Sometimes the Solution is the Winner
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
So, we didn’t get 3 points but….. what did we get?
We got returning players, Partey in particular. We got a better performance from our central midfielders. Our backline looked solid and we defended against two of the trickiest players in the league, admirably. A clean sheet is always important too.
Sometimes the biggest plus though is when a bright light shines on what you didn’t get. The solution becomes the big win. To make my point let’s look at the central areas.
As happy as I was that Xhaka and Ceballos, who both gave 7/10 performances, there were times I pined for more. I then had the realization that they aren’t capable. The game was crying out for one of them to run with the ball and commit a midfielder so that ESR had space. They didn’t do it and I’m not sure I wanted them to either as it’s not their skillset and they don’t have the athletic qualities to recover. We needed either or both of them to either shoot or play a cute ball into the box, but they don’t think that way. Xhaka made so many tackles and Ceballos works hard even though he looks like he’s dragging sandbags from the 1st minute but if a player plays close to his best but still can’t do what’s needed then the winner is the solution.
Smith Rowe looks like he will become an Arsenal favourite. Last night he struggled. It’s only one game and he was probably fatigued but there were a few holes in the way he played rather than his productivity. The game was compact but he positioned himself too close to their backline. An attacking midfielder should always position himself closer to the back of their midfield on the half turn. That way the ball doesn’t have to travel an extra 5 yards giving the backline a real dilemma. He was constantly under pressure. Step closer to their midfield, Emile.
Secondly, he looked like he’d reverted to playing unnecessary backwards passes like many of our team do. Safe passes with a focus on ball retention over risk taking. Thankfully, both of these issues can be resolved quickly, but only if the Manager sees them and is wanting him to play differently.
The bright solution light that shone in this area was evidenced by ESR’s performance but more so Tierney’s absence. Our biggest nightmare is not having ESR at all. Overplaying him like perhaps we’ve done with Tierney. ESR needs competition but more importantly Arsenal need another option. Preferably from a player whose instinct is risk and bravery. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one debating whether a player like Buendia would be a smart move as it may ‘kill ESR.’ Again, it’s one 6/10 performance but if there has been a reoccurring theme throughout this season it’s that we have an issue with offensive bravery.
Lacazette has been in significantly better form. His combinations have been very impressive. Not every game is won by combinations though but EVERY game has opportunities to score from crosses. Lacazette is so poor from crossing positions that I subconsciously rule him out when a cross is coming in. It seems so wasteful that we are providing some delicious crosses yet don’t have any attacking threat in the air as Lacazette marks himself and Auba is more focused on not being hurt.
I think Arsenal can do better and in a warped way, I’m grateful that the light was redirected back on the issues so we don’t overhype players that have limitations.
I want to come to the point where I stop getting excited when my CF wins a header in the box or my CM runs with the ball. I don’t think that’s asking too much.
- The biggest positive is the general thought that we aren’t far away from having a fully fit squad and having the vast majority of players flirting with their best form. Leno is on top form as is Tierney. Holding, Mari and Luiz are playing very close to their potential and Gabriel is returning. Xhaka and Ceballos like the centre backs are playing close to their personal best and Partey has returned. Aside from yesterday Saka, Martinelli and ESR are showing the ability to win games and are sparkling. Lacazette has been in his best form for over a year. Bellerin needs to make better decisions and Auba’s goals will come when we get consistent attacking rhythm.
- Bellerin is normally described as being a better attacker than defender. Not by me, but many. Yesterday, his defending blocks were pivotal and game changing.
- Leno is consistently saving us and proving that he is worth the batch of points that John Terry lied to us about when he was describing Petr Cech.
- David Luiz has started only making mistakes in the opponents half and generally speaking, has been solid for the vast majority of this season.
- Anyone out there want to do the pre game team talk? You need to be able to motivate players to believe that they don’t need to chuck away the first half of most of the games. Applications to figureitoutMikel@quickly.com
- Nothing speaks to the modern day fan more than the reaction to the performance of AMN. We feel the need to slaughter someone after one game and out do each other with a more aggressive attack than the last post we read. AMN had a bad game. It was probably his worst game for Arsenal. I think these thoughts can be true without stating that we need a different back up LB and that he’s not good enough. I think the truth is that the few times he’s called upon to play out of his natural position, he does very well or is highly impressive. He hasn’t been trusted to play a run of games for a year and deserved the opportunity in one of three positions. Before you suggest that he needs to be sold, thrown in the bin or that he’s rubbish you might try to persuade me that there is a better modern, athletic and versatile squad player available that can not play for a month and then step in and give an 8/10 performance on repeated occasions. I can’t think of one. Tierney playing like Roberto Carlos probably doesn’t help him either.
- What’s the point of our diagonal kick off and our attacking corners. What are we hoping to achieve as both are repeated twice a week and both aren’t working.
- I was a little disappointed that Arteta didn’t work out earlier that the route to goal was going on the outside of Palace. Having inverted wingers played into their gameplan.
- As well as our CM’s needing to commit their CB’s by running with the ball, we needed Luiz and Holding to commit their CM’s too.
- We have to be the worst team in the league at knowing how to counter attack! The number of times we killed it by passing sideways or backwards was infuriating.
- When we look to play the ball over the top our midfielders need to step up 20 yards to win the second ball. I’d say that 75% of those long passes get headed out 10 yards and we aren’t able to capitalize.
- Don’t want to kick a man when he’s down but did you know (as per Orbinho) that Pepe has created zero chances for teammates from open play this season. Zero. Yikes!
- I’d love AMN to become a permanent part of our midfield rotation. Don’t think it’s going to happen though. I’m sure Arsenal will look in the summer for a back up left back. A name for you to check on is Borna Sosa, the Croatian left back at Stuttgart. Skillful, quick and brave. Actually very similar to KT.
If Martinelli plays on Monday, I think that’s enough. We desperately needed a spark yesterday. Some energy. He isn’t fatigued and his energy is contagious. Let’s hope he’s ready then.