Positives, Needs and Hopes: Arsenal grab the win they often leave behind – thanks to Lacazette’s extra gear

Arsenal seal the deal

At half time I often check the thoughts of a few on twitter.

Emotions can cloud.

Clive Palmer @clivepafc is becoming increasingly well respected and often has the pulse.

Today my main thought concurred with his: in-game management needed to be improved.

Emery makes statements at half time either with subs or obvious improvements.

The last 10 minutes in previous years may have seen us chuck that game. We played intelligently.

In-game management and necessary substitutions are two of the biggest differences seen so far with Unai Emery.

Formation… 4-2-3-1


* If I was given 3 wishes prior to kick off then a goal for Auba for his confidence, Lacazette proving to be the difference and therefore retaining his place and something ‘new and fresh’ would have been mine.
The ‘new and fresh’ would preferably have been Arsenal’s defence playing like The Avengers but let’s be real!

It turned out to be corner kicks.

Never during Wenger’s tenure did I ‘feel’ like we were gonna score from a corner. It became a joke in my house as I’d use the opportunity to go to the loo.

We had clearly been working on corners. First one was a quick reaction save away from a perfectly executed plan. Then Mustafi attacked the next 3 with a clear plan and a renewed belief. Fantastic contact for the goal too.

* I notice when coaching my team that your players’ belief in your abilities to help them grows if they execute your set play ideas.
I suppose it’s a direct result of a set idea that our sport rarely brings.
The success at corners today will do this for Emery.

Mustafi'swell-taken goal is an encouraging sign of things to come

Mustafi’swell-taken goal is an encouraging sign of things to come

* The view into the training ground is also clear when seeing Arsenal repeatedly use the ball slid down the side of the opponents left back for 3 games running.
We weight that well too which isn’t easy.

* For the first time this season, we had rhythm for almost a full 90 minutes with our possession. A little too slow first half but maybe bone dry/overly wet field took time to adjust to.
Far better movement from midfielders in particular. The forwards offered more second half but first half there was a disconnect.

I was surprised at the end of the game that we had 72% possession. I knew we kept it well but against an extremely hard working team that’s impressive.
That wasn’t against a parked bus either.

* If I had the opportunity to coach at this level I’d tell my players these two important facts….
1) The Premier League is the most watched league in the world. Why? The passion of the game is much higher. Excitement, higher.
So, you need to respect the greatest desire of the English fan, ‘Putting in a shift.’
2) You do the above and the energy of the crowd will raise your game for you.

I say this as Guendouzi doesn’t have the advantage that the other signings had. They brought excitement to the fan base. When Guendouzi showed up we thought of him as an added bonus/one for the future.
His performances and not the ‘free pass’ that new signings get, has been obvious to all.
I watched him first half sprint (not Xhaka jog) 40 yards to attempt to catch the winger. He didn’t catch him but most players don’t try for fear of their weakness being exposed.
Guendouzi is either that way or someone has told him a version of 1) and 2).

* The soundbite from Sokratis this week was clearly communicated to the team. Nice to see Bellerin, Xhaka and Guendouzi slowing down counter attacks with tactical fouls.

* For as much as we all get nervous with the ball at Cech’s feet, his distribution with his hands was quick and led to two goal scoring opportunities.

I’ve always coached my teams to be ready in case you can take set plays quickly. Other team is often facing wrong way and certainly not organized for first 10 seconds.
We score many goals this way.

Nice to see Arsenal catching Cardiff disorganized. They were generally very well organized so it was going to take something extra to break them down.

* Ramsey floated into dangerous positions first half, Ozil did the same second half. If they could both do it consistently and for a full 90 then…..

Xhaka was a corner kick master today. Who knew?

Xhaka was a corner kick master today. Who knew?

* I’m quick to criticize Xhaka each week. I think he deserves it. Gotta be fair though, today he showed for the ball more, was cleaner in possession and his corners were excellent.
His big mistake on 44 mins glazed over a good performance.
Even reading that paragraph again I do wonder if I’m applauding Xhaka for what he should be doing anyway?
Kinda like giving your kids a clap for brushing their teeth.

* The back 5 did well against some very good first half delivery by Cardiff. Should Hector and Nacho have denied the cross or was that the lack of help from Ozil and Auba? The latter I feel.  A dilemma for Emery moving forward as neither A or O are gonna put in the needed defensive effort.

* We are all waiting for Torreira to start.
He may not be fast over 40 metres (as seen in sprint test results) but he’s electric over 5.
Far more important in football.

What does Torreira have to do to start?

What does Torreira have to do to start?

His positional sense is quite unreal for a young guy and particularly his ability to position himself to where his opponent is tempted to play the ball, he intercepts or failing that, back tackles and wins it either way.

* Improvement seen in our front 6 players blocking all offensive balls to feet. Cardiff wanted to go short and we were smart enough in a frenetic game to not try to get goal side and man mark but check our shoulders and block forward passes.

* Shortly after full time it came out that Lacazette had been instructed to short with power as their GK had this weakness. Big positive compared to the previous regime ignoring the opponent.
Small margins make the difference in many PL games and sure did today.


