace – Div 1 Home Games
  W D L GF GA GD
1 30-Mar-70 1     2 0 2
2 14-Nov-70   1   1 1 0
3 27-Nov-71 1     2 1 1
4 26-Mar-73 1     1 0 1
5 22-Mar-80   1   1 1 0
6 20-Apr-81 1     3 2 1
7 01-Jan-90 1     4 1 3
8 23-Feb-91 1     4 0 4
9 11-Apr-92 1     4 1 3
Total : 7 2 0 22 7 15

 

Arsenal v Crystal Palace – EPL Home Games
  W D L GF GA GD
1 08-May-93 1     3 0 3
2 01-Oct-94     1 1 2 -1
3 21-Feb-98 1     1 0 1
4 14-Feb-05 1     5 1 4
5 02-Feb-14 1     2 0 2
6 16-Aug-14 1     2 1 1
7 17-Apr-16   1   1 1 0
8 01-Jan-17 1     2 0 2
9 20-Jan-18 1     4 1 3
10 21-Apr-19     1 2 3 -1
11 27-Oct-19            
Total : 7 1 2 23 9 14

Palace has only beaten us twice in league home games, the second being a 2-3 defeat in the very last game we played against them on April 21, 2019.

Arsenal v Crystal Palace – ALL Home Games
  W D L GF GA GD
Division 1 7 2 0 22 7 15
Premier 7 1 2 23 9 14
Total : 14 3 2 45 16 29

Will we get revenge? Your guess is as good as mine.

 GunnerN5

TotalArsenal’s Preferred Line-Up:

If recovered enough, I like Tierney to start and play 60 minutes. I would also like to start with Saka and give Laca the final thirty minutes. Xhaka-Tor-Ozil is by far our strongest midfield combo and to not use it is criminal. It looked to me that Holding and Bels were quite knackered at the end of the game so I would start with Big Sok and Chambers instead.

COYGs!

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Pepe Finally On Fire, Two MOTM, ESR Almost There: 8 Observations Arsenal v Guimaraes

Specialist staat op: peperdure Pépé toont eindelijk zijn klasse bij Arsenal

Arsenal 3-2 Guimaraes. We are saved once again by our superior strike force after 80 minutes of a very strong Guimaraes performance.

Eight Observations:

  1. This was a good lesson for our youngsters and more experienced players. Portuguese teams like to sit back and play on the counter, and they know how to defend. To effectively deal with such teams, we need to play a high tempo and pass well. We also need to be able to win the ball back quickly if and when we lose it, as that is exactly what they will be looking for. We struggled almost all game long in these areas and did not deserve to win, but as so often, our world-class attackers saved us.
  2. This time it was Pepe’s turn to do ‘an Auba’. Two superb free-kicks got us all three points and well done that man. As others (Erik, etc) have pointed out, Pepe had an improved performance against the Blades but was unlucky with his finishing. This time his shooting boots were on fire and boy did he and we need that! He is one of my MOTM.
  3. The other MOTM is Martinelli who was fabulous throughout this game. Such great movement and positioning and what an engine! Only 18 years old but he was one of the few who could deal with Guimaraes’ physicality, and how cool did he take his goal once more. Top class and a joy to watch.
  4. I thought it was wrong to take off both AMN and Willock at half time. Yes they were not in the game but surely this can happen and it is the manager’s responsibility to talk to the players and give new instructions at the break. This is one thing Wenger always excelled in and it avoids leaving two players in the dressing room with big dents to their confidence. Emery brought on Ceballos and Guendouzi and for the first half hour it made very little difference tactically. In the end, the opponents’ valiant defenders and midfielders tired a little bit and started to leave holes and make unnecessary fouls, and that cost them in the end (something similar happened yesterday in the Ajax- Spuds game, such is the intensity of the PL).
  5. Guendouzi’s spirit and fight was important and he made a difference in the last fifteen minutes with his determined runs and attempts at through balls. Ceballos’ performance was once again a bit hit and miss. He has drive but needs to be kept out of our own half as much as possible. Drive is good but good football also needs calm and composure, and this is still missing with Ceballos.
  6. Laca, Tierney, Bellerin and Holding were struggling with the intensity of this game but at the end they will feel good to have played in such a strong contest. It was the sort of test they needed and I can only congratulate Guimaraes for giving them such a great game. Holding looks uncomfortable on the LCB position, but with Mustafi also at CB it made sense to play him there. Laca really wanted to play better but it just did not come off:  too many off-sites and he lacked composure. Bells and Tierney got better towards the end, and both look pretty close to starting a PL game soon. Especially the Scotsman is a real force already and what a player we have signed from Celtic!
  7. I have often said that Xhaka needs Torreira in order to shine but tonight also made it clear once again how much the reverse is the case. He struggled in the deeper role and both AMN and Willock did not support him enough to feed the attack with good passes, crosses and through-balls. But his second half performance was better as he was pushed higher up the pitch, where he seemed more comfortable than deep in midfield (without his buddy Xhaka).
  8. Finally, a word on ESR. He worked hard and you we could see once again what a great footballer there is in him. But we need him to push through a bit now and he should have been on the scoresheet tonight. Still plenty of games left to do this and today’s improved performance should give him the confidence to get there. I loved his drive and fearless attacking a lot.

