POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
I am not a stat man and I rarely quote facts. Trying to give original thought.
Most of what you read here and other places is opinion.
The closest you may get to facts here is this…
It is a fact that our results against weaker teams has improved greatly from last season.
I suppose it is a fact that we all see that players are now accountable for their performance. Either that or it is a flabbergasting coincidence that players who do not perform are subbed or even dropped.
Finally, unless I am deluded, the new serious attitude is not an aimless stranger but an intentional act to change the complacency of the past.
Tonight Arsenal Football Club played a team that have given others (Chelsea and Ath.Madrid) very tough games but we won because we were serious.
Aside from Brentford and Vorskla, none of our games have been easy wins.
We have had to be serious and prove that we want to win.
Emery’s team selection is inspired I think.
Talk is cheaper than actions and his actions state to the squad that we want to win and even though we may have still won tonight with Nkeitiah and Willock the starting 11 was a serious choice.
Pick 3-5 youngsters and players get the ‘easy’ vibe and may be complacent.
We are starting to play superior rather than acting superior.
So, even though performances haven’t matched results yet, ask yourself whether after 6 weeks of Unai Emery you would be satisfied with being 4 points off top, won all your CC and EL games, and seen three of the biggest needs at AFC starting to change in accountability, results and attitude?
I would say, “Yes please, I’ll have that ice cream and I’m fine to wait for the cherry on the top!”
* More on ‘serious’……. in previous times a player coming back from injury would have played like he was told to ‘ease his way back in.’
Kolasinac looked like he was told, ‘This is your chance and I can’t guarantee you more.’
His final ball was so good that I got disappointed when he did not create a good chance from his crossing.
On top of that, he used his frame and aggression well. When the defender tried to muscle him out of bounds he wrestled him back. Worst that happens… a free kick 120 yards from our goal. Love it!
Do not be confused into thinking that step overs are the only way to beat a defender. The allure of the YouTube winger!
Direct and powerful running is a fine option. Either way, the main attribute of a quality winger is final ball. His was top level.
I do wonder if he played higher as he is not as good defensively and this will be a good option for Arsenal.
* Perhaps the greatest need in the short term is for Leno to gain confidence and belief.
He was great tonight and his quick reactions are arguably his best quality.
* Playing a high line against weaker teams is smart. Weaker teams are ordinarily weaker not due to technique but composure and decision making under pressure.
High line congests field.
* We ran with the ball so well tonight.
From Iwobi’s direct running pitch length to Sokratis setting up a chance by striding forward at pace to Smith Rowe penetrating horizontally then vertically and Guendouzi running between the lines.
* Smith Rowe was more involved and less submissive
* Playing in tight areas was better so therefore we are cutting out mistakes
* Iwobi’s current confidence was exemplified by his 80 yard run in the second half.
He is playing with an attitude of belonging.
* Guendouzi is a fine footballer. His goal was again the sign of a natural.
Dribble right, shoot left.
No great prediction to say I think he will be a fan favourite.
Who doesn’t love a player who is good on the ball, works hard off it and always wants to go forward!
42% forward passes tonight. Thanks Arsenal Vision podcast. Stat stealing by me!
* Sokratis’ goal was our second ‘goolie goal’ of the season 😳
* Needs to be a focus on paying attention to the transition player/opponents first pass as it would close down many counters.
* Our defenders always step in the backs of attackers on vertical passes. Problem is when ball is played to checking forward on a diagonal ball.
We don’t close that player down.
* Personal preference but I want Iwobi/Mkhi and in an alternate universe, Bellerin, to be more individualistic when 1 on one.
* Ozil seems to be so generous that he looks like he makes pre-decisions rather than playing on instinct in front of goal.
His finishing is often high level. Shoot, buddy!
**This is not an exclusive Arsenal issue.
When balls are wide, players ball watch far more than pay attention to attacking players.
Crazy thing is that there are normally double the amount of defenders to
Do not have to even be touch tight. General vicinity and goal side would be a fabulous start.
Could reduce opponent’s shots on goal by 50%.
* Holding was okay last night but been worthy of the opportunity vs Fulham alongside Sokratis.
* We looked superior for almost 90 mins for the first time.
Can we keep this performance progression going?
* Things change fast but right now Arsenal look like a solid bet to challenge for all the cups and 4th.
This is progression as we were deserved fifth/6th contenders last few years.
The step to challenging for the league will either take longer as Chelsea, Liverpool and City are looking a level or two better OR can Emery keep the run going and challenge based more on team confidence rather than the somewhat unbalanced squad that we are?
In closing… new attitude, love it!
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.