Tag Archives: She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

Its been 5 long weeks since the last international break

How quickly things can change in football.

A month ago I, prior to the last international break, I was filled with optimism.

Arsenal were not playing brilliant but were still 3rd in the league. It felt like the international break had come at the right time and Arsenal would kick on after it.

The 2 weeks off would give more time for Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tiernay and Rob Holding to return to match fitness. It would also provide another 2 weeks for Nicolas Pepe to adapt to life in England. With other sides faltering, it felt like 3rd place was our realistic minimum target.

Arsenal did return a different team after the international break. And in the space of 5 weeks we have been multiple different teams.

7 games played, 1 victory.

In those 7 games, we have only played the same starting formation in back to back games once. The last 6 games has seen us play 6 different formations.

Defeats at Sheffield United and Leicester, lost leads against Wolves, Crystal Palace, Liverpool & Vitoria. It has been a horrible 5 weeks.

Unai Emery has to shoulder the blame for Arsenal’s performances. He  is a man who is lost.

He is clearly overthinking things. Over complicating things. Constantly chopping and changing what he is trying to do. Players like confused. Unsure what to do.

The fact that he is putting a positive spin on poor results is baffling.

I am all for “positive mental attitude” but Emery seems to have his head in the sand when it comes to Arsenal’s poor results.

“We did our game plan” was his response to the 2-0 defeat against Leicester.

The fact that he sees thinks not losing when leading is a “positive” shows that he is a man without ideas.

Emery continually talks about the team not playing to the idea in his head, but he seems unable to recognise that it is the idea in his head that is wrong.

He seems to have a different idea for every game, on how to combat the opposition. But that is leading to different formations and an over complication for players.

The players are not playing with freedom. They do not look comfortable. It is like they have so much going on in their heads that they become mentally exhausted.

Proof is in the pudding. Arsenal have yet to win a game not playing 4231.

He has baffling dropped Nicolas Pepe. This follows him not playing Mesut Ozil for much of the season. Hector Bellerin took an age to return to the side. His selections have been confusing.

Prior to the last international break I was optimistic. It came at the right time giving us time to get players back to fitness.

This international break the mentality is different. I am actually looking forward to a weekend without football. I might visit a garden centre. Is it too early to put up my Christmas decorations?

I have backed Emery from day one. He seemed a good fit to take over from Arsene Wenger. But time is now running out for him. The Arsenal senior leadership team have some thinking to do over the next 2 weeks.

Enjoy the break.

Keenos

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Match Report: Leicester 2 – 0 Arsenal

Leicester City (0) 2 Arsenal (0) 0
Premier League
King Power Stadium, Filbert Way, Leicester LE2 7FL
Saturday, 9th November 2019. Kick-off time: 5.30pm

(3-4-1-2) Bernd Leno; Rob Holding, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira, Calum Chambers, Mattéo Guendouzi; Mesut Özil; Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Nicolas Pépé, Emiliano Martínez, Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka.
Yellow Cards: Hector Bellerin
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 49%
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Attendance: 32,211

Make no mistake about it, this match today at the King Power Stadium is truly a pivotal one for us, and so early into the season as well. After recent results and performances, a victory is crucial for so many reasons, but not all of them are football ones. Arsenal find themselves in a position of both flux and confusion, and our multi-talented squad have recently become an enigma of the first order. We may not well find all of our answers on this cold and rainy November evening in Leicestershire, but we could be on our way to at least knowing some of them.

Today’s unusual three-at-the-back formation means that there is no place in the starting line-up for either Kieran Tierney or Sokratis Papastathopoulos; time will tell the wiseness of this decision, along with Mesut Özil being the solitary playmaker in the centre of the park under this system. As expected, the home side came out of the blocks quickly and confidently; in the first ten minutes they made their intentions more than clear with several attacks on our goal in which we were fortunate not to concede so early on in the match. Alexandre Lacazette was desperately unlucky not to score from close range after fifteen minutes, and five minutes later was unlucky when his attempt went wide of the Leicester goal. The match now became a fairly cut-and-thrust game, with both sides having chances which were squandered.

As the first half wore on, we became very sloppy and started to give the ball away in vital areas of the pitch. At times we did give a decent account of ourselves, and although our play wasn’t the most exciting we have played all season, we did manage to hold our own under difficult circumstances. We also rode our luck when the home side created chances that we were unable to neutralise, and a few minutes after a Leicester City free-kick which hit the top of Bernd Leno’s net, the referee’s whistle went for the half-time break and we could all breathe a deep sigh of relief.

The second half arrived and with it, more problems started to mount for us all over the pitch. Just four minutes after the restart, Wilfried Ndidi hit the crossbar with Bernd Leno beaten, but somehow, a little while later, we managed to get a ball up to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who although scored, was offside. All this served to do was wake the home side up; we collapsed, they regrouped, kept their shape and applied more and more pressure, We fell deep, and they simply contained us in our half. Of course, the inevitable happened; not once, but twice in seven minutes. First, their talisman Jamie Vardy, and then James Maddison, their £20 million pound man, applied the coup de grâce. Game over. In a vain attempt to get something out of the game, Nicolas Pépé and Joe Willock were brought on in place of Rob Holding and Lucas Torreira, but the effect was merely cosmetic, and we saw out the end of the game in disarray and our morale at rock bottom.