By TotalArsenal.

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Arsenal v Vitoria SC History and Line-Up: Willock/AMN to Feed Saka, Marti and Laca up-front?

Arsenal v Vitoria SC – October 24th, 2019

castelo guimaraes (1)

Vitoria Sport Clube also know as Vitória de Guimarães, is based in Guimarães and play in the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques. The town of Guimaraes is celebrated as the birthplace of the Portuguese nation. When Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself King in 1130 he chose Guimaraes as his capital and the distinctive outline of his castle appears on the Portuguese coat of arms.

Guimares

Vitoria SC was formed in 1922; its name seems to be a tribute to Vitória de Setúbal which at the time was a top contender for the Campeonato de Portugal, though these days Guimarães supporters downplay the connection. After seasons of toiling in the Braga FA leagues, the Vimaranenses were first promoted to the Primeira Liga in 1941, and two seasons later battled the Sadinos from Setúbal for the first time in the League. Surprise package Guimarães, against all odds, reached their first Taça de Portugal final in their debut season, but lost to Belenenses 2–0. Vitória’s furthest progress in a European tournament was in the1986–87 UEFA Cup, they were defeated 5–2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals by West German club Borussia Mönchengladbach.

In the early 2000s, Vitória struggled in some years to retain its status in the top Portuguese division, then named the Superliga. Those years were marked by the decline of the leadership of Pimenta Machado, former club president. Machado was accused on charges of embezzlement and found not guilty of such charges. Despite this, in 2004–05, the club secured an impressive fifth-place finish in the league and qualified for European competition via the UEFA Cup. The next season (2005–06), however, they were relegated to the Segunda Liga (where they last played in 1958) after finishing 17th in the Superliga, despite reaching the Taça de Portugal semi-final, having beaten Benfica in the quarter-finals. The club also failed to progress from their UEFA Cup group, as eventual winners Sevilla, Premier League outfit Bolton Wanderers and Russian team Zenit Saint Petersburg progressed.

In their first season back in the top-flight, they continued their winning form, achieving an impressive third-place finish in 2007–08, guaranteeing them a place in the third qualifying round of the 2008–09 UEFA Champions League. There they fell to Swiss side Basel due to a controversial goal being disallowed by the referee in the last minutes of the second leg match; Vitória dropped into the 2008–09 UEFA Cup first round as a result of their elimination. There they played Portsmouth of the Premier League over two legs, though Portsmouth progressed after winning 4–2 on aggregate.

In 2012–13, Vitória found themselves in financial problems, which caused them to lose many experienced players and bet on young players. However, they would go on to win their first Taça de Portugal title after previously losing five finals. Vitória beat rivals Braga en route to the final, where they recovered from 1–0 down against Benfica to win 2–1.

In September 2017 Vitória left their mark in UEFA Competitions, being the first team starting a game without a European player in the field.

This will be our first game against Vitoria SC so we have no previous history. Regardless of our woes in the Premier League there is no reason to believe that this will be nothing less than a resounding victory for Arsenal.

