‘THE £50M MAN’
When I was young, clubs invested in Academies because they hoped that they could get a small handful break through to help the first team.
That has changed somewhat.
Now, clubs hope for this but also have the dream that a gem will come along that they can sell for big bucks or in the case of Bukayo Saka, save them the big bucks.
Talk hasn’t gone away that we may revisit Zaha or Everton Soares in January.
Talk may vanish completely if Saka is given more opportunities and can replicate what he’s just done in Frankfurt.
So…. Saka could be the reason why we get a £50M upgrade at Centre Back or Defensive Midfield. An upgrade that perhaps was going to have to wait.
Football moves in trends and the latest is to give opportunities to young wingers.
Barcelona are giving Fati (16) starts.
Sancho was trusted at Dortmund.
Daniel James is getting that trust at Utd, Alphonso Davies at Bayern Munich and Hudson-Odoi has just signed a £200,000 a week at Chelsea when he hasn’t played 20 professional games.
So, if Upamacano or Thomas Partey show up in the next 9 months, we may need to thank Bukayo Saka.
* More on Saka…. He was fearless, relentless, unpredictable, quick thinking and showed top quality with his finish and 2 assists.
I wonder if Vinai’s ‘academy comment’ had Saka in mind in particular?
* Joe Willock got stick the other day that I didn’t understand.
He was trying to penetrate on the dribble which is his most impressive quality. It was also much needed as we were struggling to penetrate in any other way.
He was knocked off the ball twice but against one of the biggest athletes in the league in Doucoure. No shame there. He’d do the same to many.
Fans have to be careful as their criticism is far more public than ever before.
Willock’s goal was the product of another penetrative run which he is also capable of off the ball too.
Keep penetrating, Joe! It’s what makes you unique and needed in our midfield.
Another joy that Joe brings is that he’s not submissive. Name me another young centre midfielder who is playing for a big club that is taking the initiative and driving forward like he is?
Also, for those that have forgotten, AMN can do this from midfield too.
* Another modern trend noticed is the importance of attackers positioning in transition.
If you can get back to where you can be used to defend if needed but more importantly in the ‘dead space’ where defenders are reluctant to go, then transitioning can be deadly.
We did this well against EF.
* As I’ve said for over a year, I think that Martinez will play for Argentina and is good enough to be our number one. No knock on Leno who is improving and playing well, but Martinez in my opinion may end up being the better all round GK.
Leno lacks physicality in the air, Martinez is a monster in the air and on the ground.
* Kudos to David Luiz for his defensive positioning that has relieved pressure on many occasions this season. He is especially good positionally at crosses.
* Auba looks hungry for goals. Hunting the ball and getting in dangerous positions all night.
Another great finish.
On a separate note and for any players reading, when you are 1 on 1 with the GK straight on, always hit it close to his left leg (if right footed). It travels straight rather than diagonally and risks missing OR alternatively, simply be like Pierre.
* To help answer the latest debate…. ‘why is Torreira playing further forward?’
I think it’s for a few reasons.
Firstly, he can utilize his skill set to win it higher. This isn’t working much as our press is not coordinated properly.
Secondly, if you play DM alone you have a lot of communication that you are responsible for. I don’t think he can do this in English.
He could play in a double pivot which was needed at 1-0 but he kept flooding forward leaving Xhaka alone. This is Emery’s fault as he should organize this or change it if he sees it.
If we had a DM we fully trusted then Torreira as an 8 would make more sense.
Xhaka played fairly well at DM but his main issues are not resolvable.
In the 9th minute Xhaka could’ve conceded a penalty that would’ve changed the games complexion completely.
I rewatched it and am reminded that he may not be fast but it’s his lack of quickness over 5 yards on the turn that kills him and us.
* Another local issue is….’Why are opponents constantly creating against us?’
Pause the game in transition.
You will see that our backline rarely pause and hold their line, they instantly back off.
Then our midfield often step.
Two lines, moving in opposite directions.
As the press is not coordinated, one pass dissects our midfield who are now 15-40 yards from our defence leaving oceans of space between the lines.
Also, our defence are not organized well enough to delay the counter. Some drop off and the one stepping seems unsure and doesn’t get tight enough to stop the transition at source.
Both units need work and far better on field communication to change this. Perhaps, a more organized coach who doesn’t change systems as much as Emery.
* The Arsenal set play mystery…,
Torreira marking a 6ft 2 German, Guendouzi marking Matip etc…, and yet our defensive set play stats are very impressive?!?
* Why was Chambers not at CB and Mustafi at RB?
Seems like the Holding and Chambers combo is a real possibility so why not give him practice at CB again?
* I remember when Emery joined folks were so delighted to see him on the sideline.
It was more of a response to the frustration of seeing Arsene bending over like he had a stomach ache when the team needed help.
The truth is that neither of them particularly help.
Emery must be white noise as it’s almost constant. Include the crowd noise and I think much of it is done out of anxiety or for show.
As a coach I stopped doing this as I was losing respect.
We all know that it’s better not to give any direction than give direction and be ignored.
I still worry for Emery.
* It’s super important that Saka is in the squad on Sunday.
I’d also add that he needs to either start or get at least 20 minutes.
Anytime a player has huge confidence he will be an immediate asset or lose it if you suck it away by putting him back to the back of the queue.
* Very excited to hear how Bellerin and Tierney do today!
* For those thinking about who may be our future DM, here are 3 candidates….
a) Axel Witsel is almost perfect but I doubt it will happen for a few reasons. Firstly, he’s already hit 30, secondly he plays for a more successful team so unless he wants to continue his tour of Europe, it’s unlikely.
Such a shame as he is everything Arsenal need as a DM both on the ball, off the ball and defensively.
b) Wilfred Ndidi is a possibility. If you think a Leicester player may not be good enough to play for Arsenal, I challenge you to watch Gueye starting for PSG after years at Everton.
c) Thomas Partey is an all round midfielder who can play 8 or 6. Got everything needed apart from PL experience but starting to finally command a place at A. Madrid so may stay.
d) Ibrahim Sangare. If he was a 26 yr old leader I wouldn’t look elsewhere as he has everything. Big ask to be the solution amongst other young midfielders at Arsenal.
e) Dominik Szoboszlai.
So, Frenkie De Jong is potentially the worlds best CMid. A player so smooth who makes football look effortless.
Szoboszlai is a younger version.
Ultimately, that is a hugely surprising, very impressive and much needed result.
Total truth is that we are not a better team after it as the game was as simple as ‘we put our chances away, they didn’t.’
With every positive game however, confidence restores, grows and Arsenal fans swing their adjectives from ‘disgraceful’ to ‘fantastic.’ 😊
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.