Chelsea’s run came crashing to an end at Wembley as a rampant Spurs picked them apart and showed that if you stop Jorginho, you stop all the good things Sarri has to offer.
That puts today’s game in an exciting light. Win, and we’ll close the gap on 4th to one point. Lose, and we’ll bring Bournemouth to within a point of our Europa League 5th place. A lot rides on this result, the most important item being confidence heading into a really tough period.
We’ve had one win in five, which isn’t ideal. Our last league win was October 22nd. This becomes a minor blip in the season, or it becomes a very big problem if the game goes badly today.
I’ll be looking for a few things today, knowing Emery has likely been holed up in a video room for 2 weeks working out a plan of action for phase four of the season.
He’s going to have to work out how he can find more balance in the team. Our midfield base of Xhaka and Torriera isn’t offering enough protection for the back 4 and going forward, our Ozil experiment isn’t returning a bundle of assists. The coach is going to have to make a decision. He doesn’t get enough from Ozil defensively to keep rolling with what he’s doing.
Does he switch things up and try Mikhi in a more modern #10 role? Arguably his best season in a Dortmund shirt came under Thomas Tuchel who played him centrally or on the left. He’s naturally a #10 by trade. I remember being told years ago that the thing Arsenal like most about his game was how industrious he was. A relentless attacking talent that could open up matches like a chess player. Is he as good as Mesut Ozil at threading passes? No. But could he give us more balance in midfield if he could do 100% more than Mesut defending, and 70% of what he can moving forward? Is that a sacrifice that could help us find more rhythm moving forward?
We’re running extremely low on options…
We’ve been appalling in nearly every opening 45 this season. That has to stop. We aren’t going to be able to chase game forever. We need to play more cautiously in the opening 20 minutes, or we need to find our game quicker. Bournemouth are likely going to explode at us this morning, if we haven’t picked the right starting 11, we’re going to pay a painful price. I don’t know the answer to finding focus early on, but we all know it’s an issue, hopefully, the coach has a plan.
Auba and Lacazette both have exceptional individual talents, but playing one of them out of position isn’t really working. Do we lean in hard at working out a two-striker system? Or do we search for a better way to achieve width? We have a bit of a nightmare with the two of them. One can’t hold up the play and is best as a fox in box or over the top. The other is great at holding up the ball and bringing people into the game, he’s just a bit lightweight and easily anonymised against big teams. If the club is going to be ruthless this summer, you’d imagine one of the two will be on their way. We need to find a balance of skill sets, and unfortunately, we need to lean into someone who is a Giroud+++.
Plenty of excitement to look forward to this morning, let’s hope this is the start of a beautiful run that sees us take phase 4 by storm!