As I was on my early morning run I was listening to an Arsenal podcast and contemplating our new life under Emery and the egos in the dressing room.
Talk turned to Aaron Ramsey being benched, to whether Mesut Özil will keep his place, to Xhaka, then also the impact that Guendouzi has had. And it occurred to me that by the time this season has finished we’re going to have some bruised egos and that – probably – there will be a ‘favourite’ or two who will probably be on their way out.
On Monday Night Football on Sky Sports Gary Neville had some very sensible things to say about Arsenal and the building process, about how the players will need to adapt to Emery’s style, drawing on his time at Valencia. Neville is a very good pundit and his words resonated with a lot of us I know, but what he did say was that when he was at Valencia he tried to adapt the style based on the players he had rather than continue with his own style that he had adopted in the weeks previous.
It confused the players he said. There had been weeks of training and set up in a certain way and now they were being asked to do something different. It just didn’t work.
So back to Arsenal and the players we have in our current system and we have all seen for our own eyes how Emery wants to play. We know what he wants and how he wants to build and as Neville quite rightly pointed out, he testing some players at the moment to see if they’re going to come along on his journey.
Some won’t. I suspect some of those will be some of the ‘big’ first team players. You only have to look at our first team imbalance to see that we’re going to lose one or two I think. The talk of Ramsey being unhappy because he was benched just feels like the start. I suspect there will be games where Özil starts to feel the heat, where Mkhi isn’t chosen as first choice and we’re we adequately stocked with competition at the back then I suspect Mustafi and Sokratis would be two players who would be starting to feel the heat already.
The introduction of Guendouzi, however, coupled with some of the clear deficiencies in Xhaka’s all round game, suggests to me that he might be one of the first of the ‘favoured’ players that might see less game time. Guendouzi will have mistakes and he will have bad patches of form but he’s already showing that he has the intensity for big games. That’s a positive sign.
But potentially not for Xhaka because I think we’re going to see more of Torreira and less of the Swiss based on current trend. Xhaka is a player who divides opinion and for me I love to see a deep lying quarterback-style player with his passing range spreading the ball around, but I fear that Emery might lose patience with him if we see more displays like the first two games. In the second part of the first half against Chelski he certainly picked up, but I thought he was poor against City overall and then was hooked at halftime against Chelski. Emery blamed the yellow card but that was a handy excuse for me.
I have a feeling that he wasn’t happy with the Swiss’ performance.
There’s going to be some bruised egos and I even wonder if that will continue this weekend. Think about it; we’re unlikely to use Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Özil, Lacazette and Aubameyang all in the same team. Not unless we’re planning on playing with two defenders and a ‘keeper. Although given how shoddy our back line was for the first half an hour against Chelski it’s an idea. If we can’t stop from conceding we might as well go “ALL THE GOALS” and just sack off the other side of the game completely…
Of course I jest, but my point about bruised egos remains because I don’t think Emery will completely chop and change his team every week. I suspect we’ll get in to the first six to ten games and suddenly a more regular first team will emerge.
When that happens, I think we’ll have a good idea as to which of the first team players won’t be at the club come next season.
But who will that be? Only time will tell…
A quick ‘p.s. for you all: tonight I’ll once again be on LoveSport Radio with Dave and Harry talking about the game last weekend. For those that don’t know it’s a new station that’s been set up to give more voice to fans, as opposed to stations like TalkSPORT who just want to incite fans and wind them up. If you have something. You want to say don’t be shy! Give us a call on 0044208 7020558 or tweet us any question and we’ll try to answer it. You can listen on London DAB digital radio (just search LoveSport) or on 558AM.
We’re live from 7pm until 8.30pm every Wednesday so would love to hear from anyone who wants to talk Arsenal.