Nervous and disoganized, but Arsenal reserves scrape a narrow win

As usual Unai Emery tinkered with our line up and played lots of Arsenal reserves or returnees from longterm injuries, so it is no surprise that there was less cohesion tan a side that usually plays together. You could tell our back line was a little lax, and Lacazette was looking rusty up front as well.

But thankfully Nicholas Pepe came to the rescue and at last showed the form that made Arsenal pay 72 million for in the summer. Emery admitted that it wasn’t exactly our best game but the Arsenal reserves came good in the end. “Good evening.” Emery said in his after game speech on Arsenal.com: Lots of things happened in the 90 minutes. Firstly I want to speak about this competition. In the Europa League, those three points are very important for us because our logic is to finish first in that group. Over 90 minutes, we struggled more in the first half than we wanted. We lost a lot of balls in midfield and gave them chances in the transition to score and to start winning the game.

“In the second match, I think we controlled it better. We created chances but our attack was playing more with their emotion and heart tonight than with control, or with shape on the pitch. We weren’t as organised in the attack. It’s important. Two goals from Pepe were fantastic and to finish with the win…

“I think we deserved to win but they played really well. We know that every Portuguese team is very organised and they also have good structure, with good players. I remember when I played against Portuguese teams, every Portuguese team was difficult. Last year, we drew against Sporting 0-0. I was talking to Edu about that beforehand. It was difficult to win.

“Also, we used different players and some players were maybe more nervous than normal tonight, but it’s experience for them. Also, in this competition, when we have two victories already, I want to play with different players to give them confidence and minutes. I want them to have experience. There are more positive things than negatives, but I want to take the positive things tonight for the next matches and the next match in this competition.”

He does love to play “different players” on a regular basis, but sometimes I just wish he would actually decide what his best team is, and then play them all the time. It is also great to use Arsenal reserves in games like this too, but the constant chopping and changing must be confusing for the players as much as it is for fans. Will he ever decide on one line-up?

53 Comments

  1. Eddie Hoyte says:

    You know it’s a disaster when the commentator says “they do not deserve it but they’re getting the 3 points” after two wonderful free kicks.

  2. Tommogun58 says:

    Very happy for Pepe great game changer and superb free kicks,he will play on sunday and hopefully we will get more free kicks for him to convert,I like joe willock but he seems to be losing his way and AMN was woeful tonight Guendouzi should be captain he never gives up trying to get something going i like his attitude,Lacca started well but as expected tired in the second half,all in all a rather lacklustre performance but a satisfying result.By the way did anybody spot Mourinho in one of the exec boxes, I wonder??

    1. Sue says:

      Oh not Maureen 😳☹
      I agree, Tommo.. Guendouzi, captain, all day long for me. A very mature head on those shoulders. Keeps going, never afraid to get stuck in, loves a bit of argy bargy. Leads by example.
      He gave his shirt to a fan & hugged them 😍 omg I love him more & more each day!!

  3. gotanidea says:

    Some fans asked Emery to replace Kolasinac with Tierney, but Vitoria scored their first goal because Tierney couldn’t defend well on the left flank and he was out of position

    My point is the naive fans can’t expect instant miracle to happen immediately by just fielding their favorites, such as Bellerin, Holding, Tierney and Ozil

    The B/ cup team players would need some time to adjust to EPL and the same applies to the A/ EPL team players

    Nonetheless, Emery has to try to swap some of them, especially the players that are no longer on his side with the ones that are still supporting him

    1. Lenohappy says:

      Be ready to be called names for this comment.

    2. El kaissi says:

      Emery is a waste of a coach, even if he has Messi and ronaldo playing in this team I tell you we still will struggle to create chances. Did anyone see our total goal attempt in the first half? I think Emery is gone. And and I even see Ozil outstaying him at Arsenal.

      With every match played the same result no game plan so we keep struggling even in the Emirates. If you were ozil, won’t you be pissed? When Emery keeps making different excuses for his not been selected on match days like he(Ozil) is sick or suffered a back pain or any rubbish.

      I’m just too tired with the whole conditions and playing pattern

      1. Lenohappy says:

        Are you upset because of the team performance or because Ozil is not playing?

