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Arsenal 2 Watford 0: The giddiness of the unknown

Arsenal 2 Watford 0
From Goodplaya at the Emirates

PERHAPS it was all in my imagination. But on my first visit to the Arsenal since May, I was struck by the crowd reaction when Mesut Ozil scored our second. I’m not saying it was hug thy neighbour and fall into the row in front time. But there was a brief giddiness that I can’t really remember sensing for a long time. Suddenly, we’ve won five on the spin and for now at least we can dream a little.

For sure, the squad doesn’t look comparable to that of others. But we can dream just a bit because gone is the sense that whatever positive we do, we’ll soon come a cropper in exactly the same way we did the season before and the season before that and the season before that.

I absolutely love it when a game is hard to call and I love it even more when a game is still hard to call after 70 minutes. Watford today were bloody good. But after a draw and loss in their last two games, they reminded me of what we were like in the final games of 2007-08 post that draw at Birmingham. Essentially, you can be doing everything right and exactly as you did when you were all conquering but the ball no longer runs for you.

Unai Emery’s substitutions were fascinating to observe: Iwobi for Ramsey and then Welbeck for Aubameyang. A world away from what Wenger would have done. Torreira and Xhaka would probably have made way for Welbeck and Mkhitaryan. It turned out Iwobi and Welbeck would make decisive contributions to both goals but it would be absurd to pretend that Watford weren’t the most likely winners until our opener.

But in a way that is what made it all the sweeter. This wasn’t so much a lucky win as one that was eked out thanks to some sharp play when it mattered.

Anyway, it was good to be back and it’s nice not knowing quite what to expect.

60 Responses to “Arsenal 2 Watford 0: The giddiness of the unknown”

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  2. slc gunners says:

    Who is this Arsenal team? What is the identity? I have no idea. I am tired of watching us play our from the back and getting bogged down by teams who know exactly what we’re going to do. It’s terrible to watch and has not helped one iota. We would be better off going long and competing for the ball higher up the pitch and building from there.
    Apparently, we’re going to stick with a 4-3-3 that is not doing a whole lot for us. I know that’s what City and Liverpool play, but they are much much better teams. I am tired of Emery saying that “we are in the process” as if we were building and improving from game to game. We’re not. I am not seeing progress.
    What happened to the Arsenal that controlled games and created chances? 68% possession and only 9 shots – that tells its own story Sheffield Utd had almost the same number of shots with 32% possession.

  3. MDP says:

    Yes, the modern game of football – playing out from the back, pressing high up the pitch… Looks great when Man City and Liverpool do it! I even remember a transition period for both of those teams when it looked shaky. But, none of it was as bad as when Arsenal do it. We just seem to get stuck playing square balls or backwards in our half, inviting the opposition on to us and then get the major jitters before conceding another sloppy goal. It’s just not working. Pepe had the only moment in the game where it actually worked playing from deep. I’m very concerned with Emery right now and remain sceptical but in hope he has the technical know-how to get us out of this in-effective style of football…

    I believe in the players we have and although it won’t solve everything I can’t wait to see Tierney overlapping on the left either with Saka or Auba and Bellerin on the right with Pepe. Laca fitness boost is all part of this and can only improve things at the very least. Maybe these players returning can be the catalyst for an up turn in form but Emery has big problems to solve in the way we set up and play tactically.

    I feel bad picking out Chambers when he has been one of the highlights of the last few weeks. He just shows his limitations as a right back when overlapping with Pepe despite tons of endeavour. But, we’ve got too many players who have been moved around and don’t really know their position from Willock, to AMN to Saka to Ceballos. Is it not time to settle on positions. I just hope the returning players give us a bit more balance and shape and then Chambers can push on along with Holding and give serious competition to Luis and Sokratis as I see no reason why those two can’t be contenders to start in defence. Chambers has shown us a new level to his game but maybe time to settle on one position.

    As I say above, I have no problem with personnel, I genuinely think we have the players to compete for top 4 if played in the right system. I’d prefer to see Torreira over Xhaka in there for his ball winning qualities but I wonder if Emery prefers a more physical, taller type of player. With Saliba joining next summer I can only see that infamous defensive midfield position as the area to solve in the transfer market if Torreira isn’t deemed the right fit although I’d be playing him now given the options. Over to you Emery, time to take of the shackles and get this talent clicking like they seem to be in the Europa League…

  4. Slc gunner says:

    You’re right MDP – this is more about Emery and style of play than the players. While our players are not at the City/Liverpool level in terms of individual quality, that is not the main issue at the moment.

  5. MDP says:

    It’s all gone a bit crap lately, let’s be honest. It’s hard at this moment to see a future at the club for Emery, he seems to have lost his way after a promising start. I wanted Arsene gone for a long time before he went but what one of the things I found horrible about his last few years was the fact that instead of sticking to the real reasons he should leave (& there were plenty) people insisted on jumping up & down/shouting about EVERY SINGLE THING HE SAID & DID. Sadly, we have now reached that point with Emery too. He says some daft things undoubtedly, but even sensible, completely uncontroversial comments are now twisted as an excuse to put the knife in. Similarly for his selections etc : the grief he is getting from some for not playing Bellerin as an example. He has played two 90 minute games & looked well off the pace in both…… (not a dig at him, just a fact – after that long out how would it be any different ??)….and yet people are absolutely slaughtering Emery for not playing him in the league. It’s madness, have these people no intelligence whatsoever ??

    Anyway, we will see where the next few weeks go….but the pressure is building on him…and his (lack of) celebration after the late winner last night was telling. He doesn’t look a happy man. It’s a shame but he might not get to see out this season

  6. MDP says:

    Not sure who wrote the above post? It’s not me… Do we have another MDP in the group?

  7. PD says:

    Sorry, that was me ! I think tiredness from a tough work week has got the better of me, I was clearly looking at your post when I was typing in my mail….well, either tiredness or old age, one or the other!
    Sorry again

  8. MDP says:

    Haha! No probs at all…I thought I’d lost my identity for a moment there!!!

    Agree with a lot of your points though PD, hard to see Emery turning this around now as his decisions have been so bizarre and I think he’s set out his stall. He’s certainly giving that impression anyway. They were all over the place last night, looking clueless with absolutely no shape or purpose to their play. Too many free spirits and no discipline what so ever. It’s alright giving a player of Guendouzi’s quality a bit of licence to roam but when the rest of your midfield are doing the same thing. …And there lies the problem with Xhaka…It’s one or the other and I’d take Guendouzi all day long. This teams crying out for a disciplined defensive midfielder and a bit of on field leadership. I still struggle to see where that leadership is going to come from but Torreira still seems the man to sit alongside either Guendouzi or Xhaka as the deep lying midfielder. Although, he was popping up all over the place last night so would take some coaching… hmmm?

    Looking on the bright side – 2 stunning goals from Pepe… We certainly have the quality of players… they’ll maybe get Emery off the hook if they find any kind of confidence or groove.

  9. N7 says:

    How giddy are people feeling now? :-(

  10. Slc gunner says:

    Not very N7. 12 games in and champions league looks to be out of sight – at least not via the league route. I don’t want Arsenal to become part of the managerial merrygoround but what do you do. If nobody is available, then maybe stick with Emery until the end of the season and see how the youngsters do with a little bit of experience? But if there is an Allegri-type willing and available now, then I think we have to move decisively. Either way, Emery’s time is up (now or in 6 months at the latest).

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