Anfield Debacle Give Emery Food For Thought In January4 min read
Going into Saturday’s game at Anfield beset by injuries, Unai Emery must’ve been fearing the worst against an in-form Liverpool side, but he surely wouldn’t have thought his Arsenal team would’ve taken such a beating.
As it was, the 5-1 reverse may have come just at the right time for the Spaniard to reassess his priorities and needs for the second half of this season.
Missing against the Reds, Mesut Ozil’s days at the Emirates Stadium seem numbered. He was injured on this occasion but has often been accused of going missing in matches.
Nov 25, Bournemouth: Unused sub
Dec 2, Dec 5, Dec 8: Back injury
Dec 16, Southampton: 20-minute cameo
Dec 22, Burnley: Captain, starring role
Dec 26, Brighton: Subbed off at half time
Dec 29: Injured
Mesut Ozil is an enigma right now pic.twitter.com/9V33ZeLAae
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 29, 2018
For all of his skill, that seems to be the conclusion that Emery has also drawn, and he’ll listen to offers for his playmaker in January.
With Aaron Ramsey also on the way out, though not until the summer, it may still be prudent for the manager to have a midfielder or two on the new year’s shopping list.
A more immediate priority has to be in defense, however, and potentially another goalkeeper should be added to the north Londoners ranks.
Bernd Leno had shown himself to be half decent but has gone off of the boil in the last few games. Supporters’ shouts for Petr Cech to be given a recall certainly aren’t without foundation either.
Every title winning side has always been built on solid foundations, and though the Gunners don’t have that at this moment, let’s not forget that they went 22 games unbeaten, including 11 wins in succession, before this current wobble. And that’s all it is, a blip.
Four of their next five matches (Fulham, Blackpool, West Ham, Chelsea and Cardiff) are winnable, and with the addition of one or two quality players, there’s no reason why Arsenal can’t replicate their form from earlier in the season in the latter stages.
It’s also important to understand where the north Londoners are at as a team.
For two decades the club have played in a certain way, a style brought in by Arsene Wenger that permeated right down to the lowest age groups in the Academy.
Whilst not erasing that entirely, Emery has his own definitive way of playing which is as much about pressure on the ball and hard work as it is about playing the beautiful football for which the Gunners have become renowned.
It takes time to implement, and that Arsenal are doing as well as they are so soon after the coach’s arrival is testament to his own qualities.
There will always be room for improvement of course, particularly if the north Londoners want to be genuine title challengers again.
Sixteen points behind the leaders after 20 games isn’t where they’d want to be right now, but as long as the supporters demands don’t verge on the ridiculous, then in 18 months time, and with the right investments – beginning in January 2019 – the long overdue glory days will return.