Positives, Needs and Hopes…. Arsenal vs Lazio
First thought (pre-game)… that is obviously not our starting team vs City, right?
I wonder why Emery has not given 90 minutes to that team.
Looks like (apart from ANN at left back) those starting will contest the seven spots on the bench vs City.
Maybe Emery does not want the players to think that they are starting.
Is this a mistake? Hope not!
In addition, where is Nacho? No word of injury pre game. Rumours of move to Spain this summer!
I am too worried, obviously!
* Lazio were serious. Serious tackles, work ethic and general intensity. Arsenal were too but I did not expect that from them as their season starts much later. A true test and a good performance again and good result.
* Interesting and positive that our defenders often bypassed Moreira and Chaka to find Iwaki and Nelson who were in the half spaces. Both players were very willing, more lively than usual and seemed to want to impress. As it should be!
* Iwobi’s direct running. At home, that will get the Emirates off their seat, increasing his popularity therefore confidence.
* AMN confidence and quick feet
* Nelson started with intent.
* Although I would have given 90 to the City starters (bar giving Torreira/Xhaka and Lichtsteiner a game), I was thrilled that AMN, Nelson and Nketiah got a start.
Been trusted all the way to last pre-season game is big for them.
I still wonder if a positive Nelson showing stops a wide signing.
Same from Eddie with Perez and Welbeck potentially leaving.
* Lichtsteiner made a couple of defence splitting passes early in the game. Impressive for first 15 mins of his season.
Personally, I hope that he either starts or forces Bellerin to improve.
If you read my thoughts in previous review blogs, you will know that I think that Bellerin is overrated.
I was asked to name his top qualities and could only name a) quite quick but not as quick as many think, b) heading ability for 5″10 and c) technical security. For me, everything else is ok. I think Arsenal could do better.
* More on Iwobi…. Some like him, some would sell/loan.
Very few say, “I think he should be a regular starter” and rightly so.
Iwobi has added to his game in pre-season. *Defensively more aware, wanting the ball rather than being passive and as mentioned before, the direct running. With a consistent final product, (see 44th min) he could change minds.
* His performance dropped off second half. Maybe fatigue.
* For those who didn’t watch and are wondering about Torreira… he sits deep, reads the game very well, extremely quick over short spaces, plays simplistically. The much-needed ability to organize and stop counter attacks was not seen as Lazio’s attacks were from slower build up and crosses.
* If you want to see the benefits of playing out from the back then watch the 49th minute. It was so composed and perfect. Gave a great counter chance.
* Arsenal’s possession game looks ready.
“We always possess the ball well,” you say! The big positive is that we have changed so much yet we look like a ‘ready’ team in possession. Impressive.
* Where other players energy levels drop at end of game, AMN do not.
We should use this at end of games this season.
* I had heard that Bellerin has been working in practice on attacking the space between their LB and CLB. He tried it twice. Did not work but will.
* We close down players quicker. Rare to see an opponent (bar CB’s) with time on ball against us 👍🏻
* We must pay attention to picking up the transition player. Look back on our opponent’s highlights in pre-season and you will see them frequently finding this guy.
Shut him down and stop a high percentage of attacks.
* Do I want to pick on Xhaka? It is his first game. Hmmmm?
I will say this… He is by far the least mobile of our midfield options. If he refuses to give second effort after losing/being bypassed, then with Emery’s “we are going to work hard,” I see him being sold.
* Personal opinion… when a player is running directly on the counter, I feel that they should use the runs of the forwards as decoys. Not always, but I think that the defenders are expecting a pass and most of the time, are hoping for one.
Hardest thing to defend is a player running at full speed.
Time and place for a pass as proven by first goal but 5 mins earlier Iwobi gave it to a player in a worse position.
That often seems to be the case in modern day football.
* In the first half Lazio won many 50/50 balls in the box and most of the crosses.
Adrian Clarke called us timid. I would agree and add body positioning to this.
All part of the need for much defensive improvement at AFC.
* More of a guess really, but I am thinking we may play a ‘behind closed doors’ game next week for the starting 11 to play in.
* Would love Arsenal to play 3-2-3-2
Watching Nelson play (well) in such tight spaces, beat players on lateral dribbles and Lichsteiner have the freedom out wide speaks to me.
I am not a fan of a few traits of the modern game.
One is relying on FB’s who not only spend half the game on the wing, but also do not seem to practice/improve at dribbling, beating players or crossing.
For me, I would not ask defenders to play wide especially if they do not have the desire to improve their offensive game.
Certainly, against 2/3rds of PL teams I’d play 3-2-3-2.
Three specialist defenders who stay back.
Two in front, one of which holds, sometimes both.
Attacking midfielder with two wingers and two targets in the box.
Modern day problem #2…. Not enough players in box vs low block.
Best way to beat 2/3rd of PL ‘low block’ teams is to go around outside of block with specialist dribblers, not Bellerin and Monreal!
Would allow Laca/Auba to both play in natural positions, Ozil to play #10, security of 3 defenders on counter not 2 with 2 high full backs.
System would put players using their best abilities in their best area to do so.
Think about it.
Would look like this for me…
Leno – Chambers, Sokratis, Mavropanos – Torreira, Guendouzi – Mkhi, Ozil, Nelson – Laca, Auba.
I’d sign Zaha and try to get Dembele on loan to start over Mkhi and Nelson and sign Maguire and Mina to start over Chambers and Sokratis (with many sales and a sneaky interception of Mr. Kroenke’s daily interest payment 😉
* Final two thoughts….
We will win many games by 4+. We have had a tough schedule pre-season and still looked more dangerous than previously.
Secondly, Arsenal look like a good team that could be great.
Former Highbury regular. Moved to TN, USA in ’99. Married with 3 kids. Coached in UK and US for 27 years.
Mike McDonald Soccer Academy in Morristown TN, Olympic Development coach, Regional Premier League Champion.