Bog Snorkelling in Baku – Qarabag Ratings

October 5, 2018

Another game, another clean sheet, eight wins on the trot; ouch, it is going to hurt when we fall. Or maybe we won’t?

In trying to understand the team selection, it struck me that much of what was going on had more to do with November the 3rd than with a second tier team from Azerbaijan. As the more astute would have realised, we play Liverpool on that day and as much as we should win our two games before, we all know that will be our next real test.

And how does this all link into last night’s win? Answer – the choice of defence. Emery set the team up for the best part of the first half with five at the back:

Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac

Yes, Lichtsteiner and Kolasinac got forward as demonstrated by the first goal but they spent the best part of the first half in the above formation, which against a team of lowly calibre, was belt and braces and unnecessary in my opinion.

Anyway it is just a hunch but if Kolasinac and Monreal start against Liverpool, I can say I was right. Bellerin will obviously replace Lichsteiner.

Once Emery had had a chance to air this experiment, Torriera replaced Monreal at half time and everything calmed down in the way it should have been from the start. I say that as though I know how he does it, but as close as I look, I still don’t understand how the Uruguayan effortlessly seems to be able to have such a huge influence on every game he plays in.

The rest of the team selection was clear that it was designed to give more of the squad a run out. The Guendouzi/Elneny combo is obvious as is Welbeck, Smith-Rowe (Lab) and Iwobi.

courtesy David Price

So enough of that tactics drivel, let’s get onto the serious stuff: Red Shorts? What is that about? The opposition were wearing black shorts so I see no good reason why we should not have been wearing the normal time honoured white shorts. Pink sleeves? Don’t get me started.

It turned out to be a pretty comfortable win, with probably the three players on the pitch that we would most have wanted to have scored the goals, (all in the knowledge that each one of them would benefit confidence-wise from doing so), and so they did.

courtesy David Price

Leno: what a fine goal keeper we have and seamlessly slotting in? Some more great saves…. 8

Lichsteiner: an excellent stand in and proof that the powers that be in the club’s new buying system are working very well, naturally that also applies to Leno…. 7

Holding: why did we loan Chambers to Fulham? Don’t know and don’t care…. 7

Sokratis: it is going to be fascinating to see if Emery sticks with these two on Sunday — he should, they are far from perfect but it made a nice change not to have mop up Mustafi’s usual clangers…. 7

Monreal: Nacho is the most improved player of the squad; he has become authoritative, something that I would never have thought last season; he is clearly benefitting from clearer instruction, the language must help. He tucked in well last tonight as he usually does…. 8

Kolasinac: I loved the way he bulldozed down the wing early on in the game, pushing his opposing defender away like a skittle, pretty good game really…. 7

Guendouzi: getting better and better and now adding goals, it looks like he has a long future at the club…. 8

Elneny: things are moving on and Mo does not seem to be able to keep up, did ok last night but can’t see him being around for too much longer…. 6

Smith Rowe (Lab): the goal obviously did his confidence the world of good, it struck me that he is a striker rather than a midfielder, interesting to see how this one develops…. 7

Iwobi: last season Alex had plateaued; he was going nowhere fast, it is testament to Emery’s man management that he has been given new drive, direction and self belief. I am not sure where it will all end up but at least it is going somewhere…. 8

Welbeck: Danny, Danny, you know I am a fan but you have got to take those chances that come your way…. 6

LB

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Another London Derby

September 26, 2018

Carabao Cup. Usually a good night of soccer and we get to see Mr Emery’s first experiment of mixing yoof with experience. We reached the final last season before getting thumped by City and it would be great if we could win it this time. Why not? It’s silverware, isn’t it?

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Youth: We have not been too successful in recent years of developing world class kids; Bellerin and Iwobi are the only ones who have been through the academy (though M-N may  become a regular starter in time). I guess the bar is set so high that the days of local lads becoming top players are over, nowadays we sign youngsters at 19 from other clubs( Douzi, Holding, YGB (Young Greek Bloke) ).

An example of how difficult it is to become a PL star is Brentford’s own Josh McEachran, who was once touted as Chelsea’s next superstar. Tonight he will want to show he still has the talent to become a PL player. He is a fine example to Smith-Rowe (and a similar type of player). Having rave reviews is not enough, good luck with injuries, hard work and dedication are required to become a first team PL starter.

Brentford: Without GN5’s excellent synopsis of our opponents I know little about them. We last played them in May, 1947!! They are 7th in the Championship. So, no walkovers.

Who will play? And will there be anyone at The Emirates to watch them?

The crowd at the last Europa game was very disappointing and I expect the same tonight. We will see whether reduced prices can attract fans though I suspect not.

My Team:

Leno

Swiss Chap     Holding    ??    Kolasinac (if fit)

Curly      Egyptian Dreadlocks       Nigerian Dreadlocks

Smith Rowe (Lab)      Welbz

Nketiah

Given both Greek blokes have knee knack or something similar plus Kos is out, and Accident Waiting to Happen cannot play every game, we have a problem at CB. Do you remember when we always had a problem at CB? How UE solves this will be interesting Kolasinac could well be fit for tonight otherwise we are could play Willock.

I think tonight will be a struggle but a winnable one.

COYRRG

 


Arsenal v Chelsea – plans firming up

August 1, 2018

Apparently today’s friendly in Dublin is still part of the International Champions Cup so it’s all to play for!


New chav manager Maurizio Sarri will be at a similar stage to Unai with ideas forming as to who will be playing for him in the new look West London set-up.

With only today’s and Saturday’s game in Stockholm against Lazio remaining, time is running out for Unai Emery to decide which players are edging towards his first Premier League selection.

Even before this week’s return to training of Granit, Nacho, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira, there appeared to be a multitude of options. Now is the time for those to be whittled down.

Historically, the youngsters who impress on pre-season tours often get moved to the sidelines once we get down to the nitty gritty of the League. In a way I’m hoping that Matteo Guendouzi and Emile Smith-Rowe are, at least, given the opportunity to claim a spot on the bench for early Prem games. They’ve been like a breath of fresh air.

Regardless of that, I’m sure Emery, Carlos Carcedo and Stevie Bould will come up with the right players and formation.

COYRRG