Unai Emery and his situation at Arsenal is the gold/blue dress meme. You can look at yesterday as a beastly flogging from Lady Luck, with Emery having to navigate a tough game with Sokratis busting his ankle, followed by Koscielny breaking his jaw (get well soon). Or you can look at the deeper patterns that have plagued our season. Poor setup, tactics unsuited to the talent we have, meshed in with sloppy in-game management.
It’s hard to absorb losing two defenders in an important game, but it’s an interesting spin to suggest that we’d have survived that game with any defensive combination when you consider the unsolved structural issues that have not been addressed in 8 months, even after a five player £70m injection of fresh blood. We were ripe for the picking yesterday. We played a high line against an electric group of forwards despite having a collection of very slow players in our backline. A recipe for failure that played right into the hands of a United that sat back and waited to sucker punch.
Sure, we had a lot of possession, but that was part of the Ole G game plan. We’re a toothless force moving forward and very predictable. Emery doesn’t like to play through the middle of the park, instead, he prefers to cycle the ball until he can attack from wide positions for a cutback. Sometimes it works, most of the time it’s bland on toast and fairly easy to control.
The game looked extremely Wenger-ish. Emery didn’t manage his tactics or his subs well and he failed to adapt as the game slipped away from him. After United scored their 3rd, we didn’t register a shot for 20 minutes.
Yes United has better players (gold), but weren’t we hiring in a coach who could help us punch above our weight? If the only issue he had was players, what was the point in spending £17m to ship Wenger on? Stupid question: The issue was coaching (blue), that’s where the low-hanging fruit was. We have £223m worth of talent in a squad packed with internationals. We beat Chelsea with ease a few days ago, we beat Spurs in December. We should be harder to topple.
Arsenal players are the kings of the individual error (gold). Petr Cech had a shoddy game, Xhaka is a bag of mistakes, and Mesut Ozil dropped another middle finger to a coach he clearly believes he can outlast. Our defence was utterly clueless, but again, my question is this: How can coaches of pony clubs with next to no budget set their defences up to be more watertight than ours?
The manager looks bereft of ideas on the touchline. I wince every time I see him pull that petrified look like the police have just pulled up on his drive after he bought a bag of something naughty from the dark web. It doesn’t inspire confidence. Body language is important. He looks lost out there.
However, I accept that this is a game of opinions. Some of you see patience as a virtue and believe in the norms of football that suggest we should give him more money and time. Others are taking a more pessimistic view, seeing the absolute lack of improvement all over the pitch and wondering how we walked right into another nightmare manager scenario.
Pep, Poch and Klopp all had time and all spent money. On paper, it would be fair to give Emery the same chance. Question is, do you honestly believe that would reap rewards? Do you see Emery with a ceiling as high as those three? Plenty believe so and that’s fine. You are gold, I am blue.
That’s the beauty of football my darlings.
Onwards we go… Europa and #Top4 is the target!