League tables tend to be a mess in the early part of the season. Something I just glance at rather than seriously consider before the first 10 games. But Leicester’s demolition of Southampton made me look at the table with a bit more interest, and it’s quite a sight at the moment. They’ll be looking to change that today, but currently Spurs are down in 10th, ManU in 15th, while Arsenal are in 5th. Meanwhile Leicester and Chelsea are up in the top 4 and will remain there until the next round of matches at least. Arsenal can close the gap on them to just 2 points. But today’s opponents, Crystal Palace, are just a single point behind us. They tend to play on the counter attack with Zaha as their primary ball carrier and threat. He hasn’t had the best of seasons for them so far, and they have scored just 8 goals (of 92 shots) and have conceded 10. Their defense however has conceded 10 goals to Arsenal’s 12.
Featuring Zaha and Pepe
Both clubs lost their last PL game and will be looking to set things right. Especially eager, I would imagine, would be the aforementioned Wilfried Zaha. In the summer he’d made it quite clear he fancied a move to us, the team he supports, only for Crystal Palace to price him out. Arsenal ended up making a record move for his international teammate, Nico Pepe. Zaha’s seemingly taken it well and offered words of support and encouragement to Pepe, but I’m sure he would feel some extra motivation to show Arsenal what they missed out on. Whoever’s playing at RB for Arsenal can expect a torrid time from him today.
Pepe himself offers Arsenal a threat of their own. His midweek exploits in which he saved Arsenal’s blushes against mediocre opposition ought to give him some confidence, which, to me, is what he’s been missing. With Arsenal mostly attacking through the wide areas, a fully firing Pepe can be the key, especially if our swashbuckling fullback Hector Bellerin is fit and firing again and able to offer him some support.
Ozil versus Unai
The other big story, that just won’t go away, is of course, the Mesut Ozil vs Unai Emery feud. Caught on camera having a seemingly less than friendly conversation prior to the Vitoria game, Ozil then used his social media to post a picture of himself laughing, widely interpreted as mocking Emery. Emery himself has gone from saying Ozil is training well for the last 2-3 weeks, to simply refusing to talk about him. The matchgoing fans let Emery know what they thought of his treatment of a player who personifies the silky football they have long been accustomed to and expect. ‘We’ve got Ozil’ rang out at the Emirates Stadium even as Arsenal were managing to lose in less than glorious fashion to their Portuguese opponents. Emery was so shaken he didn’t even celebrate the winner by Pepe. It’s not that big a deal in itself, but it was strange to see from a coach who keeps gesturing and shouting at every little event.
That’s 6 straight matches now that Ozil has been completely kept out of the matchday squad. Any one still pretending this is about football clearly has no idea about the sport. It’s personal, it’s petty and it is very, very unnecessary. It’s certainly very un-Arsenal. I don’t expect him to be involved today either.
Starters: Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Saka, Aubameyang
Subs: Martinez, Chambers, Tierney, Torreira, Willock, Martinelli, Lacazette
Speaking of un-Arsenal, Spurs are 3 points behind us, and play table topping Liverpool today. After talk of a much vaunted power shift and a new era managed better than Arsenal’s stadium move, Spurs are finding out how difficult it really is to keep consistently performing at a high level. I don’t expect their bad form to last. The players haven’t given up on Pochettino, which at one point seemed a possibility, and they still have the referees to support them. Even in the age of Mike Riley’s VAR. Of course, the refs will themselves have divided loyalties when they play the Scousers today, so it should be an interesting match. From Arsenal’s perspective, it represents a good opportunity to increase the gap on them and get into the top 4. As is evident from all that has already transpired around Arsenal, the top-4 battle looks increasingly difficult.
Today is the Hindu Festival of Lights – Diwali. It represents the triumphant return of hope after vanquishing evil and ignorance. Wishing you all a Happy Diwali and may today prove to be a day of such triumph for Arsenal. COYG!
