Out-Foxed at the King Power
This was a new low.
And I feel it was coming from the off.
The team selection was fair, in terms of the player quality. It was seemingly a 442 we were playing, but then from the off, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers got his players up for it, and they were passing and moving like a prime Arsenal.
It wasn’t a physical display like Everton – nor picking us off in prime moments like Wolves. And Emery didn’t choose an imbalanced side like the Palace home game. It was an attacking display akin to how we play sides, in that they passed, moved and worked the ball with ease. It was as if Wenger was a shapeshifter and morphed himself into Rodgers.
The fact they had 80% possession at points in this game is very telling. We’re seldom ever out-played to this degree, and it showed.
Leicester steadily grew and showed more attacking verve throughout the first half,, with Vardy, Maddison, Chowdury, and Tillimans all have strong opportunities in the opening period.
Iwobi had a left-foot shot blocked in the mid-first half, and Lacazette blasted wide also.
But the first half, really, was all Leicester.
The major talking point of the first-half was Maitland-Niles’s sending off. In my view, both instances were yellow cards, and he was silly to do them. The first was from an elbow on a counter-attack, whilst the second resulted from a slip recovery into Maddison.
The second-half followed a similar pattern, though we changed our shape somewhat with Koscielny coming on to shore up our defence.
They had more possession and chances, with Tillimans opening the scoring with an untracked header.
We tried to counter-attack, with a penalty shout on Torreira, as he got a whack in the face.
But the guy who turned us down a few years ago, Mr. Vardy, nabbed a brace towards the end to finish it, and it was a well-warranted win for Leicester City, who could feasibly get Europa League football next season.
For us though, we may face them in that competition if we’re not careful. And surely now, top four bar a strong miracle is done
In analysing this game, I have the following thoughts:
- Limp play
Leicester in some ways, in my strong view, out-Arsenaled Arsenal. They were not rough and in our faces, as other teams usually are. They passed and moved the ball with precision. I cannot recall a side that has such high possession stats against us. Usually, it’s the exact opposite.
But then we allowed them space, and the capacity to move and pass with ease. Our defence and midfield were almost timid, and didn’t close down space in the channels.
Our attacking play was average at best, but overall we lacked the skill and will to press them or limit them.
The heir to Neuer? Who knows? But then after the Wolves display, which for him was poor, he did concede three but without him we’d have conceded far more.
I believe he can become the best keeper since Lehmann, maybe even since Seaman. He looks assured and technically sound, and unlike his compatriot, he’s not as mad and rash as Jens was.
- Lack of fight and mentality
This leads into the initial point in this article, but I feel we just didn’t pass the ball well enough, and not look to counter them well. Iwobi and Mkhitaryan were weak in both carrying the ball and creating chances, and Lacazette was muted all game. Aubameyang in contrast to his strike partner was more active, and could have had an assist if Iwobi finished in the first-half.
Even still, we played with a strong line-up, and it’s not Emery’s fault as it was per the Palace game.
What is more, is that the usual suspects cannot be blamed here. Mustafi actually had a reasonable game, without any real errors. And this lends to mentality. ALL players make errors – even Ronaldo and Messi do. But the errors are aberrations and not regularities. A top player by definition is consistent, with limited margin for errors. Mustafi’s good game, no matter how ironic, arguably heightens the mentality issues in our side.
- The boss/el jefe
Unai Emery’s formation caught my eye, as it looked like a 442/433 hybrid. Though he did to his credit play as strong a team as possible, he cannot be blamed in my view for the performance.
The midfield, unlike vs. Palace and Everton, wasn’t weak or easily bullied. Xhaka/Torreira is a reasonable midfield balance. But they didn’t look up for it, and they all (accounting for the entire team and not just the midfield) permitted them to pass around us at will.
I’m not Emery Out by any stretch. I feel our players, even perhaps some of the ones who are capable or were brought in last summer, don’t have the mentality and skillsets to take us to the next level.
But this doesn’t mean Emery’s time is unlimited – I feel if by this time next season we’re still borderline top four, competing in European competition, and still holding defensive woes, serious questions must be asked of his tenure.
Until then, el jefe has it all to do to change our mentality, defending, and overall playing style.
Nketiah 4 Guendouzi 3
Emery 5 – the only fault is not motivating the players. i don’t critique his formation nor team selection in this instance.
Man of the match
Without him, the losing margin would have been greater.
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.