A defeat worth taking seriously?

by & filed under News Review.

I’m fine with the result.

Arsenal weren’t humiliated.

We put up a fight for the most part.

There were hints of a game plan.

We were a threat on the counter.

It’s weak sauce that my standards are that low this season, but I think the manager has some mitigating factors to lean back on. Namely, he had a disrupted preseason, we have a lot of new players bedding in, and I’m not convinced that he’s ever going to be a big game manager.

The strategy was negative. We didn’t set-up with an attacking vision in mind. We played Xhaka. Nacho started. We didn’t play a supreme brand of football, and we mostly took our chances from long balls. We tried to play out the back again.

The reality is this: We’re not good enough to be beating the European champions.

I think this game, like our two starting games last season, came too early for us to make an impact.

The manager is a militant pragmatist and we set up that way. I’m not quite sure why there’s a clamouring for Arsenal to head to one of fiercest teams in the world and go toe-to-toe with them. That was the way of Wenger. We’d have been sliced apart if we’d gone there guns blazing.

Another reality check. We conceded 18 shots against Burnley. We conceded 8 against Newcastle. Emery does not have an answer to defence in general, let alone a Liverpool one. The set up was to be expected, and I don’t think we’ll be the best team to play that way against them this season.

I thought we were better than usual with our deep build. Luiz made us more interesting, we were a touch faster moving out of tricky/self-imposed situations, we moved more long balls than we have done in the first two games. The slow build still wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Pépé showed signs of brilliance that leads me to believe he could be a truly electric player for us. He’s James Rodriguez levels of left-footedness, but the way he shuffles the ball between his feet is outrageous. On a better day, he’s scoring twice and we’re causing Liverpool a real headache.

Willock looked powerful. He always looks like he’s about to fall over, but his drive and aggression tells me he’s ready for the top of the game. He’s a first-team player, no doubt. I think when he matures, he could be a 15 goal a season player. He is very quick and I reckon he’s watched some Freddie videos over the last few years.

Add Tierney and Bellerin, and we’re looking more deadly. Get LT in that midfield; playing at his best, and we’re a faster more mobile side. His late striker felt like a statement goal. He can’t be a pussy this season, Milan is a pipe dream, Arsenal is where it’s at. He needs to wrestle a starting spot, I thought his new haircut was sharp, I thought his quick passing added something when he arrived late in the game.

David Luiz has made three errors in 2 games. His presence is better for the defence, he’s imposing, he’s better on the ball than the rest of them, but he needs to start bringing a little more composure to his game. Steaming in on Salah and totally missing is embarrassing. The shirt pull for the penalty was about as subtle as a pair of Hector Bellerin silk trousers. We should be expecting more from him, and I’m confident that’ll come.

That’s a lie. I’m not confident it’ll come. I’m worried that we have a manager who is very poor at organising defences and Luiz has moved from the comfort of a pragmatic system, to the insane asylum with Kevin Keegan’s defensive protege.

Auba went missing a touch for me, he’s not quite elite levels against big teams. That said, it was a beast of a game and he was trying to outsmart VVD. 3 months down the line, maybe the game is different? Pepe seemed to always be the last man with the long balls. We’re three games in and I’m still not convinced that this one-dimensional system of Emery’s is going to make us a chance creation machine, but we’ll see.

Worth mentioning that no one is complaining Ozil was left out of the squad? We lost and I still don’t care or wonder what could have been.

Reality is we’re a proper manager away from being a serious outfit, but really, you’re stretching if you think the result was the way it was because we didn’t go guns blazing.

I think it’d be a fair argument to say that tactically, even for a pragmatist, it seemed like we’d not thought much beyond a deep block and long balls. Liverpool had 25 attempts at our goal. So we really did sit back and let things happen to us.

Things have to get better, we have to see an improvement to the underlying structure of the team both in attack and defence. We must make top 4.

No excuses for Emery.

That said…

It’s so amusing reading the folk who had no opinion on the intricacies of elite football when Wenger was failing, all of a sudden find a critical voice. Now they all understand football structure, elite performance and the power of a decentralized hierarchy.

All the things that weren’t real when the main man was in charge.

If you were blind for ten years when it was outrageously clear what the problems were; losing to the European champions can’t be the spark that gives you permission to have fire opinions on current Arsenal issues.

AKB wokeness is a thing and the hypocrisy is stunning to watch.

