Emery: I don’t agree with Ainsley’s first yellow

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Unai Emery says referee Michael Oliver made a mistake sending off Ainsley Maitland-Niles as Leicester condemned Arsenal to a third defeat in quick succession to deal a hammer blow to our chances of a top-four finish.

The England under-21 international was booked for a barge on Ben Chilwell after just eight minutes and then got his marching orders 28 minutes later for a late challenge on James Maddison.

Up to that point, the Gunners had just about held the Foxes at bay but in the second half, we succumbed to Youri Tielemans’ header and Jamie Vardy’s late brace.

After the match, Emery couldn’t hide his disappointment at the first decision to punish his right-back.

“The first [yellow card] is not [a yellow card], for me,” he told his post-game press conference.

“I don’t agree with this decision for the first yellow card. It conditioned [the game] a lot.

“I think that maybe the first yellow card was not one. It was the seventh minute in the game. This one [the second yellow card], I don’t know but I respect the referee.”

Our attention now turns to Thursday’s Europa League semi-final with Valencia. While qualifying for the Champions League with a top four finish looks ‘very difficult’ we do still have our fallback option.

“We are going to think about Valencia in the Europa League,” said Emery.

“We have a big ambition in this competition. It’s a semi-final and it’s going to be difficult also. Then we play on Sunday against Brighton, and we need to win this match.

“At the beginning of the season we knew it was going to be very difficult, and today it’s the same.

“Our confidence can go up, can go down. But the most important is to be clear in our minds and our way. Our way is to think of this semi-final and prepare for the match in the best possible way.”

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Devlin
Devlin

When you have fullbacks like ours, who are far better in attack than in defence, it would make more sense to set your team up to dominate, keep possession and attack. So as not to expose their very clear weaknesses by sitting back and inviting opposition wingers to attack them.

Maybe they will not be liable to being exposed.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Set up how though? Without Ramsey and Ozil, the squad is seriously lacking in the kind of quality you’d need to play that way.

Devlin
Devlin

Its a myth to think that a side with the players we have cannot dominate mid-table team. Player for player, we have a better team than majority of the league, even without Ozil and Ramsey. The ability to dominate possession and territory is about how you set your team up (mentality),the drills they go through at training and the tactics you give them. Bournemouth and Swansea came into the league with weaker sides, in terms of names, and were still able to dominate. Napoli had a side in our position in Italy when Sarri took over, but they now dominate whatever side they play against. These teams might not always win, no tram does, but with the players we have, it could be beneficial to many of our players to play differently to what they are being instructed to do.

We could harp on about the quality of player at our disposal, but we need to see this team play to the players strengths to see what level of quality we really have. Two players can’t dominate a premier league side, it takes more than just a Mesut or Aaron. It is a team thing, movement, interchanging of positions, dragging players away from teammates, making dummy runs, covering for the players who vacate their positions and decision making. Two players can’t make a tram great, Liverpool are an example of a whole team becoming great through a solidity and tactical philosophy that has been bought into by the entire side, then they were able to add quality to step up a level. But Liverpool without Van Dijk and Allison would still beat us convincingly right now.

So all in all, its about the type of players we have, the type of football we want to play and how we can get that type of football from the players we have. Right now, we are just lost.

Pakgooner
Pakgooner

I’m pretty sure an old Slavic tram would do a better job than our team

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

If only you were our manager we could be contenders! Sorry not sorry x

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

First of all I think you’re doing a bit of a disservice to Leicester, I’m not sure any of our back 4 that played today would get in theirs apart from Sokratis over Evans. Looking further forward, Choudhury, Maddison and Tielemans are all very exciting prospects and the kinds of signings we used to make. And while Albrighton is very one-dimensional, it’s still a dimension that Iwobi and Mkhytarian clearly lack and I can’t see either of them getting into the Leicester team either.

Secondly I think you’re overall underestimating the quality in the league (or overestimating the quality of the sides we’ve put out lately). None of Everton, Wolves, Watford or Leicester are pushover sides that would just let you “dominate” the ball, especially at home. You make it sound like Bournemouth and Swansea were able to do it every match. They may have had the aspiration but they came unstuck more often than not, that’s why one of them got relegated and the other is battling relegation.

Apart from the two strikers, I think the side we put out today would struggle to stay in the top half of the table. Emery isn’t a magician, and he’s going to need a lot of funds and time to consistently deliver the kind of football we want.

Futsboller
Futsboller

All good rejoinders, but I do think Devlin is right insofar as we do not assert ourselves like the protagonists that Emery promised. We might not look like a good team at the moment, but we’ve got some good players and the ones that have been around for a while know how to dominate a game by quick passing and movement — things we don’t really do so much of anymore, at least not efficiently. Leicester are good, but without that red card they don’t get the win — we’ve had a very good record against them for a while now, because their open style used to suit us. Doesn’t seem to anymore, or at least not today.

