Little Lucky Winks Back
POSITIVES, NEEDS AND HOPES
Amongst the wash of badness that Arsenal have been this season, Arsenal have also been unlucky.
Perhaps all teams are as unlucky as us? I don’t pay close enough attention to all of them to know. I can say however, that I can’t remember a season being an Arsenal fan where I’ve felt so hard done by at times. I could throw stats at you but stats aren’t my preference. Anyway stats don’t relate to luck so much. I far prefer feeling. One reoccurring thought I’ve had all season is ‘can we get a break?’ Whether it be a VAR decision or a penalty award or simply a miserable performance from an opponent, I think we’ve had little luck.
Yesterdays game seemed like this break. As if luck looked at us and apologized for not being around, gave us a wink and tickled Jorginho.
Without pulling out the stock cliches, you have to be able to win games with your backs to the wall.
Whether you chose to build the wall or whether they forced you to build it, all teams have games where the uncelebrated is the headline.
We all tend to judge performances mainly on our attacking efforts. The truth of football is that you will never lose if you don’t concede but you can lose if you score let’s say, three times.
I think it’s fair therefore to celebrate the following;
- Organization and communication
- The press
- Blocking shots
7. Little Lucky
There is also arguably more value in this type of win. Play really well be you Arsenal or Burnley and you should win. Play like yesterday and it’s still a toss up. Come through yesterday and you get a feeling of TEAM. Of warriors with dented shields. Somehow it means more because it was difficult.
It would be so much more beneficial if this would’ve come mid-season but little lucky was spending most of it’s time giving Man Utd penalties.
I feel no guilt. Arsenal are not in a place to go to Stamford Bridge and play the in-form potential CL and FA Cup champions and expect to go toe-to- toe and win. This is what it had to be and as much as I didn’t enjoy it 3 hours ago as I am now, this was a potential mood changer.
Let’s not underestimate how our mood dictates what our angry fingers type and how our feelings are directed.
So, maybe defending very well is more important than we credit.
Remember….. you can lose if you score.
-When we return to The Emirates let’s remember who we see value in. Whether you think Thomas Partey has been good or frustratingly inconsistent, you can’t deny that his ceiling is high. He has not yet had the opportunity to feel the love of the fanbase. Not yet played in front of a crowd in England. Playing in England is unique and often preferred by players mainly because they love the passion of the fans. They won’t necessarily tell us but their main source of energy is for the individual chants. Let’s make Partey feel the love turning turn him into a consistent player.
-Alongside Partey, Gabriel, Holding, Mari and ElNeny had the most dents in their shield. It may be the main part of their job but what impressed me was the 90 minute focus. Not perfect but clearly intentional. ElNeny is the perfect example of the 6 point list above. He has most if not all of these qualities most weeks. Our opinion is clouded by his offensive game which is more important to us.
-I think Arteta played Saka on the right to counteract an inverted Chelsea winger/playmaker cutting in on his right, Saka’s left. Often it’s Mount. I understand the coaching thought. In my experience at full speed game motion it confuses a players automatisms when they switch jobs. Even the ultra versatile Saka. Kudos to Arteta for fixing earlier though.
-Smith Rowe is the poster child of the benefits of what you do off the ball. If I had to put on an ‘Off the Ball’ Symposium I would head to clips of ESR before any other modern footballer. He mixes unselfish movement pulling players away from areas to be penetrated with high energy pressing as well as the simple yet often unreplicated quality of moving after you pass. I credit Arsenal’s Academy who clearly are raising players to value these modern traits.
-Talking of feelings over stats….. sometimes stats can make your feelings feel like a fool. Look at this post Christmas Day League Table.
Quite unreal how our feelings aren’t represented by the facts.
-One of my favourite new Arsenal podcasts is ‘Not Another Arsenal podcast.’ I think it’s better than the four regulars realize. It is full of wisdom in a sea of many other options where original thought is hard to come by.
I wanted to include some wisdom from the host, Mike Herz, who is also a regular on The Gooners Podcast.
“It’s clear that the team hasn’t turned on Arteta which is extremely important for the future.”
Concise, wise and true. I’ll share my thoughts on this in the audio below.
Kelly Beck is another wise head on the podcast and I enjoyed his post game thought. Gave me a wry smile as it’s so true…
“I’d say it’s wonderful to be on the *receiving end* of a comical defensive error and living on the very edge of variance to eek 3 undeserved points”
This was echoed by Chris who expands….”Variance finally went for us, not against us. The game reminded me of our Burnley and Leicester games where we dominated but ended up losing 1-0 because of individual errors. It was nice to see another club be on the wrong end for once.”
-It’s quite lovely to be typing positives for a change. I’ll keep the next section short in order to celebrate this 🙂
-ALL SEASON LONG WE’VE HAD 2 RIGHT BACKS ON THE BENCH. NOW 3!!! PLEASE CAN WE HAVE AZEEZ and BALOGUN ON THE BENCH EVEN AS AN OPTION?!?!? PLEASE!
I agree that if we are pushing for Europa then this is a big ask to rely on them. That’s NOT the only eventuality though. What if we are comfortably winning vs CP or BHA? Let’s encourage Balogun over Nketiah. One has just signed and the other is likely signing for BHA in 2 months. Let’s encourage Azeez over Ceballos. One is the future of our Central Midfield. The other is off to a mid table Spanish team in 1 month.
I think Arteta is picking his bench based on 1 or 2 game scenarios rather than the other potential game states.
-It’s not an original thought that Arsenal need a target man but that was evidenced again yesterday. Auba does 50% of what you want your CF to do. The 50% he does very well. The other half hurts the team in 50% of the games is my observation. Regardless of how strong we may/may not become in the future, there will always be a need for hold up play and aerial ability. We average 11 set plays per game and probably have the same number of opportunities to hold the ball up too. The success of Ollie Watkins at Villa is pushing me to seriously consider Ivan Toney. I also love Odsonne Edouard.
-If Arteta stays for the long term we need to adapt our minds to the fact that he coaches each game as an individual event rather than trusting the benefits of player comfort.
In time the players will get better at constant adjustment as it will become normal. He has put out 35 different teams in 36 games and to my best count we have played 8 formations.
-Take a listen (at bottom of blog) to my PNH Expanded 15 minute audio podcast. I was going to chat Leno here but I’ll save it for there. You may not agree.
-You may have already heard of Ridle Baku at Wolfsburg and Jurrien Timber at Ajax. They are two of the best young right back talents in Europe. Baku is the most two footed full back I’ve seen in a while. A 23 yr old on the cusp of playing for Germany in the Euros.
Timber is 19 and a supreme athlete. A player who seems to ice skate rather than run. High skill level matched with defensive tenacity.
Two options to replace any or all of our Right Backs. Easy sell to get them though. If you are a right back you will always make the bench at the least. All 8 of you.
I can see Arsenal jumping over Spurs and West Ham, I think. I can also see Everton jumping over Arsenal. I cannot see how Arsenal can jump over Liverpool.
I also cannot believe that if all of these guys do chuck it in that we could come 5th. How ridiculous would this be in what is essentially a terrible season!
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.