Yesterday was a defeat worth taking seriously. There were some nice bits that could help us push away from Chelsea and United, but we really have to make something count against Spurs next week. It needs to be more of a game and we can’t be sitting on our goal line in a home game.

Let’s see what the rebound looks like.

Huge game, but we’re more than capable of doing something special. Let me know YOUR comments in the… comments.

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354 Responses to “A defeat worth taking seriously?”

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  1. Carts

    DAVID LUIZ shit show was inevitable. Was just a case of how much his error would cost us. We all know the result of that.

    My spidey senses tells me that where another error prone performance should be around the xmas build up, i’m now getting vision of such during the NLD

  2. Carts

    Tbf, to Griemann, he sure picked a game to turn up in, considering there was no Dembele, Suarez or Messi.

    For the first 20 mins, Betis were good money. Second half it as all Barcelona.

  3. Gentlebris

    City live in a different world but not Liverpool.

    Liverpool are very beatable.
    I know they have been rocking up there these last two terms but all that were a lucky pretence.

    Look how sluggish they were at the CL final against Spuds. A good Real or Bayern side would beat that team 5-0.

    Watch out for it, lots of team will beat Liverpool this season.
    They have been pretending to be at City’s level but people will soon find out.

  4. Dissenter

    Gentlebris
    “Liverpool are very beatable.
    I know they have been rocking up there these last two terms but all that were a lucky pretence.Look how sluggish they were at the CL final against Spuds. A good Real or Bayern side would beat that team 5-0.”

    This is one statement that people will use to beat you with for along time to come.

  5. DUIFG

    CA I’m inclined to agree with you given saliba had no tangible benefit to emery this year.

    If thata the plan the question becomes who next? If emery is a placeholder the players will feel that. In gereral I’m fine if emery gets top 4 this year. We give him his CL shot and move on with a Much improved team

  6. Cesc Appeal

    ‘A good Real or Bayern side would beat that team 5-0’

    They beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield and got a ridiculous amount of points in the EPL last season losing 1 game. If oil money was out of the equation they’d have run away with the league.

    ‘I know they have been rocking up there these last two terms but all that were a lucky pretence.’

    Are you saying 2 seasons when you say 2 terms?

    If so that length of time precludes luck. If you wanted to say Spurs run to the UCL final was luck, sure, but to say Liverpool have been lucky because they’ve been ‘rocking up’ for 2 seasons…not sure about that.

    They were terrific against us and that’s all there is to it. Faster and stronger across the pitch. That was Liverpool’s best performance since the end of last season and it’s not surprising, they enjoy playing us at Anfield.

  7. Cesc Appeal

    DUIFG

    Well it’s kind of going unnoticed that Emery is in the last year of his deal. I know we have an extension option but unless I missed it that hasn’t been activated.

    The players know they have to play for their places now, they know that the new regime will make moves in the transfer market and they’ve seen what has happened to Mustafi and Ozil.

    A manager who fits the style of high pace, high pressing will be found. We are basically going to look for our Klopp.

    In 2 years we will be a better version of Liverpool, I’m very confident.

  8. Pierre

    Liverpool will win the league this season..the title may actually be decided by their head to head battles and I believe liverpool hold the upper hand …

    No one expected Arsenal to get anything from the liverpool game so it’s no big deal.

    The very least I expect from Emery this season is that he gives the players a chance to succeed.

    If we play ceballos, don’t play the ball in the air … he’s worst than ozil in the air
    If we play Ozil, don’t have him man marking in a European final or anywhere near the defensive third…he’s crap at it.
    If we play mkhitaryan, don’t play him at right back ….he hasn’t a clue
    If we play Torreira, don’t play him too advanced …. he hasn’t the legs for it .
    If we play a team that are strong down the flanks( liverpool ) ..don’t play a stupid diamond midfield .
    If we have 3 exciting offensive players who will scare the shit out of the opposition then play them and keep playing them so they can build up a chemistry together.

    Play to the players strengths , don’t set them up to fail like Emery did with Ceballos at the weekend.

  9. Pierre

    From the daily mirror.

    “Klopp seemed to aim a gentle prod in Emery’s direction over ­Arsenal’s tactics. “I had no clue about their tactics, to be honest,” he said.

    “I saw their teamsheet and thought it could be a diamond, but I didn’t think they would play Pepe in a different position in his first game”

    The article continued
    ” They (Arsenal)were dispossessed in their own defensive third eight times in the first half. That’s the most by any team this season, and the most for Arsenal in a decade.

