Mr Emery temporarily quietened the haters and losers yesterday with an impressive performance against the Chelsea blues of south London west.
I say Mr Emery’s performance was impressive because, in my unrefined opinion, his tactics were the key ingredient in our victory.
Sitting high up in the north bank gives you a bird’s eye view of the pitch and yesterday it provided the perfect vantage point from which to ogle our lovely 442 diamond.
The formation not only allowed us to start both Aubameyang and Lacazette to good effect, but also meant Emery could realise his fever dream of playing three defensive midfielders in a home game.
This time however, it didn’t lead to insipid sideways passing but a solid defence and effective pressing from the front which created chance after chance for Arsenal.
Admittedly Emery did have a few other things in his favour – the return of Koscielny and Bellerin meant Mustafi and Lichsteiner could be given the really important job of guarding a bee on the bench.
Not having defenders who a) brainlessly dive into tackles like they’re prospecting for gold or b) have no hip joints, meant we did a pretty good job of marshalling Chelsea’s attack.
Emery was also helped by the fact that Chelsea were utter trash. Sarri might have blamed the players’ effort but the reality is playing Hazard as a false nine was about as appetising as a kale and goat hair baguette.
It reminded me of when Wenger hilariously played Arshavin up front for a few weeks in 2009 because he couldn’t be arsed to sign a striker.
Add to that the scintillating mediocrity of Jorginho and Kovacic, and the declining pace of Willian, Chelsea didn’t prove much of a threat. Given the early promise of Sarriball I have to admit I’m surprised the manager hasn’t gotten more out of that team.
In terms of the match, it was a fairly dominant display from Arsenal. We could have been 5 up by half time if not for some good saves by Kepa. We limited most of Chelsea’s attacking play to the flanks in the knowledge that any crosses into the box that were higher than a garden chair weren’t reaching Hazard.
Lacazette’s goal was extremely well taken and showcased what is best about him; close control and lethal finishing.
Why people booed his substitution was bizarre to me – the game was won, it made sense to shore things up and rest a key player.
The reality is also that Laca’s fitness is not great, and never will be. He pressed really well for 70 minutes, but he’s never shown he can keep it up for the full 90.
Koscielny’s goal was also well taken, and showed that its not just Arsenal’s defence that can get bamboozled by a ball over the top.
Right back oh right back
The other notable moment from the game was Bellerin’s injury. It’s obviously devastating for him just as he was coming back into the team. It’s also serious for our season given how much of our attacking play depends on the full backs.
Regardless of my above shade, I like Lichsteiner. I think he made sense as a signing given his experience and his price. He’s also one of the snidest bastards ever to pull on the famous red and white kit so he gets two thumbs up from me. However his age has been painfully exposed in England and he shouldn’t be anywhere near a Premier League starting XI.
Ainsley is a good player but no right back, Jenkinson’s travails are well documented. It may be that we use a combination of these two until the end of the season. But unless Bacary Sagna comes out of retirement and agrees to play for free, whatever solution we come up with will be a downgrade on Bellerin.
On the injury point – this was a serious injury to a player coming back from injury; we now have three players under 30 with long term injuries; the team look fatigued after dominating in the early part of the season.
I really worry Emery has learnt nothing from Wenger’s shoddy approach to fitness. It’s disappointing because, despite his obvious flaws, at the very least he was understood to be au fait with the latest approaches in fitness and conditioning.
It may be that the intensity of the League’s winter schedule took him by surprise but it’s not exactly like he couldn’t see it coming with massive fucking bells on.
This is a good result for him, his tactics helped us win the game. However it’s also vindication for those of us who could not understand why he left our two best players out of the team week after week.
Ramsey was great yesterday. He’s already demonstrated that him leaving will not impact the effort he puts in on the pitch. So, as we’re paying him, why not use him and then worry about replacing him in the Summer.
Bellerin’s injury meant Emery was able to avoid the Ozil question yesterday but it will rear its head again soon. My theory is Emery was so burnt by his experience of Neymar at PSG that he has over-corrected with Ozil – trying to demonstrate authority and cutting his nose off to spite his face, rather than accepting the world as it is and making use of an exceptional player that has clear limitations.
Given that we don’t have the resources of Man City or Barcelona, these are the kind of compromises an Arsenal manager is going to have to make. As Ozil is unlikely to leave, my worry now is that Emery has completely banjaxed his already fragile ego.
Clearly he and Ramsey can add something, and we cannot rely on Alex Iwobi alone to supply our strikers for the rest of the season so I hope this game marks a change in approach from Emery, rather than a one off.
Likewise, I also hope the 442 diamond is a formation we deploy with more frequency going forward as opposed to the sawdust we’ve seen from the manager in recent weeks.
However these are issues for another day. What’s important now is that top four may still be within reach. If Emery can achieve that, then he’ll have done what’s expected of him, for this season at least.
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Have a gr8 dayyyy x