Poor performance, but great 3 points. by Konstantin Mitov
Hello good Arsenal people from over the globe! Feeling any more homesick on the road? That’s what Arsenal feels like every time we travel. It’s a lovely Monday evening, just finished watching the new Game of Thrones episode, before I switch to the Arsenal game at Watford and it’s the perfect start!
Ben Foster doing another epic mistake, with Aubameyang putting massive work to press, which results in his 18th goal of the season in the league and 75 seconds later, Deeney puts his arm in the face of Torreira and he is shown red! I was thinking to myself well, GoT episode is over and now so is this game and the drama for the night!
But it wouldn’t be Arsenal if we cruise a game away from home, even if we are gifted a goal and a red card at minute 10. At the Emirates it’s like we’re Batman trying to protect Gotham city, fighting crime and prevailing against the villains and then we’re shy old Bruce Wayne away, hoping to avoid the attention.
I’ve been struggling to find answers to our two-face identity, but after a lot of thought I believes it comes from the manager. Our approach away is not nearly as bold as it is at home and as it used to be in the beginning. At the start, when we were winning most games (even those away), we went with an attacking intent. We were outscoring teams, scoring at least 2 away for a very long time.
Even when we lost to Chelsea, we created enough chances to win. I think the turning point was our 3-2 defeat to Southampton. Feels like after that game, Emery decided that we should have a more laid back approach and try to concede less. Something I was a big advocate of, but it feels like we completely abandoned our pressing and desire to go forward.
Yesterday, once Watford were left with 10 men, we could’ve moved the ball quicker, but instead we were slow and it was always sideways rather than forward. We also missed the chances we created. Mikhi had a very poor game. Auba apart from his goal was pretty isolated throughout the game and the front 4 seemed like they lack the understanding on the pitch, which we have if Auba, Laca, Ozil and Ramsey all play.
We also made a lot of rotations in defence. Mustafi at right back is a worry for me, although, yesterday, he was one of our better players. Mavropanos was also a surprise, but I think a huge part of our win was Koscielny, with a true captain’s performance! That said, all the rotations didn’t look like they helped the team.
We obviously had Thursday in mind, but with a performance like that, we’ll be praying to survive. I want to see us positive, go at it. Not just hide behind the 2 goals and pray the Naples onslaught doesn’t run us over. Defending is not our strong side, so I hope we go there trying to score and kill them off. But I expect us to sit back again.
Auba was really working hard and he was so tired at Watford and the fact we dropped Laca, means he’s more than likely to start alone up top at Napoli. Such a shame, as I would’ve loved to see us put both our top players on the pitch and be aggressive. In any way, if we get to the semis I’ll take it. In all honesty any sort of away wins, especially Watford, is one I would’ve bitten your hand off if you offered it in advance, it’s just the circumstances make me feel like we should’ve stepped on the gas pedal a bit more.
We never really moved out of 3rd gear. Hopefully it’s all saved up for Thursday. We have 3 more away games, and the way I see it, we’ll need to win at least 2 of them. Couple that with 2 home wins and it should be good enough. It’s in our own hands the top 4 and I hope the team takes it seriously and steps up. First though, it’s the Europa League. We’ve never blown a 2-0 home win in the first leg of a European tie. Hopefully, we can keep this stat rolling.