Bournemouth Preview: Sign Off With A Win

Bournemouth pitch up at the Emirates as the season goes into the hibernation of an international break. Since the last unwanted interruption, it’s six unbeaten with a win today sending us to the giddy heights of third place.

Quite what the line-up will be is anyone’s guess. Unai Emery isn’t sure; he’s “waiting on the other players to be ready” which can be interpreted any number of ways. Presumably, it’s Emery-speak for no more injuries reported beyond Alexandre Lacazette’s absence?

It makes his team selection for this afternoon all the more interesting. The only clean sheets we’ve kept since the last international break came in cup competitions which put pressure on the defence.

Kieran Tierney made his Premier League debut at Old Trafford so the question is who joins him from Thursday night? My suspicion is no-one else. “Hector Bellerin,” Emery declared, “needs more time to be 100 per cent” while Rob Holding is “closest” to featuring in the first XI.

Bizarrely, Emery appeared to forget that Tierney played at Old Trafford by including him in with those players who are coming back. Two games in week put him firmly in possession of the left-back slot. Whether the medical advice is to rest him today is the unknown given how long the Scot was out.

All of which adds up to a reprieve for the back four which stumbled through the first part of the season. Calum Chambers is in at right-back given Ainsley Maitland-Niles played on Thursday night.

Quite rightly so. Chambers is vastly improved on the youngster who went on loan to Fulham. His performances this season demand his inclusion in the starting line-up. Preferably at centre-back but for the moment, full-back must do.

But what of Sokratis and Luiz, the experienced pair whose performances betray their years?

Young Guns, Go For It

Holding is unlikely to feature today leaving the dynamic duo in situ. And they are universally unconvincing.

Emery tried his best to spin it positively. “I think we are progressively getting better,” is his view of the defence. He mentioned the clean sheets but seemed oblivious to them being in the cup. Shkodran Mustafi has more clean sheets to his name than Sokratis and Luiz; interpret that how you want.

In Emery’s mind, he wants the team to be an attacking team. “To have the ball and control the matches,” is his way of doing it. Something is lost in translation between himself and the team; we cede possession too cheaply and aren’t aggressive enough in retrieving it.

Most of us, however, will agree with his belief that we need to keep the ball as far away from our back four as possible. “Defensively we want to keep more of the ball and be further away from our goal and pushing them,” is how he put it.

Of course, the defensive side of the game isn’t just down to the back four. The midfield must be snappier in the tackle and mindful of the spaces around the penalty area. McTominay found himself in space because he’d been bundled over as he ran toward our goal.

As we continued to play the ball he stumbled to his feet and found himself unmarked. We did not pay enough attention to the game. It’s little details like that which cost us so much.

Dividing Line

Few issues on team selection are more divisive than Granit Xhaka as captain. Mostly, it’s down to his performances. Like Wenger, Emery views him as a defensive midfielder or the midfielder with the most defensive role.

I believe that’s a mistake. If he’s playing Xhaka, a freer role in the centre of the pitch is more suited to his game. Torreira is by far the better defensive midfielder yet played in a role which patrols the right flank.

The situation smacks of a square peg in round hole solution. Emery wants a certain formation but doesn’t have the players to fulfil it. Or, more accurately, persists in selecting players not suited to the roles. That’s his choice but it hampers his chance of building something solid at Arsenal.

The Spaniard sort of defended Xhaka. “I have big confidence and trust in every player, the captain and not the captain,” he said.

All Xhaka can do to win people over is putting in good performances, a consistency which eluded him previously so I wonder why I would expect it now? Maybe he will start today.

Bournemouth is a decent footballing side, neat and tidy in possession. But they are a team we need to be beating and comfortably so if we are to instil confidence and belief that we can finish in the top four.

Everyone we consider is imploding and we must take full advantage of it. Putting the points on the board now while they endure a poor spell is vital. And an insurance policy for us when we stumble once again, which we inevitably will.

