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Top-four Hokey-Pokey Goes To Wolves

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Good day one and all.
Arsenal is at the Molineux this evening wanting to get their top-four quest back on track against the Wolves pack of Nuno Espírito Santo.
The Gunners suffered a setback on Sunday as they slumped to a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace – ending a 16 match Emirates unbeaten run. The challenge now though is to get back to winning ways as a statement of intent that we haven’t given up hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
However, we will have our work cut out against Wolves who, for a promoted side, are playing with extraordinary competence and proven themselves worthy to compete against the league best – and they got a good home record to boot. They are unbeaten in their last nine games at the Molineux (all competitions). That is a run that include seven wins, some of which are fine victories over Liverpool, Leicester and United twice. Their last home defeat was against Crystal Palace on the 2nd January – imagine that. They especially seem to enjoy playing against the top-six sides as some of their earlier games this season include excellent wins against Chelsea (h) and Spurs (a), and credible draws against City (h) and Arsenal (a).
What all this mean is that Wolves will play the good stuff, something that usually will suit us but we have been struggling recently against Everton, Watford and Palace who all had a good go at us. And if you add Arsenal only having won two of our last ten away league games… there indeed is cause for concern.
We shouldn’t be too apprehensive though because the gulf between a decent team in form and a truly top class team is still quite significant. Defensive issues aside Arsenal always give themselves chances to put games to bed, our finishing just had been lacking even in games we got results in recent months.
Team news: Monreal, Torreira, Maitland-Niles and Sokratis (back from suspension) are all line to return to the matchday XI tonight, with doubts of Xhaka’s fitness Guendouzi could continue in the centre of midfield.
Going from seven changes to the line-up in one game to at least four in the next at the business end of the season with so much at stake can’t be good for team chemistry. Now I’m not taking anything away from Emery here because he deserves the benefit of the doubt for having us battling for top-four and in the last four in Europa while in transition. However, he needs to get the team settled because his tendency to tinker on a week to week basis could be a worry in the long run.
Wolves got some tricky players that has the potential to trouble and break down shaky defenses but we have to throw caution to the wind and just back our attack, because any dropped points now could inflict some serious damage to our top-four bid.
A win would see Arsenal back in 4th, above Chelsea and one point behind Spurs, with three league to go. Time to step up Gunners AND Gooners.
@LaboGoon
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62 comments on “Top-four Hokey-Pokey Goes To Wolves

  1. We look tired. Hope we beat Leicester at the weekend and Man U and Chelsea draw.

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  2. I think fatigue is a big part of it, not the whole part, just a big part. We have a number of long term, key injuries, and January’s reinforcement has hardly helped things, Wenger would be slaughtered for such a signing.
    Emery has hopefully learned a lot about this league by now, and will maybe look at his training schedule, and squad next season if he wants to improve. High tempo and pressing doesn’t work when your squad hits a wall, unless they like other rivals who strangely seem to be able to do double sessions all year, press for ninety minutes every game, hitting quite a few injury time winners, and finish the season fresh with far fewer injuries than us.
    Get up to speed Emery!

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  3. Ah well, for quite a while only had a sort of blind hope we could do it in league, and still some chance I suppose, though very hard to envisage.

    More optimistic for Europa, largely because things can happen in that, like the ref playing on (correctly, I think) when he could have blown for a Laca foul for Ramsey goal, which are far less likely in league, for us.

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  4. 2 wins from last 11 away league games – huddersfield and watford, with losses to southampton, west ham, everton and wolves in that run and draw to brighton, drew with spurs & utd too, lost to city and liverpool

    we have two away wins more than last season, and of course we can make that four if we win our remaining away games, that would see us get 28pts away from home, that would be a step up from the 16 we got last season, but would remain less than the 30pts the season before, so an improvement on Wenger’s worse away season, but should that be the mark we judge Arsenal on.

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  5. It certainly should not, but something started in wengers final years at the club, and seems to be continuing.
    Other clubs spend a lot of money to at least try to avoid or get out of such slumps, we cannot. Even today’s opponents probably outspent us last summer, and may well do the same next, nice to be owned by a so called Super agent.Some just have a freakishly able once in a generation bunch of divers, sorry players or manager and don’t need to spend so much in the last year or so, will not comment there.
    Whatever is or isn’t wrong, we are going to have to overcome it the hard way, we are up against teams who can do things very differently thanks to the bottling of FFP.
    Emery may improve things next season, but if not, I suspect we will go into a manager go round until we get things right, and even if Emery eventually does spectacularly well others may well come calling.
    Unfortunately, the reality of our business model in the current climate

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  6. odd thing is mandy that these same players have an almost brilliant home record over the last 3 seasons, would have to check beyond that.

