United 1-1 Arsenal: The Confidence Platform – on the plus side: it could have been worse


‘The Confidence Platform’

I saw two teams who have good players.

I saw two teams who have a few great players.

I also saw two teams lacking in confidence and beside Aubameyang, the great weren’t even good and the good were mediocre.

I do however remind myself that football is 50% attacking and 50% defending.

So, as much as both teams lacked confidence in their on the ball, Arsenal looked like they had made the first step in building a defensive platform.

As sad as it is to say about a top club like ours, it is true to acknowledge that we didn’t punch ourselves in the face and this is a plus.

It is also true that our midfield were spaced better, rarely exposed our defence and played in a more serious manner.

I’m thinking that if we are to replicate this solidity then we will gain confidence going forward. Give our attacking players the free thinking to express themselves.

For now, let’s be satisfied that we got a ‘B’ in the defensive 50% which is two grades higher than previous attempts.

If we repeat that then the attacking/on the ball 50% might move from a ‘C’ to an ‘A’ as we have the talent to get the top grade.



* It’s important that Emery is credited with three starting selections.

Torreira, Chambers and Saka all deserved to start and did.

As a player there is nothing more demoralizing than not being rewarded  when you are deserving. Players will stop giving the extra they are willing to do if reward doesn’t come.

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Kudos also to Emery for subbing Pepe before Saka. Right choice.

* Sokratis and Luiz had their best game of the season. Probably because they have Holding and (hopefully) Chambers breathing down their necks.

* Saka may just explode over the next month. He is playing well and is close to making headlines. He was a deflection away from being the hero.

* Ceballos and Willock made a difference when they came on. Willock continues to penetrate and carry us 30 yards up the pitch.

Ceballos stopped spinning in circles and started penetrating himself.

* The biggest positive right now is competition for places.

The replacements are almost all causing selection headaches.

Martinez pushing Leno. Bellerin and Tierney’s return are serious problems for AMN and Kolasinac.

Holding and Chambers pushing Sokratis and Luiz.

Ceballos and Willock unsatisfied with not starting.

Martinelli and to a lesser extent, Nelson, are pushing to play.

Saka will cause Lacazette issues and is out performing Pepe.



* As much as I appreciate Emery getting three selections right I wish he would get the midfield balance right.

Torreira, Xhaka and Guendouzi are not DM’s like some are saying. They are also not attacking midfielders either.

Torreira, Guendouzi and one of Ceballos or Willock offers the best balance in a 3 man midfield.

Without Lacazette checking between the lines we had to hit everything long to our forwards. If we’d use Torreira and Guendouzi in the build up and allow Willock or Ceballos to move between the lines to link the play then we create more.

The other issue was that the closest player to Pepe and Auba was Torreira. He may win one ball higher up the field once every two games but not enough to justify repeatedly seeing him get the chances in the box and be the creator for Auba and Pepe.

* I don’t have the good fortune to be able to go to games but I’d love to know what Emery is saying to his players during the game.

Is he correcting new problems or trying to get his players to do what he’s already asked them to do?

* If there was a game for our defensive line to not drop back it was this one. The pouring rain would’ve made it very difficult to play behind a compact defensive line sitting 30 yards out.

* We have cleaned up defending set plays.

Our corners are not good though. Our other set plays are rarely creating.


I was screaming at the TV in the first half when we had a chance to bend a right footed free kick behind the defensive line and on to a slick field for DeGea to try to deal with.

I’ve always thought that set plays are mostly about mindset.

Arsenal firstly send up their CB’s and then go short and don’t cross it but I digress…… when a Centre Back is defending a set play their mindset is that they have to clear it.

When they are attacking a set play they flip their mindset to ‘want to’ score.

Understanding that it’s not easy but what if Luiz attacked Arsenal corners as if he ‘had to’ score not that he ‘wants to’ score?

This is not an exclusive Arsenal problem, just a football thought.

* Emery mentioned two days ago that his English is 6/10. He said he thought it was ‘quite good.’

Is ‘quite good’ good enough though?

* Did you notice that when Torreira went off we played end to end basketball again?

Could we have gone 4-2-3-1 and shut the back door?


* Why was Ozil made one of the captains if he is not trusted to even be in the squad?

A wasted opportunity to encourage someone like Holding.

I hope that the Ozil situation gets resolved in January.

* I hope that we don’t look back on this season and see it as the season where Xhaka and Emery were too intertwined.

* As mentioned in many previous blogs, the possible number one candidate to play DM at Arsenal is Thomas Partey. Can destroy AND create and is younger than Axel Witsel (who I mentioned last game).

Check out this highly impressive performance against Real Madrid a few days ago ….

Probably too late as he was dissatisfied in the summer but now first choice at Atletico Madrid.



Big pressure on Emery in October.

The fixtures are kind but the fans won’t be if he plays too cautiously.

Thanks for working on our defensive shape, Unai, but we need ‘front foot Arsenal in October.

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One Response to United 1-1 Arsenal: The Confidence Platform – on the plus side: it could have been worse

  1. DEW October 1, 2019 at 8:20 am #

    I agree on better defensive organization. I don’t really understand the issues you had with xhaka. From your writing the only thing that separate us is we haven’t seen your selection tested in real time. Probably the coach would be at fault by then.

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