        1. El kaissi says:

          I’m upset cuz we got a joke of a manager who doesn’t know how to get what he wants out of his team.

          If you still support this man at this time then maybe you also need to go with him…

    3. Goonster says:

      I just think that the whole team is disjointed.
      I don’t know what Emery is doing in all areas.
      No improvement in our defense, midfield or attack.
      I think everyone will struggle until Emery can sort these problems out.
      And I don’t think he has got that long left. Needs to change things drastically in a short period of time because right now he is a deadman walking.

    4. MadHatter says:

      Bit harsh gotanidea. Yes it was KT who was out of position but it wasn’t his fault as he was pushing forward when possession was given away (it was a sloppy pass to him that was intercepted) . He tried to race back but couldn’t quite beat his man and got caught on the outside rather than the inside. As soon as Holding moved across KT peeled back inside and just missed intercepting the next pass by a whisker. He then got the assist for Martinelli and also made some important tackles later in the game.
      So whilst you can blame him for that first goal if you want, you can’t say that he can’t defend well. He still put in a better shift than Kolasinac 🤷‍♂️

    5. Fred Caffaso says:

      I hope you realize its more than fatal to introduce more than 2 player in the 1st team in team
      A at any time unless this clown of a coach thinks he is still in France.
      Realize the struggle is real for Arsenal this season and next season too unless Emery goes to another team.
      This guy is clueless what premier league brings teams are getting ruthless with few resources say even half of what Arsenal spends.

    6. NY_Gunner says:

      @gotanidea
      Sopt on Gooner. Tierney was gettin skinned all night down the flank, and Edwards twisted and turned Holding at will. Vitoria had our number and played us well, and up to a point. I admired their structure and cohesiveness as well as their desire. Was baffled by how they were beat so easily by teams we beat so easily. They came knowing they had to get something, or else.
      One thing that gets me about some fans and pundits, is when they call for a manager or coach to have a best starting 11 and always play just them. The other 14 players supposed to sit and get bench rust while waiting for game time, or until a cup game comes or any of the 1st 11 get burnt out or injured…. SMDH

  4. I think the writer is being unreasonable when he says “As usual, Emery tinkered with the line up.” Can the same players play 3 games in 7 days? Are they machines? Rotation must happen. The backline we have been crying out for looked quite suspect yesterday. We escaped numerous scares but still conceeded 2. AMN and Willock were terrible, Lacazette atrocious. I didn’t know Lacazette is a disgraceful cheat, but we are discovering new things every week.

    Now, I will happily accept scraping past premier league quality opposition, because the EPL is hard AF. But this was only Vitoria. Yet we got ran rugged and needed 2 miraculous free kicks to pull our a$$es out of the fire. I hate to admit it, but am also beginning to think these wins are papering over the cracks.

    1. Eddie Hoyte says:

      I think you’re being too harsh on the back line QD. I mean this is the first time they all played together right?
      Plus it’s not as easy as switching into form when they hardly play or participate at all in weekend games.
      I think they need time

    2. Mobella says:

      They did look suspect yesterday but and rational fans with function brain will know that our defensive frailties is systemic and not mostly because of players selected. And that is due to coach being either incompetent or stubborn. I don’t know about others, I have been saying that for quite awhile. It obvious to me now that Emery just want his players to run around without helping to improve their games. Torreria, Willock, AMN, Pepe, and Teirney qualities are being called to question by some fans now. I mentioned AMN because the potential is their and the coach anything to help the boy. How long will it take for Saka and Willock or Smith to go down the same path. Football is not all about running around, you need coordination, understanding and above all every players to be positional.

      1. El kaissi says:

        Thank you for this comment. These players that looks lively are been coached by another manager and have juat recently joined the Emery tinkering team. Saka,Martinelli,Kiran, I want you to observe them after two months with Emery and see how badly they will perform or how out of form they will have gotten.

        It is already starting with Saka and willock. Look at Torriera when he first came and compare him to now.

        The coach is just way out of his depth and should go.

    3. Oladoke Paul Olufemi says:

      Methinks the coach is doing good experiment that will come good at the end of the day. The team will all be tested and ready for action when called upon to play. Why must there be some players who are not good enough to take to the pitch when the chips are down? I thank God for this Europa league that gave Arsenal the heart to do this kind of experiment

    4. Diogenes says:

      Rotations like these are in fact necessary. Fatigue is a very important factor in EPL games.

