Atletico Madrid Review: Making Emile Of It

Arsenal 1 – 1 Atletico Madrid

Atletico win 3 – 1 on penalties

It won’t be long before someone launches a crowdfunding page for their first ‘Emery Out’ banner. Or at least that’s what the wag in me thinks. I’m sure the word I thought of was ‘wag’; began with ‘wa’, anyway.

Did we learn much from the first ‘proper’ game? A few things but mainly that whichever Atletico Madrid team you face, they play the same way.

There’s a danger in reading too much into pre-season fixtures. We can play like kings for three or four matches and then like paupers for the 38 which matter. I can’t get excited about non-competitive fixtures in that sense. It doesn’t mean, however, that the matches are interesting for the nuances of player development at every level, as well as the tactical stuff.

The younger players continued their encouraging start. Guendouzi wanted the ball, distributed it reasonably well, got caught in possession a few times, but overall impressed. In a few years, he could be the heartbeat of our midfield. Then when you see Jeff going to Angers, you realise how rash that prediction is.

Guendouzi’s role in the side is the one Torreira will take. Whether the Uruguayan will be as ‘all-action’ is another matter. Certainly, the YouTube reels make him seem that way but then again, those reels can make Robert Green look like an international goalkeeper. And that could never happen…oh.

Emile Smith-Rowe is one whose time will surely come sooner. As with Guendouzi, it was a mix of mistakes and energy, with the added bonus of a scorching goal. I felt sorry for him; he wanted to celebrate that, as you would with any long-range effort, but then remembered it was a friendly and decorum meant you can’t. Or shouldn’t.

Don’t Look Back In Angers, I Heard You Say

He worked hard for it; beat a couple of players by fair means and for once, Atletico didn’t foul. It was a moment when Franco Baresi’s comments about Maradona’s goal against England in 1986 sprang to mind: “In Italy, we would have taken him out at the kneecaps.” I paraphrase, but you get the grandmaster’s intention.

In a competitive match, I’d guess Godin or Gimenez would step up with a reducer to stop him before he got to the edge of the area. This time no-one did, and to use the footballing vernacular, ESR finished with aplomb. Bravo, young man.

The cliche of a game of two halves. The first half was a  much better performance overall than the second. No surprise with a ‘Love Train’ of substitutions on the hour. And I’m not going to dissect individuals performances either. Nor should you.

What matters is that the team is ready for Manchester City and there were signs of what Emery wants as we sought to recover possession higher up the pitch. When Xhaka, Özil, and Torreira are in the line-up, that will be the time to look at how we’re playing.

Post-match, Aaron Ramsey’s role as Arsenal captain occupied some minds. Is he captain material? It hadn’t crossed my mind previously. As a thought, it died a lonely death. Seemingly, Unai Emery hasn’t yet given it a great deal of consideration either:

“It’s not yet official, this decision, but I’ve said to you that I want five captains in the team. Then we will give the numbers for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth. Aaron has the potential to be captain.”

Somebody quickly point Sr Emery in the direction of our history where he can see the value of a strong captain…

Yes, Captain Mainwaring, Sir!

Under the old regime, the captaincy became reduced to a sop to a giant ego or given to the oldest player who was closest to leaving. If there is one aspect of the ‘good old days’ – and I include the first half of Wenger’s reign – it’s that we find a player who understands what leadership is, to captain the side.

On the subject of Ramsey, the new management structure is working with a clear separation of duties. Unai doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. Or if he does, he’s keeping mum:

“Football changes every day. It’s not easy, but it does change.

“I was thinking about the match today, then preparation for the match Saturday.

“I think Aaron is an important player for us.

“The contract is one thing for the club and then one thing for the player. I want him to stay with us, to work with us, to give the team big performances with his quality. I think he’s going to stay here with us.”

Nor does he have a scooby about Ivan’s intentions. All you can deduce from Emery’s words is that the ‘G-Man’ is working hard on the “Arsenal Project”. As he should.

The new third kit was launched this morning and all of a sudden, I’ve developed an insatiable thirst for creme de menthes. As we have none, I’ll have to settle for creme de meths.

’til Tomorrow.

25 thoughts on “Atletico Madrid Review: Making Emile Of It

  1. Morning Yogi,

    Enjoyable article, updating the current key issues and a humorous phrase or two thrown in for good measure.

    Lurking behind today’s news was the not so ‘bon adieu’ to The Jeff. How could that happen? A kid with great potential, who I thought would become special in our first team — and here he is – gone! Bollocks!!