The line-up I’d expect today is:

Leno; Chambers, Luiz, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos; Pepe, Aubamenyang, Saka

It’s good enough to take the points and finish this spell on a high. A fortnight off and they’ll learn all these bad habits with their national team which drag us down…

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

66 thoughts on “Bournemouth Preview: Sign Off With A Win

  1. Ferkov says:

    Was just watching some comedy on YouTube. Brighton v Tottally gone, post match comments. Golden

  2. Mulerise1 says:

    Ferkov,

    I demand VAR………hope we bag all d 3 points today to rub more salt on spuds festering wound.its funny how media is playing down d present implosion of their darling,while they fervently hope we fail,so they can justify their half-arsed predictions about Arsenal
    .it seems stars are aligning to ensure top four finish from us.h

  3. Ferkov says:

    Great preview YW ,thanks
    Unai’s diction seems to be improving, or maybe we are getting better at Emerrish. Last year his comment could be interpreted in dozens of ways, but I think you got it nailed.
    Xhaka needs to step up, but he’s not the only one. Holding and Tierney are knocking the door down, and “I really don’t know who my best midfielders are today, maybe tomorrow ”
    Cautious Unai will play your XI.
    Confident Emery might stick Holding, Tierney and Willock. Such a shame Xhaka gets another chance to cock it up, add Terrier to that and we’ve got a team.

  4. jonnygunner says:

    I had a lovely lay in this morning Ferkov……or you’d be in silver medal spot 😉

  5. C says:

    Ferkov,

    No Tierney but maybe Holding for me. Tierney is still working his way back to full match fitness and 3 matches in that short time might not be best. Holding would be good. If not, I would much rather Mustafi at this point to Sokaritis.

  6. andy1886 says:

    One change from the Utd game sees Ceballos in and Torreira on the bench as love child Xhaka continues to feature. Disappointingly conservative line up.

  7. SV says:

    Martinelli to come in as a sub and score. I hope to see a performance of Pepe. And a clean sheet in a league game would be nice for a change. When was the last one? At New Castle? They are quite rare, aren’t they?

  8. Anderslilya says:

    C,

    Tierney didn’t actually play against United, did he?

  9. Ferkov says:

    jonnygunner,

    As they say. You snooze…. I booze.🍻🍻
    Disappointingly conservative lineup. This has got to be last chance saloon for this defensive set. Let’s hope we sling some guns 💥COYG

  10. Las says:

    Good day! Excellent post Yogi, you just guessed right, our Emery doesn’t learn.
    WTF this lineup…No Tierny, no Holding no Torreira…
    I bet you Bournemouth will be up a goal or two at halftime. And we will heroically coming back (or not) with Torreira and Willock coming on. It is really shame on me but I hope Papa will injure himself during the warm up and Holding comes on.
    Why Mr Emery, why are you so maddeningly stubborn (blined and deaf).

    I am bloody anxious

  11. Bufallo says:

    Crusty !! Looks popular in the squad too

  12. Las says:

    hey, hey hey 🙂 Good header 🙂
    I don’t mind being wrong 🙂 and loosing my bet

  13. Noon Gunner says:

    We established enough pressure from the first minute, and Bmth haven’t got into any rhythm, so are making error after error (how we can sympathise!).

    I’m really liking our two FBs – both playing for their positions, which is nice. And Pepe seems much more confident. Guedouzi having another blast – happy in his works!

  14. Kenny says:

    Kolasinac has been an absolute beast this first half.
    That’s what the presence of a Kieran Tierney does, isn’t it? 😄

  15. Noon Gunner says:

    How is it so hard for Xhaka to be coached out of his habit of fouling whenever anyone he’s marking looks like getting past him? Must be a childhood trauma. Needs therapy.

  16. Las says:

    As it seems we need a change or two. In the second half is we are on the backfoot.

  17. Noon Gunner says:

    Las,

    I think it’s that B’mth are on the front foot for the first time. But I see you’re about to get your wish – Gabriel coming on!

  18. Noon Gunner says:

    Things not working out for Pepe, but being replaced like this is all the signal he needs that he has to shift a gear.