      And you’re right – one-on-one Holding in fact allowed them a golden chance early on which wasn’t punished. And Tierney is better going forward than defending. But as always, the problems in our defence lie primarily in our midfield. Holding and Tierney won’t resolve them. The same stubbornness that ruined Wenger is ruining Emery.
      Get a top DM, play him regularly in his position, and most of our defenders will look much better.

      1. ozziegunner says:

        👍 Exactly right re DM, Diogenes.

  5. Mobella says:

    To be honest Vitoria didn’t deserve to leave Emirate with zero point. I watched the highlight and I was shaking my head with the way we defend. The amount of space and gap we give the opponent in front of our box will undo any good job done by our attack.

  6. Great win but at the same time a very narrow escape. Reminder for the Tinkerman that unless he gets his act together fast Arsenal will suffer and true gunners will not tolerate for long. We cannot allow an opposition like this have 17 shots against us. A better team on the night would have defeated us. Emery should change many things in his tactics fast and desperately. Pepe was great and showed why so many teams wanted him in the summer. Guendouzi is the real Arsenal material and is our next captain. Martinelli is our future and Ceballos will only get better. Cmon Arsenal take on the world!(Where is Ozil? Surely he has to play sometime or another. He can never ever be worse than Xhaka who is playing week in week out. Ozil is pure class and should not be wasted by the Tinkerman.

  7. Goonster says:

    That was a very poor performance.
    Emery looked so relieved when Pepe scored. He did not even show that much excitement with the winning goal, stayed seated and did a little relieved clap. Looks like a man under pressure and resigned to his looming fate if things don’t improve rapidly. He seems to havr run out of ideas.

    AMN, what the hell does he bring to the team? What is he really good at? What a terrible player.

    Willock looked lost and like a kid was looking for his mother in a crowded shopping mall.

    And the amount of times we turned over possession was worrying. People had poor first touches throughout the whole game, it’s seemed like they were playing with a rugby 🏉 bouncy egg ball.

    Martinelli as always gave and left everything on that field. I remember one incident where he tracked back to the age of our box won the ball back and drove us forward on the attack. Amazing kid.

    Guendouzi, what can I say. A captain in the making of he continues on this trajectory.

    Ceballos also did well when he came on, but i would love to see more penetration from him. But he and Guendouzi made a big difference when they came.

    And Pepe, wow, amazing freekicks to bail us out. I hope this gives him the confidence from now on. There is a player in there that is waiting to burst out. Just needs to believe in himself more.

    But all in all what a poor performance.

  8. Lenohappy says:

    Have been saying it for sometime that Holding is just decent he’s not that good, and am not surprised about AMN, where’s that guy who thinks we should play him in his preferred position after having just one decent game against Utd, the boy is poor,Lacazette really disappoint me with that his cheating attitude, the only positive for me yesterday in our defense was Mustafi he was good yesterday. Am really happy for Pepe I hope he will continue like that. Emery made some good substitutions yesterday all in subs were spot on, now onto Palace.

  9. Emery cannot and should not expect to be bailed out each time by Pepe, Auba and Laca. He should be meticulous in his planning, methodology and tactics so that it does not come to this stage of being miraculously saved. Why has AMN suddenly lost his confidence and ability? Being trained by Xhaka? One good thing is Njumberg is around to put the Arsenal way and brand into the players otherwise the clown will blow it away. Wake up Emery! Arsenal are feared and respected all around the world, don’t destroy our brand by your tactics. One good thing Emery did is the substitutions and it is their impact that won us the game.

    1. Lenohappy says:

      please tell me you are joking on that AMN ability, I can’t remember any good game the boy has had since being promoted to the first team and what ability are you talking about because I don’t see any, Ozil I can understand to some extent he’s won the World Cup he’s on a huge salary till 2021 so he doesn’t really need to work hard anymore but AMN is just a boy who has not done anything so far in his career but he keeps playing like his Messi, the boy can’t defend can’t pass can’t run so please tell me what ability are you talking about.

