After the Forest game, which is the first of the season I truly enjoyed, tonight we make a trip to our old enemy. But questions remain as to our, or more specifically, are coach’s approach. Will we live up to our name and ethos as the Arsenal, or will we allow ourselves to become outgunned by the Ol’ Gunnar of Manchester?
One significant development is our general has finally decided to name the captain on the field. To no one’s, yet somehow everyone’s surprise, it is Granit Xhaka. Captain at every club he’s been at, and with his national team, people will still try to tell us he’s no leader. But apparently this time it wasn’t just the coach, but also the players who voted for who they wanted as their captain. Two months into the season, this has certainly been a lot of unnecessary drama, but maybe this will prove to be just the spark the players needed. Not just to overcome the opposition, but also, overcome the coach’s eccentricities.
In the previous couple of matches, it has seemed like players have taken matters into their own hands. Emery even said this was the case with Calum Chambers in the League Cup. So far, it’s worked, and I guess our brave hope it will again. (There’s that hope word again!) But like Emery’s tactical alphabet soup, this too is an unsustainable plan.
Spectacular decline of Manchester United
Manchester United of course have their own problems. Their fall from their self appointed perch of the greatest club in the world has been even more spectacular than ours. Probably even more painful as both their traditional rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City, are running high. Even little old Arsenal, frequently under the manager-who-must-not-be-named, have outperformed them in the league for most of the past 6 years as well. Surely they’re not happy with that, nor with the brand of football being put out. But at least they have shiny new toys every once in a while. Woodward may be a bad dad but he always buys very expensive presents. Discerning Arsenal fans may have detected a similar type of “parenting” creeping into our club.
No matter the difficulties, or the other rivalries, this fixture still retains the ability to get everyone fired up. Fans and players alike. I’d say coaches too, but as far as that goes, I don’t know with Emery. Even the winner of the Andy Serkis lookalike contest is going to provide a gladiatorial tactical battle in his head. And that, usually means, being conservative. Will he stay with a 4231? Will he go with 3 at the back? Which one is more defensive with him anyway?
My lineup was almost exactly correct the last time but I’m not confident at all I can confidently predict one for this game. Knowing what we we know of Emery, I’m going for the more conservative formation.
Starters: Leno, AMN, Chambers, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Nelson, Auba
Subs: From Martinez, Holding, Mustafi, Bellerin, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, Saka, John-Jules.
While writing this I reflected that while I have abandoned all hope in Emery, the fire of being an Arsenal fan remains. It is ManU after all. There ought to be no way we surrender to them. For once, I wouldn’t mind the English fare of blood and guts football. They’ve got the money for the big agents and the big signings, the history of titles and referee assistance, Fergie time and Game 49, and some of the most obnoxious, irritating fans. Warts and all, we are the good guys here. Sometimes the world just needs the good guys to win. May the universe, the players, and Emery, oblige.