    “One of the best passing teams in Europe was effectively transformed into a long ball minnow ”

    “It led to the truly bizarre sight of Unai Emery’s side packing their penalty box and conceding space on unpatrolled flanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy ­Robertson. Yep, two of the best crossers in world football. What did Emery think would happen?”

  10. Jamie

    Just home, saw the scores. Poch special sauce. Get fucked. Someone give me the gist of what his tactics were against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle where spurs only registered 2 shots on goal please. Only the super resident tactical experts. Thank you.

  11. Pierre

    The article said ” one of the best passing teams in Europe “…..not anymore I’m afraid

    ” long ball minnows ” is a bit harsh as it is difficult to beat the liverpool press , however, I believe Emery is too fixated in what we do off the ball and not on the ball.

    Our best passer of the ball and best player at keeping possession will be lucky to get a game this season..Ceballos could well suffer the same fate as ozil if he has too many games like the other day …patience with players is not one of Emerys strengths, especially the more technical players( rather than the more functional).

  12. Pedro

    Jamie,

    700 odd passes, 17 attempts at goal, 2 shots on target, 37 crosses, a nailed-on penalty waved away.

    Arsenal played Newcastle registered less passes, half the attempts at goal, 10 crosses, same amount of shots on target and won 0-1.

    Do you really need a tactics master to talk you through how football works?

  13. Cesc Appeal

    ‘Newcastle where spurs only registered 2 shots on goal’

    Wow.

    Really poor.

    Especially considering the sauce dripping all over the dug out and the fact they had Son, Kane, Moura all starting.

    They appear quite stunted in attack without Eriksen making things happen.

    If that was us losing 1-0 at home to Newcastle having only 2 shots on target…well, can you imagine.

  14. Gentlebris

    CA,

    If Liverpool were faced with 2013 Bayern side at that final and Liverpool played that same way they played Spuds, the score line could easily be 5-0 to Bayern.

    No big deal about Liverpool and you will see.

  15. Bojangles

    Good post Pedro, best since I’ve been here, admittedly not very long. Not sure why charisma needs to be a priority in a manager though. Pep is not the most charismatic dude on the planet, nor was Fergie but their coaching nous is/was beyond question.

    For those questioning why Auba was preferred over Laca, just think about the team setup for the pool game, eventually the penny will drop. Also, I recall after the Burnley game many here were questioning Laca’s ability, suddenly he should be first name on the team sheet.

    Saucy Poch lost his cool and the points to the unsauciest and most uncharismatic coach in the PL, go figure.

  16. Words on a Blog

    I think the problem with the fantastic artisanal organic sauce that Poch has (unlike the industrial and heavy metal sauces of Pep and Klopp) is that it starts to go off after a while.

    And then the taste and the smell of the sauce goes off…..

  17. Words on a Blog

    I find it really odd the degree to which some on here have such admiration and loyalty towards Poch…..love to Wenger, I understand, even if it is misguided, but Poch???

  18. raptora

    It comes from the love of anything but Arsenal. Since we’ve been in a bit of a dark period, everything around us must be better. Truth is if it wasn’t for Wenger setting us back slowly but surely in the space of a decade, spuds would not have been in top 4 while we’re stinking the Emirates out with the smell of thursday football. Kane would have left long time ago. And Poch would have been fired.

  19. Pedro

    Bojangles, Pep is outrageously charismatic, not sure what you’re talking about.

    Charisma is hugely important in leadership.

    You can take the piss out of a Champions League finalist manager all you like, but deep down, you know you’d rather have him at Arsenal than Emery.

  20. Words on a Blog

    Raptora,

    Yeah you’re right – The Darkness has been leading too many astray.

    Still, I never imagined that I’d ever live to see an Arsenal branch of a Pochettino Knows Best brigade…

  21. Words on a Blog

    Pedro,

    Re your view that Pochettino has sauce (“top 3 in the world”) and charisma.

    Is it because he looks and sounds like a Latino George Clooney?

  22. Words on a Blog

    Pedro,

    Ahh ok, I’ll stop…though I have a sneaking suspicion that you’ll be much more devastated when Poch leaves Spurs than when Raul and Edu eventually give Emery his marching orders!

  23. Pedro

    … I wouldn’t be devastated at all to see either event happen. Spurs lose their best manager in 30 years, Arsenal lose an average coach that plays bland football.

    I’d be elated in both scenarios.

