‘DID ARSENAL PLAY NORWICH OR ARSENAL?’
Positives, Needs and Hopes
If you could pick the most important need for improvement on the field, what would you choose?
I’ve thought about this too much.
I think this means I’m sure of what I think.
I’d try to improve defensive transitions.
I bet I’m not alone.
The short fix hasn’t been addressed for over a decade. The short fix is to buy 3 players. Two centre backs and a specialist DM.
It was very interesting that Freddie alluded to this after the game. After being asked what he needs to address he talked of transition. He then said, “I hope the club know what I can and can’t do.”
He’s talking about the tools he’s got.
Wifried Ndidi would change the club, but why would he leave?
Replacing Luiz with Tyrone Mings would do similar.
A specialist DM would free the other CM’s to play.
Getting Luiz out of the back four would mean that we could defend outside our box and not retreat 50 yards into our box.
We simply don’t have the athleticism or positional nous to cope.
The two best athletes in the midfield are Willock and Torreira but I’ve only see them picked as a two on one occasion.
Guendouzi tries hard but has no recovery speed or positioning to intercept. Xhaka is Xhaka and Ceballos tackles well but is similar to Guendouzi otherwise.
Yesterday, Willock our most athletic midfielder, looked like he was playing CF and Norwich broke down his side continuously. Guendouzi tries to overload on left hand side leaving Xhaka cheating to the left and the ‘Arsenal hole’ that we gift opponents with each game, now appeared at Centre right midfield.
Tactically, what would have stopped the counter is what City do. Give your midfielders the freedom to go forward by not having your Right Back on the wing but as a transitional midfielder to stop counter attacks at source.
What was additionally bizarre was that Chambers wasn’t needed as Auba tended to play very wide on the right.
The other solution is to play 4-2-3-1 and keep BOTH CM’s behind the ball at all times.
As none of this happened this game has led to that ⬆️ headline.
No disrespect to the many that have taken points off Arsenal for many years, but Arsenal beat themselves during most games before the opponent has to figure out how to break us down.
The craziest part of all this is that I’ve been sitting on that headline for an awfully long time.
* In the first half I was impressed with Arsenal in possession.
This is a credit to Ljungberg that he could make us technically more secure in 2 hours with his team and his ideas.
* Additionally, we played with tempo and fluid movement. I’d attribute that to ‘freeing the player’s minds’ or encouraging the players to “play with a smile on their faces” as Freddie requested.
* The pressing was organized and frequent which was very encouraging.
If you do it early, players lose their composure often for the entire game as they assume they are under pressure when they aren’t.
* We played out of the back with far more intelligence. The biggest part was switching the field away from the press.
* Kolasinac was far more solid today and better going forward.
* Leno isn’t getting the credit he deserves. In a mess of a season his only issue has been decision making with his feet.
Imagine the draws that would have been losses without Leno and Auba.
* It looked like at the end of the one session that FL had with the team, that they worked on corners.
Gone were the ridiculous short corners that led to nothing and in were far more effective versions.
* Ljungberg is getting criticized for having Auba wide.
I saw a plan in it.
He played with his feet on the sideline. This expanded their defensive unit giving Ozil more space to receive between the lines. The second phase of play was for Auba to run diagonally behind the defence. This didn’t happen because Ozil rarely opens his hips and goes forward without turning in his big ‘security circle.’
* I think one change would’ve seen Arsenal possibly win the game.
He played as a CF or False Nine.
First issue was that he emptied his midfield area which is where they countered.
Secondly, I see purpose in getting Willock into the box but not without wingers.
He was too close to the box and by the time the ball came into the box, he was static.
His strength is as a dynamic ‘8’ in a 4-3-3, running from deep. Much harder to pick up.
So, he couldn’t help defensively as he was too far away and didn’t help offensively either.
To be fair, this is on the coach, not the player.
* How fit are we?
* We are choosing our formation based on two guys that won’t sign improved contracts. I totally understand their viewpoint but we’ve been here before and it doesn’t often work out well.
* If I was upset with anybody after the game it was Mustafi.
It’s like he has an allergy to playing solidly in PL games.
Watch both goals. He’s too deep and isn’t able to get close enough to block the shots.
He had a golden opportunity with others not performing and just chucked it away.
* Lacazette could do worse than watch Pukki’s movement. Along with Vardy he makes two runs hence why he often gets the ball with some space to shoot early or cut back. Lacazette doesn’t do this and so his life is harder.
* Chambers jockeys players with a very narrow stride.
Your strides should be wider allowing yourself to match their speed and have better balance.
The problem is compounded when he gets cut on and he has to dangle a leg and attempt a tackle when he needs to be taking the space between ball and player.
This was a poor game from Chambers on both sides of the ball.
* It’s not being talked about but Arsenal have a ‘right back problem.’
Bellerin looks very unsure upon his return. Chambers is a better centre back or DM and AMN has upset someone.
* I really don’t like the phrase, ‘perception is reality.’ Probably because there is so much truth to it.
Arsenal’s board have sat on their hands on many occasions for far too long and the result is that others are no longer scared of us.
It’s not just that they don’t park the bus against us but more that they truly believe that they can beat us because their players are equal or better, yet their club is significantly smaller.
I’m excited that Ljungberg clearly wants to change this as he has spoken to this more than anything else.
The bigger issue will be who the next coach is, what he believes and how long the board will wait when the next trouble arrives.
Hoping for people to learn their lessons.
* Not sure what is going on with Pepe.
I suspect that the coaches just don’t think he’s better than the younger options.
The shame is that he was playing into form when he was dropped.
If he really is going to be a £70M problem then we need to sell him rather than watch him rot and his price plummet.
I like Pepe. I’d keep him and would coach him differently.
* In an ideal world we would replace Xhaka with an agile, quick, dynamic destroyer of a DM who also has experience.
If we can’t get Ndidi then I’d look at Axel Witsel whilst Dortmund are in disarray.
I really think that Xhaka’s inclusion is more down to the fact that the coaches seem uncomfortable without an experienced leader in such a pivotal position. Also, his aerial ability at set plays.
Norwich had just beaten Everton away 2-0. We are on our worst run in decades.
If you want to see what impact coaches have pay attention to the first 20 mins of each half as the instruction and motivation is fresh in their player’s minds.
Add to that the fact that Norwich were at home, I give big credit to Freddie for having such a big impact so quickly as we were dominant for most of this period when the recent past and game location would suggest that Norwich should have been the dominant team.
I look forward to seeing what improvements Freddie makes and I have no time for people that judge him after being a head coach for 2 hours.
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.