COACHES vs FANS
Positives, Needs and Hopes
Part of me wondered if I was reaching a little with this thought.
After dialing back the emotion of watching Arsenal trying to attack, I realized that these thoughts have validity…..
Fans want defensive solidity and Arsenal fans would sacrifice their Granny for it.
When it shows up however unless it’s matched with a fluid attacking display I think it’s fair to say that it’s not celebrated.
It looked like Freddie had been working pre game on the defensive side of our game.
I saw some clear defensive improvements that will greatly help us moving forward.
I don’t remember Everton even once transitioning into acres, seeing us retreat like the Cowboys and Indians we’ve seen season long, and that was with David Luiz playing.
Our wide forwards covered our full backs when they attacked.
Our central midfielders crucially made better decisions as to whether they should step or hold the middle of the park.
Torreira and Xhaka sprinted back when either were caught ahead of the ball.
I saw attempts at ‘tactical fouls’ on potential breakaways. If we learn the subtle way to do this or just simply send all of our players to the ‘Fernandinho training camp of Tactical Fouling,’ then we will make much progress.
2) Big chances against
Leno is statistically the busiest GK in the league. He had almost nothing to do of importance.
Surely that is a huge difference and positive, right?
3) Clean Sheet
I wonder if you are like me… even though Leno has arguably been player of the season so far, I never expect him to not concede.
4) Saka solution
Have we just saved money on a left back?
Saka shouldn’t have been that solid.
That’s his second game as first team left back. Showed wise positional sense, great touch in a game where others had springs in their boots, offered a dangerous threat going forward and even showed an aggression and lack of fear in being aggressive that others shy away from.
5) Youngsters at Goodison
Bar Saka, none of the youngsters stood out. The positive is hidden though. Goodison is one of the hardest grounds to go to as the fans are almost on the pitch with you.
Next time they go to a loud, intimidating place it won’t seem that way.
6) Freddie’s choices
I saw the line up and I could’ve gone all kinds of negative on this being the weakest team in the history of whatever.
Truth is that Everton had a golden chance but defensively an Arsenal team with inexperience everywhere got a better result than Everton did.
When Arteta fixes the senior players, mentality and system we will see our ‘experienced inexperienced youngsters’ bloom.
Coaches can sometimes get so much from a game that fans don’t see or care to see.
In the short term, this game was not a big help points wise.
In the long term it could be the start of something needed for 15 years.
* Chambers may end up being part of the solution. Holding too. Not sure either will be first choice after Arteta is done moulding the team he wants but Chambers is at least a model of what happens when you give your best.
* Ljungberg clearly had a chat with Xhaka and Torreira at half time.
They were hiding and playing reactionary in the first half.
Started to dictate in the second half.
Xhaka confuses me though.
If you believe reports, he doesn’t want to play for Arsenal and has possibly secured a move already. Yet his recent performances have been better?
* Luiz was also better in the second half.
I do wonder if Arteta will try him (or Chambers) as a DM when we can afford to take them out of centre back?
Watching Torreira attempt to win aerial duels is painful and not reasonable anyway.
Luiz can be a monster in the air and is clearly very good on the ground. I know he’s not got pace, but neither does Xhaka. He’s been to Fernandinho’s camp so he’d stop many transitions.
I’d like to see a double pivot of Torreira and Luiz tried. I think it might free the others by making them feel more secure.
* I’m greatly looking forward to Arteta changing our exit plans.
We have so much pace upfront yet we don’t seem to be able to exit from the the middle third.
It has a lot to do with correct body shape and supporting angles.
* If I was Reiss Nelson….
I’d sit myself down and ask myself,
‘why would the coach pick me?
Is it because he wants me to get it and simply maintain possession?
He’s good at that.
Or, is it because he thinks I have the potential to have the X factor?
Reiss Nelson is wasting his limited chances.
He is one of the most naturally talented footballers in England. A Scandinavian A-frame in the woods sized high ceiling.
