The Return of Rhythm?
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
This season, and even during the unbeaten run, I was very concerned at the lack of big chances we were creating.
Perhaps the constant formation changes and line ups have been responsible?
Today we created 9 big chances in the second half!
So the question becomes….. how and why was that possible today?
Fulham certainly helped (as they do with all opponents) but today for at least a third of the 90, we looked like the rhythm had returned.
Goals and confidence from goals is always the short track way but there was certainly a difference.
The awareness in the final third in particular was evident with quicker combinations.
General play offered more 1 and 2 touch after the first goal.
Rhythm will give us the clear identity that we currently lack.
* Personally, my favourite moment of the game was watching Koscielny out sprint Fulham players twice during the first half.
* Sokratis once again showed that he is a well rounded player.
Quick, very strong, serious, a constant nightmare for centre forwards and most importantly, you can see how he can mentally shutdown his opponent.
Forwards can be easier to play against the second time around as you learn their habits.
It is the opposite for defenders.
Defenders are inherently more mentally intimidating and you better believe you know when Sokratis has marked you!
This makes me feel that we will see forwards give up the more they play him as much like Sol Campbell did, he silently intimidates.
If he can just pick and choose when to be aggressive.
I’ve thought all along that the plan was for Mavropanos to partner Sokratis. I actually think that Sokratis was chosen partly because he’s Greek, the club are high on Mavropanos and they needed someone that could clearly communicate with him in the short term and nurture him for the long term.
Holding’s improvement may have made Emery think but that’s for next season. Maybe we will stick with a back three long term. Maybe Holding should learn Greek!
In any case – this performance seems to have impressed freetips.com, who are tipping Arsenal to finish in the Top 4.
* Iwobi seems to have improved his composure. His crossing is consistently picking out the best option.
* Talking of the same…. Kola must be the best full back/wing back at picking out a target whilst running at top speed.
He is starting to look like the player we thought we’d signed.
A clear improvement at the club.
Lacazette did it for Xhaka’s goal.
AMN did it at the back post at a crucial moment in the first half.
Most importantly, watch us defending corners. Much more contact and blocking than in previous seasons.
* Ramsey’s goal was a big moment for Unai Emery.
The boos at the sub showed how dissatisfied the fans were with Laca coming off.
With Ramsey’s goal it was vindicated and one of our CF’s stay fresh.
* Today was a reminder of the talent of Guendouzi
* Mavropanos, Bellerin and Monreal should be available for WHU game.
* The need to sign a winger wasn’t more evident than in the first half.
If we would have had a winger hugging the touchline as an outlet and the other another attacking mid between the lines then we would have had two forward passing options that were not available today.
It got so bad in the first half the crowd were booing the constant backwards passing.
If you have a winger hugging the touchline you don’t have to wait for a full back to get high to offer width and a way out. A player between the lines would stop us playing low percentage long balls.
Wenger’s problem was overplaying in the final third, Emery’s seems to be getting to the final third.
When we do we look good.
* Good to see Auba making two runs in the box. He did it first half when he missed his header near post. He can often get in the box and if ball is not delivered early he gets static.
* When Xhaka and Guendouzi get flat in midfield they lack recovery pace when beaten.
* Amidst the anger and panic of AFC fans about the ‘we have no money’ talk, there are many players at Arsenal that could save the club big money.
a) AMN could be right back competition and I’m hoping he gets the chance to show how he could be a line breaking CM in a three. I think Iwobi and Mkhi would be better in this same role.
b) Smith Rowe and Willock could share Ramsey’s minutes. Ramsey isn’t a regular starter and so they don’t need to be.
c) Nelson could save us £40M+
I’d recall him so you know before June if you need to buy a winger. Saka too.
d) Mavropanos and Holding could be the answer that everyone is scouring Europe for.
e) Even though rumors suggest Martinez may leave I think he could replace Cech.
f) Nketiah‘s only chances in the PL have been on the right. I feel that he has the quality to save us from buying upfront. Too young? Inexperienced?
I give you Guendouzi.
g) Chambers has been playing DM (quite well) recently. Could he back up Torreira?
How do you try these ideas without weakening the team?…. I believe you try one at a time.
Much like today with Saka. Start him against Blackpool and start him against West Ham.
You may think that’s madness but what if the summer comes and you don’t know if he could save you £40M. Remember Gnabry. Regular starter for Bayern now. Injuries I know, but also never trusted when fit at Arsenal.
The only player type we don’t have in our squad is a direct, blazing fast dribbler.
Buy Hudson-Odoi before Bayern do.
Take a risk on Almiron as his profile is exactly what I described as missing.
* Arsenal need to continue being as shrewd as Juventus.
Over the years, Juve has found top quality for cheap and often free.
Somebody this summer is going to sign a player who has been one of if not the best defender in the world over the past 5 years….. Diego Godin.
I’m not necessarily saying we should as I haven’t seen him this year and I’m wondering why AMadrid are not resigning him, but if he’s still got legs I’d say he would organize the mess that we can be at the back.
New Years Wishlist
1) Fast starters
My most successful season as a coach was when we came up with ‘OneTwenty.’
I came to the conclusion that the first twenty minutes of the game (‘OneTwenty’) is the most crucial.
The opponents show up and may or may not know you.
Either way, the way you start affects their mentality.
I’ve also come to learn that of the four aspects of the game (technical, tactical, physical and mental) that mental is the most important as it has such a large affect on the other three, regardless of talent.
We started with such intensity and purpose that we had mentally won the game in the first twenty minutes.
Opponents were intimidated and mentally thought they were beaten.
Potentially, Arsenal Football Club should be able to blow away 2/3rds of the league and have the game won in the first half.
Tell me this isn’t true…..
You want your fans to arrive at the game, singing beforehand, singing hard the first twenty minutes and provide the 12th man?
Then understand that in the modern world people are impatient so don’t frustrate them.
People wait to be entertained rather than inspiring you.
This brings me to…..
2) Buy Individual Brilliance
If I’m going to a game knowing I’m gonna watch someone who will excite me and give me hope then I’m in a positive mindset pre-game.
I’m likely to sing before the game, not get too quickly frustrated at my team etc…
Match the purchase of said individual with the knowledge that my team are gonna try to blow you away then you change the way that the club is perceived by the opponent.
Arsenal currently give opponents hope.
Liverpool may have some better players but it’s their mentality and approach to blowing you away that is more intimidating.
3) Fix the problem of leaving their transition player wide open.
4) Give Mavropanos the chance to be the answer meanwhile look for someone to change our image as a poor defensive team. Could be a great ‘defensive trainer’ to improve what we have or find Van Dijk’s twin brother 😊
Happy New Year
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.