A Tale of Execution and Deception
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
I feel happy but still concerned.
Did we need to produce a fluid performance?… not really.
Did we need the 3-0 victory?…. absolutely.
As forgettable as these two games have been they were pivotal to Emery and Arsenal. The longer we don’t make the CL the more chance of being left behind as the big players go elsewhere.
My concern is not a short term problem.
For a good while now we have struggled to execute and offer any form of attacking deception.
I watched the game and I found myself in a state of hope rather than expectation.
We got down the wings frequently, cut inside and I hoped but didn’t expect. These crosses were essentially slot passes from 10 yards away. We delayed and waited and delayed and then got a corner. I didn’t expect us to find a target and didn’t expect a goal.
I have been concerned that we cannot create opportunities to assist and tonight that we couldn’t execute the final ball.
📍 Arsenal Training Centre
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 20, 2019
I’m sure hoping that the .com video of Emery tossing in crosses with no end product was a ‘fun ending to practice’ as it looks to me that our players really struggle to execute crosses/cutbacks and the players in the box are static.
If that was actual crossing and finishing practice then that was a horror show and I’m shocked they posted it. Four players all running in without making two runs and all in a straight line. Oh my!
As a comparison, City get into the same position and have clearly been coached to attack front post, back post and have a clear cutback option.
They also hit the ball with such pace that defenders don’t want to touch it.
There is also no delay and the options are all in position as they anticipate a quick cross. I suppose City do everything at a far quicker pace to Arsenal so it’s no surprise.
This is coaching. Not better players. Repetition of quick, early crossing and movement.
A 10 yard hard cross and 3 yard tap in is very possible for our players but clearly this is not coached properly.
In the 70th minute Ozil almost created a good chance in the box with a deceptive flick.
Prior to this it was yet again very predictable.
In my opinion, the decision to not buy an unpredictable, risk taking, dangerous winger or two in the summer or winter will be one of the two main reasons I think we will fall short of our CL qualification goal.
I feel very grateful to Mustafi and Sokratis who did execute their one chance each.
It sure looked like the rest could have been there all night trying but without any deception or ability to execute I was losing hope.
The win was far bigger in the short term. Just concerned about the long term.
* The presence of Ozil encouraged better movement from others around the top of the box. Ozil’s movement off the ball created opening’s for others too.
* Mustafi didn’t have too much ‘emergency’ to deal with but had a very good game full of simple and good choices. No more wannabe quarterback passes and rash unnecessary defending!
* Iwobi was clearly instructed to hug the touchline which spread their two banks out.
* After suffering the multitude of short corners that lead to general play, I was thrilled when Xhaka found some quality delivery which ultimately won us the game.
* I’ve been harping on all season about our strikers making one run when attacking the box. In the 70th minute Auba made two, the defender fell over and he nearly scored.
He was largely anonymous all night. I firmly believe it’s two reasons. Firstly, he is too easy to mark and secondly he always attacks the backpost and we delay our crosses so he’s blocked off.
* Suarez has got good feet. Would like for him to take a risk with those good feet and dribble at the back four rather than just laterally.
* Very impressed and glad that we didn’t concede free kicks in our defensive third.
Giving weaker teams the opportunity to get their big guys up, is always an equalizer like it proved in the first leg.
* ‘The fast start’
Is this is a positive or a need?
I think it’s a need because yet again we win a big game because Emery got a fast start yet I can count on one hand the number of times we have done so this season.
* Guendouzi will learn in time how to add a shot or final ball after penetrating on the dribble.
He often loses his legs and composure in these situations.
* Attacking set plays.
I just don’t feel like we are going to score from them. Perhaps the two goals will encourage us to be more direct.
* I was mapping out which positions and players I’d sign in the summer.
After the 2 full backs, 2 wingers and a top quality centre back I ran out of money!
I think we may need to be creative in the midfield and I have some solutions which are not ‘make do’s’ but changes I would have made in the summer.
I’d play 4-3-3 with wingers and use Iwobi and Mkhi as options in the 3 man midfield.
Both have the same ‘best quality.’
Both excel in penetrating from deep positions on the dribble yet both have inconsistent end product in the final third and lack composure when executing the final ball.
Both could be kings of the pre-assist.
Pick it up in midfield, drive through lines, feed winger who assists.
* I wonder if when Kos and Sokratis are both fit at same time that Mustafi is moved to the bench?
I’m concerned by the many flaws I see with our team and their below par performances but somehow we are still in the hunt.
I’m not totally sure that if we were playing at our optimum, that we could expect more than last 16 in EL and 1 point off top four at this stage.
A really interesting thought.
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.