Arsenal under Unai Emery seem to be emerging as a Jekyll and Hyde team.
A week previously, we employed the perfect gameplan against Chelsea. The Blues crashed against the rocks employed by our defence, and we were clinical enough to take advantage at the other end.
Fast forward a week and we succumbed to sucker punches administered by Manchester United, as we were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup - and we turned in a toothless display at the back.
How can we transform so contrastingly from one game to the next?
It is disheartening to be out of the Cup when it represented our best chance of silverware this season.
What is more disheartening is that this loss made it appear as if very little progress had been made since the departure of Arsene Wenger.
Our attack continued to revert to the tiki-taka stylings of the past when we struggled to pierce the United backline. Time and again, Lacazette and Ramsey looked for that elusive pass or flick that would herald a chance, but to no avail. Iwobi scared our opponent when he was on the ball, and we used him to bring the ball out quickly. But all too often the Nigerian didn’t try to play the killer pass or cross, he would stop and pass sideways.
We had plenty of possession, and we were keeping them at arms length, but we still lost - sound familiar?
Fear not though, we have made progress.
Last season would not have seen us utilise a different tack against an opponent - it shows that the vigorous watching of opponents is paying off.
The reverting back to type as we did against United was down, at least partly, to habit. They die hard, and it will take some more time before we fully adapt to the new methods adopted by Emery.
Then there was the differing opponent,
Against Chelsea, we prospered as the Blues enjoy possession football, and we let them have it.
United did exactly the same to us.
Then there were the injuries.
Both of our centre-halves went off during the game, and our line suffered. Mustafi came on to good effect, and made some vital challenges, but in terms of keeping the line, the collective was poor.
United seem to have this effect on us. They always seems to have our number, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer challenged his players to go out and impact the game. Hell, he even had the previously impotent Alexis banging in a goal.
Us on the other hand, created enough to score more, but not enough when you look at how much of the ball we enjoyed. It showed we were rendered blunt by United.
Now, we are out of the cup, and we are looking at the lack of investment this window that could put back Emery’s plans for recovering our team.
We can at least have faith that we are moving in the right direction, but every cup loss is a missed opportunity. Let us hope we don’t rue this loss at the end of the season.
It’d be good to see more of the Hyde than the Jekyll this campaign.