    Still we seem to have another super talent showing his paces in recent times — but rather than put the voodoo on him too – I am sayin’ nuffink!!! Leave that to C – he is as bad as me!!

  2. …I thought it should have been a ‘Soul Train of substitutions’ knowing how the dancers had their 10 seconds of fame back in the 70s

  3. Well done Yogi!

    Shame about Adelaide but people forget he was out injured for more than half a season and upon his return played well and then again out on loan at Angers. He is also only just 20 and has moved to play regularly and the club get some money for him.

    Thr match yesterday, I like the cut of Guendouzi and hair aside, he looks a big physical lad. It will be interesting to see how he and the rest of the youngsters develop under Emery and Mert. Smith Rowe is a joy to watch but for me it was also quite obvious that Aubameyang and Lacazette have a very good understanding and that their styles of play compliment each other.

  4. Also, it is brilliant to have a GK who is comfortable with the ball at their feet and has really good distribution as opposed to Cech kicking the ball out of bounds every time.

  5. C,

    Hello C although it’s still Pre Season I noted that yesterday, Cech does not instill any form of confidence in trying to play the ball out.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what Emery decides to do. Leno is obviously a lot more alleze avec with the Ball at feet.

  6. Ras,

    Spot on observation and I have been banging the drum om Cech’s absolutely shit distribution and slowness off his line. Leno is not only quick off his line in that German sweeper keeper role but his distribution with his feet and his throws are a joy and very much welcomed.

    In a high pressing, high tempo and possession style that Emery likes, the GK is massive for not only cleaning up but also his distribution and quick thinking can lead to quick counters. For as brilliant as Citeh’s outfield players are, I think Ederson was World Class fot them and his distribution was sublime and allowed them to quickly transition.

  7. Morning all, didnt see the game but saw a clip of the lads rocket into the top corner. I do hope that we intend to fit Laca and Auba together in some shape or form. When going against the big boys we need guys we can score, both of them are hungry for goals. Maybe against the smaller fish we can rest/rotate the two at striker. Personally i think they can probably play somewhat fluid, both laca/auba drifting in & out between wing and striker!

  8. YW,

    Yup, thats what I’m thinking but I am really interested to see how Sead gets on this season in a more attacking (both attacking wose and defensively) side as that more suits his aggressive style as opposed to Arsene’s style. He probably won’t displqce Nacho if he keeps current form but I could see him pushing Nacho sooner rather than later.

  9. C,

    Hello C Emery is going to have to earn his corn.

    We’ve no idea if Leno was a choice of Emery. Is Leno for the future? If he’s for the future and Cech remains number one I personally think that progress with Cech is going to be painful. Cech does not bring any confidence to the Defence. He’s that old school generation of Guardians.

    In my humble opinion Leno has to start..ita a new season, new era. Out with the old and in with the new.

    Cech is a good back up but at 36 his better days are behind him .

  10. C,

    Hello C I wonder about Sead. Having watched him closely Yesterday and last season his first instinct is to pass backwards. Watch and see. He could well have been playing to a game plan.

    For all that it’s worth I see that the Club have not done anything to quash the rumours. I think personally that Gazidis is moving in in September.

    The extension extension of Iwobi’s
    contract is good business. It ties him down

  11. I genuinely appreciate your take YW, on the youngster’s anguish. Looking forward to tomorrow’s game.

  12. Ras,

    I agree completely with Leno as #1, and he is far too experienced even at 25-26 to be for the future, he is the present. We won’t know but I wonder if he was on the list of GK targets and was agreed upon because he has all thr qualities that you want in a modern sweeper keeper plus his shot stopping abilities.

    Cech as backup makes more sense though personally I’d rather have Ospina or Macey.

  13. Ras,

    I have hope for Sead because he played in an attacking style at Schalke and was brilliant but he is also more than willing to get up and down the flanks and he does have a good cross and shot. Currently he probably is still #2 but I have hope.

    Ivan, it doesn’t make sense to me but what do I know. Its like he won the war, set the club up for the present and future and then off to the dysfunctional situation that is AC Milan.

    Iwobi, there is a player in there and hopefully Emery will bring and develop him. Wonder where Emery sees him: as a pivot who can link play and boss a midfield, or a wideman who has the pace and skill with hope his final ball returns as his confidence grows.

  14. I hope Leno is good enough to start over Cech.

    I’m worried about Mustafi-Sokratis pairing. They don’t strike me as a balanced duo.

  15. C,

    He’s a big deal in Bosnia. Arsenal shirts around Sarajevo because of Kolasinac. After Pjanic and Dzeko comes Sead. If he learned to defend, he could be very effective. Sort of important for a left back.

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