Arsenal took 3 points.
That is basically the best way to frame the victory. We are chasing top 4, we need to win points, we delivered the goods.
There were some positive performances. Alex Iwobi had a very good game, he scored a deflected volley after watching a Kola cross find him at the back stick. He nearly had goal of the weekend when he ripped a screamer into the top corner, only for the ref to disallow it dubiously for offside.
AMN racked up stats galore that on paper looked great, even though there were groans about how he played in general, and unfortunately some absolute children abusing him in his Insta-comments. He created the most chances, had the most successful passes in the final 1/3, made the most ball recoveries, most tackles… he wasn’t perfect, but he gave it a damn good go yesterday. Good for him, he’s a confidence player, he’s trying to find his feet in a team that’s playing badly and he’s playing out of position. I like the cut of his jib, Arsenal fans should lay off him.
Matteo G had a mixed bag in midfield. He certainly didn’t allow himself to get pushed around, in fact, he was being pretty spiteful to the Huddersfield players. I think he was seeking revenge for the pre-Xmas scrap. We’re in a situation now where our best midfielder is a 19 years old, who is outshining Torriera who looks very tired.
Mustafi was a disaster all afternoon. When does it become a safer bet to give one of the younger players a go? Where is Mavrapanos? What about Zech Medley?
- Can you stay on your feet?
- Can you pass?
- Can you pay attention?
Meet those criteria and you have as good as chance as any at making that defence. Mustafi looks broken. Like a man who read his club wanted to sell him this summer. He’s done, pass the baton to someone who is focused.
Arsenal dropped another poor performance but won. The win is a great thing, but there does come a point when you have to start asking when the performances are going to land? People were saying that Ozil, Ramsey and Auba weren’t available… sure, not having Auba was a miss, but the other two? Please.
Unai Emery has vastly more resources available to him than the poor Huddersfield manager, yet it was they who seemed to play more interesting football for large chunks of yesterday. There was a point when they were absolutely hammering us for posession, maybe I could stretch that we were letting them play to conserve energy? Regardless, giving a bottom of the table team that much of the ball felt a touch emasculating. We’re 7 months into the campaign, we have no defined style of play, no preferred formation, our defence still hasn’t kept a clean sheet on the road and the football is dreadful.
I understand the arguments that it would be ideal to give the manager another £200m, I totally get that some people think there’s some miracle coming and that this all gets better after this summer, but I really have my doubts.
The team looks like it’s going backwards. We’re taking solace in the manager being within spitting distance of the top 4, but for me this is no different to the last 6 years of bumming around ‘nearly’ in contention without any visible direction of how we’re going to improve.
My big fear is that we’re going to give this man £100m in the summer. He’s going to likely spend that cash with no oversight from a sporting director. His taste in players at PSG outside the mega signings is pretty grim, his taste this January was Denis Suarez, Ever Banega, Ivan Perisic and Yannick Carrasco. That stinks as badly of Europa League as our football does on the pitch.
The warning signs are everywhere… we are not progressing by any success metric, the fans aren’t showing up in the ground, the players look lost, and the manager is eyeing up bland players to fix these issues in the summer. There are too many examples of managers turning things around in the first season to ignore. Lucian Favre has Dortmund top in February with the same amount of points accrued in the whole of last season. Leeds have dropped to second, but are 2 points off top after finishing 7th last season. Gerrard is closing the gap in Scotland in his rookie year with a squad that had huge turnover.
All of those managers are having an impact on the football and it’s fair to say are making big improvements under tougher conditions. This notion that is pushed around that Emery took over the worst squad of players since Harry left Pompey is not acceptable. There is plenty of talent in that squad, he has two of the most potent strikers in our history at his disposal, he’s elected to alienate Ramsey and Mesut, and he bolstered the defence with £70m worth of talent we’re largely happy with.
We can’t keep hiding behind Wenger for February performances when the whole point of Emery was that he was a world class coach who could pick up a depressed squad, develop our players and give it some serious style on the pitch.
3 points are a gift, but if ignore the consistent rank performances at your peril, they are an early warning siren that all is not well.
Things need to get better. We can’t keep getting outplayed by relegation fodder.
P.S. I see some people asking about Wenger and why he doesn’t have a job. I heard that he is having difficult time with some family issues, so it’s by choice he hasn’t rejoined the world of football.