Quick post from me, namely because I feel like Arsenal needed to get through the first two games pointless so the real season can kick off. Remember, Chelsea > Champions of 2 seasons ago, City > Champions of last season. Those were the two toughest games of the season (first half), now they’re done and we’ve learned a bit.
Nothing triggers wounded AKBs quite like me reminding them that the reason the job of Emery is so tough this season is because Wenger neglected the squad and its education so badly over the last ten years. Our boys are like 13-year-olds who’ve been homeschooled in the woods. There’s a lot of talent in our squad, but they’re not educated tactically and they’re a long way off mentally. You do not shake the Wenger out of that squad in two games. Those opening 20 minutes are a byproduct of yesteryear.
Chelsea, on the other hand, has far fewer challenges. I know Sarri inherited a club in chaos, but at the same time, he picked up players who’d been managed by Mourinho, then fine-tuned by Conte. They are winners who lost their way last season. The whole squad is slammed full of exceptional players. The whole club is built around success. It’s going to be far easier for Sarri to make things happen.
Now, that’s not to say Emery is going to get away with this for long. The defence is a mess, his starting 11 was a mistake, and the team looked like they were caught between systems. Nothing looked particularly cohesive. Bielsa at Leeds has been at the club the same amount of time as Emery and he has them playing an exceptional style of football already. You don’t need 3 months to make progress. Remember, Leeds finished 13th last season.
So how about some postive talk?
We failed hard conceding two goals in the opening 20 minutes. That would normally be the start of a humiliation, but to Emery’s credit the team found the spirit to fight back. By the end of the first half, we’d not only pulled two goals back courtesy of Iwobi and Mikhi, we’d also managed to spurn three open goals (and an easy chance). Ozil missed early on, Iwobi fired over and Auba had an uncharacteristic disaster in front of the target. We should have been 5-3 up.
Arsenal fans are crowing over the glorious failure of losing on the technicality of conceding more goals than the opposition, but having the better chances… but the reality is, Chelsea’s keeper wasn’t anywhere near the MoM (he was shite), but Cech was. The Czech had and OUTSTANDING game. Incredible what a bit of competition can do for the spirits. Time and time again, when he was called upon, he made the right decision.
Again, you have to temper your praise for the new manager sometimes because Wenger was just that bad, but fuck it, Emery made BOLD subs.
He took Xhaka off at halftime again for Torreira, my question was: Why did he make the same mistake twice? He also yanked Ozil off on 70minutes after his typical top 6 #DisasterClass. I know making logical changes shouldn’t be a big deal, but at least subs are now chess moves, rather than the click of a switch in an entirely predictable process.
He had a poor game against City. You can’t paint a game positive just because a professional doesn’t hide (I know I was guilty of this). However, yesterday he really came into his own. I love his aggression and quick passing. He’s showing up Xhaka and I love it. He’s a real player in the making.
Emery has to shape up. It’s clear he’s struggling to get across his ideas and he looks like he’s making some very odd decisions that could add up to issues further down the line. He’s hitting players with double sessions, he’ll no doubt be pulling them in for a video analysis slamming tomorrow, and he’s making big moves on big players before he’s proved anything.
Benching Aaron Ramsey was a big move. Pulling Xhaka off early was embarrassing for the Swiss. Pulling Ozil off after a terrible game was brave. These things can start to add up when things go wrong. Expensive personalities have big opinions. Emery could quickly alienate himself at a club he doesn’t really understand or control at this moment.
Also, what a fucking scenario… our worst performers all have new deals.
Anyway, my point with this Emery shake up is that he doesn’t have the luxuries Wenger had.
1. Emotional Connection
He’s not the charismatic leader we’d hoped for. He struggles to communicate in press conferences and he doesn’t have the swagger of any of the managers in the top 7. That might seem like a minor observation, but remember, he’s dealing with footballers. He’s also dealing with a very aggressive press core. He was destroyed by the French, and they’re children compared to the monsters that run the rags here.
I know you think this point is weak, but look at how much Mourinho gets away because he’s a sound bite. Jurgen Klopp is a darling of the media because of his smile and charisma. Nearly all the modern managers in the game are good in front of the camera, and great for the soundbites. We don’t have that. Though Emery is more of a football student than Wenger, he’s certainly not the charmer the Frenchman was. That is costing him after one game, the press have already lined him up as the next David Moyes. Once the narrative about you is set, it’s hard to shake it.
2. Player power
This is not Sevilla. This is Arsenal. We are a major club. You have to treat the players a certain way, or you’ll have the players down tools. We’re a long way off that, but Arsenal players couldn’t get Wenger fired, they could easily get Emery moved on.
Remember, Emery tanked a one horse race in his first year at PSG because the players didn’t get him. He cannot afford the same mistakes again.
Also, remember what Ivan Gazidis passed on when making his decision.
He didn’t opt for prodigious talent
He didn’t opt for a manager who is the talk of the elite managers’ fraternity
He didn’t opt for wild charisma
He didn’t opt for ‘proven winner’
He went for safe because he’s weak.
The players know that, and if our next ten games don’t pan out well, the club is in big, big trouble… and where will Ivan be? Milan, working on a new project for a hedge fund.
There are 24 points to play for before the Liverpool game. The run is fairly easy. We need to bring home at least 21 points.
Emery needs to start making it happen, because the press, the pundits and the fans won’t tolerate Wenger 2.0 for long.
There are positives for sure, but don’t pretend glorious failure is something we haven’t seen before.