Fixating on negatives is generally the easy thing to do. Negative thoughts and feelings are more powerful than their positive counterparts and elicit stronger responses from others. I’m choosing to focus on the key positives from Arsenal’s 4-3 opening day win over Leicester City.
League titles are not won or lost in August. Arsenal’s title credentials will be determined by how well we galvanize and gain cohesion as the season progresses. Proper rotation, cultivating on-pitch relationships, and establishment of an off-the-ball identity are just a few of many factors that will determine our fate. Despite our makeshift back-line and absence of Alexis there were many positives displayed. Below are three I feel were most significant.
1. Lacazette More Than Just a Poacher
Great strikers do more than just finish chances and Lacazette showed how multi-faceted his game is on Friday. First off, he did a lot off the ball that helped us defensively. He harried Leicester’s defenders so they didn’t have time to build play from deep and had to force errant passes. While doing this, he was able to close down the opposition at certain angles in order to channel play into desired areas of the pitch.
He’ll never be as adept as Giroud in his hold up play, but he’s no pushover. This clip shows him taking two defenders out of the play and turning to get a pass leading to our second goal:
He has also shown he can create that extra half-yard of space in the box that seems at first to not exist. He did this against Chelsea in the Community Shield where he used his body shape to allow the ball to run across before his effort off the post. In the following clip, Lacazette collects the ball in space and forces a defender to take away his right foot and then proceeds to use his weaker left foot leading to a near goal:
2. Tank Versatility
Sead Kolasinac seems to be a natural at getting forward and exploiting space left by the opposition. Traditionally, Arsenal has been known to get it’s leftbacks forward where they overlap to occupy a defender or try and get to the byline for a cross. In addition to this, Sead can tuck-inside, run-off attackers, and provide clinical end product.
Here we see a well-timed run off of a Lacazette flick where Sead tests the goalkeeper with a shot on goal:
He still has some issues with positional awareness and ability to track runners, but his physicality and prowess in the tackle also make him a great defensive option for Arsenal.
3. Strong in the Tackle
Against Leicester our front-footed defending was on full display. When Leicester tried to build play, we did an excellent job as a team to win tackles and interceptions. Arsenal won 50% of their tackles (17/23) compared to 23% for Leicester (8/17). Arsenal made 13 interceptions while Leicester only made 10. This is significant due to the lack of possession and attempted passes the Foxes had on the night (30% possession).
Our errors were of our own making as we struggled covering long balls in the channels behind our wingbacks and with our careless giveaways in our half. Other than those areas, we defended better than many think in this game.
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31 year old based in the U.S. I am an elementary school teacher by day whose passion for teaching is only rivaled by a love for the Arsenal. I release a weekly piece each Tuesday that is oftentimes analytical but sometimes eccentric. Founder of the U.S. supporters group Syracuse Gooners (www.cusegooners.com). I enjoy interacting with any and all Arsenal-based opinions on Twitter. Have a younger brother who chose to support Spurs. Fielding suggestions for ways to disown him.