When you know the Coach is good
Positives, Needs and Hopes
Besides good results, how do you know if you have a good coach?
Clues are found in various places.
a) consistent effort.
b) game winning alterations.
c) bad runs of form don’t last.
d) understanding of importance to build team based on their qualities first and not ‘your ideas.’
There are many more.
One of the most interesting attributes was seen against Bournemouth….
e) How motivated are your fringe players?
Are they moody? Do they give less effort because it’s ‘not worth it?’
Are they clearly trying to do something differently as in most cases, this is the reason that they are not playing regularly?
There was a group of players against Bournemouth that stood out.
Interestingly, they are all players that aren’t currently playing in the first team.
Willock, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Mustafi and to a lesser extent, Nketiah.
There was also a second similar group which included Saka and Martinelli.
The first group are squad players. The second group are currently being given opportunities as others are injured and also because they deserve it due to performance, but not yet established.
By my count six of these seven players were the most impactful.
They looked like they were trying to impress. Willock wasn’t passing the buck. He was repeatedly driving forward. Guendouzi dominated the midfield and often did it alone. Ceballos added penetration to his obvious ability to get on the ball and dominate. Mustafi was not only without mistake but defended very well and initiated attacks. Nketiah wasn’t as involved but frequently offered runs that weren’t picked out. Additionally, he is highly reliable when given a good chance.
Martinelli was a constant threat and Saka was yet again, man of the match.
They are all trying to get into this Arsenal team. They all see hope which isn’t always on offer in other teams squads.
What impressed me most when I think about this is that this is one of the harder parts of any coaches job…. how to motivate those you’re not choosing.
The Guendouzi case is the most interesting because he was playing every week then clearly dropped.
Signs of improvement are everywhere under Mikel Arteta but this one impresses me most because it’s one of the harder ones to accomplish.
* This was the first Arteta game where we were in total control for the vast majority even though we had less possession in the second half. This is edging forward game by game.
* I’ve felt for a while that I’ve been piecing together small glimpses of Joe Willock’s potential in order to figure out his ceiling.
I’ve seen glimpses of a box to box goal scoring midfielder, but only glimpses.
In a midfield lacking athleticism, he has offered this but not regularly.
He has periodically burst forward and opened the game up, but not often.
Aside from pressing I saw no value to him as a #10, yet hoped that he could play as a third man runner in a 4-3-3.
Last night, something changed.
He was undoubtedly the most improved player on show.
He had clearly been encouraged to turn and run at their back four. He was no longer lost and hiding at 10.
An attacking midfielder can be a goal scorer, an assister or a disrupter.
Preferably all three.
The key to the position is turning.
This has been Ozil’s weakness the last few years. He’s been too content to just retain possession and not turn. It’s why Ceballos hasn’t been playing, he doesn’t maximize his potential, either.
If Willock continues to turn, accelerate and drive then he will become more than a disrupter. He will add goals and assists.
If he has a true chance of dispossessing Ozil he needs to do what he does better than Ozil is doing what he does. Watching Ozil, this may happen soon.
* England have a world of options at Right Back. They don’t have this luxury at Left Back.
Versatile players are pivotal at tournaments and so it will be very interesting to see if Saka is called up for the next set of friendlies.
His consistency belies his age and lack of experience. Not only is he going to be the most adept option going forward as he’s a natural winger, but I don’t see glaring weaknesses that should be evident in his defending. Beyond his ability, he is clever. He knows how to use his body to protect the ball and will draw many free kicks.
Ordinarily, with young players you see skill and enthusiasm but timing of runs and positioning are hard to find.
Arsenal have a gem. England might want to take a look.
* I was so thrilled to see Dani Ceballos dissect their back four twice.
Whether he makes it at Arsenal or not, I will maintain that he is an elite talent.
He just needed to add defensive focus and positioning (which Arteta can teach) and the obvious need to not be content to spin in circles and keep possession but penetrate and affect the game in the final third.
I’m hoping this cameo leads to him at least staying the season.
* Guendouzi was at his irritating best.
His improvement was clearly seen in the more subtle side of his game, defensive positioning. Significantly better.
* Sokratis was a tower, as was Mustafi to be fair. Both won everything.
* Love seeing Martinelli’s runs inside that keep dragging the full back with him and leaving Saka free. Better communication in their defence would stop this but it’s working so…. ssshhhh!
* Is the reluctance to play through the centre a lack of technical trust in our CM’s, a lack of options as Xhaka is at LB or simply because Arteta sees our many previous unnecessary transitions as generated through the middle? We are clearly playing in a safer way, hence the number of times the ball is returned to the defenders.
* Is it worth trying Pepe at centre forward?
Think on this… firstly, he’s struggling to match his obvious skill with consistent threat on the right wing.
His coach at Lille states that his finishing ability was “elite level.”
He’s fantastic in small spaces, would find himself in the box more often and therefore a huge penalty threat. He’s quick and fast but would need help with his movement as this is greatly hindering him now.
Just a thought.
* I really like Martinez but as good as his shot stopping has been, his decision making has been sketchy and for a huge unit of a guy, he should be laying opponents out on crosses, but seems to want to avoid contact.
* It’s really interesting/concerning that Rob Holding hasn’t been able to shift Mustafi.
Hasn’t been allowed to play his way into form.
I’m guessing that much like Ceballos and Bellerin, the Club is now being more cautious with players returning from injury.
* I’m hoping that we will shortly see two dominant halves.
* Nathan Ake will become a top European centre back at a big club. I’d happily want to see that at Arsenal. Might be a smarter purchase than Upamecano as he’s PL proven.
* If Ceballos does leave then of the very few loan options available, Emre Can may become a real one for Arsenal. Again, PL proven and hungry to get into the German squad.
I would try for two players, Diawara the DM at Roma. I’d use Mkhi as leverage.
I’d also try to get Santi Cazorla on loan.
He keeps hinting.
It may well be that the 2019/20 season will be remembered as a mess.
It may well be that the 2019/20 season will be remembered as the season where Arsenal saved themselves £200+ million and unveiled Saka, Martinelli, Willock, Nelson, Nketiah and Smith Rowe.
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.