Having talked quite a bit yesterday on our Wednesday night ‘A Little Bit Arsenal’ show about how Emery isn’t afraid to hook players regardless of their status in the squad, this morning I find myself waking up thinking about the substitutions he’s making at the moment, wondering whether it will remain that way all season.
I’m not entirely convinced it will you know.
The reason I say this is because we’re still so early in the season and he’s still so unsure of all of his players, that it feels to me like he’s going to be making these types of frequent substitutions on a more regular basis earlier in games, but only whilst he properly susses out his team.
I could be completely wrong of course. This could just be exactly who Emery is. But the substitutions and the decisiveness in the way they’ve been made, feels to me a little like a man who selected a team for an opposition, realised “oh sh*t, that didn’t work” and then has shuffled his pack a little.
There’s nothing wrong with that by the way. We’re all human and he shouldn’t be expected to make the exact perfect line up against every opposition; football is a game of so many variables that it is a very difficult task. But it does feel like right now he’s still testing a lot of players and that’s why we’re seeing halftime subs.
I get the feeling that by the time 2019 rolls around we’ll be seeing less of these changes. By then he’ll have had half a season with his players, they’ll have been fully embedded in his philosophy and they’ll understand what he wants. And by then those that don’t play by Emery’s rules will surely be finding themselves with less game time.
That’s how it should be. The coach is there to ‘coach’ a style and we can’t have players dictating the way the team lines up. For one thing our footballers have shown that they aren’t really capable of doing things on their own. That was Arsène’s approach – to let players work out situations on the field through his trust of them and their own intelligence – and it didn’t work. So now we’re doing things Emery’s way and that means that some players probably aren’t going to be coming on the journey. They’ll probably find themselves getting yanked more too.
But for now it feels like there are opportunities for quite a few players and hopefully that is enough to keep most of them motivated. Iwobi, for example, had patches of good play against Chelski and even cropped up with a goal. He spoke about feeling sharper under Unai and if there is any other player who is wondering how they are going to get in to the team, the inclusion of Iwobi gives hope to a few, because last season was pretty shoddy from him and at times we Arsenal fans were left scratching our heads as to how he gets in to the side.
But he played at the weekend and you have to say that by-and-large he did ok. If he’s taking the positives from Unai and his methods, then the next few months will tell us a lot about which players are reacting and which aren’t, and of course the way the substitutions are made will be key.
There’s a fair bit of talk about Özil and how he might be a player who could be for the chop. Personally I don’t see it. I vehemently defended him yesterday on the show and I maintain that a team with him in it is infinitely better than a team without it. But what we have to do is find the balance in the side to make him shine.
I think that will come and it feels like these first two games will be treated in the correct isolation that they should be viewed. But this weekend there needs to be a performance. From a lot of players. We need to see a reaction and we need a win for the players to feel like we’re going in the right direction. They’re all saying positive things now, there still seems to be a good spirit in the camp and these players appear to be taking the substitutions in the right way, but a few more defeats and you start to wonder how much longer that will go on for.
I’m sure we’ll get some sort of injury update today, or maybe tomorrow from the boss, but until then it’s adios amigos and ciao for another day.