Arsenal do themselves little credit at the Amex

Online Ed: Points shared at Brighton

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Let’s start off with an email from contributor Ian Henry, received a few minutes after the final whistle. He wrote as follows –

Subject: Over to you Sven and Raul

I started writing this as half time approached against Brighton.  Leaving aside the typical Arsenal manner of conceding the equaliser, and whatever happens in the 2nd half, it seems to me that Sven and Raul have some work to do in the January transfer window for Arsenal to maintain their potential challenge for a top 4 finish.

The squad is clearly stretched and the serious injuries to Welbeck and Holding have to be addressed by signing players.  Add to this the continued absence of Mavropanos, occupying a vital place in the squad with no sign of him playing, and the unavoidable conclusion that neither Koscielny nor Monreal can play more than a game a week without risking injury and it is clear where reinforcements are required.

And this is where it gets interesting …. The first team squad lists 25 players on the website of which 8 are home grown and 17 overseas; Guendouzi, as u21, allows one over 21 overseas player to be bought without letting another overseas player go.  Ozil’s departure (inevitable surely after being hooked at half time?) would allow another overseas player to be bought but other than perhaps Elneny, I can’t see which other overseas players would be sold. With two of the home-grown slots occupied by long term injuries (Welbz and Holding, neither of whom are likely to play this season) and at least one effectively redundant home-grown place (Jenkinson), it seems to me that reinforcements are likely to have to come from home grown contingents at other PL clubs.

I think we need at least one centre back, preferably two, a 3rd striker (Nketiah is too raw) and a player to replace Ozil/Ramsey; I would like a proper winger but Emery doesn’t seem to like that kind of player.  However, I can’t see the necessary strengthening happening myself.  Which is why, sadly, I think we will have to settle for a battle for 5th with a resurgent ManU. And we can imagine how that one is going to play out.

The second half performance kind of confirms that; very stodgy, no sign of a killer pass, in fact barely a forward pass at all of note in the 2nd half, and a defence which will be ripped apart at Anfield I have no doubt. (Ends)

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It was a case of Arsenal shooting themselves in the foot, again. They had started so well, with Aubameyang nearly lobbing the keeper out of the blue, before not long after, determination from Torreira and Lacazette gave the number 14 another chance, and this time he found the Brighton net. It could have been 2-0 before Brighton seriously threatened, but Aubameyang’s low shot was tipped away by the keeper. Arsenal looked in control of the game, but then came the sucker punch.

From an overhit Arsenal corner, the ball was punted upfield, Lichtsteiner got something of a head on it, but merely teed up the onrushing Brighton forwards. Leno tried to beat Locadia to the loose ball, but lost, and seconds later it was 1-1. At half-time the pundits pointed out Ozil failing to track the scorer. Emery doubtless saw the same, and hooked the German at half time. I’m not even certain Ozil came back out to sit on the bench after the interval. I doubt he’s ever been asked to work as hard when the ball is with the opposition as he has under Emery, and his default is not to do it. What’s his incentive to change? Answers on a postcard to the head coach. It really seems a matter of when rather than if he plays for another club, although the how is the real teaser. Ozil wasn't solely culpable for the goal, but it was unfortunately his man who scored, given he was closest to him as the ball was moved forward. Defending as a team sometimes means covering for colleagues out of position, as will often be the case with a break from a corner.

Arsenal had started the game with a back four and two recognized central defenders. It didn’t stop the full backs bombing on as if they were wing backs, although there was an element of compensation with three bodies in central midfield.

In the second half, Chris Hughton instructed his players to press Arsenal from their goal kicks and the team struggled to adapt. There was less possession and less time spent in Brighton’s half. Sad to say, Hughton seemed to have outwitted Emery. Iwobi had replaced Ozil, and with his front two starved of service, Emery then decided to put Aaron Ramsey on for Lacazette, whose displeasure at being withdrawn was obvious. In the end, Emery even tried a back three, by removing Koscielny, presumably with Liverpool in mind, and Xhaka and Lichtsteiner filling in either side of Sokratis. Ainsley Maitland-Niles came on to play the right wing back.

The best chance in the remainder of the game fell to Brighton when Solly March missed the chance to lob Leno.

It was the kind of game that Arsenal need to win if their ambitions of a top four place are to be realized in May. As it is, in spite of the good run since August that ended at Southampton, there remains a feeling that Emery has got as much as he can from this group of players, some of them signed under his watch. There are valid doubts about Leno, Guendouzi and Lichtsteiner, although it must be remembered that the club did not have much to spend last summer. And of course, he has had to work with players he has inherited, such as Ozil, Iwobi, Xhaka and company. Emery has brought back exciting times in terms of the team’s forward play, although the way that Brighton were able to nullify them without Ozil is a concern. Then again, the game should have been put to bed before the home side scored, Arsenal were that much on top. But the weakness at the back, in terms of individual abilities and getting caught out gung-ho on the break, has cost them plenty of points.

