Man, it’s been a busy few months.
With the 2019 Women’s World Cup now under way, I’m finally going to seize this opportunity to talk briefly about Arsenal. As some of you may know, it’s been a bit of a rocky road for the team this season. It was Unai Emery’s very first season in charge of the club and, in all honesty, it should’ve been better. I don’t think anyone was going to come away thinking that Unai was going to get us back into, let’s say, the top three again or something, but at the very least, he’d get us towards being more….well, competitive again. Now, what do I mean by that?
Well, to me, that means not having a mental capitulation when we’re down a goal or two under a mid-table team. That also means having a defense that won’t commit a glaring amount of goal concessions and that also means defensive midfielders doing their fucking jobs. A few bloggers have already pointed out where we need to improve in areas like the midfield and defense, but overall, I was hoping that Unai was going to help get the team into a more defensive / counter-attacking mindset and, frankly, that’s still a work-in-progress. He tried a pressing game in the early season I think, but that quickly went to shit. He did get notable wins against some bigger clubs in the prem, but our away form has been horrible because we’re prone to attacks in transition from smaller teams. Couple that with inconsistencies in formations, injuries to Bellerin & Holding and an obvious lack of leadership on the pitch and you have yourself a dysfunctional team. The only upside in all of this is Auba and Lacazette; a strike partnership that would have more impact if we weren’t so leaky elsewhere on the pitch.
I won’t deny how good it felt this season to win against Spurs, Man U and Chelsea in the Prem, but in my opinion, a lot of that felt hollow when we lost momentum during our last 8 or so games. We had a Top 4 finish in our hands, and we fucking blew it with our away form. I’m not sure if this is a mental thing or what, but to me, this should be something on Unai’s radar because these last few games were woeful.
Lastly, I need to say a word about transfers. Mustafi needs to fucking go. Seriously. Ship him to Inter or Hamburg or somewhere but by God he’s awful. He has no consistency, makes batshit errors and just passes straight back into the opposition. He needs to fucking go. No questions asked. So yeah, a Center Back is definitely needed. Unai also needs to get Chambers and Holding into the game again in case we screw the transfer up. Also, if it were up to me, we need to send Guendouzi on loan. He’s a great prospect but by God is he raw. He’s got to get that defensive mindset into his game or else he’ll get chewed up in this league, so I think a loan spell (preferably to a counter attacking team) would do him wonders.
Also, I’m not a fan of Xhaka. He’s just not good enough defensively and just too error prone for me. If the club is keeping him, then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get him to be more like ARTETA and less like XHAKA. And lastly, I need to talk about Ozil. I was not a fan of how Unai handled the “Bench Ozil and see what happens” situation, though I am critical of the player sometimes. Many are speculating that he’s either in decline or is suffering under Unai’s tactical system, but, in my opinion, it might be a bit of both. However way you see it, I feel that the only thing that’s clear is that the tension between both parties (Emery and Ozil) is a detriment to the team. I’m of the opinion that Ozil should stay and fight for his place, but Unai has to fucking find a system (with Ozil in mind) that works to win games. We’ve been too reliant on a flanking game (with Kolasinac….my God) and we’re just not incisive in the middle of the park, and that’s where Ozil shines. We need to finish teams thru the middle and we can’t have that when we’re changing formations every other game, are too feeble in possession, have defensive meltdowns or get bullied / pressed off the ball. I think Ozil, Iwobi, Kolasinac and other players can change their games to overcome these issues but these ideas need to come from the top….they need to come from Unai.
I don’t know what the fuck is going to happen this summer. I don’t know how competitive we’ll be in terms of recruitment as we look forward to another season of the Europa League, but what I do know is that shit needs fixing….NOW. I don’t need to see another bone-headed defender in this club who can’t stop a cross. I’m sick of seeing an Arsenal player go into a meltdown and capitulate a penalty when he’s been turned over. And I’m sure as fuck not willing to see the team eat itself when unfair things happen. We need to get over this and show that we’re willing to fight for every scrap there is. No, I wasn’t able to see the Europa final (I saw highlights….ugh), but why should we bank EVERYTHING on the final when we had a top four Prem finish in OUR HANDS!?
I love you Arsenal. I do. But we need to be tough with ourselves. We need to be ruthless with ourselves, and we need to find a way to win.
P.S.: Though I may admit that some of the team’s issues may be things that were inherited during Wenger’s time, I find myself missing Le Prof a lot more. How I wish our current manager had the ounce of character that he had when things turned sour…