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  7. Emery’s press conference: read every word
    Rob Kelly 24 Apr 2019
    Emery

    It was another disappointing road trip for us on Wednesday as we were beaten 3-1 by Wolves in a blow to our top-four hopes.

    Afterwards, Unai Emery faced the media and discussed the defeat, the reasons for our performance and Bernd Leno’s display.

    Read on for a full transcript:

    on what went wrong…
    Good evening. First is the performance of the opposition. We started the game playing with control with the ball, with control with our positioning. Also, they let us play like that in the first minutes but when we needed to get into the box with the possibility to create chances, they defended very strongly in the box. They played with the calmness to take their opportunities and the first transitions. They had a strong plan and it was perfect because they scored in one set-piece after the first important transition against us. The match was important with how teams can start winning and after I think we lost a little in the 20 minutes after the first goal. We lost our possibility to take passions in these minutes, to recover our possibilities and our chances in our game plan. The second goal was a set-piece and another transition killed us in this moment (for the third goal) but in the dressing room we were speaking that in the second half we need to first recover our game plan and be strong in our mind. To score a goal was our first idea and after if we can take minutes of the 90 minutes we can continue our plan. The second half was different but it wasn’t enough to take some points. Generally we are now disappointed, but we need to also look at all the season and we are not in our own hands now because we lost this possibility today, but we need to prepare the best as possible for Sunday’s match against Leicester. If we win, okay it’s going to be very difficult again, but another option that we can take on Sunday.

    on players losing their calmness…
    But it’s not losing your calm, okay, when they scored we needed to recover quickly our positioning and the possibility in this game. But they continued feeling strong, defensively, in the set-pieces and in transitions. Maybe we need also to not, in this 20 or 25 minutes, want to recover quickly the match with the result, because we can concede options for them in their game plan. It’s transitions and the set-pieces. But I think their second half is good to recover for our game plan. But it’s not enough because the three goals were a lot for us to recover something important here in this game. But above all, we must recover our possibility, thinking of Sunday and we lost in our hands the possibility to be in the third now is more difficult and in the fourth today. It’s difficult but we can recover this possibility.

    on not having a shot on target in the first half…
    But they are a good team, with good structure. Defensively they are very strong and they are doing a very good season because they have good players also. We didn’t do, in the last third attacking, some difference for score in the first half. We tried but didn’t take chances to score. I think one reason is because they worked very well defensively. We needed to be more calm and we know here it’s going to be very difficult, but we need to respect them with their moments and to be calm in the 90 minutes, impose our ideas and result against them. Really, they were better than us and they worked and played more strongly in their game plan and they beat us.

    on Bernd Leno…
    I don’t want to speak individually about the players. I think we need to continue together and not look at one player or the defence or attacking players like a group. We need to think to recover our confidence and to recover our good moments for when we were in the worst moments. We can recover and take possibilities like we have now. Really, the last two matches we lost good options but the last three matches we are going to play in the Premier League we can and we are going to play our possibilities.

    on players going straight down the tunnel at full-time…

    Our supporters were amazing. They were with us, they helped us and also today they are going to be disappointed. We need to say to them, first that they are here with us, and we appreciate that a lot. After, we are going to do all to think of Sunday in Leicester, to take the three points. We need to be together – the players, the club and the supporters. We started at the beginning [with two defeats] in the first two matches in the Premier League, and little by little we came back. Progressively we are taking chances to be in the top four. It’s our target, a difficult target. We have the possibility – it’s not in our hands, but we’ll continue with the possibilities. It’s the moment to think, all these players work to have this opportunity now. We lost today, we lost on Sunday, and we are very disappointed for that. But we need to continue. We have two competitions, one is the Premier League, the second is the Europa League. That’s two ways to get into the Champions League, our objective. [We need to] continue being strong in our mentality, strong with our confidence, strong in our capacity. We are going to analyse how we can be competitive, how we can be better as a team in the [next] matches.

    on if he was angry at half-time…

    I usually am very disciplined with myself. I am angry with myself. We didn’t do the game plan like I wanted. I am not angry with the players, I am angry with myself. My idea and my style is to look in front and find a solution. Not to find who the player is who is playing worse or why they are not doing all we spoke about before. First I find the solution. The solution for me [now] is to think about Sunday and take the possibility on Sunday to come back with our best performance and our best competitive team for the possibility to take the three points.

    on if he blames himself…

    When we win, we win together, and when we lose, we lose together. In general, I think we are with the possibility to be in the top four and today we lost having it in our hands. [We need to] continue and I want to tell the players and the supporters to continue and take the opportunity on Sunday.

    Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

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  8. Calum
    ‏ @CalArsenal
    3h3 hours ago

    Arsenal’s record in the away league table

    10/11 1st
    11/12 3rd
    12/13 2nd
    13/14 2nd
    14/15 3rd
    15/16 3rd
    16/17 6th
    17/18 10th
    18/19 10th (2 games to play)

    This isn’t “typical weak minded Arsenal”, this is a new problem.

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  9. Its always the same, how aftv dont seem to understand what football is or how it operates. Wolves are having a honeymoon at the moment, the cat shall mew and the wolf have its day, but the woodman( relegation) is always standing next to them waiting. They needed to beat us, it validates them, but for Arsenal, who wants to go to Wolves? Its of little interest, and in a way its a big fault on our part, but Im sure man yof the other top 6 teams feel the same, in a way its the Problem of the EPL? Dont get me wrong, its pretty disappointing, how can it not be?
    I just dont think the lads felt inspired and if they play in an uninspired way without parking the bus, bad play and mistakes will happen. Its unlike Leno to make a couple of mistakes, and its unlike Kos to not mark up really well. The whole season has been devoid of getting in a good place mentally and building on it. But we have the potential, we can see it, its all there.
    aftv think that Man City and Liverpool and Arsenal of 20 yrs ago just come out of no-where or you can pay. Cash helps but still it needs a geist. Good psychology and getting a unity(or even a general unity) is the key, then all things proceed from there. Of course its not plain sailing, its keeping on the path, reacting to causes and effects and thats easier said than done.It doesnt come when youre watching either.
    For example, the lads now have to get up from these two games and do their best, but if the geist bogs off, how to you get flow and rhythm? How do you keep unity and a good geist in all players?Go on social media and get advice form people who cant kick a ball properly but know everything in hindsight.
    It concerns me that people think that going to a game, then slagging the team off afterwards because they didnt get what they wanted (“im the paying customer!”)because they believe they are the real deal (and a manager) because loud voices and sensationalism get attention, is supporting. No it isnt. Its only part of the equation. Weve all spent loads of money going, as did generations before me. Without social media what then for these commentators? Why do they think they are right? If they were in charge what then? What the film the Matrix misunderstood, is that everyone thinks they are the one.

    On a petty level they give too much ammunition to other teams to throw at the club. 5th columnists, and its unconscious, which makes it all the more scary.

    Of course my opinions are as worthless or worthy as theirs, but I dont claim to be right, just to try and add another perspective. They doesnt make me righteous either, more than likely a tool. But the world suffers unnecessarily…

    The club imo, should ban the players from looking and interacting with social media,(and people like me) its could also stop playing up to the likes of aftv, what for? Because they proclaim themselves the in crowd? Outside any in-crowd circle are people who are also worthy, all that in-crowd stuff is nonsense anyway. All is fleeting.

    Every single player who went out last night is a good player, has proved for years they are good players. It didnt happen, Liverpool and City, just like ManUre and Chlesea and us will also experience this, its football. Wolves are king of their dung heap, let them have it. Soon enough another will come along crowing all knowing.On another day and with the right flow, they would have lost 3-1. and the season isnt lost yet either.

    And the ship sails on.COYG!

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  10. Am with you on the ‘inspired’ thing. We’ve been experiencing many same obstacles as in the past two years again; however, this season, somehow it gets up and down mentally even when the end is so near.

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  11. Those away stats startling,Ed.

    Hard to fathom. The big change with us, opposition, or a mix? Belief has gone for sure with me for any domestic away games, and it must be a factor for players now.

    Shows how shite my memory is but I don’t have any general feel for what our away formula was like in years we had the much better/ good form?

    Can think of good players we’ve lost in those years- Cazorla first, Mert, Giroud, Sagna, Arteta and more- key partnerships- Kos/Mert, the brief but successful Coq Cazorla, the attacking understanding between Ozil and Sanchez (whatever latter’s faults, they linked very well at times)- but not so much about tactical set-ups etc.

    Was it primarily through breaking them down with possession football or did we actually get more countering opportunities and/or execute those we had more efficiently? Were we better at dealing with counters?

    An education, a mystery, a puzzle. I don’t know. Just hard to figure out or believe the team who played some really good stuff against a team like Napoli the other day, and produced well in home games against all top six bar City, can routinely struggle to the degree we do, in attack and defence, against lesser opposition.

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