You have to go back to September 17th 2006 to find the last Arsenal win over Manchester United at Old Trafford and on the evidence of Monday’s clash, not that it can be called a clash due to its insipid nature, it’s going to be a while before it happens again. Emery had the opportunity to win it at theater of dreams but to no avail.
United were there to be dispatched with a cobbled up, soul less side that lacked any evidence of style or class. Arsenal also lacked both of those attributes but worse still, they lack the desire to win this fixture.
So what was it ? We know about United’s shortcomings but on paper Arsenal had everything to win handsomely. That was until the word came that Tierney and Bellerin were not in the squad and the team sheet was released at 7pm on a horrid wet evening in Manchester.
Emery’s side had Saka, which at least showed some ambition and belief but there was no room for Dani Ceballos from the start and Holding was also held in reserve for another occasion.
Arsenal should have blitzed out of the gates and made a statement of intent by trying to overwhelm their old rivals but Emery seemed to issue the flag of patience to every player before kick off. Only when United took the lead in the 45th minute from a thunderous McTominay goal, did they decide to go up a gear but they lacked penetration and control.
The dominance that I’ve been begging for in midfield was again missing and it’s now a matter of urgency that Emery finds a solution to the riddle. Quite why Arsenal enter into costly loan deals is beyond me. Suarez hardly sniffed a ball and the infinitely better Ceballos has now replaced Ozil as the surplus playmaker.
Emery is summed up perfectly from Sokratis last night, wanted to go up in the 92nd min to try and get a winner but was told to get back
— Adam Maggs (@deerhaunter94) October 1, 2019
It’s reported that the Emery has £15m kitty to spend a season in the premiership and how he must be yearning for warmer weather and an alternative view from a different bench.
This game required inventiveness and Ceballos has that in abundance, yet Emery didn’t require his services until later in the game when desperation crept in. For gods sake let him leave early if the only role he is going to serve is that of a ball boy on Wimbledon’s centre court.
Emery went with Leno, Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira, Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka.
Subs: Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Willock, Ceballos, Nelson, Martinelli.
This game needed energy and pace from as many sources as possible to dazzle and befuddle United but it looked safe. Not safe like it wouldn’t concede, that will never happen, but safe from the point of view of presenting a fairly experienced side and looking closely at it, that should have been the case.
However, Kolasinac can be very inconsistent and is better in attack than defence but the apparent injury niggles of Kieran Tierney put paid to any chance of an alternative.
Holding should have started, Emery should have considered Martinelli could have picked up from where he left off against Forest and Luiz could have been placed as a holding/creative midfielder.
Pepe has yet to justify his transfer fee and perhaps should have made way at half time for another option. I’m not jumping on the anti Pepe bandwagon, he still needs time but when he’s not delivering he needs to be replaced. Nelson and Saka could have been a decent combination on the flanks and it should have been the perfect distraction.
Xhaka should never have got the nod over Willock or Ceballos either of which could have been perfect for Guendouzi in the center. It simply didn’t show ambition, it was a slightly cowardly option under the circumstances and resulted in a desperately uninteresting match, all because of Emery’s cautious nature.
Mesut Özil: ‘Hi boss, United are in poor form & we really need a win tonight. We lacked creativity against Aston Villa & I created six chances in mid-week. Seeing as Lacazette is out, I was wondering if you might consider playi-‘
Unai Emery: https://t.co/A9L7HHjxbz
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) September 30, 2019
Looking from the outside in, Emery needs strength and spirit in the heart of his engine room but as each game passes, he seems further away from where he started.
Emery doesn’t know what his best team is and there’s no consistency or heart in this side, with the exception of Aubameyang and Guendouzi. Arsenal even managed to make United look better than they actually are, which is the work of a bearded wizard genius and at this rate Watford will look like Champions league finalists.
Emanuel Petit said of Emery’s choice of midfield players for the United game, he also said of the Spaniard’s constant tinkering,
“Emery is sending negative signals by picking three defensive midfielders against a team there for the taking, what Unai Emery wants to create is a team. A collective unit. Not just the first 11 but the whole group. This is why he’s constantly rotating his side and including young players.”
“He changes so often – but you need to be playing regularly in order to adapt like this. His demands from the players are huge.”
Again, I have to state that this not an ‘Emery out’ blog but it’s reasonable to ask that with the millions of pounds invested in the summer, why isn’t the team advancing as expected ?
It may be a blip in a fiercely competitive league or it could be that the other teams are now on an equal footing after years of decline at Arsenal and United. It may also go some way to proving that money doesn’t resolve certain problems and that it can’t buy unity.