In Group F Arsenal has won both games played while Vitoria SC are pointless.

 

Europa League Group F
Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Arsenal 2 2 0 0 7 0 7 6
Eintracht Frankfurt 2 1 0 1 1 3 -2 3
Standard Leige 2 1 0 1 2 4 -2 3
Vitoria Guimaraes 2 0 0 2 0 3 -3 0
Total : 8 4 0 4 10 10 0 12

GunnerN5

TotalArsenal’s preferred line-up (would like to see Ozil too…but we all know the situation):

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Emery Tactically Clueless, We got Pepe’s Twin Brother, MO10/LT11 Need to Start: 8 Observations

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

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3.  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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

By TotalArsenal.

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Arsenal v Sheffield United: History Shows Bramall Lane is Not a Good Hunting Ground for The Gunners

Arsenal v Sheffield United – October 21st, 2019

See the source image

The club was formed by members of the Sheffield United Cricket Club, formed in 1854 and the first English sports club to use ‘United’ in its name. Sheffield United’s predominant nickname is “The Blades”, a reference to Sheffield’s status as the major producer of cutlery in the United Kingdom. United’s original nickname was in fact “The Cutlers” from 1889–1912. City rivals Wednesday held the nickname “The Blades” in their early years, however in 1907 Wednesday officially became “The Owls”, in reference to their new ground in Owlerton, and United would later claim “The Blades” nickname for themselves.

Sheffield United officially formed on 22 March 1889 at the Adelphi Hotel, Sheffield (now the site of the Crucible Theatre) by the President of the Cricket Club Sir Charles Clegg. The Wednesday had moved from Bramall Lane to their own ground at Olive Grove after a dispute over gate receipts and the tenants of Bramall Lane needed to create a new team to generate income. Sir Charles Clegg was incidentally also the president of The Wednesday.

Undoubtedly United’s heyday was the 30-year period from 1895–1925, when they were champions of England in 1897–98 and runners-up in 1896–97 and 1899–1900, and FA Cup winners in 1899, 1902, 1915 and 1925. United have not won a trophy since 1925, bar those associated with promotion from lower leagues, their best performances in the cup competitions being several semi-final appearances in the FA Cup and League Cup.

Their darkest days came between 1975 and 1981. After finishing sixth in the First Division at the end of the 1974–75 season, they were relegated to the Second Division the following season, and three years after that setback they fell into the Third Division. They reached an absolute low in 1981 when they were relegated to the Fourth Division, but were champions in their first season in the league’s basement division and two years afterwards they won promotion to the Second Division.

On 3 September 2013 it was confirmed that Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the royal House of Saud had bought a 50% stake in United’s parent company ‘Blades Leisure Ltd’ for the fee of £1 with the promise of providing “substantial new capital” with the aim of returning the Blades to the Premier League as “quickly as possible”.

Since their formation in 1889 United has bounced about the leagues – here is a look at their league history:-

1892–1893 Division 2
1893–1934 Division 1
1934–1939 Division 2
1946–1949 Division 1
1949–1953 Division 2
1953–1956 Division 1
1956–1961 Division 2
1961–1968 Division 1
1968–1971 Division 2
1971–1976 Division 1
1976–1979 Division 2
1979–1981 Division 3
1981–1982 Division 4
1982–1984 Division 3
1984–1988 Division 2
1988–1989 Division 3
1989–1990 Division 2
1990–1992 Division 1
1992–1994 Premier
1994–2004 Division 1
2004–2006 Championship
2006–2007 Premier
2007–2011 Championship
2011–2017 League One
2017–2019 Championship
2019– Premier

Over the years we have taken a beating at Bramall Lane and as yet we have not beaten them away in the Premier League.

Arsenal v Sheffield United – All EPL Away Games
  W D L GF GA
Division I 8 12 24 60 97
Premier 0 2 1 2 3
Total: 8 14 25 62 100

A win will keep us in 3rd place – will it happen – what do you think?

GunnerN5

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OZIL, CEBALLOS, WILLOCK, TORREIRA, WHO STARTS? … LACA IS BACK!

See the source image

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.

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