I’ve been on the cusp of sharing my thoughts in a setting like this for some time but as things stand, even amidst the most dismal years under Wenger, I would go as far as saying that things have never been this bleak and beige. For all of the trials and tribulations some of Wenger’s tenure exposed us to, I always empathised with the man. He was stubborn but brilliant. He never sacrificed his principles and however ineffective his methods were at times, his intention was always plain to see.
It’s at this point I find myself at a quandary with Emery’s Arsenal as I see no principles besides an obstinate insistence we play out from the back and shoulder no responsibility onto our players if they have a bad game. Where last season, we found the majority of our chances came (save from more than a few moments of individual brilliance from the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette) down the wings, by overlapping fullbacks on the wings and sending balls of varying degrees of quality into the box. Without such clinical strikers, I can’t help but feel even this somewhat redeeming aspect of Emery’s Arsenal would also be exposed.
This season bears all the hallmarks of a regression. At no point have our performances in the League ever given me the impression that there was disharmony between the results and what happened on the pitch. Whereas last season’s unbeaten run only had some questioning if we were over-performing or if this was more of what we could expect from Emery’s Arsenal, there can be no question as to what is now the norm.
We’ve trundled along from one fixture to the next this season and with the exception of some Cup routs against lesser opposition, there was been a dearth of creativity in virtually every game. In the wake of Monday night’s defeat at the hands of newly promoted Sheffield United, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to the performance and aftermath of our muddled and frankly painful draw away to Watford. Not because we played similarly but because of the sentiments we were subjected to after the game from the likes of Xhaka and Emery.
The former has been a popular figure to place blame on and while his performances do not always warrant the level of criticism he receives, some of the words that have come from our captain this season are certainly cause for concern. That being said, he was quick to lambast the idea that it was out of their control; “we have to stop speaking about mental [issues] and bullshit like this”. Words I can at least get behind.
The real question is whether this defeat will be the start of a more serious introspection into what lies ahead for Emery and Arsenal this season and whether he will still be at the helm by the end of it. I can’t help but wonder if the trio of Edu, Raul and Vinai would consider a mid-season change of manager (or head coach as they’re so often called these days..) but I do feel time is running out for Unai. We have a kind(er) run of fixtures in the next 10 League games – the question is whether we’ll be subjected to more of the same
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Thanks for the kind words, I try and be consistent so I’m glad you’re happy to do the same
Another great piece, i’m starting to make this a regular stop after games!