Arsenal 2 – 2 Southampton
The Stylistics told us that ‘na-na’ was the saddest word they ever heard. They were partly right; Unai is the one they were looking for.
Southampton came, saw and are still trying to work out how they didn’t conquer after another torpid Arsenal performance.
Alexandre Lacazette delivered two equalisers with the reaction to the second particularly striking. As he stroked home from Martinelli’s cross, celebrations were so quiet that ‘muted’ seems too loud. People cared but the afternoon wore everyone down.
As the team left the dressing room before kick-off, the door slammed shut with their confidence still inside. The first game back after an international break rarely produces a scintillating performance but even by that low bar, this was dire.
Defensively, we are all at sea. Bertrand undid us with quick thinking, exploiting space behind Bellerin. Southampton gave us a footballing lesson in the interim before Lacazette equalised.
Every time Southampton got the ball, we were lost, pulled out of position, devoid of commonsense. The visitors had a plethora of chances before Lacazette scored, some of them thanks to breathtakingly amateurish defending.
Hasenhutl said he was disappointed not to take all three points and his players’ reactions at the final whistle confirmed that. Disappointment was etched on their faces with some prostrate on the turf, others kneeling. The equaliser was a shattering blow as much as it was a relief for us.
That’s not how it should be. All the players have question marks over them and certainly, the claim that we won the summer transfer window looks more ludicrous with each passing weekend.
It’s easy to pin the blame on Emery for this but the club is engulfed by a malaise from which it cannot escape. The Spaniard bears responsibility for results; that’s part and parcel of the head coach’s job; it’s his primary responsibility.
However, those above him must answer questions. They haven’t pulled the trigger in sacking him so I suppose Emery’s post-match observation that “the club are supporting me every day” contains some reassurance. The hierarchy is, at least, showing some consistency in backing him. More consistency than we show on the pitch.
There is talk that Sir Chips is quitting as chairman. So long and thanks for your interest in our affairs. This is the man who in 2014 declared “If [Arsene] doesn’t have a plan, we keep quiet”. He’s kept quiet now, as well. The board at Arsenal is simply a nod and a wink to the law. They have no power.
That rests with Raul, Edu, Vinai, Huss and Junior. The latter thought this season would be “fun” in the euphoria of the last transfer window, something which has proven to be a hollow claim.
So why won’t Raul, Edu, Vinai, Huss and Junior pull the trigger? There is no evidence that Emery is turning things around. Indeed, there is more to point to it going even more wrong. At least against Palace, he had the scant consolation that VAR was to blame for the draw. This result sits squarely on Emery’s shoulders.
Time For Action
The longer there is inactivity on their part, the more questions arise about their suitability for the senior roles at the club. Raul is the chief culprit; the football side of things is his domain. The Head Coach lives or dies by his command. At the moment, instead of being decisive, Sanllehi gives the impression of being a reluctant axeman.
It isn’t a situation he should enjoy but nor is it one he should shy away from. Fifteen years at Barcelona doesn’t come crisis-free so he knows the signs and that the only way this ends is with Emery’s departure. He missed a golden opportunity during the international break. That was a fortnight for a new coach to embed himself in the club, to get to know the place if he didn’t already.
That moment passed so now Junior must take charge and apply some fast-acting pain relief.
Unless they have someone already lined up, it’s going to mean an interim boss which will sate the widespread desire for Freddie Ljungberg to take over.
Which gives the hierarchy time to find an experienced coach for the long-term. The situation since Arsene left hasn’t changed.
This is a huge task and no longer can supporters be dismissed as ‘noise’. The reception at the final whistle pointed to the need for action. It isn’t going to improve and the empty seats aren’t going to be filled with the continued poor football on display.