By Tony Attwood
Without playing Arsenal have moved up to fourth in the league – the much sought after “not a trophy” position.
It was Chelsea’s defeat last night that caused the rise above them, thanks to scoring 10 more goals than they have, and thanks of course to Bournemouth who knocked in four against them. After the game Sarri said, “It’s impossible to play in such a different way between the first and second half. I don’t understand why. I don’t know exactly.”
Liverpool’s match was interesting because of the pitch which looked on TV pictures like a quagmire – rather strange for a club claiming to be one of the top clubs in the country, and which has spent so much money on players and indeed on extending the capacity of their stadium. It is one thing to blame the pitch when playing away from home, but when the manager starts blaming his home pitch, then clearly there’s something not right. The pitch is, after all, under the home team’s control. Perhaps they forgot to put any drains in.
So we are back to fourth for the first time since 2 December when after defeating the tiny totts 4-2 the table looked like this…
Manchester City have been the big losers in the past 10 games and Manchester United the winners of course.
This time last year after 24 games we had:
- Won 12 (this year 14)
- Drawn 6 (this year 5)
- Lost 6 (this year 5)
- Scored 45 goals (this year 50)
- Conceded 31 goals (this year 33)
- Gained 42 points (this year 47)
So some improvement all round except for the defence – so heavily criticised last year – which is actually worse than a year ago.
Meanwhile we have signed Denis Suárez on loan – another annoying player in that he has an accent in his name and I do find accents hard going with Word Press. It is being said that he signed a new contract with Barcelona recently, but that also he could be available to us as a permanent signing in the summer.
Mundo Deportivo have said that Suárez’ contract currently runs to 2020 and will now extend to 2021. The loan fee for this second half of the season is €2m.
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So what have we got? A man described as a midfield player who can play on the left or in the centre’ at Sevilla he played in both positions and given the way we have experimented with left attacking forwards that presumably is where he will feature.
One report described his most natural role as being “a playmaker, receiving possession between the lines, facing goal and able to run at defenders, opening up spaces to make clever passes to team-mates or creating shooting chances for himself.”
If, as seems to be the case, Mr Emery is impressed by Sead Kolasinac’s attacking it could be that he has a plan to have both players play together overlapping on that side of the pitch, with Denis Suárez then being able to move infield if the territory gets too crowded.
I’m told Suárez took the No 6 shirt after Xavi retired, which shows Barcelona held him in great regard at that point, and overall he has played 71 times for Barcelona, although only eight times this season.
But perhaps more to the point is that he was at Sevilla with Emery, and thus the manager must know what he is getting, and how to manage and play Suárez even though reports suggest that the player did not really make a big impact during that spell. Although the figures show him playing 47 games all told, so he couldn’t have been that bad.
What is interesting however is that in the figures above we can see that Arsenal’s prime issue is in defence and yet there seems to be no move to bring in defensive players – even though Bellerin is out for the season. True, Koscielny’s injury is not as bad as thought, and Sokratis should be back in a week or so. I guess it means things are that bad at the back.
Here are our new man’s figures…