    2. ozziegunner says:

      gunnerforlife, every coach/manager since Adam was a boy, has been “bailed out” by a piece of individual brilliance. Do you not think that Arsene Wenger ever got a result in a game only due to a piece of brilliance from Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, Thierry Henri, Freddie LJUNGBERG et al?
      Also it has been a fair while since Arsenal teams were feared. In those days teams players never ever contemplated that “Arsenal don’t like it up ’em”. Bertie Mee, George Graham and the early successful Arsene Wenger teams would not be kicked off the park. If they weren’t allowed to outplay the opposition, they could get down and dirty with the best of them. It’s been a lot different for the last 10 years or so.

  10. Kev82 says:

    Nicolas Pépé 🔥 that man is quality and will prove it in the premier League too 😃

    1. Sue says:

      About bloody time 😂😂😂

      1. Kev82 says:

        I was buzzing those 2 freekicks went in 😃 that was pure quality Sue 😀 that left foot can be deadly when it wants to 😆

        1. Sue says:

          I very nearly passed out after the first one, Kev.. so when the 2nd went in, I was on the floor 😂😂
          They were superb! The floodgates have finally opened (🙏🤞)
          Poor game, but at least it was a win! Phew!!

          1. Kev82 says:

            I’m never too bothered about performances in the group stage of the Europa League, the objective is to qualify whichever way possible 😄 they sure have Sue you don’t hit 2 screamers like that unless you have something about you 😄 although he does have to learn to smile I haven’t seen it yet 😂😂 haha

          2. Sue says:

            I saw him smile in the Villa game. You know after Auba scored the free kick? Well Auba did Pepe’s celebration (you know almost like a salute) it was really funny! But that’s it, not seen it since.. it’s gone AWOL with Ozil.

          3. Kev82 says:

            Haha and Hazards muse 😂😂😂 we must start Tierney on Sunday, Bellerin is not ready and AMN is probably got a for sale sign on him after last night 😆 Willock was very poor last night too, game changed when Ceballos and Guendouzi came on but I think we should bring Ozil back we need more creativity 👊

          4. Sue says:

            Haha I forgot about Hazard 😂 I totally agree and do you think Ceballos has Ronald McDonald’s boots on?!!
            Omg have you been possessed? You want Ozil back? 😱😱😱😂

          5. Kev82 says:

            Ceballos haha what makes you say that ? 😅 Haha he rounded the keeper the other night but his muse went missing again 😆 I must have been 😂 but he’s our best creator easily, I’ll take creativity over workrate at this point 😄

          6. Sue says:

            When he runs, his feet (or boots) look huge, does make me chuckle!!
            It does my head in Kev, that he’s not even in the squad… shocking!!!

          7. Kev82 says:

            Haha I didn’t notice 😅 what about Leicester Sue and people on here were whining we were linked with BR 🙄 they wanted arteta and I won’t be long reminding everyone 😆

  11. Joe says:

    “As usual Emery tinkered with the starting lineup ”
    Arsenal fans are impossible to please. Let’s start by being factual. We’ve played 3 games in this competition.
    From yesterday’s lineup, players have played 2 or 3 of them.
    Martinez 3/3
    Bellarin 2/3
    Tierney 2/3
    Mustafi 3/3
    Holding 2/3
    Torreira 3/3
    Willock 3/3
    Rowe. 2/3
    Martinelli 2/3
    Lacazette 1/3
    Niles. 2/3

    All the players who’ve not played 3/3 were either injured or missed out for a good reason. The subs we used have also been the regular ones in this competition. So where’s the tinkering?

    Secondly, these are the players you’ve all been asking for, no? They are players coming out of injury. So in which matches should they be given match fitness? Where should we have given Laca a run out? Bellarin is clearly still struggling,Tierney was cramping up in the 80th minute.
    For all those using the whole “tinkering thing “seemingly ignorantly to me, who would you rather have seen so you could be convinced he wasn’t tinkering? And I’d actually like an answer this time.

    Finally, are you expecting any coach worthy the name to run with the same lineup in all competitions? How do you think that would end?

