Edu and Raul scowling at the pitch was all Arsenal fans on a rainy day in the midlands. Unai Emery set up to nullify a rampant Leicester and in the main, he did pretty well for large parts of the game. However, when it came down to it, the difference-maker was Jamie Vardy and the rest is history.
Unai lost the day, Arsenal are now 9 points behind Leicester, sitting in 6th, behind Sheffield United and the usual suspects in November. It’s not a good look, especially considering the investment this summer. The players look uninterested. The fans are unanimous. It’s over for the manager.
Our starting 11 only had one of our summer signings in it. Our record signing benched, Kola preferred over Tierney, Ceballos not even in the squad…
I wasn’t overly impressed with the first half. I thought our midfield was run ragged at times and despite the front three playing a specific tactical role, I felt their effort was limited off the ball. I think our core issues stemmed from our inability to play the ball from out the back, a problem we’ve had since day one of Emery. The players don’t know how to move the ball past the third pass.
The second half was all about the midfield, or lack of one. If this season has been marked by any issue bigger than our terrible midfield, I don’t know about it. We struggle with shape because players are asked to play unfamiliar roles, LT playing in a more advanced role is poison. Watching them either drop too deep into the defence to affect what’s ahead of them, or push too far forward to make up for an immobile strike force, is absolutely painful to watch. None of them have a clue. It’s not a personnel issue, it’s a coaching problem.
We had three very good attacking players on the pitch today, but as usual, it was an absolute struggle to involve them in the game. There’s no structured idea of how we move the ball forward, that results in long dangerous balls or a total breakdown and a quick turnover.
No one likes xG, but just like last season, it’s always a precursor to a correction. We had a lot of luck at the start of the season and we were bailed out by individual brilliance. I think the game against Leicester was an example of individual talent not being on hand to rescue a bad system.
Leicester have great individuals, but they combined that with a sense of identity and a vision of how to play the game. Brendan Rodgers has them organised, energised and playing great football. As Matt said on the podcast in the week, football players just want to know what to do. I’m not sure Unai Emery has his players singing off his hymnsheet (horrible tune no doubt). We looked good in patches, but the game was same old, same old. Unai Emery went away to Leicester hoping to defend deeply and nick a win, depressing when you consider how shite Leicester were last season before Rodgers took over.
I can understand why Emery is hiding behind negative tactics against a good side, he’s had it rough the last few weeks, the problem I have is that’s generally the way he approaches every game. The vision he has for the team is more miserable than it needs to be. He’s treating our squad like he’s back in Sevilla, something the PSG players moaned about. I don’t think the players want to play that way. I think a coach with a bit more confidence would recognise that our front three are amongst the most lethal in the league, and the depth is pretty decent as well. We’re geared up to play an explosive brand of scary attacking football. We need a coach that can play that way.
That’s not coming under Emery and his negative football isn’t paying off. I can’t see him surviving much longer, but as I’ve written about extensively this week, there don’t seem to be many options open to the leadership team.
Freddie, Mourinho, Allegri and Wenger. I like Allegri, but as I wrote yesterday, we’d be matching an elite manager to a situation that is going to require time and a lot of patience. I am guessing he wants to win the Champions League with his next outfit, and I would imagine he’d want instant funding to get there, that’s not us. I’m not sure it’s a fit. Freddie is too junior, Mourinho is an arsonist, and Wenger is a no go.
But what do you do? You have to have a crack at reviving the season, and that’s clearly not going to happen under Emery who appears to have lost the confidence of the players.
This is where the Edu has to come armed with a solution. Trouble for him is that the up and coming managers doing great work at the moment are unlikely going to want to move to a dumpster fire midseason even if the club is tempting.
… making a decision under duress could lead us to a 4-year disaster that makes this look like a drop in the ocean. I don’t want to be the ‘careful what you wish for’ guy, but remember, Raul was captivated by Unai Emery, so I can’t imagine what his shortlist is looking like, but I’d imagine Luis Enrique and Jose Mourinho is the shade of manager we’re looking at. The ‘we need a winner’ solve. The United path.
We’re breaking for international week, I’d imagine we’ll find out in the next two days what the club is going to do. If nothing happens now, he’ll be here until January, and boy, that December to Jan fixture list is brutal. But at least it might give the club a little more time to source someone who can stabilize and build.
We’ll see though, choppy waters ahead regardless. See you in the comments.