Emery’s red-tailed Boa gently squeezes Sporting

If Unai Emery’s Arsenal were a snake, what snake would they be? What I mean is, if you had to compare Arsenal’s style of play or, let’s say, their game plan with a snake which snake comes to mind? It struck me as I was watching Arsenal beat Sporting to make it eleven wins on the trot that a clear pattern is emerging. We start games perfectly well then after about twenty minutes we start making silly mistakes; in the hope of capitalising on said mistakes the opposition are drawn further up the pitch and into the trap. What they don’t realise is that they have become caught in the snake’s coils and they are slowly closing; yes the opposition flail around for forty five minutes or so, they may even score a goal but as the second half moves on the coils start getting tighter and tighter, slowly squeezing the life out of them. The snake has surely got to be a Boa Constrictor.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Well, you try and find a way of starting our eleventh win on the bounce “Ozil benched after pedestrian performance” lol.
There are two teams starting to appear, the one that starts the EPL and the one that starts the Europa, did you imagine at the beginning of the season that Iwobi could find himself being saved for the EPL? Me neither but it certainly is testament as to how far Unai has been able to bring him on this season. With only a slim advantage of one nil, I even found myself feeling relieved when he made his appearance. Strange times.

The other thing that surprised me during the game, was going from feeling quite neutral about little ol’ Sporting with their nice food and pleasant weather to absolutely hating their guts for their dirty fouls and their dirty play acting. This was made all the worse when I realised that the ex manu player Nani was playing for them – once a banned ‘C’ word, always a banned ‘C’ word.

It obviously wasn’t a vintage Emery display (lol), no hope long range shots in the first half; the order made all the more tall with Xhaka and Lichtsteiner as makeweights on the flanks but we did what we do nowadays and found a solution, after a good opportunity was missed by Aubameyang and things looked like they might not go for us, Ralph Coates made a schoolboy error that gifted Welbeck a deserved goal which turned out to be a deserved winner.

Onwards and upwards.


Leno: what’s not to like, another clean sheet. 8

Lichsteiner: I loved watching him last night; it makes me wonder how they teach them in Italy, the complete gamut of Dark Arts were on display, Machiavelli would have been proud. 6

Holding: I keep on waiting for him to slip up but he doesn’t and goes from strength to strength, the weekend will tell us where he stands in Emery’s eyes, will it be him and Mustafi or Mustafi and Big Sok. A very level-headed display tonight; I suppose, as RC suggests, he should be MOTM. 9

Big Sok: When the Sporting player was through, bar Big Sok; he knew what to do; he knew how to make it look like he grabbed the oppo’s shirt without really doing so, my question is would Holding have known how to do that? This is what comes with experience which is probably why I would still plump for Big Sok with Mustafi to start on the weekend ahead of Holding. 8

Xhaka: not often I find myself having to cut Granit some slack but taking one for the team by playing completely out of position certainly deserves just that and he didn’t play too badly there either. 7

Guendouzi: yep, no probs for me, continues on his upward trajectory and long may it continue. 7

Ramsey: struggled to get a grip on the game which in my opinion was his job, got better as the game went on. Still loving the fact that Arsenal have withdrawn his contract offer which has freed up UE an awful lot. Evidence being, Ozil playing in his preferred place on Monday. Nothing to really complain about but Mesut he ain’t. 7

Elneny: he huffed and he puffed, I was surprised to see him play the more advanced player out of him and Guendouzi. His days must be numbered. 6

Mkhitaryan: did an awful lot better than he has been doing lately, a really determined performance and a hard working one at that. 8

Aubameyang: Unai Emery is playing this so well, it’s gentle rotation between him and Laca; neither feels that one is being given priority over the other and as such they are looking fresher than a lot of other strikers in the EPL but to think that UE is not purposely creating competition for places between them would be naïve in my opinion. 7

Welbeck: and on the subject of competition for places Emery should be applauded for how he is keeping Welbeck involved and clearly feeling an important member of the team and I purposely used the word team and not squad. Superbly taken goal. 8



44 Responses to Emery’s red-tailed Boa gently squeezes Sporting

  1. chas says:

    Cheers, LB, great stuff.
    I like the snake analogy.

    Why would anyone think this was a foul?
    Big Sok has clearly won the battle to get in front of the Sporting player and his finger has accidentally caught in the Lisbon player’s shirt. No foul.

  2. chas says:

    Did Auba touch Terrier’s through ball?
    I edging towards ‘not’, like Jonathan Pearce.

  3. Red Arnie says:

    Brilliant, LB. “gently squeezes Sporting”. 🙂

    First game I saw live in a while now. As opposed to canned versions curated by worthless pundits.

    I am loving the results, and the gentle positivity brought about by Emery. Is it slightly deeper in defence together with slightly faster counters? Margins are fine, but it helps, I think.


  4. Big Raddy says:

    LB. Great stuff as always. Love the intro .

    Chas. No excuse whatsoever for putting me through the anguish of seeing Ralph Coates ugly mug. None whatsoever. Any bloke who uses the “sweepover” …

  5. Maxwell says:

    Thank you for a good read. I think you’re far too generous with Ramsey’s rating. I thought he and Elneny were awful, and the main cause of a stuttering, momentum-sapped display.

