Our defeat to Chelsea gave us plenty of pointers in regards to how much change Unai Emery has been able to wield.

In his short time as coach, Emery has been trying to raise fitness levels, install a team press, and ensure our back line can hold a high line to pressure the opposition.

These measures are not a quick-fix, and we may not see the finished results this season.

We have though, seen some change.

Against Chelsea, our attack left Chelsea courting shadows, and we could have had the lead, albeit a surprising one after our disastrous start.

We also saw our high line attempted, and successfully broken by simple lofted balls over the top.

The most curious change though, involved Granit Xhaka.

The Swiss midfielder is still to find his optimum position in our team, and his defensive liabilities often cost us dearly.

Yet, when he was hooked at half time, our team transformed.

From having Chelsea’s jugular in our grasp, we took ten steps back and regressed - not just inviting Chelsea to attack, but we showed precious little willing to creep out of our half.


Because we couldn’t.

Xhaka may not track runners, but he is our best at being the conduit from defence to attack. He relieves pressure with the ping of a boot, his passing almost always hitting the mark.

Partnered with the right man to shoulder the responsibility of doing the dirty work, Xhaka can find the weakness in a team with one pass from deep.

Without him, wave after wave of Chelsea moves were crashing upon us, and Guendouzi and Rambo were too busy firefighting to put their foot on the ball.

So this leaves us with a dilemma - do we keep him out and have a solid, but uncreative base?

Or do we include him and trust that our defence can take the extra heat?

Emery has some more questions to answer.