Well Diwali has made Shard hopeful, certainly more hopeful than me. I think this will be another difficult game for the Arsenal, made more difficult by the cowardly, cautious tactics of Emery. Added to this is a spiteful and vindictive personality, as Shard discussed above. Worryingly, we don’t have an inspiring leader in what is already shaping up to be a messy top-4 battle. Last time we played this lot at home, Arsenal desperately needed a win to cement our top-4 aspirations. Mustafi was blamed for our loss after his error led to their winning goal but in truth Zaha and company were far more enterprising than we were. Are we that much better than last May? I have grave doubts. Today’s game will be revealing.
Today Arsenal will need another moment of individual brilliance to have any hope of clinching (yes, clinching) a win against Palace.
It’s safe to say that most of our first team players no longer enjoy playing football at Arsenal. Comments by Bellerin about Arsenal DNA will see him censored or forced to publicly back our preciously insecure manager at some point.
Today pray for a draw. Barring the aforementioned moment of brilliance, it’s the most likely positive outcome. Palace will come to this game with a game plan they will find comfortable to execute. Arsenal will play to counter attack Palace but without any players capable of providing the quality passes to make counter attacking a viable tactic. Yes – the mighty Arsenal will play counter attacking football at the Emirates against Crystal Palace.
At a time when we see so many dominant performances by so many teams in the league we are yet to see any by Arsenal.
One amazing achievement by Unai Emery is his ability to select teams and tactics to make Arsenal achieve parity with their opponents. This is truly amazing. Not only do we have very competitive matches with guys at the top of the table, we do it with the same teams at the bottom too. This takes a lot of effort. Well done Unai!
As I make my way to the Emirates today I will comfort myself in the knowledge that Unai’s days are numbered. He is under pressure. His passive aggressive interviews and conflicting statements are being publicly ridiculed and about time too.
As soon as I write this I see Unai has decided to break his (non) silence on the Ozil situation by adding some more words. They don’t tell us a lot except that as per usual Emery hasn’t the courage of his convictions and always looks to pass the buck. This chameleon doesn’t change its colour. Just lives in constant fear of the slightest threat and ends up making it greater.
As the ghost of Wenger says (in a Diwali carol by Chetan Dixit) only individual brilliance can give us any chance in this game. He also accurately predicted that Bellerin will be forced to issue a pro-Emery statement. It’s already happened.
Diwali has allowed me to view this with some distance but I have no hope for Emery. On and off the field he is unworthy of being associated with Arsenal. If this were happening in any other club it would be hilarious. That it’s happening in the house Wenger built is a scandal. Hopefully, the light of Classenal will grow to destroy the ignorance and wickedness dwelling at our great club.
Raul out, Shard in.
Values back and
domino effect from there…
Josh out, Mills in. Then he can hire me to replace Raul.
LOL! ( I needed to laugh out loud today so thanks for that!). Thanks for all your great previews. Shotts has a great team.
According to what I have seen UE is quoted as saying the the policy against Ozil is supported by the club.
What I could not see is whether it was instigated by him and supportd by the club, or a joint policy between him and them.
Whichever way, surely it is source of great embarrassment to the club abd brings it inot disrepute.
What are the chances of at least one penalty to CP, courtesy of th Kane clone and whow seesm to be our club ref.
If after 4 games Atkinson will have refereed us 4 times, over a season that comes to nearly 16.
Maybe what Riley is trying to do is to get us so far out of the top 4 places early on in the season, we will be completely out of it for the rest.
My pessimism was warranted. At 2-0 I was never confident we would win this. It was groundhog day again. Outsmarted and by a wily coach and wily team. Full credit to Crystal Palace for knowing we are suspect and taking full advantage. Now our great coach has pissed off our #1 captain and our abusive fanbase have compounded matters. We are a club in deep trouble.
utter kacki today. Slipping and sliding in the stuff.
Looks like I was correct.
It is ironic that var gave them a penalty Atkinson said was a dive and then disallowed a goal that Atkinson said was good.
As AW would say in code after such blatent match fixing examples:
Almost as if he is a fan on Iain Banks!
We are now Set-piece FC just like Stoke, Bolton and all those other shithouse teams we used to scorn. Look at our reaction as fans and the players as well when Pepe gets a deadball.
New post up.