Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City on the opening game of our season did more than hurt morale.
The demoralising defeat hurt so much because of the gulf in class between the two sides, and put under the spotlight the long journey we have before we can claim to be true contenders for the Premier League crown.
There were mitigating circumstances of course. It was Emery’s first competitive game in charge, with fresh tactics, approach and instructions, with a new lineup and faces too. There is an awful lot to bed in, so we can rest a little easier knowing that we will improve.
It wasn’t just the loss of three points though, nor the manner of defeat, that could have lasting ramifications on our season.
With only one game into the new campaign, injuries are already starting to bite, and in one position too.
Nacho Monreal is currently nursing a knee injury, but is on his way back.
Sead Kolasinac is out for the next two months at least with a knee injury also.
Then, Ainsley Maitland-Niles twisted his knee against City, and valiantly attempted to carry on, but to no avail.
It leaves us with the unenviable situation of having no recognised left-backs in the squad, and our squad members having to paper over the cracks.
Stephan Lichtsteiner played gamely on the opposite flank he is used to for the rest of the City game, and this looks to be the viable option. His experience and defensive merits should cover over any inequities, but he will struggle with players coming inside.
Unai Emery talked of playing Danny Welbeck in this position before the City game, and the England man’s tracking back, stamina and dedication to the team cause do give him an advantage over most when it comes to switching positions on the pitch - but it is still a desperate situation.
We next have Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and with the very real scenario of Unai Emery winless in his first two games. He won’t be helped by the lack of a recognised full-back on the left either.
We are more than a match on paper for Chelsea, and with the Blues having a new boss, they too will be acclimatising to new rules.
Still, we wait on news on Maitland-Niles with bated breath. If the young and versatile midfielder is as thought, and crocked, then we will go to the Bridge with a problem, and a weakness in our armour that the likes of Hazard and Pedro could well exploit.