He’s currently either afraid to create, a submissive guy amongst senior players or caught the confidence bug that he shouldn’t have because he hasn’t had a chance to be part of the problem.
It’s not how good you are or how good you think you are. It’s how good you play.
* If I was Emile Smith Rowe…
I’d realize that people are starting to notice me.
They see that I have a little of everything. Line breaker, good feet, eye for a defence splitting pass and a super shot.
Then I’d sit down and ask myself how many times I tried to do any of the above.
Arsenal is about to change, big time.
This will include many players out and many players in. The chances that the youngsters are experiencing will shrink. Some of them will remain but only those that are difference makers in their position. Emile Smith Rowe could be whatever he wants to be but his performance was way too laid back.
Does he want to be a hero for Arsenal or Crystal Palace?
* As improved as the defensive performance was, it looked like our players heads were consumed with this.
When we feel secure as a group then we will attack with creativity without fear of transition.
* Not wanting to think that I know what Arteta should do first, but it’s certainly exciting to think about.
I think back to when I inherited a car crash.
The coaching moment that made the biggest difference was when I did two things.
I showed each player a video of their best self.
I told them what they look like when they are playing at their optimum.
I got them excited again and intentionally distracted them from their current situation.
I’ve also learnt to not try to fix everything at once. Good players can make you think that they’ve got it but they need repetition to make it automatic for the intensity of Premier League.
* If Arsenal’s kids are not quite ‘starter ready’ then we have at least given them much experience and in a negative environment, to be able to contribute.
We need better senior players and much like Liverpool have Henderson and Milner, our squad need proper leaders.
Even though we have many experienced players (Xhaka, Auba, Luiz, Sokratis, Laca etc..), none of them have risen in our adversity. You should judge a leader based on adversity not sunshine.
Ideally you want an ‘Arsenal man’ to rise up. Someone who really cares. Maybe that’s Bellerin? Just not sure Bellerin will be first choice next season.
* I see that AFTV got abused.
Interesting timing. There have been far worse days than Everton away. On the cusp of a positive coaching change too.
Personally, I greatly appreciate what Robbie Lyle has done even though he may have capitalized on the drama. My perspective may be very different to yours though, as I’m a Brit abroad, living in the middle of a small town in Tennessee where people think Arsenal is a term to describe the amount of guns they have in the safe in their basement.
If you lived where I do, you’d watch AFTV because you don’t get the fan engagement or banter otherwise.
Ultimately for me, it’s much like anything that you may like or not… don’t watch it if you don’t like it.
If you think it’s dividing the club then I’d be far quicker to point at those who make the decisions. If we were winning and playing beautiful football and the AFTV interviewees were being prodded to spout negativism then I’d be upset with them.
* I’m wondering if Mikel will see the value in having some more Arsenal legends around the club.
Teach those that don’t care quite so much, how to care and love The Arsenal.
Modern day Arsenal doesn’t have as much going for it…. yet.
The Adams, Bergkamp, Henry era was revered.
If some of those guys want to be a part I’d find them a specific role, probably as ambassador. It would remind those considering Arsenal what we were and what we could be again.
* Will be sad if Freddie goes to Malmo.
Big credit to Freddie for the defensive structure he achieved against Everton, especially as this is being ignored and will be quickly forgotten.
* I’m thinking that Arteta will solidify us by playing 4-3-3.
I don’t see a number 10 at the club that’s really stood up and said, ’we have to play with a number 10 because look at me.’
I think 4-3-3 suits our players profile anyway.
Talking of ESR, I was talking with pundit Bobby McMahon and he thought that he would turn out to be a DM. I’d not thought of this idea.
I’m buckled up and very excited.
First thing I expect to see from the Arteta era is natural enthusiasm.
I think the players will love his sessions and will respond to his coaching eye.
I think they’ll feel revitalized and as a coach the best of times are when you know that you don’t have to motivate your players because the environment has already motivated them.
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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.