A little glimpse, but not enough
POSITIVES,NEEDS and HOPES
There was so much about yesterday that could’ve been better. Happier. Perhaps, hopeful.
I was trying to feel more excited but couldn’t fake it.
All 3 goals were ordinarily seat jumpers but my son and I only managed a token fist pump. Perhaps like you, I feel stuck in a football tornado. My head and body feel like they are spinning and spinning out of control. There is normally hope to hold on to but quite honestly I’d put my hope in Arteta and if all else was burning then he was the one that knew where the fire extinguisher was. I haven’t given up on him but I’m coming to realize that he is also one of those guilty for lighting the flame and this has left me somewhat dejected.
At 1pm E.S.T. I was not expecting to see what I didn’t see so wasn’t angry but I really don’t get how Azeez and Balogun couldn’t be involved. This feeling is not borne out of impatience as I know that they will get a chance, but more fear. I fear that they will get discouraged when they are the future that we want to encourage. I fear that Arteta is encouraging those that want to leave or he wants to sell. He used the word ‘ruthless’ when he arrived and has started to use it again. I wish he would be ruthless with his line ups and more pointedly, his squad selections. Both Azeez and Balogun could save us purchases this summer or simply allow us to sell and make much needed cash if they can prove that they can be better back ups than Nketiah and ElNeny. It feels like we are wasting this opportunity.
We did however get a glimpse of Martinelli at CF, but he strangely lacked confidence and the decisiveness he normally plays with. Should we appreciate the glimpse or should we ask what the benefit of giving Lacazette 30 minutes was when Martinelli could’ve played 90?
We also got a glimpse of Saka at LB. Again, I was encouraged, not by the choice this time, but by his performance. I wish the emotions could’ve felt cleaner but I/we were getting flashback fevers from the direct comparison with what was absent on the left side a few days ago. Arteta has an uncanny knack of changing what’s working and did it again when moving Saka to left wing. On paper it doesn’t seem so maddening but Arsenal’s left winger is a back to goal connector between the lines rather than the accelerator on and off the ball that Saka does better.
Pepe gave us a glimpse of what he can do when he runs at just one defender and does it directly.
Smith-Rowe gave us a glimpse too. A glimpse into his goal scoring potential with the blessing of a goal from an active player in the box. Not only is this an encouragement for him to repeat this but we desperately need an attacker who is harder to pick up in the box. Lacazette marks himself, Auba pitched his tent at the back post years ago and refuses to move it, Pepe cuts across to the penalty spot but lacks the balance to adjust his body in the box and the midfielders have an allergy to the penalty area.
My annoyed and sarcastic tone today is borne out of Arteta’s inability to understand how to change the narrative. That victory did almost nothing for the feeling amongst the fanbase. It was blah, even though the goals were not. The hope at Arsenal can’t currently be found anywhere off the field and not with the majority on the field. The big positive storyline of 20/21 is the younger players. The fans love them and rightly so. Why not give them more? Why not show them a midfielder in Azeez who has a more rounded midfield game than Elneny and Ceballos’ skillset combined? Why not give them a glimpse of the dynamic Balogun? An electric striker who plays as if wearing a cape.
Maybe I should just enjoy the win. Maybe I should simply marvel at the goals as they were 3 goals we never score.
Just seems like the timing was wrong. It felt like walking into the Haagen Dazs store after eating too much pizza.
-That Willian’s only goal was live on the most popular US network. Hoping all of the not so smart MLS owners were watching his free kick and haven’t paid attention to the other 98% of his season.
-If I was Southgate I’d take Saka to the Euros and play him at left back. He is levels higher than Shaw and Chilwell offensively and there will be many games where England will be on the front foot.
-Arteta has been pining for the fans. He talks of how the players miss and need them. I think the absolute truth is that if the fans were there he may not survive the summer. He might do well to consider not only how frustrated they will be with the risk averse football at home but also with how his quotes are taken on social media. His insistence that Xhaka was missed more than Saka at LB on Thursday is throwing more darts at the hearts of already wounded fans. It also shows what I think is his greatest weakness…… lack of humility.
-We don’t often get to see the attacking runs on the TV screen but they are there. They are also largely ignored. I have a theory that the players don’t play the ball over the top as it’s not one of Arteta’s patterns and they are fearful of repercussions either in words or lower passing stats.
-Even a Ceballos/Elneny pivot looked better than the ‘Partey on an island’ that left us exposed on Thursday. Why didn’t he play 4-2-3-1 when it’s what fits the players best? I’m hoping that one day (preferably very soon) that Arteta will understand that however perfect an idea looks on paper, it’s rare that it is a better idea than players with automatics.
-If it were me I’d give Xhaka, Saka and Tierney the rest of the season off. They will likely play in the Euro’s and we will need them to be as fresh as possible next season. Three weeks off is a far better idea than exhausting our starting LB, RW and CM.
I’ve never liked Sam Allardyce. He’s always come across to me as the type who would walk into a chip shop and call the chippie an idiot for running out of vinegar.
His team were about to be relegated and he sat down the entire game on row 2 of the sub’s bench abusing their decisions and then exited to the tunnel at the end whilst his players broke down on the field. If ever there was a manager that was waiting outside the chairman’s office this morning with a sign saying, ‘Sack me and pay me off,’ it’s him.
I hope he gets sunburnt this summer and that the chippie has extra vinegar and douses him in it.
Sign Bissouma and Buendia and I’ll cheer up 🙂
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.