How the hell do les one even begin to try to make sense of that madness last night? Utterly bonkers. Crazy. On both teams part.
But, sadly, it’s once again Arsenal who fall short and once again it’s the manager who has a few questions to answer.
Thankfully he answered the Mesut Özil question relatively swiftly last night and having only played 65 minutes last night, if Özil doesn’t start on Saturday I’d be surprised, because he was making us tick creatively and in doing so make the managers decision to completely ostracise him even more infuriating. We all know that Özil hasn’t been as good as he was yesterday for some time, but by not even having him in the matchday squad at times this season, what Emery proved last night is that he’s quite happy to have his nose cut off to spite his face.
The positives from yesterday came in Mesut Özil’s performance, but also other creative outlets like Martinelli too, who is becoming more and more likeable by the second. He presses with the intensity of Alexis Sanchez. He has bagged goals in the box showing a predatory instinct and last night botched up six and seven for the season. He is also good in the air and he’s a real nuisance for defenders. All the talk is of him being a wife forward but to me he is looking every bit the centre forward and the hope has to be that he can continue this very positive trajectory.
Lucas Torreira too have a display which suggests he needs to be in contention for the first team and soon. It’s looked like the manager just doesn’t really fancy him this season and that actually feels like it’s a good thing, because everything Emery does right now seems to be winding up us Arsenal fans and there were things about last night that did the same.
Like our defending. Which let’s face it, is all kinds of comical, because how can you go away from home and score five goals yet still end up being knocked out of a cup competition. Emery stated last week that he’s improved us defensively since he joined. I totally and utterly refute that and although there’s little he can do about Mustafi being Mustafi for the first and sliding in an OG, the fact that we twice blew leads, having also blown a lead against Palace and Watford already this season, feels like it’s emblematic of his time in management. Let’s not forget his PSG team bottled it against Barcelona, as well as his Valencia team going out to Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup after being a goal up and TWO men up following two red cards at the Bernabau.
Simply put, Unai Emery instils fear in his teams and for all of the video watching he does, his teams have a pattern of not being able to close out games, which is why we are out of the Man City Cup today.
That’s one of the few saving graces – that City will most likely win it again given the squad they have – although even that needs to be caveated. That’s because Liverpool fielded a much weaker side than us, full of kids, looked woeful at the back, yet still managed to progress. Can you imagine the result of Klopp would have named a strong team? It would have been a massacre with our defence.
Which is why I’m still frustrated this morning because for all of the positives going forward, the coach is still to instil enough belief into his players to see out a game like this, because we have absolutely no structure and discipline whoever is picked to play for The Arsenal. Setting the team up, motivating and instilling belief in players is the responsibility of the playing staff, and I’m afraid Emery has proven once again that he has no clue in that regard. We need to move on from him and we need to do it quickly.
We play Wolves at the weekend and at least some of the senior players like Özil and Torreira are forcing the manager to rethink his plans because he would clearly not be doing it himself if he had the choice. That’s what it feels like needs to happen for this season not to fall off a proverbial cliff; it feels like individual players are going to have to show such form on an individual basis, that this structureless team just has a series of talented ‘free form musicians’ all creating something special each week for us to have any kind of success. It won’t come from the managers decision to set his team up, it will come from moments and performances of brilliance, like we’ve seen Auba do all season so far, like Özil/Torreira/Martinelli did last night.
This result has in no way alleviated any concerns that this manager knows why he’s doing. But at least it gave us some brief moments of hope.
Let’s end on another positive though. The positives are another game for Bellerin and he’s looking better each time. Plus the Willock goal was an absolute peach to enjoy.
Catch you all tomorrow.