Arsenal 1 – 1 Wolves
For the umpteenth game in Unai Emery’s reign, Arsenal dropped points from a winning position as Wolves took a deserved point.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed his 50th goal for the club to break the deadlock. A simple pass from Alexandre Lacazette gave Auba the simplest of finishes.
Lucas Torreira forced a good save from the Wolves ‘keeper but that was it. The second-half saw us fail to register a shot on target and our defensive frailties were once again exposed. It simply isn’t good enough. Unai Emery isn’t good enough.
It led to another bizarre post-match press conference. Unai “thinks” the players understand what he wants despite another 90 minutes when it was evident they do not.
Arsenal don’t resemble the team Emery talks about. Today was a match which ended in a “bad result” (true) but “tactically I think we worked how we wanted” which is just a weird statement. Essentially, he says our plan was to score first the commit hari-kari.
We aren’t protagonists, we’re somnambulists sleepwalking from one bad performance to another. The most disturbing aspect is how ineffective Emery’s coaching is eighteen months into his reign. By now, the players should be absorbing the weekly tactical tweaks but it’s like they are learning a whole new system every time.
Worst of all, he seemed accepting of the draw. “The players tried, they worked,”Emery claimed. “So now we need to finish that match and focus on the next one.” Or to paraphrase, “We didn’t win. Oh well, better luck next time, eh?”
The question is where we go from here? Change was waiting until the end of the season last week.
Another match ending with jeers, however, signals the season is ending well before May.
One Step Beyond
The flaw in the plan is that Emery is a useful fool. His failings are a shield of steel for Raul and Edu, at the moment anyway. When criticism flies in their direction, he ceases to be useful.
Next weekend’s trip to Leicester suddenly takes on greater importance for Emery. Crystal Palace face the Foxes this afternoon and then Chelsea.
We’re reliant upon them doing us favours otherwise defeat at the King Power sees us nine points off fourth and with Emery in charge, that is an irretrievable deficit.
His natural caution prevents us from taking hold of games. Yesterday saw an attacking substitution in bringing on Saka for Torreira but why was Pepe not used?
The Ivorian is in his best Arsenal form yet we dropped him yesterday to the bench. Maybe the stats say he needed a rest but putting him on the bench isn’t paying heed to those numbers.
What will we try in Portugal on Wednesday or Leicester next week? Stick or twist, Unai; do you even know?
That’s if we wait until then. There is little to gain and no guarantee of a short-term bounce with an interim coach.
In my view, Freddie Ljungberg, the people’s favourite, might get a bounce for a game or two but that defence needs some serious work carried out on it. Is the Swede the man for that job?
We’re not the draw we once were but only for the very elite coaches will a season or so without Champions League football matter. A good coach might turn this season around but keeping faith will just see a continuation of the mediocrity so far.
There’s no guarantee of success with a new coach, of course. There’s more of a guarantee of failure under Emery, however.
Nature Abhors A Vacuum
We always hoped Arsène’s departure would leave us with a better situation than United found themselves in when Ferguson departed. As they found, getting the right person in is a tough job for the Recruitment Team.
Their predecessors made a bum choice so we’re back at the start once again. There will always be hipster choices which I have no problem with. Ten Haag from Ajax will feature high on the list. It’s time for the football connections to payoff.
There’s a moral superiority abroad which claims Arsenal aren’t the sort of club to hire and fire coaches. Witnessing the post-Wenger era, I’m surprised some still cling to the notion of a coach being in the job for five years or more.
Modern football dictates that all but the most successful coaches will depart in years 2 – 3. Unai as an unsuccessful coach fits that pattern.
It’s close to a convenient time for the change to be made. There’s an international break coming up which gives time for a behind the scenes reshuffle. Get new staff in, get them settled while the players are away.
Will we take the opportunity or drunkenly stumble on?
It’s Arsenal so what’s your poison…