THE GAME CHANGERS
THE SLEEPING PILLS
Arsenal have two opposites going on.
They have not only reinforced the attack, they have reinvigorated it with top class, youth, athleticism, speed and a new directness.
I was fooled in the first half.
We looked like we might replicate the big score line the last time we played Lyon. All those positive adjectives above were in full flow.
Lyon had very little to offer.
After about 30 minutes and until full time it looked like our back five had just taken a sleeping pill.
What followed was unnecessary risky passing out of the back (Leno included), flat footed defending (first goal), a flat high line when there was no pressure on the ball (second goal) and other unnecessary moments.
Without unnecessary exaggeration it looked like we were playing ourselves.
Could our game changers defeat our sleeping pills!?
Unfortunately, because our game changers had an off day with their finishing, the sleeping pills won 2-1.
It’s easier to accept losing to great teams and great goals but not losing to yourself.
Having said all this I am seeing a very active club in the market. I believe they will sign a CB.
Just got to hope that it’s one that doesn’t take sleeping pills and hides the bottle from the others.
* The Game Changers. There were many.
Auba… looks like a 2.0 version. Seems to love the right wing and has become far more direct.
Not sure how he scored that goal?!? A hip thrust? Either way, he’s sharp.
Nelson…. He’s ready. Give him games regularly and he will perfect his final ball. He is so unpredictable and confident.
Last season we made a mistake in loaning him as we needed what he had…. individual brilliance.
You can see that the others trust him too.
Willock…. He is a little of everything.
He tackles and takes space well. He passes well. His positioning for a youngster is good. He has grown another few inches and doesn’t look lightweight. He has skill and trickery. He penetrates on the dribble and combines well and most of all he has the instinct in the box. He’s gonna be a menace for opponents.
Nketiah… I’m ok with the missed chances because he’s young. I get the feeling that when he gets on a roll he may not stop. What excites me is that he consistently puts himself in the action. If you are always available then eventually good things will happen.
Ceballos…. Was on my list of players I wanted this summer. I think he is one of the best young midfielders in Europe. He will be a game changer of a signing. Why? There are some players that can’t fail because they have so many strings to their bow.
Ceballos can pass, shoot, is as press resistant as the best, has a superior tactical understanding than most and has a wicked change of pace and a general deceptive quality.
Of all our midfield options I say pick him, then pick the others.
Pepe…. If he signs then we have a player with everything we need.
Goals, assists, flexibility and individual brilliance.
Others…. Mkhi looked sharper today and played as well as others. I’ve been lost on him for a while as it’s one good game, two poor games.
Interesting that Saka was left out.
With our new flood of wide options perhaps he will get a loan?
Martinelli will need to be on the bench often. Like Nketiah he offers much especially pace late in games.
* Chambers is most certainly an upgrade on Mustafi. He has been very solid throughout pre-season. We must keep him.
What impressed me most about Chambers is his posture. As his not fast he compensates with excellent posture. Always defends with knees bent and anticipates well as defenders without pace have to.
* Guendouzi is a machine. Just come back from holiday and not the slightest bit rusty. His long range passing was joyful.
* The slow methodical tempo that was evident during most first halves last season has been revamped into slick 1 and 2 touch hi tempo football.
* I’m noticing that it’s not just Auba who is playing more directly.
Often when balls were played between the lines we would turn and attack the defenders at pace. Love it.
* I’ve got a feeling that for the first time in over 15 years that our club is not going to leave us short.
When I started writing, my blog name was ‘two or three more.’
This was a phrase that I adopted as I saw a pattern where the club would address some areas in the summer but would ALWAYS leave us two or three players short. Perhaps this was because Wenger didn’t want to integrate more than 3-4 new signings.
Either way, it didn’t work. Everyone could see the need but the club left us short.
I think we WILL sign a CB, Tierney, Pepe and possibly a RB. Yet again I’ll say, Dani Alves is free and wants to play in the PL.
Whether we are a better team will depend on many factors but most importantly whether they choose the right CB.
* I know it’s the new trend to play vertical balls into midfield when the opponent is stapled to your back but it’s highly risky.
It’s not just Arsenal either.
Exit through the wings unless the midfielder is available.
We get caught too often by defenders nicking a vertical pass.
I’d only use this pass if the receiving player has a one touch counter attacking option. If he does then the risk is now with your opponent.
* Xhaka is playing as well as ever but I think he’s in trouble. Again, for me it’s Ceballos plus two. With the emergence of Willock and his all round game as well as Guendouzi and Torreira, I think Xhaka may not last long as a starter.
* Guendouzi would get caught on the ball less if he scanned before receiving. Watch him. When receiving from the defenders he doesn’t know his forward passing options. It can be hard to spot as he is good on the ball and gets out of trouble often. Doesn’t have to be this hard though.
* When a player is booed coming on the field, it’s over.
Arsenal have to sell/loan Mustafi.
He would have to be heartless to not be affected by this.
Bigger than him it is a mood changer.
If everything is going well, his presence can make the mood sour. If it’s on a knife edge it could tilt south. If it’s not going well and he makes a mistake then it’s game over for the fans.
* Auba at CF is often ‘Auba minus the pace option.’
* Two small details….. does the stadium announcer even follow Arsenal?
He called Martinelli, Martini.
As for his pronunciation of Nketiah, I can’t even begin to type what I think he said!
Is anyone else annoyed by a commentator talking about how surprised they are at the intensity of a pre-season game?
Aren’t the players preparing for what they are expected to do during the season? Baffling.
* Apparently Lacazette is ok even though he was in a boot. Fingers crossed. I think we have no option but to get a RB if AMN is injured for the start of the season.
* Khedira being at the stadium could be to see a friend but unless he’s tight with Mustafi, I doubt it, as Ozil and Kola weren’t playing.
Perhaps the club are concerned at the age profile of our midfield and want to add experience?
* If Rugani on loan is our CB solution then this is interesting. Similar qualities to Chambers.
Rugani is very talented but I’m hoping for a CB with pace.
* If we get Pepe will he play on the left? He ordinarily plays on the right but Auba looks so much better on the right than left.
I’d say they will rotate during games as we’ve seen a lot of this already.
* Wenger sat on his chair and never coached from the sideline.
Emery coaches almost constantly, micro managing.
If you’ve played or coached you know that occasional help is good. Constant instruction is irritating and becomes white noise.
I’ve never said this but it’s a concern for me with our coach.
The finishing on the field today was the ultimate game changer. It often is in football. Dominate the game but opponent wins as they finish better.
More importantly, is how we finish in the transfer market. We’ve left it late and I’m sure that’s down to players deciding rather than club preference.
If Arsenal finish strong in the market then the belief will rise and the clubs perception amongst big players will change. They won’t look at us as ‘Europa League and stale’ but ‘big club rising.’
Follow Mike at @mike_mmcdonald and or read at @GunnersTown