Morning folks, welcome to Tuesday and whilst it’s not exactly Arsenal related, it appears as though Aston Villa are getting a little bit of an Arsenal connection as their next manager, as Unai Emery has been confirmed as their new appointment from Villareal. It’s an interesting appointment and not one I would have expected and I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I bear no ill will towards Emery. His time at Arsenal didn’t really work and he struggled to really develop the kind of game that connected with us fans like we have at the moment with Arteta. But I never thought he was a bad person and in a way it was kind of pleasing to see him find his feet back with Villareal. I guess that is what surprises me somewhat, because at Villareal he’s in charge of a club who love him and with whom he made history for by winning the Europa League, a club currently seventh in La Liga and a club who he’d built a core of players that seem to be performing for him. He’s now joining a Villa team who sit just three points above the relegation zone.
I suppose if you talk about the money he’s probably got a pay rise coming by getting back in to the Premier League. And with his time at Arsenal ultimately being seen as something that failed, he probably fancies having a crack at proving that he’s a good manager who can deliver success to an English team. I’m not sure what success is for Villa but I’d expect it to be to get to the top half of the table, then maybe look to be around eighth with a good cup run, perhaps? If that’s what they’re thinking then he’d probably a very good fit and he’ll certainly be an upgrade for them from a tactical point of view. So let’s just see how he fairs in his second stint in England.
But let’s return to Arsenal, as there have been a few bits of news trickling out today, as we have found out that the Christmas fixtures have been re-arranged on Boxing Day and New Years Eve. We are now going to be playing West Ham at 8pm on Boxing Day and 5.30pm away on New Years Eve. That’s going to be a bit of a pain in the arse for some fans’ travel arrangements I suspect, but for me personally it’s a bit of a touch, actually. I have my family Christmas on Boxing Day and I’ll be travelling down from The Management’s in Northumberland, which means I don’t have to get her up super early so we get on the road to make a 3pm kick off, whereas I won’t be going to Brighton on New Year’s Eve, but I will be getting changed to have a big one, so I can watch the footie whilst drinking beer as she gets changed. Happy days!
Elsewhere, just to reiterate what a shocker of a refereeing performance we had on Sunday, Gabriel Jesus said he asked the ref why he didn’t get a penalty for the decision of the centre half holding on to him soon after we scored. The reason he was given? He needs to go down in the box earlier. I’m sorry, but how the actual Friar Tuck is this man a Premier League referee? If what Gabby J is saying is true – and we have no reason to believe he isn’t repeating what he was told by Rob Jones – then the ref has basically admitted that it was a foul in the box but he decided not to give it. That is an utter disgrace. That is farcical. If Rob Jones had said something like “there wasn’t enough contact in my opinion”, or “I think he didn’t touch you” then you can understand why he hasn’t given it, but to admit that he was looking for exaggeration from the player as justification for giving a spot kick is just wrong. Absolutely wrong. I hope we don’t have to see that amateur ref a Premier League game again. Disgraceful.
Gabby J himself knows, however, that he needs to up his game in terms of his finishing though. To his credit he did admit that after the game and let’s not get too beat up on his lack of scoring; he’s contributing in so many ways and whereas last season people made a lot of Lacazette’s contribution for the team as some kind of justification for his complete lack of goals, what we’re seeing with Gabby J is a player who does bring more intensity, chases down everything, has so much more technical ability and has massively uplifted this team. Let’s not forget that Lacazette got six goals in all competitions last season. He played 35 times to get those six goals. Gabriel Jesus has five goals in 13 matches this season. If you multiply that out to around what Lacazette played – 15 goals in 39 games isn’t exactly where he’d want to be as he’s a guy who would want to be bagging north of 20, but with so many players also chipping in with goals this season, even those extra goals will have a massive impact on our season. If you add an extra 10 goals to our side last season, how many more points do you think it brings us? Let’s be harsh and say it makes the difference as a winner in turning two games in to wins and one game in to a draw. That’s 76 points we’d have finished on last season. Nowhere near City and Liverpool, but it puts us two points clear of Chelsea and has us as the third best team in the league. At the moment people are arguing whether Arsenal are the second best team in the league behind Man City and I think people still think Liverpool will pick up, which I’m sure they will, but if we can show that step up in our points tally with other players chipping in with more goals as well as Gabriel Jesus, then you won’t hear too many Arsenal fans complaining about the upgrade we paid £45million for in the summer just gone.
So I’m quite chilled about Gabby J and his lack of goals in recent matches. I’m sure they will come and hopefully that starts this weekend against Nottingham Forest.
Right, I’m going to leave it there for today, as I have plenty of work to do as I prep for me holidays. Catch you all tomorrow.