A game for the future
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
Did we simply not play very well?
Were we pressed beyond suffocation?
Were we a little lucky to get a point?
Are we a ‘prime conditions’ team?
Are we still a team that needs ‘perfection’ to create chances?
Did we play to Brighton’s strengths?
Are our touches still rusty at crucial moments?
Probably a little of all.
There was one thought however, that stuck with me. Arsenal’s squad is still unfinished. When it’s complete it will include an option for a physical striker. He may or may not be a starter but he’d be an option. An option for a day like yesterday.
He would’ve been able to handle the 3 refrigerators that Auba was playing against. He would’ve swung the momentum from the 20th-45th minute when we were suffering and couldn’t hold possession. He would’ve made our high crosses worth crossing.
We started the game well, utilizing our rather impressive new quicker tempo and eluding Brighton’s midfield. In time we will be able to maintain the one touch option as we show more trust in each other and improve our movement.
I’m hoping that in time to come we will trust ourselves to play a higher line against a team who aren’t any quicker than our back line. Our back line have just met each other though.
A time will come where our new international players will realize that going to a beach town for a day doesn’t mean it’s not going to pelt with rain for an hour and a half. That adversity in the PL includes weather as well as teams that seem to have steroid induced levels of energy.
Hoping that Gabriel actually plays a game against Brighton without losing a tooth! Two gone in two games against them.
That in time our ‘new’ team will have natural automatisms that we are currently finding hard to achieve on a consistent basis. Probably understandable.
This seemed like a game for the future.
A game in the future where I’d expect us to continue domination beyond a 20 minute spell. Where Lacazette isn’t our best physical striker. Where it won’t just be ESR and Saka that have natural chemistry. Where Arteta will have even more trust in his back line. A time where Gabriel will be allowed to wear an American Football helmet against Brighton.
- Firstly, it would be remiss of me to not mention that everyone in that stadium looked bedraggled yet Arteta’s hair was utter glistening perfection.
- It was promising that we were able to beat the non-stop BHA press in the first part of the game. Tempo is a clear improvement for this team and the desire for a quick start is much appreciated. With Odegaard, ESR and Saka being raised on a higher tempo, we have three important tools already in place. For what it’s worth, it may also be why Pepe isn’t starting.
- I like to judge first with my eyes and based on how I feel. I feel like this team has a stronger determination to not concede than any AFC team in many years. There were a couple of mistakes today and some glaring misses by Brighton but it wasn’t down to a lack of determination from Arsenal to deny.
- Big kudos to the team for their defending at corners. Brighton are one of the tallest teams in the league and at set plays we dealt with the threat admirably. It does make me nervous when Odegaard is man marking Dan Burn but I understand the concept of coaching a man marking dueled with zonal system. The hope is that the center backs on the top of the 6 yard box, who are there to attack the ball, can stop those being man marked from getting near the ball.
- It may sound like a low bar but after the first half I had the thought that a previous Arsenal side would’ve been 2 or 3-0 down at half time. I was encouraged that we rode out a bad patch. Strength and belief will be garnered from that period as well as the clean sheet.
- Lacazette looked trimmer. Perhaps it was the beard trim confusing me but I believe he’s been working hard in the gym. He was sharp too which was rather unexpected considering his lack of football. He turns well under pressure and his technique coming towards the ball is good. He just needs a change of pace and better movement. Too late for the former but I live in hope that he can watch a Van Persie video and learn the latter.
- I’d love to know what happened at the end of the transfer window in Arteta’s office when he talked to AMN. It may well be on the Amazon documentary. It seems that AMN went from complaining on Insta to being in the squad, on the field and now a regular contributor. I’m a big fan and I think we see more of him over the Xhaka-less period.
- I love the anger that Ramsdale shows towards his defenders. There is something that gives fans and players such confidence when your keeper rages. Weird, but true.
- There is a feeling out there that is growing that this team needs an almost perfect build up to score. The developmental coach in me likes this as when it comes together it will be hard to stop. In the short term, there will be games like yesterday when we may look like we need a Plan B when the ‘perfection football’ is being pressed out. There were many times on the top of the box that we were trying to thread a very narrow needle. On a soaking wet day we should have been ‘playing the game’ rather than the ‘plan’ and shooting low shots that would’ve caused Sanchez big problems skipping in front of him. Both keepers were dropping a couple and yesterday screamed of winning via a tap-in from a keeper parry. There was also a need for some different set plays. Again, BHA are strong in the air and so a corner perhaps dummied at the far post and shot from the PK spot would’ve been far more effective than trying to compete with Burn, Dunk and Duffy.
- Tierney’s one footedness is starting to bother me. He misses so many opportunities to pass forward and is very predictable when dribbling. I’m gonna have to let go because he’s not even close to being a problem. I just see this weakness as a super easy fix as a 10 yard pass with your weak foot should be achievable under pressure from a budding pro at the age of 13 let alone in your 20’s. Breathe.
- I’m not sure that I understand why during some games we are so focused on finding Auba early and then other games where it’s arguably more suited, we ignore. Brighton pressed high, space behind, we struggled to play through the press yet we ignore Auba’s runs. Frustrating.
- Why keep tossing high balls into ESR and Auba against the 3 refrigerators? There weren’t an excessive amount and I know Auba hit the post from one but… Perhaps I’m just frustrated that we didn’t play to our strengths offensively rather than this being a particular problem.
- Generally, that game needed to be re-coached I felt. That ended up being a game of risk taking movement in order to keep the tempo up and give us one touch options. We were smothered. A game to shoot more and low. A game for a hi-line and a game where the importance of second balls was a game changer.
- Many of the attacks started with Trossard. He was allowed by Tierney to repeatedly receive the ball with little pressure. If it wasn’t Trossard it was Maupey 😡 who was allowed to turn between the lines. Another reason for a higher line.
- I like Graham Potter. Many do. Not only do his teams improve but he seems to evolve too. That’s the best BHA version I’ve seen. Yet again they lack the last and most important piece (which was quite handy) as they seem to finish with such violence and lack finesse. I bring this up as England need to trust ‘no name’ coaches more. Very few knew Potter before Brighton. In my opinion the best English coaches are coaching in the Academies.
- I’d love for Gabriel to stay at Arsenal to work during the break, but part of me hopes he finally gets international recognition.
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.
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