Another Europa night, another devastating pummelling of a prestige team.
The big man in charge, Sir Unai Emery, inflicted defeat over Valencia in a pretty poor match at The Emirates.
Unai opted for what some thought was an attacking formation, with some thinking it was defensive. I thought it looked like a 3-5-2 at home, with 7 defensive players on the pitch, with a view to keeping a clean sheet for the second leg. Others thought it looked like a wrecking machine with two strikers and Ozil free to create havoc.
Havoc we created. The opening 20 minutes were straight out of the dustbin. Matteo and Xhaka were all over the place, the defence was getting pulled every which way and there was no intensity to our play. We even managed to concede from a setpiece (which is pretty rare), a long ball to the back post was nodded back into the mixer, Xhaka was nowhere and he was beaten to ball by Diakhaby who headed home.
The Swiss really isn’t fit for purpose… it makes me so sad that when he has a few ok games and all the usual suspects revert back to him being peak-Gilberto when it comes to football enigmas. He’s not. He’s bang average. There is nothing smart in the long-form editorial suck up pieces that lambast social media obsessed millennials who just don’t understand the beautiful game because they can’t see the beauty in Xhaka. Football fans are OBSESSED with other fans who celebrate shit players in militant fashion because it’s so bizarre, you worry you truly are missing something. You’re not. You weren’t with Senderos. You weren’t with Denilson. You’re not with Xhaka. Move on.
Up the other end, 7 minutes later, Lacazette played a perfectly weighted ball to Auba, he cut back and gave his buddy the gift of an open goal from ten yards. What a gentleman. I love those two. If they had a child, it’d be one helluva striker… would probs dress nice too.
7 minutes later, Xhaka showed why the usual suspects menace themselves to bedroom posters of his radar maps. He whipped a beautiful first-time diagonal ball into the box, Lacazette made a yard on his centre back and headed into the ground, the keeper claimed the ball didn’t cross the line but the refs watch buzzed… techhhhhhnology wins again. Xhaka… what a cross, I really think if you ignore the OTT critique of Xhaka, there’s a great player in there, I guess some people just don’t get it.
The second half just didn’t feel particularly smart. We were chasing the third goal and leaving Laurent Kos and Sokratis completely exposed on the counter. It was really tough to watch, Cech kept us in the tie when he denied Kevin Gameiro with a great block. Kos nursed an injury for as long as he could before limping off, we really have to pray he’s going to be ok. That block where he threw his head at a foot late on was something else.
Late on, Kola found Auba at the back post on a tight angle, the ball was struck awkwardly but crept in at the near post. A real shame most fans had gone home by that point. A sad indictment of the fans? The drab football? The Europa League? Who knows.
3-1. That’ll do nicely. £100m worth of strikers to the rescue. Another example of how dependent we are on superhuman finishing.
There’s no point in analysing the game too much. The football was awful, we looked a mess, but we did the job. We’ll shithouse ourselves to the final and then it’s a coin toss… and there’s no manager that knows this trophy as well as Unai.
Whatever my thoughts on his long-term future, watching him twitching out on the sidelines shows how much passion he has for the project. When that third goal landed at the end, he lost his damn mind. It’s great to see. He’s a hard worker, a trophy in his first season would be epic, it’d be even better if we didn’t have to play Chelsea.
Also… does a cup final count as an away game? Answers in the comments.
I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s see if we can go away from home and not concede 3 goals… not as easy as one would think.
Right, see you in the comments you total meltbags xx