Emery explains his team selection decisions as Gunners slip to Palace defeat

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Arsenal’s first half against Crystal Palace today was as poor a performance as we’ve seen all season, with Unai Emery’s selections causing a few raised eyebrows as we slipped to a 3-2 defeat.

With a hectic schedule and today’s fixture coming just three days after a difficult away fixture in Italy, the manager said he had to protect some of his players from potential injury.

Not for the first time the Spaniard made two half-time substitutions, which did have a positive impact and led to Mesut Ozil’s equaliser – but then Shkodran Mustafi’s error put Palace back in front and we never recovered.

Speaking afterwards, Emery explained his decision making and suggested the same result could have occurred regardless of who he picked.

“In the first half we continued with the three central defenders because I think we can be more consistent with that,” he said.

“In the second half we changed to play with two and we can take more possibilities in the attacking third, in the build up, but defensively we gave them more space to take the transitions.

“Their goals are from set pieces and one second action, but also we know that we can be taking more risks in the second half. But when the score is like that in the first half and we are losing 1-0, I think we need to do that.

“We changed because we are going to play a lot of matches. We have had some injuries, like with Aaron Ramsey, and we need to protect the players.

“For example, Xhaka asked to change in the second half against Napoli and today could’ve played, but with some risk. We need to protect our players and to us other players.

“We are playing with a lot of players and they give us the performance, we lost today but we could also have lost with other players on the pitch.”

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Mayor of the Woolwich.
Mayor of the Woolwich.

Today’s match was so winnable.
We were fully in control of the match after Ozil’s equaliser, then boom! Mustafi happened.

I’ve been feeling sore all evening.
😪😪😪

GoonerJust
GoonerJust

Bright side, Sokratis, Torreira and Xhaka can play this Wed…

Shank

He’s not stupid this guy………..lets all calm to fuck down.
Would you like to be a Man U supporter?

LEFT08
LEFT08

That is irrelevant. Nobody cares what other teams are doing. We should beat Palace at home. Plus, nobody is calling him stupid. But he cocked it up today.

Futsboller
Futsboller

Agreed – Emery does not quite understand the Premier League yet (he will, and I’m sure he’ll realize we need to play with more attackers/ball-possession against lower-half clubs) and didn’t take Palace seriously today, and we paid for it.

Richie

That’s what Steve Bould is there for isn’t it, picking up 35,000 a week to tell Emery that even lower half teams like Palace still have match winners like Beneteke, Zaha, and free kick specialist Mihilijovic.

Futsboller
Futsboller

I guess Emery isn’t listening to him.

Richie

At least Man U will have 200 million to spend in the summer, Champions League or not. They can just write off this season and start again. But if we don’t qualify for the Champions League, we’re stuck in the same rut for a third year running and this time with less money than last year for summer purchases it seems.

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner
Cyprus The Immortal Gooner

Spot on. The rotation yesterday was heavy and risky and I believe Emery thought he could get away with it because it was at home. He will regret yesterday’s selection if we were to miss CL for yesterday’s match…

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

If you can bear to, watch Palace’s second goal again. Look at the head start Mustafi has on Zaha (and where Leno is) when Mustafi inexplicably decides to stop. This is not an aberration. It’s a deliberate, conscious decision, made by an experienced international defender. I don’t even know where to begin.

LEFT08
LEFT08

Bollock explanation. There is no excuse. There are just 5 games to go. Pick the best team, the same best team EVERY bloody time.

Jack4343
Jack4343

Problem with that logic is you eventually end up with a squad of u23 players in a Europa League Semi as 9 out of our starting 11 are out. You have to rotate, it’s a bear of a season in England and all the managers are doing it. Sometimes you get by, sometimes not. Guardiola got burned by not playing KDB against Spuds at their new twat house. However, he played him twice in 4 days and now His season is done. Same with us and Ramsey. We absolutely had to play him and it got us. I’d say if Emery didn’t rotate like he has this season we would be not involved in the top 4 not the Europa League at this point.

