Arsenal making me Why?
Overall, since Mikel Arteta took over I’ve been beyond excited. To the point where I’ve nailed a bold statement to the wall by telling my friends, “You’ll see. Arteta will be one of the best coaches in Europe in a short period of time.”
This may still happen as the list of impressive qualities is quite large.
I am not doubting Mikel Arteta and the Club but I’ve found myself recently asking ‘Why?’ on many occasions.
Here are my Why’s…..
- Lacazette’s form is a continuation not a new discovery. Maybe we tried to sell him in the summer and weren’t able. What I’m struggling with is that one of Eddie Nketiah or Florian Balogun may leave because of Lacazette. The concept of Auba at CF is an obvious solution for many reasons. The one that I feel is being missed is that we instantly improve as soon as Lacazette is not playing. Hate to say it. At that point you can put Auba there or Eddie or Balogun. There is a knock on effect too. Benefit #1 No Lacazette. #2 Auba in position to get more chances. #3 A real winger in Saka/Nelson on the wing. #4 As Saka can play wide, Pepe can play inside. In my head this makes much more sense so….. Why are we persisting with Lacazette when it’s hurting all these other players and areas too? What would’ve made sense in the summer, if a long term solution wasn’t financially available, would be to rescue Giroud from the Chelsea bench. A short term fix that would be perfect for our system. Someone to hold the ball up as we frequently go long. A head on the end of Tierney’s excellent delivery. The best one touch CF around both with his back to goal and when finishing. He would’ve allowed us to still utilize the younger options too. We sold the wrong one.
- I can make sense of Saliba not playing. Losing a parent must be awful. Losing a parent when you’ve barely left home must be even harder. Match this with the club not playing him in PL games, I can even give the club a round of applause as they are clearly looking after the human first, both his emotional well-being and saving him from the over hype that we are a part of. What I am wondering though is…. Why can’t he play in the EL group stages or the Carabao Cup when these games are so much less important and easier?
- Normally when any new player arrives at a club you see a run of energetic performances at the least. You also get an impressive start as they want to prove why they are at the club. Willian’s power boost happened at Craven Cottage and lasted 90 minutes. Not only has he not played well the next group of games, he is hiding….. Why has his standard dropped so quickly? He doesn’t need adaptation time to the league and he’s not an intimidated youngster.
- I understand buying Cedric. At the time our RB’s were struggling…. Why 4 years though?
- I find myself waking up in the night in a cold sweat from nightmares of Leno getting hurt. Runarsson may be the answer in time. I have no darts to throw at him as I’ve never seen him play but….Why are we risking our only first choice GK by playing him in every game and why didn’t we secure ourselves by buying a number 2 that we trust?
- It sure looks like we are not only buying better players but buying modern, athletic , PL competitive players. See Gabriel and Partey. The game is now demanding this. Refuse to do it and you come 8th, right? The midfield is the main area where these players are needed. This is exemplified when you see the athletic struggles of Xhaka and in particular the regularity with which opposing coaches are pressing him. A three man midfield needs a playmaker, a destroyer and a line breaker. We actually have these players in our squad. In fact we have all of these qualities in one player, but that’s another blog. Willock, ESR and in particular, Ainsley Maitlind-Niles, are standing outside the house waving through the window and saying, ‘We may not be better or more experienced than the players you select, but all three of us can break lines all day and the team is DESPERATE for this.’ I understand that Willock needs to be technically more secure and have final product and that ESR has been injured, but…. Why hasn’t AMN even been given the chance to prove whether he can play midfield beyond 3 opportunities in 3 years? Not even in the EL or CC. Again, he doesn’t need to be ‘better’ than MO/GX or DC. He might just be what we NEED though.
- Is it just me that sees that Pepe struggles for consistency when he is given more than 3 seconds on the ball? I don’t see him as an orthodox winger. He attracts a crowd and takes too long to beat them. I see him as potentially top level if you got him within 25 yards of goal and as an inside forward and told to get it under control, shift it and shoot. This is his main threat. Again, when he came on vs Leicester he was trying to dribble around 3-4 players. His dribbling is good but… Why are we asking him or not stopping him from attempting ‘Goal of the Season’ every time he gets the ball? I wonder if he cares about being effective and is satisfied with having an astonishing 10 moment highlight reel at the end of the season.
- Not that I disagree with the decision in the main but it does promote the question…. Why has Joe Willock gone from being the player with the most starts last season to barely involved?
- I could never understand why Alex Iwobi got all the minutes and Reiss Nelson got none. I speculate that if it would’ve even been 50/50, then Reiss Nelson would be starting now. Why hasn’t he been trusted to play in a run of games in his Arsenal career? The one time he was (for Hoffenheim), he was tearing it up. We could play Saka as an attacking midfielder and have Reiss in his best position as inside left and solve our creative problem instantly. Maybe we wouldn’t though? Maybe he’s not good enough? Hard to know if you don’t try. Truth is the answer may not be in January. It might be at Colney but we aren’t willing to try it.
- Why does our bench frequently have 2 similar players who play the same position sacrificing a spot for a position we need? Perfect example…. Nketiah AND Lacazette, but no winger (Nelson). Then 2 GK’s on the bench but no Centre Back. Strange.
- Is it just me or did you see a distinct lack of urgency and definitely a lack of courage when we were 0-1 down at both City and against Leicester. I’ve got a theory…. Of all the messages we’ve heard from Arteta, the one that sticks in my mind the most is ‘trust the process.‘ I agree with him. We should. The process is broadly speaking been very encouraging. Here is the thing though. I wonder if that same message is the reason that we don’t change our attacking plan if Plan A is not fruitful? There are certainly frequent changes in Arteta’s hybrid plan but they are organized pre-game. It seems that if the pre-game organization isn’t solving the problems that the game is throwing up, that the players are told to ‘trust the process’ and continue. Almost like Arteta thinks it’s a weakness to change. Why would a coach with so many modern ideas not utilize the creativity that he does have DURING the game rather than talk about it post-game?
Every club has fan’s asking, ‘Why?’ It just seems that our ‘Why’s?’ are very solvable or should never have happened in the first 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.