So we had some words from Unai yesterday and he gave us an update on availability ahead of Sunday’s lunchtime kick off against Everton. Torreira is still suspended for doing less than Danny Rose did against Bernd Leno in the same game, whilst Xhaka and Koscielny are the main worries ahead of the trip up to the North West. Both have been vital to so much of our success in recent weeks and if both are missing on Sunday it will inevitably have an effect on our set up against the Toffees. If you think about the other options – Guendouzi and Mustafi – it is certainly a step down in quality in my opinion. Guendouzi will be brilliant in years to come but perhaps the season has caught up with him and in terms of a midfield duo I feel less comfortable with him and Ramsey in the base than when Xhaka and Ramsey play in the base with a back three. Hopefully the Swiss is back for us on Sunday. He missed the game against Newcastle and whilst that game he wasn’t as sorely missed, I think we need him fit to give ourselves the best possible chance of three points against Everton.
It was interesting that Emery was also asked about Ozil and he gave a pretty glowing report given how the german has been portrayed at times this season. People are saying that Ozil is doing more than ever before but I haven’t seen too much different if I’m honest. Ozil has always filled space, got goal side, put the odd ball recovery in, he’s just not that great at it. He hasn’t got better but there are plenty of people who seem to be re-writing a bit of a narrative. But whatever. The most important thing is he’s back in contention in the team and the result is we get a better player in our side and one who was one of the best players on the pitch against Newcastle on Monday. If he plays on Sunday hopefully he can replicate that form.
The rest of the press conference was pretty bland I have to say. Emery is mastering the art of going through a 15 minute press conference without saying anything of note. It is quite impressive. The amount of actual nuggets you can gleam from it. He talked about being happy where the team is at the moment, that it is progressing fine, that Lacazette may or may not play, that away form will determine the top four race for us. Kind of all obvious if you think about it. I’ve spoken at length about the latter point and that’s just simple facts; we play away from home five times out of seven so of course it’s going to affect our form. Half of me wonders whether it’s actually the benign questions that the assembled hacks ask. I mean if you’re going to ask things like “How important is your away form going to be?” then I guess we can’t really blame Emery for answering the question in the most nondescript way possible.
Still, I suppose all of this is just preamble because ultimately it’s the shizzle that takes place tomorrow at 2pm that we’re really concerned about, which could be massive for us. We didn’t spend long in third but a win tomorrow gets us back in it and I think we play again before them so it would be yet more opportunity to crank up a little more pressure on the media darlings.
What he did point out about the away form is that we bat Huddersfield and had a good performance against the Totts and in that respect he’s right, but it’s that Tottenham performance and the intensity of it that we need to replicate. Everton are in form and they’ll bring it to us on Sunday. We have to be ready for it and we need to make sure we have an answer for what they throw at us.
That’s me for another one. Match preview tomorrow. Laters.