    And I can’t help comparing Ceballos to Ozil, who he’s effectively replacing. He’s so obviously hungry for the ball. Having him next to Guendouzi – instead of Xhaka-Ozil – gives us so much more hustle and bustle in midfield, more ball recovery.

  19. Spike says:

    andy1886,

    Were we even surprised? Emerys obsession with needing to change everyones view of Xhaka could well be his down fall!! Haha

  20. G4E says:

    Did Xhaka just run in slow-motion in real-time?

  21. G4E says:

    And no idea why we are trying to nutmeg and play intricate when we are 1-0 up?

  22. consolsbob says:

    This all seems so familiar.

    Where is the fire, the dynamism and the sheer belief that we can thrash a team like Bournemouth?

    Eddie Howe couldn’t do any worse.

    Just what does Emery bring to the club?

  23. YW says:

    > Just what does Emery bring to the club?

    A very nice paella on a Tuesday in the dressing room.

  24. consolsbob says:

    I never have been fond of paella.

  25. C says:

    3 points, clean sheet and now 3rd. Business done.

  26. Noon Gunner says:

    So we’re one point behind City…but their GD is 18, ours a humble 2…

    But happy to take the win. And I give UE and his returning/young players a bit more rope than you, Bob. But we’ll know by Christmas if we’re improving.

  27. Las says:

    pffff, it was not a convincing performance, but in the end, we did it.
    three points, clean sheet… you can’t ask for more

  28. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Pressing was pretty good in the first half, then we seemed to forget about it for the first bit of the second half.
    Looked semi solid today against a half-hearted opponent, so hard to judge. However, can’t escape the sense the Thursday night team had better positioning and drive – little of the hesitancy you see in the first XI. Emery has been cautious with the returning players and got away with it but I think Tierney and Bellerin are needed now.

  29. Spike says:

    I think he would do a decent job…

    But I’m just wanting anyone other than UE! I’m just waiting until Emery signs a player who can do those long throws like that twat at Pulis’ Stoke team…

    Maybe Xhaka has that in his locker?

    Let’s face it, theres plenty of room in there
    C,

  30. Spike says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    Put Luiz and Auba in the Thursday night team and that would probably be our strongest line up ATM.

    Shame that we will only see that team in the cups.

  31. C says:

    Spike,

    With all that we are still 3rd with Lacazette, Bellerin, Tierney and Holding to return.

    For me, its thr midfield, play Torriera/Guendouzi/Ceballos and that’s a proper midfield. Fill in the rest of the XI.

  32. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    C,

    He’ll never drop Xhaka. Ever. The man can do no wrong.

  33. C says:

    Say what you want but nobody thought we would be sitting 3rd heading into this break especially with no Bellerin, Tierney, Holding, Lacazette and with the horrendous individual defensive errors we had to start the campaign.

    I’ll take it…..I mean, we could be Spuds

  34. Spike says:

    C,

    Yeah I agree, but we’ve still dropped 6 points thanks to the shocking team selections poor tactics and favouritism shown by the coach to certain (cough! Cough!) Players…

  35. Spike says:

    C,

    I’ve never known a manager to actively hamstring his team the way Emery is!

    Is he a spud spy????

  36. Woolwich Freddie says:

    It’s entirely the case that I would have taken 3rd going in to the break but I feel it owes more to other teams’ failures than our being sorted out.
    Chelsea might get better over the season but United won’t and the Spuds weird, spiraling nose dive seems like it will continue. Leicester seem like they might push for a spot but Champions League is there to be taken.
    Tierney and Bellerin will help paper over the cracks but the better tacticians will shut down our flanks and direct teams will still cut through our soft center.
    I’m not necessarily one of those heavily down on Pepe and I understand he plays in an expensive position but, given the competition out wide, I might have bought two DMs with the money (broken record; I know).

  37. Blue Yonder says:

    Spike:
    consolsbob,

    I’ve liked the idea of Howe taking over for a couple of years now.

