Eftersom vi inte tog oss vidare i ligacupen tidigare under säsongen är vi spellediga fram till lördag, men då är det i stället en väldigt intressant match som väntar. Att möta Arsenal på Emirates är aldrig enkelt, så lär det inte heller bli den här gången. Vi varvar upp inför matchen med den första av två Q&A kring toppmatchen. Dan Fitzpatrik(@The_Jersey_Fitz) skriver för @EPLindex och är uppvuxen med ett Wenger-styrt Arsenal, här kan ni läsa vad han har att berätta om hur det har varit att se en ny tränare vid sidan av planen:
1. This is the first season in a very long time without Wenger, how has it been?
This is the first full season in my lifetime without Wenger, so seeing a manager that isn’t him on the touchline is still quite strange. Emery is a perfectly likeable guy, though I’m not sure he seems to be a pretty vanilla manager so far.
2. What has changed under Emery?
Emery doesn’t have a really defined style of play, like say a Klopp, a Sarri or a Guardiola, so there haven’t been a whole lot of obvious changes. The most obvious changes have been an increased emphasis in playing out from the back and a less free role for the number 10. While the team has struggled to play out from the back at times this season, it is ultimately a good thing to do. Emery seems to prefer his number 10 stays in the attacking third near the strikers, which hasn’t exactly been beneficial for the two players he has played at number 10, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil. One less obvious change is that they have been more conservative in their pressing, the opposite of what was expected. Though, this expectation may have been due to the narrative that Arsenal did not do much pressing under Wenger, which, as Statsbomb data indicates, wasn’t necessarily true.
3. What are your thoughts on the start of the season, are you satisfied with the teams performances and the points you have gained?
The season has been conflicting. I am very happy with our results, but our performances have been mediocre at best. Arsenal have conceded more shots per game than they are taking and, according to Understat.com, our expected goal difference is basically even (over 10 games they are +0.23 total). Fulham away and Leicester at home were good performances, so I was hoping the team had turned a corner, but then they were awful away to Crystal Palace, drawing 2-2 and getting out shot 16-7 and getting out expected goal’d 2.11 to 0.82, including penalties.
4. You signed a few players during the summer, what are your opinion on the new players so far?
So far, all the players have done as expected or better. The worst has probably been Stephan Lichtsteiner, but he was always just meant to be a depth signing. Matteo Guendouzi, while maybe not the ready-made starter people though he might be after the first couple weeks of the season, looks very promising. Lucas Torreira has been fantastic and really looks like he could be a steal at a reported £26.4m. I was not particularly confident in the signings of Sokratis Papastathopoulos or Bernd Leno, but both have started better than expected and looked like solid signings.
5. January is getting closer, do you think Arsenal will sign any new players? Which positions do you think needs strenghtening?
I don’t expect any new signings, but there are holes at left-back, winger and, assuming Laurent Koscielny does not return to his peak form after a torn achillies at age 33, at centerback.
6. What are your expectations on the team this season? What would be a good season for Arsenal?
A good season for Arsenal would be getting back into the top four. At this point, I feel like the team will finish fifth, but with more points than I expected at the beginning of the season. So, better than expected, but still not great.
7. How do you think you will line up against Liverpool and what kind of game do you expect?
Emery’s whole thing is that he likes to create specific set ups against each opponent, so he may not line the same way as against other teams. Injuries could also affect the team, with Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac all doubts for the match. With that in mind, I really have no idea how the team will lineup, as he could be forced to play Xhaka at left back again or shift a centerback to fullback. But, I would expect Leno, Xhaka, Torreria, Ozil, Lacazette, Mustafi, one or both of Sokratis and Holding, and two of Mkhitaryan, Iwobi and Aubameyang to start. Exactly which of those players and in exactly what position I am honestly not sure as of this moment.