The Warm-Up: Arsenal were *actually* scared of Watford
Plus, Norwich are reaping the rewards of faith, Frank Lampard’s legacy is already set, Roberto Firmino is on another level and Matteo Guendouzi needs to learn about larging it.
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
This Arsenal side are finished
"At half-time we went to the dressing room and everything was good. Everyone was happy but we came out and played such a bad second half. You have to say we are happy to take a point. We were scared in the second half. We knew they would come at us and push us hard but we have to show more character and not be scared. We have spoken about it. We cannot give a performance like this in the second half."
"We didn't show our game, we were too scared, nobody wanted the ball," he added. "You have to stay calm, be mentally strong and we weren't today."
Xhaka’s frankness is deserving of credit, to some extent. However, if this Arsenal side openly fear a Watford side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League then, simply, there is no future for them; they are fatally flawed as they are unable to deal with a modicum of pressure. It is that simple. Unai Emery needs to start again.
That might sound ruthless but Emery’s stated aim is to return the Gunners to the pinnacle of English football. There is no way he does that with a side that buckles under the slightest whiff of pressure.
Norwich were good at football last season, they are good at football this season
It is, in the Warm-Up's humble opinion, the intangibles that define elite-level sport. Belief is one of those intangibles.
Where does said belief stem from? Well, there is no exact science to this but maybe it is their transfer policy this summer. They won the Championship but did not shake their squad up too much, trusting the players who got them to the Premier League to keep them in the Premier League. Perhaps the faith that Daniel Farke and the board put in those players has manifested itself in the belief that their brand of football can compete with the best.
Teemu Pukki of Norwich City celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's third goalGetty Images
Whether that is the case will only become apparent after 38 games but by trusting their process and having belief in their process they have given themselves a decent chance at staying up.
Frank Lampard doing exactly what he was employed to do and more
Frank Lampard was, with the backdrop of a transfer ban, employed to usher in a new era of youth-led success at a club that previously had a shocking record of blooding youngsters. He has made a solid start, and Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have reaped the benefits.
It would be easy to play down Lampard’s commitment to youth, dismissing it as him just playing the hand that he was dealt. However, that would do him an injustice – the 41-year-old has taken some brave decisions. He has, for example, started Mount and Abraham over more vaunted players such as Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud.
Lampard’s tenure may ultimately be deemed a failure and end in the sack or he may turn out to be an inspired appointment. Regardless, his legacy may already be set as the man who recalibrated Chelsea’s youth policy; it was after all what he was brought in to do.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Roberto Firmino
Get yourself as quickly and aggressively as is physically possible to 02:15 of the BT Sport highlights of Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday to see the dirtiest one-two in the history of football.
The level of ability on show from Roberto Firmino here is on another level entirely.
Zero: Matteo Guendouzi
Matteo Guendouzi seems to be a character.
And he showed his character again on Saturday when he larged it at the Watford support during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road - the 20-year-old gestured 2-1 as he was subjected to boos by the home faithful as he left the field with his side leading 2-1.
Now this being the Banter Era, Watford’s official Twitter account properly bantered him off after the match.
The lesson? The key to larging it is to be in an unassailable position when larging. He is young, he will learn.
Ray Wilkins would have been 63 over the weekend. Here he is scoring a sublime goal for England against Belgium.
What. A. Player.
Nick Miller, whose ability to large it was never in doubt, will large it tomorrow in the Warm-Up.