We move onto the 4th group game in the EL in a strong position. 9 points from 3 games, and some solid performances too. Vitoria themselves put up a stubborn fight but were undone by Pepe’s free kicks. Having been kept on the bench at the weekend, Pepe will likely start. I doubt the Portuguese team will be looking forward to it.
Or maybe, they will be? If they’re looking for redemption after the injustice of their loss, now might be a good time to play us. Emery is clearly under pressure, and the players seemingly aren’t really buying in any more. Arsenal themselves likely need just one point from their next 3 games to qualify as group winners, so the intensity might be less. Then there’s the whole captaincy thing.
Yesterday Emery confirmed that Granit Xhaka is no longer Arsenal captain, nor part of the captaincy group. He named Auba as first captain with Bellerin, Lacazette and Ozil as the others. This continuing farce over the captaincy is a sign of how poorly led we are. First you appoint 5 captains and then sell/lose most of them after the first season. Then when everyone expects you to appoint Xhaka, you keep delaying the decision for months, causing confusion and perhaps resentment. Then you appoint Xhaka anyway.
I know many feel otherwise, and that the stripping him of his captaincy was the only choice. I don’t agree but I understand it. That’s fine with me. But the way the club’s gone about this makes me question how effective their PR actually is. It worked a treat last season; they could keep blaming Wenger for everything and making themselves look good in comparison. But now that that’s no longer an option, the message often seems more self defeating. Whether it’s Emery trying to do his own version of ‘footballing heritage’ speech a la Mourinho, the talk of how they would better manage contracts, and now the way they handled the Xhaka outburst.
I can understand the club feeling they had to do something to make it clear the fans are important and that Xhaka didn’t do right to take out his frustrations publicly. I don’t understand them not being able to do it in a manner which also protected and appreciated Xhaka’s concerns. Clearly the fact that Xhaka put out his statement on his IG was a sign of the distance between him and the club.
Now we’ve alienated and humiliated the player the rest of the team had chosen as a leader. This can only mean Xhaka’s exit from the squad. I see no reason he’d want to stay at a club which doesn’t stand by him.
But what of the others? Bellerin clearly wanted the armband, and he’s more deeply entrenched within the club culture than Aubameyang. Maybe this is a way to get Auba to stay. Maybe Auba really is the leader. He’s certainly selfless and his upbeat nature is a plus. But now that he’s captain, and we need to draw a line under this whole thing, he doesn’t travel to play Vitoria. I seriously don’t understand Emery (sometimes).
Not good vs Bad
Based on what I saw in the first game, Vitoria are not a good team at all. I’m being polite here. The fact is we were just really bad. Despite all the drama surrounding us, I doubt we’ll be as bad again. It might even be a relief to play away from home in this competition. Emery needs a good result even if it’s not important in the context of the group. Let’s hope he doesn’t let the pressure get to him and further mess things up.
Starters: Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, Pepe, Saka, Martinelli
Subs: Macey, Chambers, Tierney, AMN, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Lacazette
There’s not much to say about the game itself. We just need a win. Are we at the point that we even expect or demand good performances from this coach? I think not. We know what he’s about. Just need to hope the players can play to their natural ability and provide us with some entertainment along with the right result.
Arsenal, reduced to hoping for a win against low level EL opposition. But that’s where we are.
Prediction: 2-0 to the Gunners.
Another brilliant preview Shard. Calling it as it is-a weird nightmare! Many thanks. Yodel e i ho!
Btw, any idea why this fixture is on a Wednesday night rather than on Thursday? I didn’t look very hard but I couldn’t find the answer.
Also, Arsene Wenger might be set to take charge of Bayern Munich. I hope it happens. It would make me happy for him. And we get to watch Wengerball again while Emery and Raul take us ever lower. Who knows? He might even win a CL trophy. That would be just the perfect bookend to his career as a manager. (He should then come to Arsenal and take over Raul’s job)
I did find out why it was changed but its got lost in the inactivated synapses somewhere., soz caint help. Quite nice, Sats and Wednes though…
Thats a tough job at Bayern, they have a harsh system, not much tolerance, and a lot of people in upstairs positions that breathe down yer neck. But Weng speaks good German, that helps, and Bayern are in the poop at the moment and need a big change, its quite tough for them and the management are a bit perplexed as to find a way forward ( from the interviews Ive seen)…
If he does go there then I hope he does well, a lot of spunkers will be waiting for him to fail. If it works there, then they will be deadly.
Oh man, Weng in for Raul, now that would be interesting…
cheers again Shard.
Wenger for Raul? I doubt it highly. the Kroenkes and Josh in particular seem intent on cannibalizing the club of its tradition of integrity and class. There is a reason why Wenger on his way out warned us “to protect our values.”
3 at the back then. Change in formation.
\Also, I’m an idiot. I missed that Ozil was not traveling with the squad.
3 at the back; an act of desperation?
At the end Vitoria looked liked like prime Barcelona with 3 chances to win it. Who could have predicted this utter travesty?
That 3 at the back was an utterly defensive move; eight (8) defending with only three (3) attacking. This is against the worst team in the group. Imagine that!
I won’t be surprised that is the formation on Saturday vs leicester.
…it sort of leaves you a bit speechless-what a mess! What a drag.
I was so wrong. We made Vitoria look even better than last time. Quite possibly this was the worst game I’ve ever seen us play. Mustafi scored our only shot on goal, from the only successful pass into the box.
Emery doesn’t believe his own nonsense at this point, and the players totally are playing like they don’t buy it any more. Keeping Emery on is a nonsense executive decision which ought to deserve a sacking of its own.
Raul is in hiding now. Where’s the swagger he came out with earlier? All good when he could hide in the big man’s shadow and take pot shots at him, knowing full well he had too much class to react. But when it’s time to take responsibility, he, like the coach he brought in, is looking for a hiding spot.
Maybe in a couple of years, Daddy Kroenke will be able to look away from the Rams for long enough to smack sonny boy Josh around for how he’s destroying his asset’s value and good standing through destroying its values. Until then, Raul barnacle is clinging on.