If Emery does need a new crop of players to get the job done, then we’re in for a few more years of absolute misery before we return to the bare minimum of top four football. Blah!!

Thomas b
Thomas b

I was going to reply, but you just said everything I had on my mind. Totally agree with you.

Frank
Frank

I keep hearing this but this squad won how many away games last year? Maybe it’s not just a technical thing but, at this point, I’m inclined to think there’s a problem with a lot of these players and for all the “we could get more out of them” this is probably their ceiling

Santori
Santori

It would have made sense to go back 3 for today, against Wolves and against Palace second half.

Disastrous decision to go back 4.

Futsboller
Futsboller

Not disastrous today at all, with 4 midfielders in front. Emery was right to put two banks for four defensive units, with Iwobi and Mhki cued up to counter. He took Leicester and their speed very seriously, and set the team up to push them outside with the hopes of breaking up an easy supply to Vardy. It was, despite what many contend, working, until Oliver took over. We’ve never been good at beating 12 men.

Wolves was, you are right, the wrong call for a back four — Palace should have been a back four (4-1-4-1), Wolves the back three (3-4-3), and Leicester as is. We might have gotten 4-6 points from the first two, and then today’s officiating would not have been so theatrically absurd.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

To be fair we’ve been so shit in these away games maybe he decided it was the right approach.

It’s how teams set up to play against us. Let us dominate possession and play on the counter. We just executed it really badly, and got a man sent off which obviously doesn’t help.

Devlin
Devlin

It is how teams that aren’t able to do anything else play against us. That is the football that inferior sides play against the teams that are better at keeping possessiin, its not by choice. Everyone has to play to their potential and their limitations. We have more potential and lesser limitations, talent wise, than majority of the sides. Man City have better quality and are set up to maximise that potential, if they dominate us, then nobody would complain. If they do, they are just being miserable.

But we are purposely giving the initiative to sides that we are capable of dominating, and it is exposing an already disorganised defence to attacks.

I am however not proclaiming that changing to more dominant possession based football will bring better results, because a coach isn’t in charge of the results. But performances? Those are on the coach, even more than the players.

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

You’re right but we are playing like a team in the bottom 3 at the moment. From that point of view I guess it makes sense.

Didn’t work obviously …

Pedant
Pedant

Dodgy decision, didn’t have a chance after that.

Confidence needs to go up massively to have any chance against Valencia.

Hantal
Hantal

For me it was the second one that was less a yellow than the first but I haven’t seen them since the game and (lack of) highlights

A Different George
A Different George

I thought the first was clearly an intentional, tactical foul, not an attempt to win the ball. That is exactly the sort of foul that referees, and Oliver in particular, view as deserving a yellow card. The second was a normal, everyday, foul that deserved a free kick and nothing more. It was not tactical, it was not dangerous (no studs up, no contact with excessive force) and it was not a case of persistent fouling by Maitland-Niles. Poor decision by a referee who, while probably the best in England, sometimes lets his sense of being right turn into rigidity.

ClockEndRider
ClockEndRider

Surely its the second one that needs to be questioned. There is no contact. Emery should be ve calling out Maddison for blatant cheating and questioning the competence of the referee who was a matter of feet away.

Santori
Santori

It wasn’t uncontrolled and studs showing either.

Hantal
Hantal

Exactly my thoughts. I guess when you’re on a yellow you shouldn’t be lunging in

martin
martin

He didn’t lung in. He won the ball and didn’t touch Maddison who dived.

A Different George
A Different George

He clearly did trip Maddison on the follow through; a foul but nothing more.

Maul Person
Maul Person

Agreed. First was correctly given. Second, Maddison was emulating Rivaldo, especially grabbing the wrong body part!

Mekus
Mekus

Then the FA will fine and ban him from the touchline for the remaining games for bringing the game to disrepute or something. The referees are being overprotected by the FA and their association. And they will keep missing out being selected for world cup matches because their quality and decision making is absolute shit.

ClockEndRider
ClockEndRider

Correct. At which point the next step has to be to take them to court. They are presiding over an industry which is set up not to ensure fair play and correctness of decisions, but to maximise profit. They are individually unfit to run the game and collectively the perfect example of an anachronistic body which should be replaced with one whose prime responsibility is to ensure the consistent observance and application of the rules, irrespective of which team are playing. This they consistently, signally fail to do

Hantal
Hantal

That’s not how these things are set up

Clockendrider
Clockendrider

Well spotted. Thank you for making my point far more concisely than I could.

Shank

Michael Oliver aka Mike Dean was brutal today.
There was one passage of play where we were going forward (second half), foul one , foul two, both yellows if Niles was one and he waved it on………..the second challenge was dangerous. Much later, after we got another yellow, Oliver seemed to remember he better book one of theirs!
Bonkers.
And the challenge from behind is legal again I see……
12 v 10…..not easy

Santori
Santori

To be fair, we weren’t playing well but certainly did not help in the slightest to go down to 10.

