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Alexandre Lacazette
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Player Analysis

Managerial Musings - The Wheel Keeps Spinning

by Chuck Booth
Updated On: December 2, 2019, 7:28 am ET

The Premier League coaching shuffle has hit again with Unai Emery being fired from Arsenal and Quique Sánchez Flores being dismissed by Watford as the Hornets now look for their third coach this season and their fifth since Sánchez Flores left at the end of the 2016 season. Today we’ll be taking a look at what’s happening with some of these managerial situations while also diving back into José Mourinho’s impact on Tottenham as we collect more data on his management of the team.

Life at the Emirates:

At the moment, we’re not sure who the permanent coach will be but club legend Freddie Ljungberg oversaw the club in their 2-2 draw against Norwich City. It was another unconvincing performance for Arsenal after a head scratcher of a lineup. The Gunners changed to a 4-3-3 formation but the inclusion of Joe Willock, Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka instead of Nicolas Pepe, Lucas Torreria and Rob Holding is extremely confusing. 

Alexandre Lacazette was more isolated than I’ve ever seen him this weekend and the defensive setup was abysmal. Mustafi may have had an assist but the partnership of he and David Luiz were lucky not to concede five goals on the day to Norwich City. Not a good start for the post-Emery era but hopefully a permanent appointment will come soon or Lujungberg will grow with the job considering that this is his first top-flight management experience. 

One major positive is that even though he was on the wing, Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang looked like a man on a mission versus Norwich. From shushing Tim Krul to backflips and then some, Aubamayang looked like the captain of Arsenal Football Club and that’s something that should put a smile on everyone’s face. Mesut Ozil also did a lot of things right. If Lujungberg or whoever ends up being the manager can figure out things behind them while bringing Lacazette into the fold, the base for a hot run to end the season is there. But Arsenal cannot risk falling further behind as the teams ahead of them are retooling to make a push at Champions League.

Disfunction at Vicarage Road:

Continuing down the mismanagement train, Watford will also be moving on from Quique Sánchez Flores after only ten games and 85 days. It’s a weird situation because the team's play did improve for a bit but one win in ten isn’t going to cut it for a team at the bottom of the table. But this also shows that Javi Gracia will have the last laugh as Watford slips closer to the Championship. Whoever comes in to steady the ship will have a tall task ahead of them, but hopefully, they’ll use Troy Deeney to try to accomplish it. If Chris Hughton is the best name being linked with the job, Watford are in for a long season…

To get the Hornets on track, everything has to rely on Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu. A solid midfield can be built behind them and the best defense is possession. Watford isn’t looking to make a reappointment of manager ruling out Walter Matzarri and Slavisa Jokanovic but they have to get this decision right or we may see a worse relegation than Huddersfield last season.

Managers hanging by a thread:

Marco Silva and Ole had rough weeks again but Silva is the one who’ll emerge the happier of the two. Silva’s Everton lost a heartbreaker in a 2-1 away loss to Leicester City but there were positives in the match. Silva played to his strengths of having multiple first-team defenders by rolling out a 3-4-3 formation with a midfield pivot of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Davies (more on that later). For most of the game, Everton had a solid game plan that would’ve beaten most teams in the league but Leicester City are on a different level. Tom Davies was the leader of the breakdown on Leicester’s winner, however, and replacing him with a more defensive midfielder will be in order moving forward.

If this formation change sticks, it makes Everton fullbacks an option again while also bringing Richarlison back into the fold. Being that he is the most consistent attacking option for the Toffees, building the best formation possible to maximize his speed and ability to strike a ball seems like the best mode of action. The question is how much longer can Silva last without a win but if I’m Marcel Brands, this is a positive enough shift to buy some time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side drew another promoted team in their trip to Carrow Road. The defensive side of things was again a concern while the midfield was missing Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba. Marcus Rashford has been consistently positive but Manchester United really needs their full-strength team but it still hasn’t been good enough with Ole at the wheel. Money was invested in the defense and it has gotten worse this season. Solskjaer seems to have a new issue in each game which is leading to the conclusion that maybe he is the best person to fix their issues. People will call for Mauricio Pochettino but he's not the person to fix this mid-season. His managerial tactics take a full preseason to implement and he would likely want to overhaul the Manchester United midfielder. Honestly, I’m not sure, who can fix this team during the season, but it’s clear that Solskjaer isn’t the long term answer.

What’s up at White Hart Lane?

In the weekly Spurs bit, we’re going to discuss rotation and the usage of Moussa Sissoko. Tottenham won again to the tune of a 3-2 scoreline and the 60th-minute woes continued as Bournemouth scored twice after the 58th minute. In three games managed by José Mourinho, Spurs have scored 10 goals while conceding six. This isn’t your father’s José Mourinho. The issues with set pieces are still there, and some of the defensive issues are because this team isn’t fit enough but they’re winning exciting football matches, not drab 2-0 draws that they grind out. 

The attack has been based around Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son as the focal points with Harry Kane being a bit of a decoy/ providing hold up play and a high defensive workrate. Lucas Moura has also been playing a large role on the opposite wing both interchanging with Son and providing assists in his own right. Moussa Sissoko was deployed on the right wing versus Bournemouth for the first time since his time at Newcastle and he starred in the role. I still believe that Lucas will get two games for each game that Sissoko plays but this could change if Sissoko keeps up his form. A similar situation is going on at left back between Jan Vertonghen
And Danny Rose but I don’t like the prospect of investing in a Spurs defender at the moment although Toby Alderweireld did play a beautiful assist to Dele Alli.

Things are trending in the right direction and you can invest in Serge Aurier at your own risk since he’s basically playing on the wing as well but he’ll need to rotate some as well. It will be important both to figure out who Aurier’s backup is but also who will backup Dele Alli when he needs a rest as well. If José Mourinho can find out where Christian Eriksen’s heart lies, he’ll be integrated into things but otherwise, Gio Lo Celso may have a shot to at least play a bit-part role. 

Things are slowly coming together for Tottenham and Manchester United, Burnley, Wolverhampton, Chelsea and Brighton in the next five will give us a nice sample size of games to look at with opponents of varying skill levels. But you can only play the teams put in front of you and so far so good for the new-look Tottenham Hotspur.