WEEKEND TAKEAWAY: Unai Emery Has Arsenal Back on Track

It has been so long under Arsene Wenger, one must have forgotten how to really fight but Unai Emery is now showing the attitude that has been missing on the touchline – desire.

But we have seen this attitude before, on Matchday 2 at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal clawed back a 2-0 deficit but somehow managed to lose the game – it’s hard to think this Arsenal that hasn’t lost since then, a run of 14 games including tricky tie against Leicester, Crystal Palace, Sporting Lisbon and now Liverpool.

Unai Emery’s sheer will on the touchline coupled with the backing of a believing fan base saw Arsenal snatch a deserved draw against Liverpool, a side they haven’t defeated since Jurgen Klopp took charge.

This was another test against a top 6 side they couldn’t afford to lose to, and although Arsenal would have loved to win this, this draw will inspire a lot of confidence in their ability to deliver in big games.

CAF Champions League Drama

The CAF Champions League was full of drama just as we would have liked it. Al Ahly’s hard-fought 3-1 first leg win which witnessed three penalties – two of that awarded to the home side – was not as easy as the final scoreline flatter the Egyptian giants.

There was a spell where it looked like Al Ahly would lose the game despite having the lead, however; Esperance will be bothered by the booking of Franck Kom and Chamseddine Dhaouadi, two key members of their squad who will miss the crucial second leg.

CAF introduced the video assistant referee (VAR) for this final, and rather than reduce controversy it turned this game on its head. Although both penalties awarded to the Egyptians required VAR they both fall in the ‘I’ve seen such given’ category. Usually the sort of call some other official would have waved but not on this occasion.

The Tunisian FA has written a letter to CAF stating their displeasure and asking that the Algerian referee be sanctioned for his part in ‘ruining the game’.

Manchester United Sticks With Boring But Effective Approach

The Red Devils have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks following their topsy-turvy start to the season and more so for their hugely unattractive approach to games.

Jose Mourinho, a man who isn’t known to build sides that go all out to attack rather relying on a very pragmatic but effective approach, had questioned what the fans and media wanted after the 3-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford: beautiful performance or results? On the night, United completely outplayed Spurs and Lukaku could have gotten a hattrick even before 35 minutes was played; such wastefulness cost Manchester United on the night.

At the moment, Manchester United have won three of the last four Premier League games the exception being the unfortunate 2-2 draw against Chelsea – interestingly United have come from behind on 3 of the 4 games and this run coincides with the reemergence of Anthony Martial,  whose 5 goals in that run has been hugely important.

As simplistic as these may seem, Man United have worked their way back into Top 4 conversation standing 4 points away from the Spurs who hold the last spot despite playing the sort of football that turns the stomach, but they won’t care.

 Valencia Needs a Revival

Valencia will be bothered, 11 games into the Liga season and the team which finished fourth in La Liga last season have only recorded a lone victory – a 1-0 win against Real Sociedad at Aneota at the end of September.

Despite investing so much in forwards Michy Batshuayi, Kevin Gameiro and holding onto Rodrigo Moreno who was courted by the top sides last summer and could have been snatched but for his exorbitant buy-out fee, Marcelino will wonder what he has to do to get his side to win again.

Having carved out draws against Barca, Athletic Bilbao, Celta Vigo, Atletico Madrid and even Real Betis, Valencia can be forgiven for drawing so much, but when you add three more to the list, it becomes absurd and it explains their worst start to a La Liga season after 11 games since the 1957/58 season.

Real Madrid Wins a League Game Again

Its early days but Real Madrid have scored six goals and conceded none since the departure of Julen Lopetegui.

It will be bizarre to equate the sudden turn of results to the departure of the coach, but one would have expected Real Madrid to turn the results since the debacle of the Clasico, having already returned to winning ways in the Champions League, or maybe not. Toni Kroos’ slight dig at his own team on Twitter suggests the relief the team felt at having to win a league game again.

The 2-0 win flatter Real Madrid who seems to rely solely on crosses to break down a resolute Real Valladolid side – owned by Ronaldo de Lima Luis Nazario – and was saved by the crossbar twice with Courtois clearly beaten.

For the Belgian, he records his first league win with Los Blancos while Santiago Solari, like Zinedine Zidane three years ago, might just earn this job till the end of the season.