I have just read Michael McDonalds excellent article.
I agree with a lot of what he says and I too am happy with our `behind the door` team in relation to the procuring of top class players. I am also very pleased at the progress of our young players. We had one of our banana skins last night and I believe that Emery has cost us another three points. I think Mike feels the same way.
In my view, our problems originated from the goalie out and Leno is not a top goalkeeper. I don`t know whether his play the ball out from the Goalie to the defenders and let them move it forward is a success. Hopefully it, is done with purpose and a plan in place should the move either succeed or break down. The problem is that should the move break down at the first or second recipient of the ball, we do not seem to have a back up plan and so there is a hurried attempt to retrieve the ball. When the move breaks down early in its development, then the opposition, knowing that we play the ball from the keeper, have moved their midfield upwards and so when they win the ball, they are inevitably in the vicinity of our 6 yard box. If we wanted our players to get to their goal area, we would have to play multiple passes and hard running to get there. In contrast, we are gifting the same result to the opposition with little effort on their part to get there.
Clearly, we need a Goalie who reacts quickly to the situation and does not have to spend 30 seconds to make up his mind who he should throw the ball to. Sheffield Utds manager ( like so many others ) was aware of Leo`s intentions and played accordingly. Their forwards and wing-backs stayed upfield and stifled our tip-tap fotball. They supported their possession by direct running and simple movement as they only had to gain a few yards and then whiz crosses into our packed but chaotic box.
If we analyse the effect on the players, I would say that Chambers fulfilled his role admirably. He received the ball consistently and made ground either by running with the ball or looking to play forward. On the other side Kolasniac was not as successful. His control of the ball is not as good as Chambers and he has to control it before he makes up his mind. He regularly lost the ball by bad passing and his bursts up the wing were often done at speed because he was behind the play. The CB,s are not equipped for this game. Luis almost gave another goal away when he aimed a pass from one corner of the box to the opposite corner to Sokratis. It was hit so hard that Sokratis possession as he could not control it. We were fortunare that a Utd. player was not at that spot or we would have been 2 goals down.
The midfield was never close enough to each other nor nimble enough to make anything from the short balls being fed interminably from the 4 defenders. I don`t know whether Emery intended that they would smoothly transfer the ball to the wingbacks who would then feed one of our wingers. Aubo would have been waiting in the centre to make the most of the crosses they would provide. That is what it appeared to be the case. but the make up of the team was badly selected again. Where was Tierney? We were told that he was fit?
We had Xhaka at the heart of midfield and it was obvious that he was the target for the centre back to feed the ball to. He would then, from his central position, spray passes left or right depending on where the nearest most dangerous player was. He did actually provide some wonderful passes to the wingers ( especially Chambers who acted as a wing back ) but generally he struggled in his defending. He was boked yet again for a clumsy tackle. Unfortunately the scheme for the defence was not succesfull. Willock was anonymous and once more, I am at a loss to see what his value to the team is, but in this game I think he found it impossible to find what position or task he was supposed to be doing. Caballo was an improvement when he came on.
Up to then, Auba was not his usual exhuberant self. He looked bewildered as to what he should be doing. Pepe did give him some assistance and indeed, he was our best player but even he could not provide the kind of ball he thrives on. Saka is worth persisting with. He had a hard physical time with some big defenders but still made himself a threat whilst feeding off crumbs.
Finally, as soon as he came on Lacazzette upset their defence. He stood in the box with often two men with him but he still got possession and created room for Auba. If Torreira had been picked in Xhaka`s place and Tieran and Lacazzette had been on from the start, I believe we would have won the game. Emery`s method is too predictable and other clubs have worked it out. He needs to learn quickly to play his best players at all times. If their fitness was in doubt last night then he should have played them for the first part of the game until we scored the opening goal or two. That`s what should have happened last night and we should be in 3rd Place not 5th.
We finished 5th last year, but we have a much better pool of players now and if Emery does not change his philosophies soon he will have no excuse if he is not here next year.