The Champions League draw is equally as exciting as transfer deadline day. However, as the iconic Juventus were grouped with Manchester United in this year’s draw, our main news story was Unai Emery banning fruit juice! How the mighty have fallen.
The performance I envisaged with my 3-1 prediction was very different to Saturday’s reality. I expected a demolition job, but the Hammers showed they have more quality than their poor start implies. This was a close match, but most importantly we secured the three points that gave Unai Emery his much needed first win as Arsenal manager.
Its only game week three, but Saturday’s home fixture against West Ham feels like a must win. Following back to back defeats Unai Emery has courted a large amount of media attention with his instruction to play out from the back called into question. Despite the frustrating loss at Stamford Bridge and poor individual errors, the chances we created in the first half gave me confidence for our upcoming fixtures. Alex Iwobi’s goal to make it 2-2, completed a fantastic 18 pass combination which started with the ball being played out of defence. This wonderful passage of play was as exciting as it was incisive. A few more of those should shift the critical narrative already starting to spawn.
In my preview, I was optimistic we had enough quality to capitalise on Chelsea’s vulnerabilities and secure a score draw or even nick the victory. What I fouled to legislate for was our inability to defend simple balls over the top. Chelsea were there for the taking and we fluffed our lines in typical Arsenal fashion by missing guilt edged chances and getting caught out through poor defensive shape and personnel.
Manchester City look imperious. It will take a Hulk, Daenerys Targaryen, her dragons and a Pele to stop them this season. Our 2-0 loss to the champions on Sunday meant that Unai Emery became the first Arsenal manager to lose his first league game since Steve Burtenshaw in 1986. In Emery’s defence, I doubt any of the previous managers faced a team as remarkable as City. The efficiency of their passing, the way they effortlessly attack space with the ball and choke the opposition without the ball is frightening. Man, I wish Wenger made way for Pep a few years ago!
I tried to finish this piece before the Manchester City game, so I must caveat that it has been finalised with the benefit of having watched game one. However, neither the result or the performance affected my estimate for the season with what we know now.
Despite managing to conclude our pre-season with a 2-0 victory over Lazio, it has been an indifferent week. Usually, the week before our premiership season is dominated by angst over transfers (or lack of), but I get the feeling that the anticipation of seeing Unai Emery’s opening few games has quenched our usually insatiable appetite for transfer gossip.
With us scheduled to play Chelsea in week two of the Premiership this felt like one of those old Charity Shield ties. Regardless of the competition, it’s always nice to get one over on our west London rivals. After going behind on 5’ to a bullet header from Antonio Rudiger, we were taken apart by Chelsea with the impressive 17-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi stealing the show. I’m aware of his exploits for the under-17 national team, but this performance further reinforced my optimism for the future of the England team. Continue reading “Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (Arsenal win 6-5 on penalties) – One more friendly to go before the big one”