Unai Emery managed something that Wenger found difficult in his final season, an away win. The game against Cardiff came at a time when the Spaniard has struggled to find a blend of consistency, style and execution and as a result, Arsenal made this game more difficult than it should have been.
Gaps alarmingly appeared on the flanks in which you could park several cars and its something that happens week in and week out. Fortunately, the Gunners have more going for them in attack than in defence, and they are capable of digging themselves out of a hole when the need arises. They arise a lot.
The main issue is the flatness of the back four and the lack of a single commanding voice to lead the line. Everyone looks at everyone else, no one assumes control and it’s sadly shambolic. Cech’s nerves are blatantly evident and they hardly inspire confidence. He runs around aimlessly looking for new ways to press the panic button.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this needs to be his last season at the Emirates.
At times he resembles a terrified pensioner riding pillion on a Kawasaki Ninja H2R. It was a mixed start to the match with Ramsey, Mustafi and Aubameyang almost opening the scoring for Arsenal.
Cech then did his level best to help the home side score their first goal in the Premiership, by kicking the ball to the first available Cardiff player. Luckily, the opportunity was spurned, leaving Cech to consider his next calamity. Each pass back to the keeper looked likely to present a gift of a goal and even in the dying stages, Cech deserted his goal to chase a lost cause, which nearly led to an equaliser. Had that happened, the Arsenal number one would have been hideously out of position by a distance of some eight feet.
Luckily for Arsenal, Emery decided to play both Aubameyang and Lacazette, with Ozil replacing Mkhitaryan. Lacazette was a constant threat and torment, with an abundance of energy going forward. He was incredibly impressive with just four games under his belt and his goal was a gem. A rising rocket, high into the net from the most obscure of angles.
Mustafi opened the scoring with a powerful header only to see the advantage disappear when Xhaka, who manages to keep his slot regardless of his contribution, gave the ball away in almost comedic fashion. It was a sort of half-hearted pass that had all the power of a satsuma rolled along the ground from an oven glove.
The ball then made its way into acres of space without any red and white shirts in pursuit. Then somehow, the incoming ball avoided the attention of at least six Arsenal players to find Camarasa. The deftest of touches, a quick turn and it flew into the net past Cech, bringing Cardiff back in terms.
The advantage was restored by Aubameyang from a delightful move which included Ozil’s precise pass to Lacazette, who in turn backheeled the ball to his strike partner. The Gabon forward still had it all to do but the curve was nothing short of sublime and the bottom corner of the net bulged obligingly.
For all Lacazette’s superb contribution, the equaliser was adjudged to be his fault. Yet it was the slightest of contacts possibly from his leg hair that resulted in a free kick. Danny Ward met the ball with a glancing header and again the Arsenal defence were holding hands, with their feet flat on the turf gazing at the skies. 2-2 was a fair reward for Cardiff’s endeavor but one sensed the Gunners had one last trick up their sponsored sleeves to gain all three points. I apologise for being repetitive but why is Torreira being treated as if he were a precious china vase? When he comes on, he shows he’s more than ready for a competitive start. Yet Emery persists with Xhaka.
I’m not about to jump on the Emery bashing bandwagon, but he should cut his losses and sell the Swiss midfielder at the first available opportunity. He is a player who forces me to throw soft furnishings in the direction of the television for his lack of ambition and shoddy performances, something I haven’t done since the days of Pascal Cygan and Phillipe Senderos. Arsenal are on the up but there are still problems ahead , some of which won’t be resolved until either the transfer window reopens or Emery decides to play Leno and Torreira.
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