  24. Words on a Blog

    Seriously though, even if I do think you overstate his sauciness, I’d still be delighted to see the back of him at Spurs

  25. China1

    That Liverpool team are beatable but hardly ‘very’ beatable lol

    They shat on the league, shat on Europe and won the CL.

    You can’t say city are much better when they got like a point more in the league and fell in the CL. Liverpool has a better season than city on balance

  26. Bojangles

    There’s no question I’d rather Pep or Klopp (he has plenty charisma)than what we have but still don’t see him as charismatic the same way Klopp is. A nice guy for sure. I’m just saying charisma shouldn’t be a pre-requisite when picking our head coach is all.

  27. Bojangles

    We are not going to get Pep or Klopp. The guy I would have gone after is Simeon but there is no way we could prise him from Atletico, too much of a love affair going on there unfortunately.

  28. Bojangles

    Pedro

    I should read your comments fully and not just respond to the first thing I read.

    Where in any of my comments have I taken the piss out of any manager. I just said that I didn’t feel either Pep or Fergie were charismatic but are the most successful managers modern football history.

  29. China1

    Yeah I’m not sure I’d call fergie charismatic. He was just extremely good at decision making and consistently ruthless and successful that everyone fell right in line

    Tbh wenger wasn’t that charismatic even during his peak years. Quite quiet and reserved but he built some supremely effective teams that could do what he wanted and was successful enough to keep them under relative control in his early years

    I’d love klopp at arsenal but the main criteria is just the managers quality. If the guy is quiet as a mouse but somehow delivers I won’t be complaining.

    It is nice to see someone passionate on the sidelines tho and tbf emery is that

  30. Emiratesstroller

    The reality is that the League Title will be between two teams this season namely Man City and Liverpool. Man City are more likely to win it because they have the stronger squad.

    There are on paper four other teams Spurs, Man Utd, Chelsea and ourselves competing for the other two qualification places.

    However, we have seen already that there is no longer a huge gulf between these 4 clubs and the rest of the league. This weekend both Man Utd and Spurs lost games that they were expected to win.

    Personally I don’t agree with Pedro’s analysis of our performance on Saturday.
    I think that our gameplan was poor and we played like we expected to lose the
    game.

    However, the difference between Arsenal and the other three contenders is
    that we have not lost sofar to weaker opposition. Losing to Liverpool is not the
    same as losing to Newcastle or Crystal Palace.

    Arsenal’s major problems at the moment is that we have not got a settled team.We are missing our first choice wing backs in Bellerin and Tierney.

    Also I don’t think that Emery has reached a conclusion which is his best formation. On Saturday we played 4-4-2 formation. Personally I would choose
    4-3-3. It is inconceivable that we don’t play Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe
    as a collective.

    However, to play this collective of forwards we need to select the right balance
    in midfield. Personally I would pick both Torreira and Ceballos and then the
    head coach has to decide between Xhaka, Guendouzi and Willock for third
    place. At the moment I would choose personally Willock for his all-round game but others may have a different opinion.

    What I do know is that defensively Arsenal are still shit. Messrs Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz and Monreal are not good enough either collectively as
    a unit or individually.

  31. peanuts&monkeys

    Arsenal’s central midfield was totally missing entire game. Why Ceballos and Willock whimpered under Liverpool press is beyond comprehension. One possible reason could be none of them and the forwards retained the ball for more than 2 seconds. Composure at midfield is critical for chence creation. This tearing hurry to release the next pass was forcing errors and possession. It was as if someone was stop-watching them.

  32. Chris

    Re those stats in the Spurs/Newcastle

    See this is where sometimes it is better to use ones eyes than trust stats. From my chair Spurs never really looked liked scoring, aside from a couple of shaky moments at the back from Newcastle and the penalty incident.

    They still look a little hungover from the CL final defeat. I am sure at some point they will kick into gear but next week is a great time to play them. I think this Season we once again see St.Totteringhams day!

  33. Tony

    I agree with your thoughts on the game, Bob, and also your England vs Ireland summation.

    A record win against the Irish even if it was their first game was more than we could have hoped for and bodes well for the impending WC.

    My son and I loved watching the game where it was a great match to be able to teach my son more about the game, tactics and its laws.

    I posted earlier that I felt that there is something special brewing in the England camp (not just post game’s unlimited jugs of beer). I had the same feeling back in 2003 with Woodward and the team.

    The 9 position concerns me as Youngs had a very rusty/poor game, and I hope we don’t come undone by Jone’s squad’s decision process where the 9 doesn’t become our Achilles heel. That said I like the look of Heinz so hopefully he’ll stay fit and uninjured.