It’s not over. Emery’s team has now played against every other Premier League side once, so we wait to see what he brings to the table when he faces them a second time. Yet as Ian Henry said in his email, there needs to be some movement in and out of the squad, a process that will need to continue until Emery gets the right blend. There are moments of quality from this Arsenal side, but there is a lot of chaff as well. It’s going to take a while to get it right, and we must be patient, even if games like yesterday’s seem to leave us with more questions than answers.

Liverpool next…

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16
comments

  1. mbg

    Dec 28, 2018, 17:16 #112764

    Sad that our keeper situation/position has never been rectified since Seaman, how longs that now ? Always one of our strong positions along with the defence, an old fraud who didn't worry or care about the position thought he knew better, maybe Unai will do something about it at last.

  2. Exiled in Pt

    Dec 28, 2018, 12:59 #112761

    Good post Cornish in full agreement with you . Lets be honest we have never been a major force in world football , not even in European football, look at the lack of trophies . Only in our domestic league can we claim to of once been a major force. That stopped the day the club was sold down the river by tango Dein and the other very wealthy board members who cashed in! As far as transfers go if we are lucky Cahill might come in about 5 seasons to late , to occupy one of those homegrown spots . Forget any big money signings that is not going to happen. As for Dick he has done a great job so far but i do question his player choices over last 4 games if he has to play a back 3 surely Elneny is a better fit than Xaka who could then slot back in next to Torreira and give Guendo a rest .

  3. CORNISH GOONER

    Dec 28, 2018, 10:44 #112760

    When did 26 become the new 30? But I get it - a dose of realism kicks in & now, across all sites, it's Open Season on Dick ( not Stanley) whose CV is terrifically better than new fave Der Kloppmeister. Unbelievable. Why should Dick put up with this when we should be apportioning blame to "The Club"?

  4. mad max

    Dec 28, 2018, 10:44 #112759

    bard, look what pochettino has done for the spuds on half our wage bill, I think the chances of us being successful under emery comes down to recruitment and how much say he has in it. too many players from a very average Bundesliga in my opinion we need to spend more as our youngsters from the academy are not good enough, only reiss nelson has the quality needed, and that includes smith.-rowe . calum chambers seems to have improved a lot playing as a midfielder at Fulham. we must recruit in January ozil must leave and we need a replacement for ramsey, worrying times ahead

  5. Bard

    Dec 27, 2018, 21:51 #112756

    Max I stand corrected mate, although 30 for a keeper is youngish these days. But totally agree he isnt good enough. The interesting question for me is how long Emery will put up with coaching a below par outfit. It gets down to that thorny issue of the club's ambition. The Spuds and Liverpool have gone up a level and that puts us struggling with Manure for 5th/6th spot. Not good enough for me but will hold fire until after the window.

  6. mad max

    Dec 27, 2018, 19:18 #112755

    Bard, you called him young Leno the geezer is approaching his 30th birthday, quite simply not good enough to be The Arsenal no 1 nobody else was interested in signing him. and I don't think Emery fancies him that much that's why he was reluctant to start him at the start of the season, we we're linked with him long before Dick took over sven mstinlat seems over keen on signing players from the Bundesliga.i see in the papers today we've been linked with Kaylor navas i'd take him over leno any day, koscielny needs to be offloaded the guy is finished, go get gary cahill as cover for rob holding, and ever banega in midfield would be 2 great signings for January, get rid of the german hiding behind his snood, mildest December for years and he's feeling the cold I can just imagine tony adams slamming him up against the dressing room wall what a wuss. I don't hold out much hope for a trophy this season unless we spend just cant see Kroenke sanctioning it. sadly we are no longer a major force in world football

  7. Bard

    Dec 27, 2018, 18:34 #112754

    I dont think yesterday should be a surprise, surely. As the emailer to Kev suggested we are seriously short on quality personnel. We too often look like a midtable side, defensively. I have also noted how many mistakes young Leno is making. He is a good shot stopper but his command of the area is piss poor. The goal we gave away was a shocker. Yes indeed over to the back room team. But here is the rub, the club have been quite clear that they dont think the Jan window offers quality. Its all very well taking the long view but in reality we have a great chance of top 4 this season. Next year Chelsea and Manure will be much stronger.

  8. mbg

    Dec 27, 2018, 17:20 #112753

    mad max, good post i've noticed that myself gone is the pushing forward, forward passing and we're reverting to the tippy tappy approach again very worrying indeed, maybe there's a reason for it, the personal, or some thing, hopefully the transfer window will sort things out, it better.

