Leicester City 2 – 0 Arsenal
At the final whistle, defeat confirmed this as Arsenal’s worst start to a season since 1982/83. In a warning of what’s to come, Terry Neill lasted a further twelve months before getting sacked.
Those fears were almost confirmed when Ornstein noted the Arsenal board and senior management backed Unai Emery to turn it around. The logic, it seems, is twenty-six games remain which is plenty of time for the good form to return.
They clearly understand the current Arsenal zeitgeist which saw the travelling support join in with the home fans serenade of “You’re getting sacked in the morning”.
They expect the “noise” around Emery to increase in the absence of matches. Few opportunities will present themselves for positive moments so the disgruntlement sees no relief. No doubt when he faces the media next, he’ll bemoan his players absence. The international break stopped him from rebuilding their confidence and so on.
To be honest, I’m not even going to bother with critiquing the performance. For an hour, it was better than expected. Not good, just not as poor as I thought we would be and certainly, we weren’t overrun. Relief around that was widespread at the time but this is Emery’s Arsenal: the Snowflakes.
The second half brought the inevitable collapse, one the manager expected. Speaking after the game, Emery said that everything was level pegging until “they scored the first goal, that’s when we lost the opportunity to do something in that match.”
Just in case that isn’t clear enough for you, I’ll translate: “When Leicester scored, I threw in the towel”.
His post-match utterance – and pre-match ones for that matter – show a loose grasp of reality but are bullish, imbued by the reassurances of his bosses that his job is safe.
Leicester and Chelsea, for example, are better than us because “they’ve had time to be consistent.” We, on the other hand, only had time to be timid so far. We’re looking for our time to be consistent but there’s only so many hours in a day.
It’s no surprise the Arsenal hierarchy aren’t going to act. Despite throwing away a return to Champions League football and seeing us humiliated in Baku, the clowns still wanted to offer Emery a new deal. I don’t know who put the kibosh on that but you get a free pass from that madness.
The only positive from Ornstein’s missive is that Arsenal aren’t chasing around after Luis Enrique. There’s no indication he can rebuild this club in the way it is needed. Indeed, with his record at Roma, quite the opposite.
However, it is largely irrelevant. Emery has yet to use up all his nine lives at the Emirates. Southampton’s visit later this month begins a run of fixtures which can best be described as kind. That is if you’re in-form. Out of sorts, there are plenty of banana skins in the guise of Norwich and West Ham (away) as well as Brighton at home.
That, I think, underlines the damage Emery has wrought at the club.
Honestly, I see no benefit in holding on in his dismissal. At this moment in time, the Champions League is out of reach once again. To pull back the gap to the top four, we must beat Chelsea twice and Leicester at home, while hoping they drop plenty of points elsewhere.
All Pigs Cleared For Take-Off
The reality is that we are fighting for the Europa League places once again. Emery is a Europa League manager desperately seeking a return to the Intertoto days.
In my heart, I can only assume the Arsenal hierarchy has written off this season. They talk of top-four finishes but know it won’t happen. They assume a Europa League place will be claimed but right now that is far from certain.
We’re all but qualified for the next round in Europe and don’t even have to win to achieve that aim next time around. But we won’t win it; we’re not good enough.
If they haven’t written the season off, I wish they would tell us where their optimism Emery will turn it around comes from because I cannot fathom it at all.
At the root of this, however, is the hands-off approach of the owners. They do not want to be involved unless it is good PR – which, ironically, sacking Emery would be – but yesterday’s opponents showed a stark contrast to Enos and Junior.
Leicester’s owners remain heavily involved and invested in the club, despite a tragedy which might cause others to walk away. However, they understand the role of the club in the community and want it as well as the city to thrive. Yes, it is an investment but the more they put in, the more they are getting out.
And they aren’t scared to act either. Eight months after winning the title, Ranieri was gone. Claude Puel paid the price for eighteen months of relative failure.
But we don’t sack our coach/manager because we aren’t one of ‘those’ clubs. Yet ‘those’ clubs are above us in the table. Tell me, which clubs are getting it right?