    I still stick to my prediction that England will make the semis with the potential to win the cup within a 6 country contention.

    Let’s hope England peak at the right time.

    As for the Liverpool game. Emery got it wrong and that made life very difficult for the players. Playing Xhaka was pure stupidity in a game that was always going to be played at break neck pace. Xhaka was like a Skoda racing Mclarens.

    Klopp neutralized Ceballos who was very much hindered by Xhaka’s lack of pace and sloppy performance. Poor guy had no chance in that match.

    I don’t get why people/trolls here blasting Ceballos and to a certain extent Pepe.

    They are not yet up to PL speed and physicality, but I feel both will come good once acclimatised.

    It was a game most of us expected to lose, but we could have done better with emery playing 3 up front with Pepe, Auba and Lacazette and Torreira in place of Xhaka as has been pointed out here by genuine and knowledgeable posters.

    No point getting all twisted up about the loss as some are here.

    Spuds next and I expect a win if Emery doesn’t get it wrong again. Although Spuds will be wounded by their loss against Newcastle so I expect the game to be exceptionally spicy.

    I still say we have the squad to finish 3rd – not sure we have the manager to achieve this, though.

    Early days for Emery and the squad.

  34. HillWood

    Arsenal shouldn’t give Emery the optional third season
    His tactics and team set up are bizarre
    He totally fucked up the end of last season
    The club has made some decent signings now we need a better head coach

  35. Alex Cutter

    Tony
    August 26, 2019
    07:47:07

    I agree with your thoughts on the game, Bob, and also your England vs Ireland summation.A record win against the Irish even if it was their first game was more than we could have hoped for and bodes well for the impending WC.

    My son and I loved watching the game where it was a great match to be able to teach my son more about the game, tactics and its laws. I posted earlier that I felt that there is something special brewing in the England camp (not just post game’s unlimited jugs of beer).

    I had the same feeling back in 2003 with Woodward and the team. The 9 position concerns me as Youngs had a very rusty/poor game, and I hope we don’t come undone by Jone’s squad’s decision process where the 9 doesn’t become our Achilles heel.

    That said I like the look of Heinz so hopefully he’ll stay fit and uninjured. I still stick to my prediction that England will make the semis with the potential to win the cup within a 6 country contention.

    Let’s hope England peak at the right time. As for the Liverpool game. Emery got it wrong and that made life very difficult for the players. Playing Xhaka was pure stupidity in a game that was always going to be played at break neck pace.

    Xhaka was like a Skoda racing Mclarens. Klopp neutralized Ceballos who was very much hindered by Xhaka’s lack of pace and sloppy performance.

    Poor guy had no chance in that match.I don’t get why people/trolls here blasting Ceballos and to a certain extent Pepe.They are not yet up to PL speed and physicality, but I feel both will come good once acclimatised.It was a game most of us expected to lose, but we could have done better with emery playing 3 up front with Pepe, Auba and Lacazette and Torreira in place of Xhaka as has been pointed out here by genuine and knowledgeable posters.

    No point getting all twisted up about the loss as some are here. Spuds next and I expect a win if Emery doesn’t get it wrong again.

    Although Spuds will be wounded by their loss against Newcastle so I expect the game to be exceptionally spicy. I still say we have the squad to finish 3rd – not sure we have the manager to achieve this, though. Early days for Emery and the squad.”

    Hear Hear!

  36. Bob N16

    Agree ES getting the midfield selection right is essential to support our front three. Agree with Torreira, Willock, Ceballos.

    Tony, BBC sport in their ‘positives and negatives’ also questioned whether Daly is defensively good enough at 15 and that Watson might be a better bet.

    The rugby and especially the cricket (with a touch of McIlroy) made it a fantastic sporting weekend. Arsenal lost but that was away to Liverpool but United and Spurs lost at home to teams who are both potential relegation candidates.

    Hope Raul and Edu have already started due diligence on a coaching upgrade for next Summer. Emery will get a decent job so we don’t need to be too sorry for him!

  37. Chris

    I would hope the club has a list of at least 5 names they are monitoring in terms of head coaches, ones that could step in at a moments notice and those that are ear marked possibly for the summer.

    If this new Arsenal that has ‘ruthless ambition’ even top four may not be able to keep Emery in the job if they stumble over the line for top four, a bit like Houllier for Liverpool in 2004. A superior option in Benitez became available and they went for it. I would hope we would act the same way should a similar opportunity arise.