    I’m all for criticism, but can we give credit where it’s due? Not to speak the man’s name in a bad way, but arsene Wenger would have left AMN and Willock on the pitch rather than immediately see that they were weighing the team down with how much they lost the ball. Choosing to take Laca off was a brilliant idea. I must say, it’s the sub I would have made, but with Unai’s choices of late, I thought he’d withdraw one winger. Credit where it’s due. He trusted 2 players to whom he’s given opportunity and when they let him down, he fielded more reliable ones.
    How do you sincerely feel about yourself shifting your weight all the time so you can find an angle to throw blame? I have even seen some already start to call willock an emery favourite because of his 2 bad performances. Rewind 3-4 weeks ago, he was a fan favourite, a Ljumberg player, should replace Xhaka in the starting lineup. After the blades, Pepe in some people’s opinion deserved the bench. Now he’s saving Emery. I prefer to criticize on principle, rather than bandwagon. Thanks if you read.

    1. Daulat says:

      I agree with your comment about giving credit where it’s due. Though I particularly dislike the way Emery plays and his tactics, but that’s just a personal preference. I like the way Arsenal attacked in Arsene era. All that was needed was a good defensive/holding midfielder and a little flexibility from the coach to not be afraid to change things if they are not working.

      I say this is where Emery is good, as we saw the way he subbed Willock and AMN at half. What bothers me about Emery is his method of offense. It’s just not effective, no penetration and players don’t even want to look for penetrative passes forward and lobs over defenses. Current arsenal doesn’t want to be on the offensive and threaten the goal. And with our own defense being not as sturdy combined with fewer chances to score every game, every match becomes a struggle, even against weaker teams.

      Emery isn’t playing the team by his own commitment that he made when he joined, that Arsenal will be the protagonist throughout the game and be an offensive team. But that is no where to be seen. Our players are lacking confidence going upfront, and resort to sideways passing or backwards passing most of the game time. Match against Victoria was very LUCKY. Arsenal didn’t do anything to command a win. It was sad for Victoria as they did all the work. It was an individual brilliance by Pepe, like how Auba has been salvaging the points so far. Arsenal was lucky not to concede 3-4 goals yesterday.

      Counter attack is very slow, we lack players who can head from crosses regularly, we don’t play creative players who can land those key passes, heck yesterday, we didn’t even try to overload the wings and cross the balls inwards. How will the goals come?

    2. Fred Caffaso says:

      Good right Joe. But will it be experiment all through. Unconvincing wins like this one over little know teams more over at home to little known teams just shows how further arsenal have fallen below the packing order.
      To hide hide this the man has chosen not to have a known 1st starting eleven, So much so that those of us who watch Arsenal could argue that the team was tinkered with to give younger player a run.

      Joe kindly note that even in those younger player in the years past we were still used to see quality and teams being hammered Rem. the 4-0 win against Liverpool onetime in FA cup. Liverpool had a strong team on the day.

    3. Munster says:

      Joe, I think many time Arsenal fans on are are just a bunch of ranting glory hunting cannot be pleased set of fans. The Admin on this site also dont help matters, they thrive when they create and promote division among fans. They complain this guy thinkers yet I believe majority of us can name 8 players in our starting eleven during epl matches, and also in the Europe or cup competitions we know at least 8 of our starting players.. They are bunch of ignorant whining merchants who according to some of them would enjoy a loss for Arsenal to please their baseless idea or non show of their fav player. I am not sorry for any of the guys, Emery included even if he gets the sack. I love my club and I still support the set up, I still enjoyed last night game and celebrated the win as I was full of smile.. Some people can be just disgruntled and ignorant of whats right in front of them.. A lot of their fav played,rightly so, we won,cuddles to the guys but they just still have to be sad and no reason to see positive. The players keeps bailing out the coach, I think the coach is suppose to be on the pitch and scored all three goals..

  12. Oladoke Paul Olufemi says:

    Methinks the coach is doing good experiment that will come good at the end of the day. The team will all be tested and ready for action when called upon to play. Why must there be some players who are not good enough to take to the pitch when the chips are down? I thank God for this Europa league that gave Arsenal the heart to do this kind of experiment

  13. Grandad says:

    Very well said Joe.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍 Grandad +1

  14. sirjoe says:

    Nice one Joe!

    We have a lot of ignorant fans here, the way they speak about Emery shows they know nothing about management side of football. The man has his faults- yes but yesterday team was mainly to give minutes to important players coming from injury or bedding in youngsters to get them ready for the Epl. anything apart from this is bad management.