Ridiculous decisions.

First one was at best shoulder to shoulder and SOOOOO early on.

Second was a foul but not dangerous, no studs and not uncontrolled.

Refs need serious review.

Maul Person
Maul Person

He only “remembered” because the Arsenal players told him too, after he booked one of hours…

Maul Person
Maul Person

*to

Billy Enfield
Billy Enfield

That’s exactly what my argument was with my mate.
If Ainsley’s two yellow cards were anything to go by, they should have had about 12/13 yellows.
Facing Leicester away on low confidence it’s enough of a hard task, but to have 3 officials against you, then you stand NO chance!
Why are we always on receiving end of bad decisions whenever Cnut Oliver is in charge of our games???

Jai
Jai

Just like that top 4 is back on

What a ridiculous season. None of United, Chelsea or Arsenal deserve 4th

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

I think the second one was more dodgy than the first, though he was still silly for going in there

Santori
Santori

Main issue over last 3 matches has been us going to a back 4.

We should have stuck to back 3. It gives us that one more player at the back to sweep up danger plus releases our wingbacks forward better.

Against Palace we went back 4 second half to chase a goal and Mustafi self destructed.

But we weren’t better against Wolves with the much vaunted pairing of Koscielny and Sokratis. We committed the same mistakes off set pieces and defending crosses trying to catch players offside.

When I saw the back 4 today I knew we were going to struggle again. It wasn’t Mustafi at fault today.

That second goal was nothing to do with Mustafi or us down to 10 men. One pass from the keeper and BOTH Koscielny and Sokratis caught flat by Vardy.

Imagine the outcry if it was Mustafi. Instead same people choose to ignore the elephant in the room.

We try playing offside trap against teams that thrive on the counter and are efficient with their transitions bc they tend to play with less possession.

Its suicide.

Some systemic issues have not been resolved. Unai has been spot on for most parts in his decisions, tactics and timely interventions this season.

He made poor choices in a spell Dec- Jan when Torreira conspired to give away or was robbed off the ball 6 or 7 times against BHA, Soton, United, Liverpool, West Ham leading to goals against us and 11 points dropped ++

He has made similar inexplicable choices again toward end of this season costing us against Palace, Wolves and today against Leicester.

United and Chelsea drew today which means at very least we are still ahead of United and have a very slim chance to squeeze into the top 4 only if Chelsea drop which is UNLIKELY.

Europa is the safest route now but also represent enormous risk.

BUT if we go in half hearted without belief and fight (Issues to resolve not withstanding), we will have no chance.

Thierry bergkamp
Thierry bergkamp

Well at least I have the NBA playoffs to keep me entertained while this season slips away completely.

Flummoxed
Flummoxed

Looking at the table, miraculously, top four is still very much in our hands.

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

All going to plan so far. We win our next two games and as long as Chelsea don’t win at home to Watford and away to Leicester the top 4 is ours. Simples! 🙂

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

It’s the hope that kills…

Anonymarse
Anonymarse

At this rate they could lose the next two and we’d still blow it

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

What a sad ending to a season!

Remember that 22 game unbeaten run? All seems a long time ago now, doesn’t it? We’re like a prize fighter who’s just taken a massive right-hook on the jaw and gone all wobbly at the knees. Confidence now looks shot and it’s hard to see us finishing top four or winning the Europa League. We’ll now probably concede in excess of 50 PL goals (Emery’s average in Spain).

The frustrating thing is that we know these players are not that bad. We’ve beaten Spuds, the Chavs and United this season; we’ve also progressed to the semis of the EL by doing the double over Napoli, a very decent Italian side. But these players appear to have a huge confidence problem, which regularly rears its head. We are a Jekyll and Hyde side that hates it on the road.

It’s not going to happen, but this summer we need massive investment if we are going to seriously challenge. The dross who either can’t or won’t perform need to be moved on, and players with grit and ability need to come in. But don’t hold your breath waiting.

Der Kaiser
Der Kaiser

Just watched MOD. Credit to class of ANM. Maddison was a disgrace and shame if retospective action cannot be taken against him for cheating. Degree if sympathy with referee because in real life speed ( not slow motion) he could have thought that was a foul. Maddison now has a reoutation as a cheat.

We were still poor though.

In the George Graham days you would still famcy us keeping a clean sheet when down to ten men. I never expect a clean sheet now and have not for a long long time.

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

Back in the GG days players like Adams and Dixon would sell their own grandmothers for 3 points. Anybody who didn’t pull their own weight would find himself pinned up against the wall in the dressing room by Bould or Keown. But there’s no character here now. We’re sad.