Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire

Preview of the early evening Europa League Group game in Germany

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The Waldstadion – dig those towers

The usual five talking points ahead of today’s game away to Eintracht Frankfurt

Time for the Head Coach to earn his corn
Wherever you place the blame for the capitulation at Watford, it’s Unai Emery’s job to address the issues that led to the opposition enjoying 31 attempts on Arsenal’s goal. In terms of the Europa League group matches, it’s the law of Murphy that straight after the horrors witnessed at Vicarage Road, what is surely the toughest fixture of the six the Gunners will play before Christmas in this competition is next on the programme. So what can we expect? Five at the back? A more disciplined midfield? Being a little less predictable from goal kicks? And of course, we have to factor in a concept that has become part and parcel of the modern game…

Rotation, rotation, rotation
Arsenal play three matches over the course of six days, and it’s fair to say that Forest next Tuesday in the League Cup (or whatever it’s called these days) will be lowest on the priorities, and we can expect to see a mix of youth and second stringers fielded for that. Looking at the travelling party, one imagines we will see a relatively strong selection in Germany. Mesut Ozil has not travelled, and given he is hardly flavour of the month in his homeland, that’s no great surprise. Interestingly, Sokratis has also not made the trip, presumably dropped for presenting Watford with their first goal on Sunday (or ‘rested’ if you prefer Emery’s explanation). So one of Rob Holding, Calum Chambers or Shkodran Mustafi will be the potential central defensive partner for David Luiz, unless Emery plays two of them in a three, which is certainly possible.

What is to be done about that midfield?
My prediction is a 4-3-1-2 formation that will play most of the game on the counter attack. Ceballos behind Aubameyang and Pepe, with a line of Xhaka, Torreira and Guendouzi protecting the back four. But let’s just throw a curved ball in here for consideration. Calum Chambers had a decent season playing as a holding midfielder on loan at Fulham last season. I don’t see Emery dropping Xhaka, so what about bringing in Chambers for Guendouzi? That could in theory add to the ‘solidity’ and discipline of the midfield. Emery won’t do it, but might consider it against Forest. It has to be worth a look, at least.

One thing that is pretty much guaranteed is a raucous home crowd which should make for a cracking atmosphere this evening. Who says no-one cares about the Europa League? Sure, when Arsenal entertain teams in the group stage, half the crowd stay home, but I expect to see a healthy attendance at the Commerzbank Arena (or the Waldstadion as UEFA will have it – can’t have advertising of any sort unless UEFA are coining it of course). One thing for those that are attending – you’ve got to love those giant pillars either side of the ground – they look like something out of Fascist architecture, although I believe they’ve only been in place since an upgrade in 2005.

Eintracht and the Europa League
But for losing a penalty shoot-out to Chelsea in last season’s semi-finals, Eintracht would have faced Arsenal in Baku, so they can’t be taken lightly. Granted, they have lost two players that netted 47 goals between them last season – Luka Jovic has joined Real Madrid and Sebastian Haller moved to West Ham. However, the club have spent £91m on ten players to compensate and are very much in the European groove, having played six matches in the qualifying stages of the Europa League already to reach the group stage. So no-one is expecting a pushover.

Even ignoring Arsenal’s current fragility, this is a tough enough fixture, and no-one should be expecting miracles. What we need to see are signs of improvement. That something has been done to address what went wrong last Sunday. If Unai Emery can get out of Germany with a draw, that would certainly satisfy most people. A bad defeat will only see the calls for the head coach to get the boot get louder, but in reality the real test for Emery will be on Sunday. Lose at home to Villa and I really think he could be toast. What this evening can do is set his team up for this weekend’s match with a sense of greater confidence, and the thought that Watford was simply a disastrous day at the office. Football’s strange though. I recall Arsenal having a horrendous spell in Arsene Wenger’s last season and then going to Milan and beating them 2-0. A result and a performance that came from absolutely nowhere. But if I had to put my money on it, I’m seeing an Eintracht win. 2-1 the scoreline.