Stank
Stank

Does Liverpool rotate? There are certain players you dont rotate anyhow for you to maintain consistence

Futsboller
Futsboller

Rotation is fine — as you argue, par for the course at this time of the year — but you need to ensure you’ve got the right lineup out there to get the job done. Emery started 5 defenders and a midfield pairing of Elneny-Guendouzi against Crystal F’n Palace at the Emirates on a sunny Sunday. As soon as Iwobi came on in the second half, we were where we should have been at the start — owning the ball, and putting it in their box rather than struggling to keep it out of ours. A back four, a defensive-minded midfielder, and three ball-playing midfielders to control the play behind our two strikers. For 90 minutes. I despise the three-centreback formation as it gives our team a false sense of security, and without Bellerin we are a one-sided team trying to push everything down the left. Anyone can defend against that, and it doesn’t take much to launch the ball down our exposed flanks to get things rolling the other way. So frustrating to watch.

LEFT08
LEFT08

Jenkinson cannot be considered a PL level player. Mavropanos isn’t good enough either. Not yet anyway. Then there’s the Elneny-Guendouzi partnership, which is just despiriting. And the cherry on top: Mu fucking stafi. Emery lost us this match. That is all there is to it.

Timsh
Timsh

It was going better for us when we equalized and then…Mustafi happened.
Emery wasn’t on the pitch. Mustafi was!

Nosferatu
Nosferatu

I think it’s safe to say Emery would have rather not played any of those guys you mentioned, with the exception of Guendouzi, who has been fine when paired with other midfielders (and is probably also just worn down from having to play so many Premier League games at such a young age in his first season in England).

I mean, just think how different it could have been if Bellerin and Holding were healthy. You can’t expect perfect health, and we really should have brought in another defender on loan in January (and probably sent Mavropanos out), but considering the very difficult hand he’s been dealt, it feels really unfair to call out Emery as the problem on a day like today. The schedule is nuts, his squad is thin and injured and filled with older players, so he had to make changes (like basically every other manager has whose team played Wed./Thu. and then Sat./Sun.).

LEFT08
LEFT08

Would there be this much good will if this team had been picked by Arsene Wenger? Plus, I don’t see why AMN is tired. Will the 45 mins he sat out today help him see out the season?

Steve McSween
Steve McSween

I think the point is that these aren’t Emery players and his hands are tied. If Wenger has picked this team then there wouldn’t have been the good will shown because he’s responsible for them being here in a way Emery isn’t.

A P
A P

Not Emery’s players? You want a team of Suarezs’ then, I supposed?

Monkey Nuts
Monkey Nuts

If you hook two liabilties at half time it shows you the original choice was wrong. And get Mustafi aeay from the 1st XI.

Lobster
Lobster

To Shkodran Mustafi:
If you’re reading this, as a lifelong Gooner, I appreciated your set piece threat and aggressive play. Your goals against United and S#urs will forever be in my memory.
But this is Arsenal FC. U were given your fair share of chances, it’s time to part ways. It hasn’t worked the way it was supposed to and I wish u all the best in your professional career. Thank u, for the most part, for the memories but I think its clear for all parties that we need to part ways.

Jack4343
Jack4343

It’s a very fine balance. You want to keep players healthy but you also must achieve your objective for the season. After all, what good does healthy players do you when you crash out of the Europa League and top 4 fight. I don’t envy him, tough job but he’s earned my trust. ManU and Spuds both lost as well so we are no worse off than we were before today. We all know there are upgrades needed in our team but nothing we can do about that until the summer. Until then we soldier on! On to Wednesday! COYG!

Hantal
Hantal

We knew going into this we were stretched for players at the back yet still played 5. Why the he’ll couldn’t we go with four and focus on our attacking play?

Also why the hell are we still pissing about with short corners? They aren’t of any benefit and cost us a man in the box and the potential for an offside

Futsboller
Futsboller

It is bewildering to watch at times. Emery has done a good job with the team, and he will continue to improve, but we are better than this …

Bern pero
Bern pero

Van Dijk seems such a bargain , imagine if that murican twat had just fished the coins out down the back of his couch

Goohah
Goohah

Who is the scouting staff at Arsenal who think Mustafi is good enough for this club? Some of the signings have serious question marks

Arseluvr
Arseluvr

I think that because he is being paid big money, there’s a bit more pressure to play him that he will turn a corner and become the New Football Brain Mustafi. Fat chance of that happening. Sell him for some training footballs and have it over with.