  9. mbg

    Dec 27, 2018, 16:52 #112752

    A draw and it might as well have been a loss, pure rubbish, serious work to be done especially in the transfer window four needed and the same out, a £350k a week waste of space, and a donkey of a defender in Koscielny who's hobby is limping for starters. Way way behind the top boys at the minute but of course we knew that anyway.

  10. mad max

    Dec 27, 2018, 14:59 #112751

    after a promising start under Emery we now seem to be going backwards we need to speed up our passing, so many passes sideways and backwards, I know injuries have been cruel, but it just highlights the lack of quality in the squad, Mesut ozil's departure from the club must be a top priority, koscielny is finished, iwobi is and never has been good to play for the Arsenal, leno is not the answer to our goalkeeping problem, serious investment is needed but ain't gonna happen under Kroenke's ownership, I see a rocky few years for Arsenal it's taken Liverpool 29 years to become a real top team again, sadly I can see the same thing happening to us. a lot of this stems from the fact the board should have sacked Wenger years ago, we're now playing a very slow catch up scenario.one can only hope for better times ahead

  11. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Dec 27, 2018, 13:13 #112750

    We are missing Holding who had become the fulcrum for our defence and we still have periods in the game where the concentration just vanishes and we concede. The PL is a tough uncompromising league and weaknesses are exposed very quickly, the unbeaten run has been a bonus but some players look shot to me and need a break. We must buy in January or just throw in the youngsters and take our medicine, preferably in the New Year. All that said, if the second goal had gone in we would be discussing another 3 or 4 goal score line. What are the odds on the first part of Saturday's result being "Liverpool 0 Arsen…." I somehow think you will not find any betting company offering any odds on Liverpool not to score this weekend - if they do, pile in lads!

  12. Rob1971

    Dec 27, 2018, 12:56 #112749

    I've been a big Emery fan but lately he seems to have chosen his favourites and suffers from tunnel vision. His game management for the last few games has been poor. Yes his resources are limited but while Guendouzi will be very good Emery seems to see him as a fixture. Taking Ozil off at HT backfired. Lichensteiner may not have been a good call from Raul&Sven and now takes up a spot in our 25 member squad. Our play is in general very laboured, need to speed it up. We can lift or game against the top teams and hope that is the case at Anfield.

  13. Paulo75

    Dec 27, 2018, 12:13 #112748

    Agreed, poor performance with the team unable to take any sort of control of the game in the 2nd half to conjure up a winner. The 23 game run was acheived amidst a lot of patchy performances and flattered the team to be honest. Cahill from Chelsea might be a decent short term option but more realistically I think the top four is beyond us this year and we will have to wait until the summer before the next overhaul of any significance can take place. Ramsay's exclusion in midfield is all the more puzzling considering the lack of effort from Ozil and lack of meaningful output from Iwobi.

  14. RobG

    Dec 27, 2018, 10:13 #112747

    Didn't see it - but the second half was pretty atrocious by all accounts. The injuries have now left the squad in a precarious shape. And even with a couple of 'astute' - (and they will have to be that, rather than headline making blockbusters) - signings, it's still going to be very difficult to make fourth. To get a 22 match unbeaten run out of the squad was a feat and a half in itself. But they have to try to work something when the window opens. If they don't - or can't - or won't, then it's obvious how the season will end. With all eggs in the EL basket to hope to get us back in the ECL. BIG ask !

  15. Wardy

    Dec 27, 2018, 08:51 #112746

    Another poor performance, but not unsurprising given the personnel and mounting injuries. Emery has over achieved thus far but unless he is backed with some serious investment in the transfer windows, we will remain a top 6 / Europa league side. For this season, I think we need to adopt a 3-5-2 approach with Ramsey (for gods sake give him a new contract) playing behind Laca and Auba. Toreria and Xhaka to hold the centre and Bellerin and Kolasinac as wing backs. Back 3 of Socratis, Mustafi and Kos. Still in touch with top 4 but injuries are costing us. Keep the faith, this will take at least 18 months and plenty of ins and outs to get the squad balanced and seriously competitive. Guendozi being over played for me, but like his enthusiasm and will be a top player in time.

  16. Wardy

    Dec 27, 2018, 08:51 #112745

    Another poor performance, but not unsurprising given the personnel and mounting injuries. Emery has over achieved thus far but unless he is backed with some serious investment in the transfer windows, we will remain a top 6 / Europa league side. For this season, I think we need to adopt a 3-5-2 approach with Ramsey (for gods sake give him a new contract) playing behind Laca and Auba. Toreria and Xhaka to hold the centre and Bellerin and Kolasinac as wing backs. Back 3 of Socratis, Mustafi and Kos. Still in touch with top 4 but injuries are costing us. Keep the faith, this will take at least 18 months and plenty of ins and outs to get the squad balanced and seriously competitive. Guendozi being over played for me, but like his enthusiasm and will be a top player in time.