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  1. markymark

    Sep 20, 2019, 06:59 #114923

    A good result out there in an intimidating atmosphere. It’s interesting to try and determine German league quality . My brief viewing of it at Hertha surprised me with the crash bang wallop and double sendings off. A sort of heightened Championship In a way but often immense crowds. I notice Vinai has done the first round of confidence in him. I wonder how many he’ll get. Great result last night but I still feel old Dick has the pistol pointed at his “Protagonists” and then somehow manages to blow his own toes off.

  2. Exiled in Pt

    Sep 20, 2019, 00:16 #114922

    Good performance, thought they all played well. I actually think Martinez did his own thing rather than put himself under pressure by playing the silly passing game with the CB,'s. Be nice to see same philosophy against Vila but I suspect we will revert to suicide defending and over playing it..

  3. itsRonagain2

    Sep 19, 2019, 22:41 #114921

    RK. I quite agree with you mate. I d take it further even. This yr in particular ought to be given fully to the PL. I d play fringe and the young lads in all of these Cup games, domestic Cups as well. Emery in my view gave his all and focused totally on winning his pet Cup last season and in doing so allowed us to crumble in the final games v teams who were all well beatable. He seems to think he s Mr EL to me cos of his past wins. He needs to get real. He’s been brought in to make us a PL challenger again I assume? He needs to do it. Fooking about in that EL cos he thinks it’s a short cut to the CL don’t cut it for me. This is Arsenal. If he wants to fanny about in a very much degraded European cup tourney and class it as success he shd clear off and manage a low level mid table Spanish club. I agree that it’s wmphasis has change because it gives entry to CL but for me that’s a cop out and a derogation from what the jibbering man is employed to do. We re not Everton or West Ham. We re Arsenal and he needs to learn what we are. PS. Mate . Those days in the cups under Neill were good fun tho weren’t they !!! Ha ha.

  4. Pauljames

    Sep 19, 2019, 19:34 #114920

    Caught most of the first half on the radio and it seems Martinez played it long a few times, which was encouraging to hear. Other than that it sounded a typically open game, nice to come out on top this time.

  5. John F

    Sep 19, 2019, 19:15 #114919

    Enjoyable game ,They missed a few but I thought Chambers and Martinez played very well . The star of the show was Saka he looks like a great young prospect and scored a lovely goal.The playing out from the back was abandoned tonight as well, let us hope Dick has learnt his lesson.

  6. Paulo75

    Sep 19, 2019, 19:11 #114918

    Fair play and credit where it’s due - excellent result. The youngsters all did well but thought Martinez was immaculate in everything he did.

  7. Exiled in Pt

    Sep 19, 2019, 16:10 #114917

    Team selection looks set to continue the downward trend . A visit to the dentist looks more appealing at the moment still good chance for Saka and Smith Rowe. RK i put money on about the 8th minute if we continue with the playing out from the back .......

  8. ArsenalMagna

    Sep 19, 2019, 14:22 #114916

    To be fair I think the playing field has changed now. Europa League didn't used to carry the chance of CL qualification if you won the tournament. Also, the gripe with 4th place before was that it was the end and not the means of Wenger's policy. The hope/expectation now seems to be that it would be a platform to invest in and attract top players.

  9. Radfordkennedy

    Sep 19, 2019, 13:45 #114915

    Afternoon all.....Ron it is strange isn't it, it wasn't long ago that the main gripe on here was we were settling for top 4 but with no real ambition to push further every year, now we're taking bets at what time during the match we'll burst into tears at the back during a Europa cup game against a mediocre German team. Will we end up being like we were in the mid 70s just praying for a good cup run and please God let us be drawn against a seaside club so we can make a weekend of it. Personally I'd throw this competition and concentrate on the league

  10. itsRonagain2

    Sep 19, 2019, 10:47 #114912

    Irony. Do you recall when fans drunk on project youth and Wengos vision used to sneer at the EC? Singing songs at away grounds about 'Thursday nights, channel 5' ? Now its, 'lets hope' and worrying about nondescript far away teams, many barely heard of. No disrespect to Eintracht meant here though.

  11. Bard

    Sep 19, 2019, 08:26 #114910

    What you can bank on is that they will have plenty of opportunities and will likely score one or more goals, after than its anyone's guess. Oh yes and another howler from Luiz and a pen given away by Xhaka. Lets hope Auba is bang in form.