Awesomesauce25
Awesomesauce25

Liverpool’s murican twats would have always fished more coins out of their couches to beat our bid.

Wengerblog
Wengerblog

Torreira’s defending in the 3rd goal, he literally looks like a 5 year old bear hugging his Dad at a Sunday picnic. Why the fuck is he even man marking 6ft players in the box ? This is obvious stuff and is the direct cause of that goal. We can’t defend set pieces to save ourselves this has always been a massive issue for any arsenal team, the team selection and the tactics were questionable, sure, but when you’ve created enough winnable chances and you look back to every conceded goal, which came from a massive error or from a set piece or both. As lame as it sounds, you cant defend set pieces the way we do and expect to survive in the EPL. Lower teams will always scab points off you, just the same way England scabbed their way into the World cup Semis, because of headers, and set pieces.

DyGooner
DyGooner

Emery dropped the ball today, plain and simple, if the players cant play no need to have them on the bench, but if they are on the bench that means they’re good to go. with that being said Iwobi, Torreira, and Niles should have started instead of Elneny, Jenkinson, and Mustafi every game is a final from here on out and you should approach it as such, by you trying to so call save people by that time we won’t have nothing left to play for!

santori
santori

I don’t think it was the best selection.

Jenkinson is not up to the quality we need and it told when AMN came on. Night and day difference with AMN providing far better push.

On the other flank we should have started Iwobi. I mentioned that Iwobi needs to be played in concert with Kolasinac. They seem to have an intuitive understanding. Also with these sort of matches with teams sitting very deep, we need a player who can pull defenses out of shape.

The only player at the moment with that sort of skill and power on the ball/ability to take on players is Iwobi. He’s finishing is another thing.

I don’t think Mavropanos was entirely poor but the problem I have with playing a novice is there will be issues as well. He made a great run forward but there were some moments defending that he was wrong sided or too quick in.

OTOH when we switch to the back 4, Mustafi is less secure without the added body at Cback.

In midfield Elneny was I felt decent enough.

Where I thought we were too static is :

1) Players (Laca, Auba and Ozil) were waiting in a line for the ball to be played to them rather than moving toward the ball and pulling the defense apart.

2) Guendouzi (or Elneny) should have attacked the corner of the penalty box when the wide players had the ball. Often times there was plenty of real estate just ahead of Jenkinson or Mustafi but no one running to receive the ball.

These are issues that make us more forgiving in attack, where instead our every foray forward should carry threat.

The sooner we could put the game to bed in attack, the less issues we have at the back even with some lapses here and there.

And we have not done that well enough with or without Mustafi.

So the critical issues we face is being unfortunately disguised by some people who have an agenda on Mustafi and are all too ready to avoid other more salient issues regarding our poor performances.

As I have mentioned, Mustafi was not there for our defeats to BHA, Soton away, Liverpool, West Ham. That was 11 points dropped.

And those were games ( I might add) where Torreira gave the ball, was robbed off the ball or made poor clearance 5 or 6 times of which 4 led directly to goals against us. But the same people all too ready to highlight Mustafi conveniently choose to ignore this.

EZD
EZD

Let’s be fair to Emery: with Sokratis suspended, Ramsey, Suarez and Holding injured and Torriera/Xhaka carrying knocks (so a risk to start), we were always going to be light at CM and CB.

His only other options were risking Torreira/Xhaka (which could have aggravated injuries) or adding Iwobi or Mkhi to CM (a position neither is familiar with). Given how poorly Elneny/Guendouzi combined against Everton, I think we should have tried one of those.

But it’s not a case of Emery simply underestimating Palace. The only players from Thursday’s win that were fit and rotated were Monreal and AMN.

Futsboller
Futsboller

He could have played a back four with Iwobi or Mkhi out there instead of a fifth defender, and that would have made a difference in the first half. Then his substitutions in the second half could have focused on ensuring the three points rather than chasing the game. He over-rotated, and played a conservative formation that does not suit the team against a bottom half club — rookie mistakes that he won’t make next season, I hope.