    Spike,

    Me, too. He does a good job with a team that doesn’t have major star-power. That said, how does such a team only play one half? We expect it at Arsenal, but…
    That also said, a win is a win, and two clean sheets in four days – I’m not sure my heart can take it.

  38. Spike says:

    Woolwich Freddie,

    Theres little point in buying DMs with Emery in charge. They would have to make do in the cup games while Emerys little cherub plays in midfield, regardless of how ineffective he is (sorry, more broken records)…

  39. C says:

    Spike,

    Your right, we have dropped points and player selection has been a problem and hopefully, with everybody fit, that will change. Guess we wait until after the international break to find out.

  40. consolsbob says:

    We are third but in a poor league. Apart from Liverpool, everybody looks flawed. We could, and should, have beaten manu and the spuds.

    We are not convincing and we are timid.

    Not for me. I just do not think that Emery is capable of managing a team to be what we want and what we should be, even with this flawed squad.

    I don’t expect to win the Title but to at least play with some belief and not be afraid of the opposition.

  41. Adam Singh says:

    Well, 3rd place and a point off City in second. But performances are far from convincing, so we can only get better right? Let’s hope so as our next three PL fixtures are all winnable and provide an opportunity to build some form and confidence.

  42. Welsh corgi says:

    C,

    Its turgid in the League and freeflowing in the cups. Same manager and he should get the props for the cups but it says something.

    You can’t win without risk. His job is on the line. But you have to take risks. There’s no gain without risks and I would never trust anyone without skin in the game. Nor sure about emery, to me it seems like he don’t wanna take risks and then you can’t win.

  43. C says:

    Welsh corgi,

    I am in agreement about why their is such a difference. For me, it all starts and stops in the midfield. Cups we see Torriera/Ceballos/Willock and high press, if he doesn’t start Willock then its Guendouzi in the PL and we look the same.

    We simply can’t press with Xhaka and I think the players know it too. Watch Ceballos, in the cups, he knows Torriera will be there to sit and sweep in the PL, he knows he has to get back and help. That’s massive because when he and Guendouzi or Willock can stay that bit higher and press but also start the play….it allows for thr team as a whole to play higher up the pitch. Torriera must start instead of Xhaka in the PL.

  44. Bill says:

    Big win today. Not playing well but in 3rd place. It looks like ManU and Spurs are trying to hand us the top 4 spot.

    The game last Thursday was reminiscent of the Carling Cup games from the project youth era circa 2007. Those performances were always a lot of fun but they were never something the individual players or the team could replicate in the PL or the CL

  45. SV says:

    In April 2019 our position was forth, with a game in hand and a preferable run in. Our rivals had both eyes on their CL campains… Still, finished fifth.

    Today’s third is similar. A few away games (Sheffield? Leicester anyone?) , and we’ll slip fown the table. Emery does not like the EPL. The further, the less. Such things happen sometimes. It’s nobody’s fault that it is not working out. But to put all your eggs into the Europa League basket is too big a risk, especially after the win in the competition has become meaningfull. EPL should be the priority. I would take Freddie.

  46. Blue Yonder says:

    United’s performance at Newcastle underscores how winnable the game was last week. Ditto for the Spurs game after their performance vs Brighton. Arsenal, by comparison, are underperforming.

    Coaches like Rogers and Howe are getting more out of their squads than Emery is with his big budget team. Steven Gerrard has turned Glasgow Rangers around in one plus seasons and has them in 1st place with less at his disposal than Emery has.
    Is it the coaching?

  47. Las says:

    Blue Yonder,

    It is the coaching. Emery is only fit being a cup coach in a small team. He was in the same shoes in PSG. He is afraid of star players, he is not able to handle the continous pressure in League nor has his own style. There is no Emeryball. He starts with safety first than try to adapt. This is not a style mind philosophy. I trusted him that he will learn and/or Arsenal will suit him more than PSG. But…

  48. Papa Bear says:

    Most at times Xhaka’s so static I kept checking my internet connection because I thought it was buffering.

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