Sadly I had a feeling we were due a performance from Arsenal at home like we got yesterday. Lethargic, leggy and lackadaisical with some absolutely comical defending that really gifted Palace all three points yesterday.
Unai Emery rotates once again and I’m came Jenkinson, Mavropanos and Mustafi in defence, followed by a midfield duo of Mohammed Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi. He started both Auba and Laca up top and Özil behind and despite the fact that it is a terrible midfield, on our own patch that team should be good enough to get over the line ahead of a Crystal Palace team who place a lot of reliance on Wilfred Zaha.
Yet yesterday we got our noses blooded by counter attacking football and frankly comical defending.
For the first goal Palace scored Jenkinson played Benteke onside. It was poor from the Corporal and an example of why he hasn’t played much this season and probably won’t play much more. He was hooked by Emery at halftime and I suspect that’s the last we’ll see of him in an Arsenal shirt. But even though he was to blame for playing him onside, we need to look at who was marking Benteke because he had the freedom of the Emirates.
And Palace should probably have been further ahead in that first half, but for an excellent double save from Leno, one of the few players who can come away from yesterday’s game knowing he’s done his bit.
We can have complaints that we should have had a stonewall penalty for handball in the first half but in truth our play didn’t really warrant us going in at halftime level. Inevitably Unai changed it at halftime and we looked to have a bit of drive about us. Iwobi looked good when he came on, Özil got a good early goal, then you’re expecting Arsenal to push on and win the game.
But you’re always making life difficult for yourself when you defend like we did yesterday. One long ball over the top and Mustafi should have dealt with the ball. Instead he just let Zaha through and Palace were further ahead. It was shocking defending and the type of error we’ve seen too much from him over the last few years. It’s why we need to be searching for a new centre half and it’s why we should be cashing in our chips on him because that wasn’t acceptable.
Neither was the marking for Palace’s third goal. THIRD GOAL. You can’t concede three goals at home to a team who have literally nothing to play for. It was totally unacceptable and whilst we can question the managers selection decision he tried to change it at halftime and he can’t legislate for the clown defending that Mustafi gave us yesterday.
We responded through a goal from Auba but it was about the only thing he did yesterday. Lacazette was busy but offered little, Özil flitted in and out of the game, there were just too many players who delivered average performances.
The midfield pairing of Guendouzi and Elneny just doesn’t work. Emery has to try something else. It gives us no control, we look like a pub team and the space they fill just feels like they’re in the team just to make up the numbers. Guendouzi has run out of steam in his first season and I get that, but Elneny offers nothing whatsoever and I just hope he isn’t starting any more games. We miss Xhaka and Torreira so much and I pray both come back in for Wolves and Leicester away.
They are two teams who also have nothing to play for but yesterday was a warning to us that this team aren’t home and dry by a long shot. We are poor away from home and we were poor yesterday. We have three away games and one home game left and if we’d have won yesterday you’d think that we’d have had a buffer for at least one or two defeats away. As it stands now I think we probably need to win three of our final four to stand a chance of Champions League football. Chelski will win tonight and that will put them three points clear of us. Which means we simply must go to Wolves and win. If we don’t have a fully fit midfield duo of Xhaka and Torreira that feels increasingly more unlikely.
Unai needs to go back to the drawing board. Yesterday was unacceptable.