As it should be, a coach of a top side equips his lacklustre team at half time to have new ideas. Transforms and swings the game from east to west.
Mr Emery, you impressed.
Puel may have found a great tactical plan first half but when it mattered your decisions completely swung the game. Also, bless you for yet again making early and bold substitutions that change games. Again, impressive.
May I be bold enough to say that we have not been used to a manager/coach whose tactical changes swing games so I feel secure in saying that in previous years we lose that game.
We question Mesut Ozil’s worth based on his huge weekly wage and fairly so.
Today, he looked like a £350K a week player because his quality won the game.
Fully understanding that no player (bar Leo Messi) can make this level of difference every game we hope that he would just do it far more regularly.
Perhaps it was because he felt the responsibility as captain to swing the game. I hope not. I’d hope that a player of that quality wouldn’t just do it when he is rewarded.
I’m hoping he did it because he is fresh and simply returning to form.
Whatever the reason is, all fans want a player on their team who brings them joy and that feeling of superiority. Mesut Ozil gave me both those emotions today.
More please 😊
* Not as obvious as a step over, a screamer in the top corner or such but Lucas Torreira has a high level, off the ball, crucial habit…. he senses danger.
Players break lines on and off the ball and he covers them.
He senses the most dangerous transition opportunity and snuffs it out.
He positions himself in such a way as to tempt opponents to make penetrating passes only to step across and cut it out.
* If this was last season then Iwobi would have shrunk and been subbed.
His first 15 minutes were poor. He then decided to ‘let it go’ and became a huge influence in dragging us back in the game. Great new quality to have.
* Many players have composure. Few have it in front of goal. Mesut Ozil has it.
I teach my players to use ‘enough power’ to score goals not all their power. More power sacrifices accuracy. No need for all your power in the box, for example.
Ozil’s goal was so so composed, used 1/3rd of his power and the keeper was nowhere near it. Sublime.
* An educated guess here…. the first goal is an Emery thought and has been practiced.
Seen it enough times this season to believe it’s training ground.
The ball to Bellerin on the wing who ignores the centre forward (who drags the centre backs into the six yd box) whilst returning the ball to the passer who is trailing the play.
* I struggle with Hector Bellerin. I think he should be better than he is.
I’m keeping my eye on Wan-Bissaka at Palace too.
I’d like to think that I can praise him when he is deserving and I can’t ignore that his crossing accuracy is slowly improving. Well done, Hector!
* Iwobi’s switch to the right worked a treat yet again. Pushed Chilwell back too 👍🏻
* Great attitude from Xhaka when asked to play left back.
If he was more agile and athletic he’d make a good left back.
* Auba with 4 goals in his last hour of football.
* Holding and Lacazette improved second half.
* Is Guendouzi really 19?
* Holding has to be careful. Getting touch tight to guys like Vardy isn’t gonna work. They spin on or off the ball and he doesn’t turn half as well.
* Leno clearly has fantastic reflexes. I’ve always evaluated keepers more on other qualities though. The main one is how they deal with a crowd in front of them on crosses as this is not easy, so the better keepers will rise to the top. Leno needs to do better.
* No excuse for Bellerin marking Maguire. Twice.
* The communication between defenders and midfielders needs to improve. Specifically the instruction to ‘turn.’
Too many balls returned from a midfielder in space and with time to turn back to the defence. Xhaka and Ramsey most guilty.
As I said above though, it’s partially the responsibility of the defender to tell them to turn.
* We hear that Carcedo has many corner routines. I see the benefit of the near post one but not seeing the threat from the others yet.
* First half the attacking strategy didn’t suit the personnel. We needed better movement off the ball and 1 touch combinations but were making choices that played into Leicester’s hands.
The few times we had numbers up and space on the counter, Ozil took a negative touch and slowed down the attack.
Wrong day to pick on Mesut though 😉
* Would love to see Emery’s proactive approach lead to Arsenal not being so cautious early in games.
Opponents make their minds up first 5 minutes whether you are making them feel comfortable or uncomfortable.
* First half we needed that natural wide player to go to for some individual brilliance in order to change our fortunes.
Do we stick with Iwobi as that option or sign in January.
The word here in the States is that Almiron of Atlanta Utd isn’t as ‘injured’ as their fans have been told. Strong word that he is coming to Arsenal.
* Finally, I don’t want to sound too greedy in hoping for too much when we are 2 points off top and won every other game in other competitions.
So, I’d like to finish by saying that I wasn’t depressed at half time. Arsenal now have a coach that gives me hope that his skill set can change our fortunes.
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.