With O2 being down, it will be a while until I can upload the match report from last night. In the mean time, here are some ramblings and thoughts.
Everyone felt a little deflated at the final whistle yesterday. A mixture of how far we have come under Unai Emery and how far Manchester United have dropped this season raised the bar of expectation.
We have not won at Old Trafford in the league since 2006; so those expecting us to run out easy winners were misguided. You will always take a draw in Manchester, but can not help feeling it was 2 points dropped rather than a point gained.
We had chances to win the game (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan) and both of their goals were due to defensive lapses.
It is hard to be too upset with the poor finishing, however, as we have certainly benefited in games this season with opponents being unable to hit a barn door with a banjo (Everton springs to mind).
Overall, 4 points from the double header of Tottenham and Manchester United is a decent return.
It perhaps shows the difference between ourselves and Manchester City. We are happy with 4 points from those 2 games, Manchester City would aim for 6. That’s what £2.7bn gets you.
4 points is what you would expect if you are challenging for top 4, and realistically that is what we are doing this season.
Prior to the start of the season, I expected Manchester City to run away it this season. Liverpool would finish second and it would be a 4 way battle between Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham for the last 2 Champions League places.
Liverpool have kept up with Manchester City more than I expected they would; and Manchester United have fallen away.
That leaves a 3 way battle for 3rd. 2 points between Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea’s defeat to Wolves yesterday shows why they are battling it out with Arsenal (who dropped points to Wovles at home) and Spurs (who lost to Watford) rather than with Liverpool for second.
Liverpool’s advantage over Chelsea and Arsenal at the moment is continuity. This is the 4th year of Jurgen Klopp (still yet to win a trophy). He has been able to build the team he wants, playing the style he wants. Arsenal and Chelsea, Emery and Maurizio Sarri, are both 6 months into their new future.
I really feel for Rob Holding.
Yesterday was his 9th Premier League start in a row, and he was making a case for being Arsenal’s premier defender. People were starting to talk about buying a partner for him next summer, not a replacement.
Emery has described it as a “big injury”. Caused by Manchester United turning into Stoke City, attempting to kick us off the park.
Holding was caught late by Marcus Rashford, and seemed to catch his studs in the turf and twist his knee. The Old Trafford pitch was atrocious.
It is not yet clear how long Holding will be out for.
Aaron Ramsey is a little harder to feel sorry for.
He has a history of picking up these sort of minor injuries a couple of times a season, that see him miss 3 or 4 games. It is one reason why the club should not have offered him a deal making him the second highest paid player.
He also seemed to get his studs caught in the stodgy Old Trafford pitch.
With Laurent Koscielny hobbling off against Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy earlier in the week and Kostadinos Mavropanos a long term absentee, it leaves Arsenal with just 2 fit centre backs.
Nacho Monreal is returning to fitness, but is doubtful for the visit of Huddersfield. Arsenal will probably return to a back 4 in that game. Once Monreal has returned it will give us the option of playing a back 4 (with a more solid left back) or moving Monreal to the left hand side of a back 3.
Ramsey is less of a concern. Arsenal have an array of attacking talent; with Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi available depending on whether we want to go one up top with 3 behind, or two up top with 1 behind.
The only problem is the bench.
With Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil out, we will be reliant on youngsters on the bench – Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah.
We have a nice run of fixtures coming up in the Premier League until the game against Liverpool on the 29th – by which time you would expect Ramsey, Ozil, Koscielny and Monreal to be back.
After 0 points from the first 2 games, Arsenal are now on a 20 game unbeaten run, and just 2 points off 3rd place.
15 games in, hopefully the talk of Arsenal not playing anyone can stop. We have played everyone in the top 9, and have only not played Brighton (10th), Huddersfield (17th), Southampton (18th) and Burnley (19th). They are our next 4 games.
4 points from the last 2 games in hindsight is a good return. It will be an even better return if we can get 12 from 12 prior to travelling to Anfield.
Up The Arsenal