    As to the weekend, I would prefer last night’s pairing. I always feel a bit tense with Mustafi at the back. And he will try those Sol Campbell “passes” all the time (lump it up high down the middle). Whereas, I love the strong security provided by the Big Greek Unit and the Bolton Brute, neither of whom feel the need to fall over and look pleadingly at the referee while the game hurtles past them and into our goalmouth!

  6. fred1266 says:

    Great post LB

    Comparing us to a snake lol

  7. chas says:

    Jake Walters
    I photographed Phillip Green for The Guardian once. For some reason they wouldn’t publish it.

  8. Red Arnie says:

    Chas @10:32. 🙂

  9. mickydidit89 says:

    Love it LB, thanks very much

    I’m going with two snakes. Your Boa Constrictor for the away game squeeze the life out of the bastards, as well as for the first 60 mins of EPL games, then one of those nasty little Alpine viper thingies that sit quietly on hot rocks in the sunshine, then lash out and kill yer, as in the fatal blows inflicted by our brilliant attack

    Now for something which surprised me by being even interested ie a defensive observation from last night.

    One moment in the second half we sprang a fast and incisive counter. It failed and Sporting instantly sprang one of their own. By the time the TV camera had followed the ball swiftly back into our half, there was a line of four red shirted Arsenal defenders

    I think our defenders are being coached 🙂

  10. LBG says:

    Marvellous opening comparison LB, and entertaining all round read.
    Didn’t see anything of the game myself, but commentary sufficed, ( like the old days).
    Certainly felt evidence of significant positional improvement in Holding for Leicester game and would also heave-ho Mustafi for the being.
    Never been a great fan of Welbz (a speedy Giroud) but, like Giroud, when he scores they are 1. usually beauties and 2. always important.

  11. mickydidit89 says:

    Another massive plus is that we can win an away Europa game against the only team in our group we’ve ever heard of with possibly just three or four likely to start on Sunday, so very effective squad rotation

  12. Rasp says:

    Superb read LB, and very much how I saw the game.

    I applaud Lichsteiner’s use of the dark arts … but he’s not first team quality IMO.

    This season has been better than I could ever have imagined. It’s 10/10 for Unai from me. And you’re absolutely right, the way his rotatinbg the players and bringing on the young players (Iwobi, Holding and Ouzi) is brilliant. The value of our squad has gone up since he started coaching them.

    There is something of the Tony Adams about Holding … maybe its the way he holds his head with a very straight neck … or just that look of ‘you’re not getting past me’ on his face.

    I was critical of UE for letting Chambers go out on loan at the start of the season, but he’s not doing that well at Fulham …. so once again UE got it exactly right to bring through Holding …..

  13. chas says:

  14. fred1266 says:

    red do you live in Portugal or you travelled to watch

  15. chas says:


  16. GunnerN5 says:

    Nice one LB.

    I agree with your ratings but I was disappointed that Ramsey never took the opportunity to show that he has the ability to be a team leader.

  17. mickydidit89 says:

    he works there, methinks

  18. GunnerN5 says:

    Fred, Red Arnie lives in Scotland so he must have watched it “live” on TV.

  19. mickydidit89 says:

    Methinks he works in Portugal when not working/living in Scotland

  20. fred1266 says:

    I wouldn’t blame chamber for not doing well at Fulham since they don’t try to defend

  21. fred1266 says:

    Lol I remember I accidentally did a bloke that in france he wasn’t to pleased with me

  22. Red Arnie says:

    ha ha. yes, “live” on tele, but I sometimes go to Portugal. I know quite well a healthy number of Sporting supporters. 🙂

  23. Red Arnie says:

    ha ha. 1:03 🙂

  24. RC78 says:

    Although he worked hard, Miky could have been more influential. Ramsey was OK.

    Now what is your prediction against Crystal Palace? I think we should be very cautious and play deep against CP because they m

  25. chas says:

  26. Big Raddy says:

    Whilst RC is out of the building ….

    603 years ago today. Agincourt 😀

  27. fred1266 says:

    Yea mkhitaryan has been a disappointment anyone wanna trade him back for sanchez

  28. Big Raddy says:

    Fred. No way Mhiki was very good against Fulham. I like him and we will struggle to find a better player to sit on the bench.

    Sanchez? He is dead to me

  29. LB says:

    I really wouldn’t want Sanchez back, we have a team now with a team mentality, Sanchez, although, talented is not a team player; he would disrupt everything.

  30. fred1266 says:

    Not that I don’t like mkhitaryan is just that IMO I think the pressing game would suit him really well

  31. fred1266 says:

    Curious what a poll would say

  32. LB says:

    Lucas Torreira was a forward when he arrived in Italy????????
    Well, you learn something new every day.

    “The suspicion from those who worked with Torreira in Italy is that a time will eventually come when he contributes a steady stream of goals and assists alongside his midfield industry. It can be hard to imagine now, but when he first moved to Italy from Uruguay he was a forward who had impressed scouts with his eye for goal. “I arrived in Italy playing as a playmaker or an attacker,” he says. “I was lucky to find a coach who put me in a more defensive position and I am totally happy in that role.”” (Telegraph) I know, I know, I had finished the Guardian and still wanted to continue reading.

  33. chas says:

    Interesting, LB.

  34. chas says:

  35. chas says:

  36. chas says:

    I think a poll on Sanchez would say………………..

    99% are quite happy for him to be at Man United
    1% would quite like him back at Arsenal.

    Maybe 2% if some Man U supporters sneaked a few votes in.

  37. chas says:


  38. fred1266 says:

    Lol good one chas

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