POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
If you read my last post you’ll know I talked about the different ways to win.
I felt that Arteta won the Southampton game tactically.
This didn’t surprise me as I see this as a strength. It will happen again.
Yesterday, was very surprising.
In a way I’m not happy that I was surprised we came back to win. Shouldn’t be that shocking but until we balance and modernize I’m sure I’ll stay surprised.
After winning the tactical game against Southampton we have added to that two far more important ways of winning, at least as far as Arsenal are concerned. We won a physical game as we won the mental challenge.
We weren’t necessarily better than Sheffield Utd physically but we matched them. The air raid and impressive laser throw ins were a surprise but designed for us in mind no doubt.
There are many ways to be physical. We aren’t going to ever bully teams with our current squad so it’s not that. There are two pieces.
Firstly, you have to try to make it difficult. You can’t accept that they will win the fight, you have to make it as hard as possible. This is what I saw.
More impressive was the energy. It will be overlooked by most but not the club. The GPS devices they wear will pick up that the amount of repeat sprints especially in the last five minutes was highly impressive.
We rarely won the ball with our pressing but that’s not the first objective of a pressing player or unit.
The first objective is that you eliminate their ‘best pass.’
When you sit off they can pick the pass they want to make.
Pressing yet never contacting the ball wins games all by itself. It’s like a sliding doors moment. You’ll never get to see what would’ve happened but if you did you’d see a very different picture.
The mental win is even bigger. Don’t tell me you weren’t shocked that we scored the winner. I don’t think anybody saw that coming. So, we credit Arsenal for not mentally folding but continuing to believe.
Moments like Ceballos’ goal have multi-repeat value.
The next time we concede late our players will remember that moment. They last a while and if you keep doing it they last a season.
Not sure who we credit for that belief as we’d have to be on the inside to know if it’s a ‘non- negotiable,’ leadership from the field or as it looked, a group of younger players that are probably more carefree in their attitude and won’t give up regardless.
The end result for Arsenal Football Club might be bigger than we realize.
If we lose that game then the talk is of a big club turning to a mid-table, mediocre group. We are currently living on the precipice of that being truth.
As we won we get worldwide coverage. The FA cup semi finals are watched universally. If we want better players in the summer we need to be seen in the big games not ripped apart on the back pages.
This victory has not only given us mental and physical belief but it will have protected the perception of the club.
In the hunt for better players it’s always important to remember that a large number of them don’t watch football as much as we do. They just get the headlines.
The headlines needed to be good, and they were.
* I’ve got a few to mention but if this is true it could be huge…
So we hear that Athletico Madrid want to swap Partey and Guendouzi.
This is how I look at it.
Arsenal are going to be looking this window for players to make us a more athletic, modern and competitive team.
We are also looking for players who have the right attitude, hence why Guendouzi is likely leaving.
I thought we’d have to shell out €50M on Partey which would likely prohibit us from buying a CB too.
If we can do this swap I think no matter Guendouzi’s potential he is not what we need right now and he will never grow into the physical description of what we need either.
So, for me if we can get rid of a player who is a problem on and off the field and gain the exact player we need on and off the field why would we debate this?
Thomas Partey is good enough to start at any CL team and it’s honestly a wonder that he is interested in us.
Please be true!
* Beyond the physical and mental wins gained yesterday the main win was individual improvement rather than a great team performance.
AMN was defensively very solid and never beaten. Impressive positioning for a guy who hasn’t played there in months.
Offensively he is significantly more competent than Bellerin. He offers a significantly higher technical level, a greater willingness to penetrate and can actually use all parts of his feet. I know that’s a juvenile observation but Hector doesn’t use the outside of his foot to dribble or pass and never has which severely inhibits him and us both.
It’s not as simple as Arteta playing him at RB or RWB. If AMN is foolish enough to say anything other than ‘thank you’ he will likely end up at Crystal Palace.
For what it’s worth I see him as a penetrative CM in a 3 man midfield but with our right back being inverted often, he finds himself centrally anyway. This could also save us having to buy a first choice RB.
Willock played in a far more positive manner. He can sometimes be submissive but he ran at their back four frequently, which is his strength.
Tierney had his best all round game. Defensively aware and offensively positive on the dribble and his crossing is a big weapon moving forward.
Pepe got a lot of love post game. He was important but still highly frustrating for me. That won’t change in my eyes until he understands how to make himself effective. There were two fabulous counter opportunities where he ran alongside rather than killing the opponent by running behind.
The huge positive was his defensive desire. That is a huge piece of whether he gets to start games.
Martinez’s distribution may see him challenge Leno in time. Beyond his decision making on crosses (Leno struggles here too), I see no obvious weakness. Very impressive for a second choice goalkeeper.
* Perhaps a hidden improvement since Arteta took over is the pace of the pass. I notice the ball being struck more firmly. This takes advantage of the point of moving the ball quickly.
* Mustafi struggles positionally in a three man defence.
* It’s probably too late but we have a large number of one footed players that frequently miss opportunities due to their lack of faith in their other foot. Main culprits are Kolasinac, Tierney and Xhaka.
Kolasinac only passed backwards after breaking past the attacker and dribbling infield. Such a weapon to break lines but not if you can’t pass forwards.
Xhaka doesn’t receive on his right foot. For Tierney, see Kolasinac.
Working on their weak foot at home for 3 months would’ve been a very possible option during the lockdown. Oh well.
* Scratched record here but Lacazette’s biggest weakness is that he doesn’t separate himself from opponents. Does everything under pressure. Lazy.
* Back three can often lead to undefined roles. McBurnie was alone centrally during transition often with 3 defenders behind him.
* I wonder how long the modern way of playing can survive?
Football has become a coach’s game rather than an improvised player’s game.
Some of that is good and needed and the rest is going to become problematic.
Unpredictability is being sucked out of football.
The issue will be when there are so many interceptions and turnovers because players know exactly where the ball is going next.
Coaches will be forced to find another way.
I worry that Arsenal are becoming robotic. It’s my only ‘Arteta concern.’
Maybe it’s simply because of the players we have. I hope so. I don’t want football to become a programmed video game. Its original joy is found in the fact that it’s improvised.
* I look forward to not only modernizing Arsenal this window but adding technical security. Many are mocking the idea of Willian. I don’t think Arsenal can afford anywhere close to the reported £250,000 a week or should they but he is a super versatile technical player who hasn’t lost his pace either. I see him as a wonderful technical midfield option.
The reason I mention him is more because we need to be able to trust our midfielders in tight areas. I see the current need for the longer passing but I think it is more about the fear of passing to a moderately technical player with no recovery speed than a desire to play long.
* You won’t regret watching this video.
I’ll admit I didn’t know Teun Koopmeiners before I was prompted.
I not only see a DM with a far higher athletic potential than Xhaka but I’m aware that he has a history of playing Left CB too.
The first thing you will see if you click is elegance. An elegant DM pinging effortless world class level passes over and over.
He’s 22 and the captain of Alkmaar too. I’m impressed.
* You will have read the rumour about the Macedonian, Enis Bardhi.
You can see him here:
I see Philippe Coutinho but a 1/5th of the wages and fee.
Amidst the positivity I still watch Arsenal from behind the couch.
I’m not comfortable as Arsenal don’t control games. Part of me wants to fast forward to next season.
I am however, enjoying the pieces that are falling into place.
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.