What Is A Good Points Return Between Now & October?

One more round of matches to go and the international break really is over. Most of them are pointless; the number of nations who are already in the playoffs is staggering.

Not only that but Group D is eye-rubbing; Gibraltar are eliminated but Denmark, Switzerland and Georgia are all in the playoffs at the very least. Only the leaders Ireland, are not assured of anything.

There’s nothing like a UEFA qualifying competition to be overly complicated. And the very definition of madness. Take the Europa League.

Cluj knocked Celtic out of the Champions League qualifiers. The Romanians then lost the next round of qualifying so find themselves drawn in the same group as the Scots in the Europa League.

It’s nuts; there’s no other way to describe it. And the ECA wants everything but the price of sugar counting in a new Champions League qualification regime.

Soon, finishing in the top four won’t mean anything. It’s all about centralising football power and neutering domestic football. That’s what UEFA wants; the envy over the Premier League riches will only be sated when the money flows through the Zurich coffers.

The current circus continues for another couple of years so the top four continues as the minimum requirement for Arsenal each season. Which puts added importance onto the next four Premier League matches.

From late October, there are four uninterrupted months of club football. Form during that time fluctuates so taking maximum points in this phase of the season is vital.

And looking at our fixtures – Watford (A), Aston Villa (H), Manchester United (A), and Bournemouth (H) – there’s no reason why we shouldn’t get 12 out of 12.

Well, OK; we rarely win at Old Trafford even when they have as poor as side as they do now.

Falling Standards

Ten points out of 12 would be a good return and one which stands us in good stead as autumn turns to winter. Chelsea and Tottenham, our two realistic rivals for the remaining top four places, face tougher games, notably involving Leicester and Wolves.

Manchester United could sneak into the frame as well; this year looks tougher than last. I’m not convinced it is all down to the mid-table pack catching up in terms of quality. Excluding City and Liverpool, I think the rest of the big six is slipping as well.

While clubs like Everton spend money like water, others such as the Foxes and Wolves take a far more rounded approach to squad building. I don’t think the Scousers have a bad squad but it’s hard to see that it was built with the same focused approach as the two Midlands sides.

The astute among you note I am confident we will finish in the top four. It’s the natural arrogance which comes from supporting a big club. And it is time we regained the swagger big clubs possess or ought to at least.

City and Liverpool walk onto the pitch almost certain of victory. They ought to given their squads or in Liverpool’s case, the starting line-up. However, we can be equally confident in most matches as well.

What holds us back? There’s an element of nervousness brought over from last season. We mock Mustafi but he wasn’t the sole cause of our disastrous end to the season. Not by a long shot.

Combine that with new players still bedding in and there’s the potential for a regular supply of material for Denis Norden’s new series: It’ll Be Alright on the Night from Beyond the Grave.

Standing Room Only

This is where Unai’s footballing philosophy steps into the limelight. I like that he wants the team to be a “chameleon”; it’s a sea-change from Plan A moving to Route One.

However, there’s a real danger that the chameleon changes its’ colours so often that it forgets its basic shape. There are a lot of times when we seem caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

While most teams are susceptible to the counter-attack, we seem more vulnerable than a team at our level ought to be. Maybe I’m over-estimating our level; perhaps we are just the mid-table pack punching above our weight. If that’s the case, Raul really did outsmart the market this summer.

Of course, we’re not but we defend like one of those teams. It’s not just the back four at fault, this is down to the whole team. It’s not just Xhaka being ill-suited to a defensive midfield role. But it is something Emery must address very quickly if we are to succeed, even relatively speaking.

We do, it seems, defend on the pitch like every game is a cup-tie. We’re constantly pushing forward, chasing a goal, leaving gaps to be exploited which even the bang average football sides find a way of punishing.

Therein is our problem which when solved will improve our standing. This is the season to do that with so many other rivals seemingly in various states of disarray.

The question is whether Unai can do that. The answer will soon be revealed.

‘til Tomorrow.

7 thoughts on “What Is A Good Points Return Between Now & October?

  1. Eche says:

    Methinks Emery has low mentality reasoning in coaching aspect.we rarely impose ourselves in games even amongst the low level teams like you said of chameleon, we are one goal up against low teams even at Emirate suddenly we become defensive and looking gitterly.watching arsenal this days always expose someone to HBP.

  2. C says:

    I do think Emery is the right man for the job and one has to wonder if part of him being or trying to b more defensive last season was the disaster we had the previous season and still having many of the same defenders. The other thing is that, there does seem to be just stupid mistakes from experienced players that cause of more problems than potentially the shape (well outside of the narrow shape against Liverpool). I know people like to kill Mustafi, and at times rightly so, but Sokaritis at times almost looks like a walking yellow card or stupid foul waiting to happen by being overly aggressive when its clearly not needed.

    I will be really interested to see how and what happens as the squad not only becomes fully fit but also over the coming months with players bedding in and others returning to full match fitness after their summers.

  3. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Great write up YW. Correct defensive frailties will be what defines Mr Emery’s coaching ability. Whether he can coach up this bunch of defender’s is another question. I’ve no doubt we will improve when our casualties start to return to training and competition for places hots up. But the worry is we may have dropped to many points by that time. We definitely should have a bit of a swagger about us and go back to be flat track bullies. But there is as you rightly stated YW that edge of uncertainty, even without Mustafi on the pitch. Whether it be Sokratis, AMN, Xhaka or Guendouzi, there is a brain fart waiting to happen.

    C ever the optimist. I don’t rate Emery as highly as you do. He’s a protégé of Biesla’s. Like’s to start defending high up the pitch to win the ball in the final third. However as attractive as this style of football is. Biesla himself is a one trick pony. My fears are UE is also a one trick pony. Not adaptable enough to know when 10 men behind the ball and take a draw is applicable. Not enough in-game management to keep a teams shape. Organised banks of four and make yourself tough to break down for 75 mins before trying to nick something with a super sub. Tactics my friend, tactics.

  4. C says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    Trust, I love tactics and talking tactics. Honest question, outside of Citeh and Liverpool…name another side we should take that tactic with? We have the players to play that system but also play on the counter, problem is, inorder to press you have to have players pressing together. For instance, last season for all of the work rate of Ramsey, pressing and getting out of position breaks everything down because he leaves massive gaps then Xhaka, bless his pressing soul, tried to fill them then Mustafi slips, Sokaritis is overly aggressive and their 2v1 with Leno. I have watched and followed Emery for quite some time and make no mistake, he is far from a one trick pony. The thing that bothers me most about Emery is that when you have players like Lacazette, Torriera…you play them because they press and do so intelligently and the rest will follow. I think with the squad we have we have the ability to press then drop off then go again but the XI has to be balanced.

    The other issue that Emery faces is that he has 2 overly aggressive players that can easily get caught in Sokaritis and Xhaka. Sokaritis and Holding work because Holding is a reader which helps defensively similiar to Mert and Kos. To many of the partnershops seem unbalanced last season but with the signings can become balanced.

    Tactics and personnel my friend.

  5. consolsbob says:

    In a hurry, YW!

    This post cuts to the quick whereas, what can I say without causing unintended offence, your posts tend to the, perhaps, ‘wordy’?

    No argument, mind you. Everything worth saying in fewer words than we might be used to.

    Well said, sir.

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