* The pitch had issues for Arsenal. Adjust quicker boys.

* Ramsey turns in a circle. Important skill to learn when under pressure. Ramsey turns in a circle when under no pressure though. Gives your opponent time to get organized.

* Monreal is a very consistent player but has a new nasty habit. He steps to attack the ball at the wrong time.
Left holes today. West Ham took advantage last week with clear chances to score. Cardiff should have.

* I’m hoping that in time we will attack the game in the first 20 mins.
We seem to be ‘feeling it out’ which gives the home crowd an advantage.
An opponent decides in the first 5 minutes what they make of you.
Make a statement.

Ramsey is back to turning in circles

Ramsey is back to turning in circles

* Bellerin’s one on one defending wasn’t shown up today like it has been. He just avoided the problem today and didn’t get close enough.
When he does he doesn’t move his feet fast enough. Your feet should move at the same speed as your opponent so you can react at the same speed. Bellerin doesn’t and looks like he wants to rely on his quickness.

* Watch Lacazette first half. Then second. Totally different. My guess was that he was instructed to be more dynamic at half time.

* How long will Cech’s hands keep his feet from the bench?

* Hoping that Aubameyang’s fine goal will be a common denominator to getting his touch back too!
Much like his buddy Lacazette, he waits until the second half to trust his teammates passing ability and play with more dynamism.

* I still feel that the Wenger era of entitlement and pampering is affecting those who played for him.
We are yet to look like ‘Emery’s team’ as he is having to fix so many issues.
As stated weekly, many are saying that they can’t see a big difference in the two coaches.
I encourage you to consider that Unai Emery is having to fix such large holes and so many of them that progress is slower than many want.

Still a lot of fixing to do

Still a lot of fixing to do

Quite honestly, I hope that the rumors of Ramsey, Ozil, Iwobi being upset with Emery at different points in the season are true.
They should be upset. He’s hit a nerve because they’ve been below par.

To make any progress at Arsenal the number one change needed was accountability. Unai Emery is acting like a coach who wants to make sure that the ‘Neymar season’ that he just endured doesn’t repeat itself.

Not gonna get bullied by egos and Arsene Wenger created so many in players undeserving of one by indulging mediocrity.

I hope Mkhi and Iwobi were dropped today. I hope Emery told them the truth…. ‘you have been good in patches but patches are good enough for Southampton not Arsenal.’


* I want to wish the best to Cardiff. Before the game I had you down to finish the season contesting Derby as the lowest points total in PL history due to an archaic manager.
To his credit, he was well organized, came to play and attack (which I would do against a shaky Arsenal defence) and he seemed to understand the benefit of getting his fans onside by playing with such heart for a full 90 minutes.
Rarely seen such consistent great delivery from wide areas too.

* Here’s hoping that without great wide options that Emery gives the Auba/Laca partnership a few more games.

* I’d imagine at some point, we will buy a wide player.
I’d buy two.
One with a stellar defensive work ethic… Ziyech at Ajax, and the other as a option when individual brilliance is needed.
Two weeks ago I hope you clicked on the Ziyech video. I’d go for Zaha as the other but Allan Saint-Maximin at Nice would be half the price.
Check him out (whilst excusing the dancing)….
[YouTube URL=””]

Cech is on thin ice - terrible with ball at feet

Cech is on thin ice – terrible with ball at feet

* Could the answer to our defensive solidity be playing for Arsenal already?
If I told you that we have on our books a 6 ft 3″ tall, powerful, elegant yet aggressive centre back you’d be interested, right?
Oh, and let’s not forget that he has to be able to break lines coming forward too!
Is Krystian Bielik gonna be given that opportunity?
He has the profile. Can he reach the needed level to save Arsenal from buying a ‘Harry Maguire type’ for 60M plus.

* This may sound over the top but I believe that for Emery to continue to make this new team believers he needs to sell a big name in January.
I think it would send a silent message to all.
I’d start by selling Hector Bellerin.
I’d replace him with Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid who doubles as a fine DM.
Culture change is happening and I pine for more!

* Finally, and as per the blog title, I want to recognize Alexandre Lacazette. We played in 3rd gear, second half he played to his potential. Three brilliant touches won us the game. Layoff for Auba and his two touches for the winning goal.

My hope is that others see the importance of doing this more regularly.


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One Response to Positives, Needs and Hopes: Arsenal grab the win they often leave behind – thanks to Lacazette’s extra gear

  1. Eris Segun September 3, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

    Mike McDonald, maybe before you typed “Never during Wenger’s tenure did I ‘feel’ like we were gonna score from a corner …”, a little research would have helped. Arsenal have scored more with headers and from corner kicks than any other club in the EPL, in the last two seasons with 17 headed goals (in 2016/17), with 70% of those from corners. In 2017/18, it was the same as Arsenal topped that stat too.
    It is such articles that fuel misinformation amongst the fan base, to the detriment of the club in the last two seasons. We have changed the manager, as needed but the attempt to denigrate the contributions of Wenger is not on at all.

    ** I hope this comment is published as it looks like comments on this site don’t get to be seen. **

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