‘The 2 most important qualities in modern football’
I predict that Arsenal will finish 3rd.
I also predict that we will finish significantly closer in points to the winner than last season.
I have thought hard about this and my confidence is founded in two things….
Firstly, the club didn’t leave us ‘two or three players short’ for the first time in about twenty years.
Secondly, we have now acquired what I consider to be the two most important qualities in modern football… unpredictability and speed.
When I watch a game I can predict 9 times out of 10 where the ball is going next. You can too, I’d say. If we can then the players can too.
Football has become so tactical, risk averse and quite honestly can be a little dull as teams replicate each other.
Everyone is pressing (in different areas), all lesser teams park the bus and counter, teams try to bypass the compact block with long diagonals, the safe option is first/second and third and weaker teams are far too offensively impatient and play low percentage balls into the box.
Those teams that have unpredictable players seem to flourish.
Write down your top 10 players of all time. I bet they all have/had it.
Unpredictable because they are risk takers, because they have individual brilliance, because they are new players or because they are young and unknown or unafraid.
Arsenal have gone from having almost none of this to bags of it.
Ceballos and Pepe are all of the above.
Willock and Nelson are all but one of these. Saka, Martinelli, ESR etc… have this. At his best, Ozil has this. Even our current right back has much of this!
Then there is speed.
Again, last year we had little of this quality. Now it’s everywhere.
It won the game against Newcastle.
The crossfield pass wasn’t bad. It’s just that AMN is quick.
I can see Bellerin, Tierney and AMN intercepting many crossfield balls and creating goals with their speed.
Speed is found in different areas too.
Our keeper has lightning fast reactions. Electric full backs. Sokratis is no slouch and David Luiz is one of the best readers of the game in the PL (speed of thought).
Torreira isn’t fast but he’s very quick where he needs to be (over 5 yards).
Ceballos is quick on the ball. Willock is quick and fast. Auba is rapid. Pepe is electric. Nelson and Saka have very quick feet. Ozil’s brain has it in abundance.
We also have something we haven’t had in years….. a guy with electric pace to frighten teams when they are tired at the end of games in Martinelli.
The ‘new Arsenal’ off the field equipped the coach with what he needed.
The ‘new Arsenal’ on the field have the two most important qualities…. unpredictability and speed.
* Nobody is saying it but does AMN have a higher ceiling than Bellerin.
Another good performance today and the decisive moment.
He is as quick as Bellerin, has far more tools in the final third as Bellerin is not a risk taker. He breaks lines more regularly and is becoming a good defender. Bellerin is less casual and safer when defending.
I say it’s closer than people think but I think AMN has a higher ceiling.
* Chambers was very good at the unseen part of defending, positioning.
* The back five were solid and serious all game and the two in front did their job well too.
* Guendouzi was almost faultless. The personality of a veteran.
* As he has been in every game recently, Willock doesn’t excel in one area but in multiple. In comparison when I watch Xhaka he excels if he passes well. That’s it.
Willock’s toolbox is full.
Kudos to Emery for trusting him.
* Along those same lines, credit Emery for trusting Nelson and Martinelli too.
Not entirely sure why Nelson came off and Mkhi stayed on.
* Newcastle’s biggest threat, Almiron, was nullified by Emery. I maintain that he will end up at the highest level.
* I saw Pepe making darting runs behind which offers the goal threat that we’ve lacked from those beyond Auba and Laca.
I’d love to see both Pepe and Nelson start wider more often than inside to utilize their best qualities more.
We only created two clear cut opportunities all day and I think what we were trying was too complex. They both played inside and created a box with Auba and Willock but that promotes intricate football which is harder to create from.
* Delighted that Martinelli and Saka were taken rather than Mustafi and ElNeny. Last season players were played or put on bench when the team needed pace and width.
* Mkhi is struggling. On the other side of the field, Nelson was good but he didn’t try to be great.
He has such great feet and needs to use them to run at defenders as well as get out of crowded areas.
He has a huge opportunity that won’t last long as Pepe and Laca return to fitness.
* I’d love to see 4-3-3. Is the need for ‘if we have Ozil he must play’ keeping us from trying this?
* Will we be bold and sell Xhaka?
For me he only offers two things that others can’t…. experience and height at set plays. With ElNeny not wanted, I doubt we sell as we can’t replace for 6 months.
* I hope that we see Nelson favored over Mkhi next week. He offers so much more.
The club have created a situation where we can make big strides this season.
So much to be excited about 😊
Follow @mike_mmcdonald and @GunnersTown
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.