Winning is a good habit to have. Overall, it masks the bad habits but at some point, those bad habits bite you on the Arsenal. Unai Emery, chirpy in a Cazorla-esque way to the media, will be concerned by our defensive play as much as he is pleased – and relieved – by the pairing of Aubameyang and Lacazette.
Both strikers broke their ducks for the season, scoring well-worked goals with sumptuous finishes. PEA rolled back the years with a curled finish of which Henry would be proud. Lacazette’s venomous shot from an angle proved the difference between the two sides after Cardiff twice equalised.
While I will say they should have scored more, the same applies to Arsenal. Had the final score read ‘9 – 8’ in Arsenal’s favour, nobody would have been surprised. Neither defence covered themselves in glory with attention focusing on Cech.
The goalkeeper is “progressing” according to Emery, in playing out from the back. He very nearly learned the hard way when he passed without looking, giving the ball straight to Arter. His finish ended up in the stand behind the goal, underlining Cardiff’s problems.
Cech’s nervousness summed up our problems, which were very evident in the opening stages as the home side pressed. We gained some relief when they stopped pressuring Sokratis, Mustafi and Cech later in the half. Had Arter scored, I wonder if they would have continued? He didn’t and they gave up, much to the defence’s relief.
Emery later elaborated on his philosophy. We can move onto the next stage of mixing long and short clearances when we’ve mastered the latter, which will be next season at this rate. What calamitous defeat must be suffered for Leno’s chance to arise? One which comes from out of the blue, knowing our history in such matters.
Calm Yourself, Dear, It’s Only Arsenal’s Defending
The goalkeeper’s nervousness is caused by and transmitted to, the defence. Emery called it “taking risks”; local hospitals called on him to stop it as they can’t cope with the influx of heart-related problems supporters suffer. The passes invariably are short and to Cech’s weaker foot. He panics in those instances and the hasty clearances often keep the pressure on our defence. We are improving distribution from there but not comfortably so just yet.
Yesterday saw some Jekyll and Hyde performances. Mustafi’s thunderous header broke the deadlock yet he and Sokratis show little sign of getting themselves together. The lack of leadership from either is a fertile breeding ground for mistakes at set-pieces, which saw us concede yet again from a set-piece.
Fundamentally, I don’t know why I’m surprised. These are mostly the same players whose defending was so poor last year. Four games isn’t going to bring a sea-change in ability and understanding of roles. There are some improvements going on so it isn’t all bad. And the players seem to want to learn, which is a positive in bringing about change.
The same is true further up the pitch. Mesut Özil occupied the periphery of the game during the first half, becoming more noticeable in the second. An influential role in the second half but in all honesty, no closer to providing any indication about his long-term future being in Unai Emery’s side.
His role in Aubameyang’s goal showed how he could be pivotal in the side. A sharp pass to Lacazette opened the door of the Cardiff defence. The issue is not Özil’s talent but his application; a player of his ability shouldn’t take an hour to impose himself on a game. His demeanour doesn’t help and the German is damned whatever he does at present.
Jumping To Conclusions
We remain a work-in-progress, a footballing Sagrada Familia. Lacazette and Aubameyang both reminded Emery that their inclusion from the kick-off is imperative with the Frenchman deservedly earning Man of the Match for his display. Cardiff didn’t get to grips with him all afternoon and his goal a well-deserved reward.
It was created by a slide-rule pass from Lucas Torreira. Like Leno, his absence raises eyebrows. He is a much better defensive midfielder than Xhaka with Guendouzi currently cemented into one of the midfield places. The gaps still existed between the defence and midfield. Torrerira might close those gaps more naturally but he too proved there is an attacking element to his game with his assist for the third.
Guendouzi apparently didn’t lose possession of the ball directly yesterday, according to some stats doing the rounds yesterday. Whether that was true or not, I don’t know, but he did look more assured in his role. Yet Guendouzi is the one to make way for the Uruguayan. One thing is for certain, Emery isn’t swayed by a price tag and he won’t be rushed into making changes to his XI.
Three points was the target and we managed that more comfortably than the scoreline suggests but there’s still a long way to go before we’re convincing.