Victor’s response to the GT Match review of Anfield defeat ………
I am a bit hesitant to criticise an article by someone who is a coach and so I will stick to some basic observations for which a coach’s badge is not necessary.
For instance, I did a critique at the time I heard that we had signed Luiz. I was aghast. This is a man who I loved to see on Chelsea`s team sheet. He rated even higher than Mustafi in the calamity department. I did put my concerns in print, which appeared as a comment on Gunners Town. I just could not understand why we were finally resolved to sell Mustafi as his gaffs cost us vital points and possibly a top four finish on at least one occasion; only to sign an older version of him. Within 3 games, he has cost us a penalty and two goals and possibly two points.
I am terrified of the chaos he will cause against Spurs and I am sure Kane is straining at the leash to play against him. I wonder how many bookies are rubbing their hands with glee, whilst laying odds on the number of fouls Kane will extract from and whether he gives another penalty away. Perhaps he should wear mittens so that he can`t pull shirts?
Anyway, I do venture to criticise Emery because he has clearly given strict instructions to Leno to distribute the ball with his hands. Against Burnley, it was so evident that Burnley had their two strikers heading a row of four in constant touch of our box. They were followed by another rank of four, which is nowadays what you expect to see when the defending team retreats to their own half.
Dyche would have seen our match against Newcastle and he realised that if he pressed us in our own half using his defensive formation, he would block our full backs and compress play into midfield. We were physically weak against Burnley and they made the whole match very difficult for Willock. Liverpool did the same thing but with much more bite in the form of Salah.
I don`t know if their defence was as shaky as was rumoured because we did not press them enough. There were two chances for Auba and Pepe but generally, we were confined to our own half. With the midfield concentrated within our half, passes by necessity needed to be accurate and fast. Burnley managed that, but we didn`t. Liverpool did exactly the same and they picked up wayward passes and moved quickly with intent. We were walking on eggs most of the half and Emery had left Torreira on the bench and picked Willock, who is simply not physical enough and when we have Guendousi in tandem with him, we are not going to win hard battles.
The decision to play out from defence, starting with the goalkeeper means that we have to make two or three moves to get over the half way line. When two of those passes are from full back to full back and then to the nearest available player, with no purpose in mind, it is not surprising that the opponents have positioned their defence and pressed our team back again. We seldom played outside our own half. Leno has to match hand distribution with kicks up field, even if it is just to stop the other side getting comfortable because it was so easy to counter our play.
Alas, I think Unai is pinning his hopes on his goalkeeper being his first attacker and it is not working, nor can it when we have a major cog in the machine who is even money to open the door for the opposition attackers.
I do have some sunshine in this darkened sky and I agree that Pepe will be world class when he settles in. I just hope that the painfully slow play that Emery inherited from Wenger does not contaminate his instinctive speed of thought and action that he clearly possesses. We depend on being able to match the speed of thought and action of Liverpool and City and unfortunately, that does not seem to be part of the Emery philosophy.