  15. Viju Jacob says:

    How many of us noticed
    1. The absence of free flowing football on the pitch.
    2. The absence of Freddie on the touch line. (I couldn’t see on TV, but can someone at the ground confirm/deny?)

    What happened to the beautiful football we played in the earlier cup games?

    We all were confident that with the return from injury of Bellerin, Tierney, Holding and Laca will significantly improve our style of football. All four were on the pitch and for large parts we didn’t see any of the attacking play that we all know this team is capable of.

    Why is it that all our midfielders are being played out of position? So much so that we have our players lacking in self confidence. Willock is being shown up as an average player, all because Emery confuses all their roles.

    It’s good to give the youngsters game time, but to put a whole bunch of them together is suicidal, as they are not yet ready to break down teams. All the lads are good, but they need proper guidance which I don’t think they are getting.

    Emery promised not make us competitive, and he sure is doing that against smaller teams.

    1. Joe says:

      Willock had Torreira alongside him, Niles had Bellarin behind him. Basically, that’s the same team you’ve all been praising for playing better than the seniors.
      That willock plays a few careless passes, how do you intend to blame that on the man who gave him trust?
      Talking positions, whom exactly was out of position? Where I saw Torreira is practically where he’s been all his arsenal career. Actually, I’m beginning to think that some of you just think the Central midfielder on the left is the Defensive mid and on the right is B2B. I don’t see any other way to explain this whole out of position thing .
      Oh. You might say martinelli
      2 questions. When he was signed, we signed a Brazilian winger, and how else would you play both him and Laca?

      1. Viju Jacob says:

        I was very clear about the midfield conundrum and the confusion, as I watched the match again. Other than Guendozi the others were all over the place, with no one in control, which allowed Vitoria a free run.
        You are insulting my intelligence by mentioning Martinelli when I was talking about our midfielders.

      2. Daulat says:

        If you watch the game again, you’ll see Victoria had much effective collective pressing than Arsenal. Arsenal players were all over the place in the midfield. If a player went to press, he had no backup and support, and most of the time in the midfield, arsenal players were crossing each others paths and hindering each other with their haphazard movements. It was embarrassing to say the least. The entire midfield was a wreck. No unison, no cohesion, no direction. It was like they had no mental agreement on what’s the next move. Every body was carrying the ball the way they want with no communication and understanding from other players.

        And Willock and Torreira don’t have a good synergy, as both lack long distributions and don’t make a good midfield duo. Guendouzi and torreira are a good combo. Along with a creative player like Ceballos/Ozil or even Pepe in front.

        Players being out of position means no tactical positioning, which wasn’t there yesterday. Pressing works in unison. Individual pressing is just wasting stamina for the most part. It’s one movement, 3-4 players moving to press at once (not press a single player but multiple) in unison. That is good positioning, otherwise it’s just painful to see a player running to press with no support.

        Also, you can observe that players seem to get startled when they receive the ball like they weren’t ready or mentally wishing they hadn’t receive the ball at all. You can observe that throughout the game. No one wants the ball and most of the the ball gets passed back to defenders or GK. What are they afraid of? It’s a frigging ball. No wonder Evra called them Babies.

        And Emery is one big chicken himself tbh, and he’s transferring that spineless spirit to the players. He is making players play too cautiously for their own good. Because of this players are losing conviction that they can dribble past players, make that key through pass, lob a ball to the forward, hold off a press alone without falling to the ground or passing backwards, make that forward run, etc and when they try they make errors and lose the ball.

        1. Viju Jacob says:

          Good observation, Daulat.

  16. ozziegunner says:

    👍 Grandad +1

  17. uzkido says:

    Virtually all our players have remain stagnant or regress under emery.I can’t pin point a single player that he a singlehandedly improve.virtually all Liverpool players were sign from middle class clubs and considered average,we cannot underestimate how kloop improve their football and also work on their psyche and turn them to world beaters.Emery has not that effect on any of the lads.And am afraid arsenal struggle has just began with this man still the manager.

  18. Tommogun58 says:

    @Gotanidea, why do you always say that fans are naive when you disagree with their opinion,our fans are very passionate about the club I think you are getting naivety confused with raw passion and a will for the team to do well.

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