Saka time.

by & filed under News Review.

Absolutely huge game today. Two fallen giants of the game trying desperately to claw back some sort of relevance for their fans.

United struggle for goals, the football is dull, and their expensive defensive unit is still flawed.

Arsenal has a great squad of players, but they’ve struggled to establish an identity, the defence has been equally poor, and our attacking play has generally been reliant on the brilliance of one man.

Today sadly isn’t a battle for the league title, it’s a battle to establish an advantage in the race for top 6. Emery saw some light in the last two games, notably both when Xhaka wasn’t on the pitch. The come back against Villa was valiant and the Forest destruction pointed to an attacking style that would look sexy if we could rock it against better teams.

The game for us tonight is all about midfield. If Emery can’t suss optimum working conditions for his precious new general, it’s going to be difficult. United will attempt to pressure our midfield and hope it crumbles. I hope Emery has given them some help, we need to see a structure, I can’t watch another game where everyone goes missing up the other end, or worse, watch everyone drops into the defence leaving us exposed for shots and whatever else comes our way. United might be shit, but they have good pressing numbers this season. We need to be on high alert. We need to see real leadership, not this soft kind the media keep talking about.

’Xhaka always remembers the boys birthdays, he’s religious about getting a card signed’

The Swiss master of the spare key will sit at the base of midfield, no point in arguing that, the question is who with? If it’s on his own with a combination of Matteo and Ceballos, we could be in trouble. The Spaniard is an exciting talent, but let’s be honest, he hasn’t bypassed the bedding in stage most players deal with. We need athleticism on the pitch though, and I think the manager might have to go against his intuition and reinstate LT in his natural position as the lead DM (laughable I have to write that), or gun for something inexperienced but industrious like opt for Willock and Matteo.

Tactically, we have been greatly hampered by the captain’s armband, there’s no doubt about that.

I’d also not be surprised to see Emery play 3 at the back, fear is his default perspective, and I see no reason for him to change that approach in a big game. What I will say is that Emery does get the players up for the big games. Even when we lose, it’s not often insipid. Though the Chelsea final really did do a lot of damage to that perception.

Key to our day is usually centered around how well we bring Auba into the game. He’ll have the chance to get in behind Maguire who hasn’t looked great. I think we’ll be able to spring chances all day. West Ham created with relative ease when I watched them the other day, the game would probably be ripe for some Ozil deadliness around the box if we get pushed into possession play in their 3rd. I would also be very happy to see Saka given a go. He’s a surprise package, he’s annoying to defend against and he’s basically the new Dembele. We need some of his fearless decision making, it could be vital today. I ALSO HEAR HE STARTS!

I’d also like to see an open play goal from Pepe, it’s time.

There are other delightful elements, Pogba, Martial and Rashford are all likely to miss the game. Say what you will about them over a season, Arsenal normally make them look world-class and United are weaker without them. That said, we’re all expecting a worldie from De Gea and a blistering first big game start from Greenwood.

Huge day for both sides, let’s hope the game achieves something that looks like the years gone by.

See you in the comments.

1,363 Responses to “Saka time.”

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  1. Champagne charlie

    Windolene

    ‘Definite upgrade’ to a tune of no CL football despite investment in the squad and having Aubameyang for a whole season vs half of one.

    What a guy.

  2. China1

    Our best run last year came with torreira sitting deep covering for Xhaka.

    It showed the best of torreira and a defensive terrier, ball winner and ability to win the scrappy defensive duels. It also took some of the defensive heat off Xhaka who can’t do it or handle the pressure so shouldn’t be put in that situation in the first place.

    Xhaka even looked passable at the start of last season until torreira got injured and he looked wank again ever since.

    Not a coincidence. Torreira is a DM. Not a b2b, AM or creative outlet. His strength lies in sitting so that’s exactly what he should be doing because Xhaka can’t and guen is still learning this side of the game

  3. Bob N16

    Words, let’s go with Xhaka further forward, who does he play instead of.

    Any way you look at it Xhaka does not compliment any other midfielder as his skill set is so limited. He is a square peg in a round hole in this league.

    Receding, Pierre got in there first. If you are genuinely that unclear it’s hard to converse with you.

  4. China1

    Emery looked like okay choice on paper when we got him and deserved a full chance, but he’s had it now and he’s not a serious upgrade on arsene.

    With the improvements to the squad he’s had we need to be seeing better. If we started the season defensively suspect because of injuries but were flying offensively then I’d still be here defending him, but he’s no excelling or delivering anywhere on the pitch. Emery’s job is entirely dependent on auba’s form and fitness. If this guy breaks tomorrow emery will be sacked within a month because the results will go off a cliff without him

  5. Graham62

    China1

    I know. So why the fudge does Emery persist with this mindblowingly stupid plan of playing Torreira in a role that he is never going to be suited for?

    There is absolutely no justification for doing this. None!!

    Not only that but why does he not see the strengths and limitations to Torreira’s game? He is as you highlight “a defensive terrier” and “not a b2b player”. Emery should be held to account on this.

    No wonder Torreira looks so demotivated.

    If all this crap continues, the noose will start to tighten.

  6. bennydevito

    I don’t think Xhaka had that bad of a game last night and I’ve watched the duck over and over again and to be fair when taking the Sokratis deflection into account he has to be given the benefit of the doubt.

    The usual reaction when ducking a ball to the face is to turn your head to the side and lean back.

    Xhaka put his head down and forward and if not for the deflection he probably would have headed it clear.

    It’s hard to say for definite because slow motion can tend to make things look worse and my initial reaction in real time was he ducked, but after taking into account the deflection and the usual reaction to turn away and back not down and forward makes it hard to say really.

    Even Roy Keane said as much in his analysis of the situation.

    It’s a tough one really and deflects from the real problem of yet again a bad starting lineup and bad subs. I even feel Pierre could be right and Ozil should have played for his set piece deliveries and forward passing. Wouldn’t have been any worse than Xhaka and Torreira last night.

    End of the day Emery has us playing too negative and just isn’t dynamic enough for us. I’d like to see Ljungberg take the reigns for the rest of the season and I dare say we’d be playing much better and be getting the most out of Pepe.

  7. Micheal

    All the discussion about where to play Xhaka misses the obvious point – he is not good enough to get in the team in any position. Building a team with Xhaka at its heart is built to fail.

    Defensive midfielder ? Too slow, lacks positional awareness and cannot tackle a rice pudding

    Centre back/left back ? Too slow, poor at marking, cannot head and cannot tackle a rice pudding

    Central midfield ? Not mobile enough, needs too much time on the ball

    Attacking midfield – Immobile, lacks basic attacking instinct, does not create space, unlikely to score enough goals

  8. Marko

    That Emmanuel Dennis fella just seems like a luckier version of Welbeck. Both goals scuffed into the back of the net

  9. Cezan Patel

    I don’t get some of the hate on here for years all i read here was we always go to old trafford and get spanked. Big teams raise themselves for big games, believe it or not this was a big game for us both and we went there conservative got a point where we used to always fall short attack and get hit on the break. Even when utd were on the decline they’d beat us comfortably. These were the performances most of us cried out for away at a big 6 team and draw. Now i know i hate the conservative approach against the smaller teams too but that’s a different point entirely be happy and come may if we flop on top 4 i trust raul will get shot of the man in charge.