Well, might as well get the depressing news out the way first… The Rams are going to the Super Bowl.
It’s like 95% of Arsenal fans must have been real shitty things to puppies in another life, because this is just utterly depressing.
Still, on the flipside, maybe Stan will be so enthralled by actual sporting success he’s rarely tasted, he’ll chuck a couple hundred mill our way.
Hopeful and naive. I get it.
Or is it? At some point, he has to wonder whether it’d make good business sense to have two world class teams on his books? Maybe Josh will want to show he’s dad he’s well clever? Who knows… I’d just reccomend your read my blog post on how they made the magic happen (HERE).
In more positive news, Emery went and done a good this weekend.
I think a lot of Arsenal fans are prematurely blowing their ‘SEE HE’S AMAZING’ load on the curtains, but I can’t take away from the absolute destruction he dropped on Sarri’s Chelsea.
Alex went over the game in great detail, so I won’t rehash it. What I will say is that Emery pivoted this weekend and it paid off handsomely.
He put his best players on the pitch, he played them in a system that worked to their advantage, and he absolutely sussed out Sarri.
Many were saying that he axed Mesut Ozil, I’m not quite sure about that. He had a player on the bench who is supposedly coming back from injury, and whether you like it or not, that’ll have an impact on the squad psychologically. Interestingly, Jose Mourinho echoed some of the points I’ve been raising about Mesut.
Mourinho says the best way to get the best out of Özil is to how him ‘care and love’ pic.twitter.com/rEnfrki0N7
— Osman (@OsmanZtheGooner) January 19, 2019
Emery has yet to find the balance between tough love and empathy, something Jose said Ozil needs both sides of. If you can’t be bothered to watch the video, he says if you’re too soft, he goes limp, but if you’re too hard, he retracts into himself because he needs to feel the love. I heard a similar thing on The Totally Football show about De Gea, apparently, he’s always looking for reassurance from his keeping coach on the sideline at games. Weird as he’s so good, but just doubles down on the fact that players are people and all have different motivations. Anyway, good to see the coach move to repair bridges there.
Additionally, it was great to see the manager start with Aaron Ramsey. No one in the league is going to harass Jorginho like he did. He sat at the top of that diamond and shut down the Brazilian, whilst also doing a good job of putting their centre-backs under pressure. We’re just better with Aaron in the side.
Having two strikers in a 4-4-2 worked wonders, especially as both did such an incredible job of defending. Lacazette in particular impressed. He does so much dirty work for the team. Not just that, look at the flair for that goal, unreal control, spatial awareness and outright audacity to strike the ball at one of the few places he had access to that Kepa didn’t.
The front three allowed Emery to live out his dream of 3 defensive midfielders who all did a very good job. I have to hand it to Xhaka, when he’s not making stupid mistakes, he’s been good this season. He had a very good game, racking up ball recoveries like a hero (11). I have a lot of love for LT and MG. The Uruguayan pitbull made 9 tackles, with MG making 5 but having a go at 10. Both have real tenacity and it was a pleasure to watch. Honestly, fuck people who thin MG is anything outside a top tier youth talent who could take the world… NO… universe by storm if he continues his upward trajectory.
Then there’s the defence. Chelsea had nothing. Sokratis did a sterling job, but no one stood out more than Laurent K. When he’s playing in a defence that playing behind a system that is not trying to play a highline, he’s in his element. His experience, positioning and outright hunger to win was a joy to watch. He was our most potent attacker with 2 shots on target and a goal. He had a very important game.
I also liked that Arsenal let Chelsea have the ball in wide positions knowing they had no one to attack the ball in the box. We clogged up the middle of the pitch with a sea of red shirts. We also allowed them to have the ball, giving them 300 more passes than us over the 90. It was almost a reversal of the roles of the past 10 years. Chelsea were… a bit… you know… Arsenal like.
You do have to be honest about Chelsea. They were a fucking car crash. Sarri is a fanatic. He has his way of playing and he doesn’t give a fuck who his players are. Willian on the left, Hazard through the middle with no runners, Kante in a more advanced position, with Jorginho sideways passing like peak Denilson… it was really difficult viewing.
Chelsea had some bad luck, no doubt, but you felt the explosion Sarri had after the game, when he questioned his players’ mentality, is going to bite him. The manager doesn’t have the bodies to do what he wants.
If you’re honest, nor does Emery, but the whole point of us hiring in the Spaniard is we had a manager who’d dropped a powerpoint presentation for the ages on how he’d use the players we had.
For me, Emery has shown the way forward.
All the fans saying 4th place isn’t possible without a billion in January expenditure are out of excuses. We’ve already outperformed Wenger-2018 with points against the top 6 this season. We smashed Chelsea, beat Spurs, held our own in all the big games bar maybe City and Liverpool away. I don’t think it’ll happen, but that’s not because I think the players aren’t good enough. Points dropped at West Ham, Brighton and Southampton in such a short space of time shouldn’t have been part of the equation.
Emery has to shake of his PSG delusions of grandeur and get back to extracting more out of his squad. He needs to be better tactically, he needs to utilize his star names even if that hurts him personally, and he needs to make sure no one heard him say Arsenal was a distinct club because winning wasn’t that important.
Just a word to the injuries. I was devastated to see that Hector dropped an injury that has been a career ender in the past. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looks. It’s very difficult to apportion blame in these incidences, but it’s hard not to have noticed that our players have looked leggy this past month, and the big injuries are coming in at a rate of knots. We’ve lost 3 players sub 30 to nasty 3 letter acronyms and had a lot of problems this season.
Emery brought in his own strength and conditioning coach, despite us having hired in Darren Burgess to huge fanfare and already having a World Cup winning S&C man in Shad Forsythe. I said at the time that was unbelievably weak from Ivan, as it essentially handed veto power to someone who had unlikely been vetted. Factor in that we know Emery was more than happy to let the press know that he was hitting his players with double sessions early in the season (and was horrified at the fitness of the squad), and the leaked story Mokbel had in the DM that said the club reduced the intensity of training to help the players. Whatever is going on, if we’re to have a good backend of the season, we need to have fresh players and we need to stop losing them to injury.
Right, seeing as you’re here, jump into a meaty podcast where we talk about additional details on Sven, Chelsea and how the season is going to pan out.