Let’s face it, we didn’t expect to get anything out of today’s match, and therefore we were not surprised as to the end result here. Hopeless, useless, clueless and feckless; at this moment in time, we are in sixth place in the Premiership and eight points shy of the top four. If anyone even so much as thinks we are going to make the Champions League placings at the end of the year, then they are truly deluded. Eight shots, one on target; the players must take responsibility for this mess as well. What is to be done now; is the manager to be replaced and the side broken up? Whatever the solution is for this gordian knot, the next two weeks are crucial. Let’s hope the time in which we don’t play in the international break fortnight is used wisely. But somehow I doubt it. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Southampton at The Emirates on Saturday, 23rd November at 3.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Match Report: Vitoria 1 – 1 Arsenal

Vitoria SC (0) 1 Arsenal (0) 1
UEFA Europa League, Group F, Matchday 4 of 6
Estádio D. Afonso Henriques, Av. São Gonçalo 1028, Guimarães, Portugal
Wednesday, 6th November 2019. Kick-off time: 3.50pm

(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Joe Willock, Dani Ceballos; Kieran Tierney, Nicolas Pépé, Gabriel Martinelli; Bukayo Saka.
Substitutes: Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira, Reiss Nelson, Mattéo Guendouzi, Sead Kolašinac.
Scorers: Shkodran Mustafi (80 mins)
Yellow Cards: Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 65%
Referee: Halis Özkahya (Turkey)
Attendance: circa 28,000

Now there’s a strange set of rules which surround the aura of the Europa League; no kick-off times are ever constant, and situations can literally change at the drop of a hat. Today’s bizarre kick-off time is due to a timing issue with the two Champions League matches which start at 5.55pm (and 8.00pm as well), so therefore we have to alter the time of our game to accommodate the CL television coverage, as those matches have priority. Additionally, our tie against Vitoria SC is played a day earlier because their local rivals Braga are also playing in the Europa League and it was considered by the great and the good at UEFA that it would not be a good idea to have two sets of fans descending on the vicinity at the same time on the same day. Having said that, and despite all of the complications surrounding this tie, it is great to play a match in Europe again on a Wednesday evening.

But that’s all, quite frankly. The weather was terrible, and so was the match as well. Bearing that in mind, the home side started confidently, and as early as the eighth minute, our alarm bells started to ring when Pêpê of Vitoria SC whacked the ball against the post from 20 yards with Emiliano Martínez beaten, which made us all breathe a collective sigh of relief. But sadly our pain wasn’t over; in the first half, our defence looked completely helpless as both Edmond Tapsoba and Marcus Edwards came close to scoring the opening goal within the first half hour of the game. The rest of the first half was a dogged affair with free kicks being given away by both sides, mistimed tackles and botched goal attempts. It is to be noted that the Vitoria SC goalkeeper, Douglas, was not called into action at any time in the first half, as all of our goal attempts never hit the target. Worse was to follow.

At least when the second half arrived, we did attempt to try to get some cohesive play together, but unfortunately it all went to seed as Dani Ceballos pulled up with a hamstring injury in the fifty-fourth minute; Mattéo Guendouzi took his place and almost immediately we retreated into a type of containment game that restricted our play. In an attempt to spark some life into this moribund match, Bukayo Saka was substituted for Alexandre Lacazette, and twelve minutes later, young Joe Willock gave way for the more experienced Lucas Torreira; it worked. With ten minutes left on the clock, a superb Nicolas Pépé ball from a free kick saw Shkodran Mustafi score with a downward header. Surely this was the winner? The one we had been waiting for? Nope. As usual, we couldn’t hold onto a lead. In the injury time that followed, Bruno Duarte scored the equalising goal with a scissor-kick that our defence should by rights, have blocked. And yet, with seconds left before the end, the home side nearly scored again, when Shkodran Mustafi deflected a shot onto the post, and Rochinha narrowly missed our goal with literally seconds left.

It was a real shame that, although tonight’s match was ruined by torrential rain that we could merely manage a draw; but if Standard Liege lose to Eintracht Frankfurt, we will make the last thirty-two teams in this competition. Again, we failed to hang onto a lead, and despite clocking up sixty-five per cent possession in awful conditions, we could only manage one shot on our opponents’ goal, and that was when we scored the opening goal of the night. Although Unai Emery changed the formation of the team, along with eight changes we were still unable to defend our goal effectively. If we play as sloppily as this on Saturday against Leicester City, then their highly disciplined attackers will punish us greatly. And if that happens, then the sky may well fall in for both Unai Emery and this team of lost footballers. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Saturday, 9th November at 5.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.