Pressure wins twice
If you are thinking that the headline refers to Arsenal beating Southampton due to two individual moments of pressure, you’d be 50% correct.
Arsenal won due to a couple of reasons, and leaning into their speed upfront was certainly one of them.
Southampton never found an easy way to play or create due to our pressure in the right areas.
Their best chances were a couple of half chances but nothing more due to their lack of quality under pressure.
That pressure can win you the majority of games against lesser teams as they lack the extra composure under pressure.
The other pressure I speak of is based on strong rumour but makes all kinds of sense.
We are apparently going to secure one or two very important signings for next season.
If this is true, it is fantastic but honestly, it’s very predictable.
Historically, Arsenal’s board always react when the fire gets too hot.
They wait until the club’s perception is being greatly affected and then the pressure pushes them to act.
Prior to the game I told my son, Max, that if we lose then it might actually help us. He looked confused. I explained that if we were to finish the season well, the club would give us some money but probably not enough.
If we don’t the pressure will force them to do what they did last summer, and spend big.
I know it’s kinda sad, but we all know this is how our club works.
Pressure may have got us two wins, not just one.
Not exactly sure how I feel about this!
* There are many ways to be superior in football.
You can try to dominate physically. Football has certainly become more physical, particularly athletically.
Arsenal can’t do this with these players. We don’t have a single midfielder or forward who is physically dominant in their area. It’s not really much better at the back.
You can dominate technically as we did 10 years ago, but don’t anymore.
You can dominate mentally by being an intimidating group or simply refuse to lose. We are miles from this too.
You can play for set plays and dominate that way.
So, where is the positive?
In the midst of all the anger this week, we may have forgotten that Arsenal do have an advantage. They have a coach that seems to have full respect from everybody that is around him.
He won the game tactically by focusing on nullifying Southampton’s recent strengths and confusing them with 2 formations and offensive rotation.
It took Saints a while to figure out how to handle Saka at left central midfield defensively then left wing back offensively. The same issue with Eddie and Auba who kept switching roles and creating gaps on transition.
Our hope is that this upcoming transfer window we can modernize our squad and become able to win games that are needing technical superiority, physical dominance and mental strength. Player change that will do this.
* I was tentatively optimistic when Arteta took over and talked about the importance of ‘non-negotiables.’
I was excited that finally someone wanted to bring discipline to Colney and correct the biggest era that Wenger made.
I was also nervous because I’ve done similar before as a coach. I’ve put out a rule and then realized that I had to follow through no matter what. My team lost a game once when I told my squad that you can’t start games if you are late to warm up, and can’t play if you don’t communicate an absence. My best players didn’t start. We got rolled over but I had to follow through.
I’ve also broken my own rules and ‘overlooked’ the clock so that a big player can start. We got a short term gain but I lost some respect from my squad because they didn’t believe my words after. They never forget that and from that moment on your words as a coach, mean less.
They say the same about parenting. Don’t make a rule if you’ll break it.
I think the biggest positive that Arteta has brought so far is that it seems that he does what he says he will.
You see this in the way he’s dealt with Ozil, Guendouzi, AMN, Pepe and others.
This is the biggest difference between Arteta and Emery. Unai Emery tried to correct the huge lack of discipline that he inherited but then he caved.
Stay strong Mikel! It will have a great pay off soon.
* Often the last piece of a footballers armory is decision making. Lots of talent but inconsistent decision making. Have you noticed that Bukayo Saka doesn’t have this issue?
* Aubameyang’s movement opened up a chance almost every time he had one. That doesn’t happen often as players are not always in position or making the correct type of run.
* Martinez gives me confidence. He is commanding and confident.
He makes me believe.
I know he’s made a few small mistakes this season but I don’t expect mistakes from him. Speaks for itself.
* Both Holding and Mustafi have a chance to be part of the squad next season. This is their chance. Two games running they’ve looked solid. Holding in particular offers aerial presence that few of our CB’s do.
* As well as his pressing and goal, I particularly liked Eddie’s back tackling. He snuck up on Saints midfield often.
* Xhaka brought the necessary organization and positioning that Guendouzi didn’t and can’t.
* Bellerin needs to prepare his body shape better. He doesn’t fully open up. This killed him in the first half as he repeatedly gave the ball away as he couldn’t see his teammates ahead of him.
* The training field needs to see time spent on exit strategies from full back areas. We give the ball away from these areas more than any other area.
Secondly, as solid as Xhaka was he often kills himself by not using his right foot when receiving it from the left side of the field. Quite bizarre actually.
* I’m hoping that our confidence will rise and as a result we will see midfielders open their hips more and play forward from. Too insecure right now.
* There was a moment at the back post where Southampton missed their best chance. It happened because our back three were playing zonally, too compact. Often with a back three you become too numerically secure and ‘leave it for the next guy.’
* Although we won, we often lost composure on the counter attack. The finishing or final part will change. Again, we need our midfielders to feed the forwards when they have a chance. Ceballos often ignores a through ball.
* Pedro is about to sign for Roma which makes me believe that Kluivert is coming to Arsenal.
Here is my piece on Justin Kluivert. A special talent that could become a great.
* I hope Matt Smith takes Guendouzi’s place in the squad for a while. He has a similar skill set but a better mentality.
* Sounds like the Thomas Partey is going to happen. Could transform our midfield.
Apparently, the transfer of Dayot Upamecano is agreed too, bar us finding the money to do it. A rather big hurdle, I know.
You may also know that the generational talent that is Dominik Szoboszlai may join Arsenal too.
As I’ve said regularly on here, he is a natural footballer. Makes football look easier than it is. Adds a big goal threat with both assists and goals. Super, super talent.
I’m interested in Hojbjerg too. A serious, modern all round midfielder.
On the day where we saw a system that fit the players, we won.
We look for rhythm now.
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.