If anybody was expecting anything other than the turgid football we got last night, can you make yourself known to the nearest steward, because you might need some kind of psychological evaluation.
Yesterday late afternoon Unai Emery’s Arsenal side delivered an utter stinkfest, again, which saw us outplayed by a team who my mother asked why she’d never seen them in European football last night. My response was “because they’re a relatively small Portuguese club, mum, but don’t let how bad Arsenal are make you think you’ll be seeing a lot more of them”.
That may sound harsh but I think it’s true. They’re a hard working outfit, but any professional football side should be and whoever walked out on the pitch in yellow shorts yesterday, should have been able to comfortably dispatch them.
Instead we’re all here this Thursday morning once again talking about how Arsenal have blown yet another lead. How Arsenal conceded too many shots (although I concede that the opposition took a lot of long range speculative ones). How Arsenal are, quite frankly, very boring to watch.
When the game ended I was just relieved I could go out and enjoy the rest of my evening. That’s what’s happened this season. Football has become a chore, like vacuuming, or cleaning the bathrooms. Unai Emery is managing an Arsenal side that are sucking the life out of foot all matches. We don’t play at a high tempo, we don’t counter attack at pace, we don’t control possession, we don’t really use width properly, we don’t flood the middle of the park and dominate spaces.
I have no idea what we do well.
Well, I guess we give up leads well, or penalties. We’re also good at giving opposition hope.
The funk at the club has spread like wildfire across the whole squad. It now doesn’t matter what competition we’re in or which set of players play, we look terrible, disorganised and the players don’t look like they know what the manager wants. Yesterday he switched to yet another formation, this time with three at the back, but it didn’t provide anything different other than the same pedestrian passing. Ceballos was poor again I thought. Mainland-Niles had a couple of good runs but little else. Joe Willock and Buyako Saka we’re fairly anonymous throughout and at this stage you have to wonder how much developmental damage is being done by playing them in this team. Because they’re certainly not improving since their bright starts at the beginning of the season.
Vitoria were industrious and hard working, but they weren’t really tested defensively. We created little in the final third – again – and as per the last four or five games, this felt like a team completely devoid of confidence and attacking flair.
And there Emery stood on the sideline. In the rain and looking on, Lord only knows what he made of it all or what he saw, because at full time he was telling the journos that we did well and created chances.
We don’t. We lurch from one match to the next and with each match we look worse going forward and concede calamity goals. Yesterday’s goal from Vitoria was scored from inside the six yard box, with six Arsenal players also in the box, yet the Vitoria player still had a good four or so yards to complete a bicycle kick in injury time. It was no more than Vitoria deserved.
And it’s no more than we deserved. Because we continue to persist with a manager who has lost the plot, lost the dressing room and by the sounds of what he said in the post match presser, lost his mind.
This Arsenal team has good players. Working in a proper system this Arsenal team can be successful. I’m sure of it. Top four is the aim and I feel like that is totally achievable. But not with this manager. Not from what we’ve seen.
I think he knows it too. This desperate tinkering with the formation and players feels like the act of a desperate man. It feels like the last throwing of the dice. Yet the House keeps giving him credit to have another go. Surely it can’t last much longer, can it? A loss at the weekend to Leicester will leave us nine points off top four and even at this stage in the season, that feels like a big ask to claw back, because Chelski and Leicester are in form and picking up points.
Yesterday’s result in itself wasn’t really the worst thing in the world. We’re on 10 points, we’re probably getting through to the next round and anyways, it’s a cup we don’t want to be in so it’s hard to get too emotional. But it’s more a symptom of what has been happening and merely another data point to show that we are in a spiral at the moment and the only way to potentially reverse it is to see if we can jump start the team with a new manager at the helm.
I’d love Emery to be able to turn this around because I want Arsenal to be successful. If he was able to do a ‘Conte’ and find a formula that turns us into a team capable of going on a really long winning run that would be amazing. But what I’m seeing is not just a quick formation fix. He’s tried that many times and it hasn’t worked. What this is, is a rot that has set in, so what we need to do now is cut him out and see if we can repair the damage that is being done almost every game now.
More thoughts tomorrow.
Catch you guys later.