Spin the wheel
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES
I feel like a mug. Well actually I don’t now because the game is finished, but I felt like a mug after 15 minutes of the game.
Like you, most likely, I have friends who support United. They are everywhere. I don’t normally flash my feelings about Arsenal. On Friday I did. I expected us to win comfortably and I chatted the big talk. I thought that off the back of the energy created by the Chelsea result and the home fanbase alongside the intensity that I thought we would show from kickoff, that we would comfortably beat United.
We started and I felt pretty smart after two minutes. Then something changed. All of those reasons to be positive were added to buy an unusually early goal and then….Arsenal gave us yet another performance that adds to the long list of ‘every performance is totally different.’
It is almost as if there is one of those game show wheels in the changing room before the game. There are about 15 alternative options of what you can spin.
Here are a few…
-A tight 1-0 win but won in convincing fashion.
-A tight win where we play at half pace but somehow win anyway.
-A comfortable 3–0 win where we cruise.
-A mess where we play for one half only and lose a game we should’ve won.
-A comfortable 2-0 win where we get very lucky goals against the run of play.
-An undeserving draw.
-A good draw against a big team.
-A highly controversial loss where the VAR official supports Spurs and his kids got beaten up last Thursday by some Arsenal scallywags at Finsbury Park Tube station (this one gets spun a lot).
-We snatch defeat from the jaws of victory due to an idiotic red card.
-A game where we decide that we are going to play with 95 minute intensity and beat anyone put in front of us.
The final one is the most bizarre one….
-You go 1-0 up after two minutes against a team out of form at home and decide to play with poopy pants. The home crowd develop poopy pants too and somehow every decision goes your way (almost) and you win by two clear goals when you could’ve lost by three.
Listen, I am ecstatic………now! That game though was a ruddy heart attack. Perhaps it’s the inexperience of so many of our players that it’s affecting their nerves. Maybe it’s the expectation or the groans from the Home fans that affect us?
Maybe United just played with a better rhythm and were difficult to play against?
We just looked fearful, especially in the first half. What is so odd though is that when the game was there to win or lose in the second half we calmed down.
What an odd team we are!
That documentary is going to be a best seller. The greatest drama of all time.
Perhaps that is the plan🤔
Perhaps we are playing ‘spin the wheel’ football intentionally in order to sell so many DVDs that Dortmund will sell us both Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland and we will go on to win the Champions League for the next 4 years in a row!
Genius plan 💪🏼
- Arsenal are like Xhaka. Xhaka is like Arsenal. You never know where the wheel will stop. In the last two games he has been very good. When others are nervous his simplistic ‘play the way you’re facing’ style, seems to relax others. There is a form of genius that recognizes its game and plays within it. He might want to pass on his shooting technique to our left back.
- Our ability to feel confident in two formations is winning us games. Massive respect to Arteta. We are making a beautiful nasty habit of closing out games with three at the back and looking so much more secure. Credit to Holding and his level of focus coming off the bench and professionalism in his attitude .
- Arteta got out his Harry Potter wand on Cedric at half time. Max and I were praying in Japanese at half time for Tomi. Kudos to Super Mik (or whichever coach) for calming Cedric down.
- Have you noticed that Odegaard loosens up in the final third. Like it’s his habitat. He was likely born with a block of defenders standing outside his hospital room. They cleaned him off and he swaggered out of the room having already scanned for any nurse that wanted him to get in his car seat. He is so at ease when threading the needle or gracefully connecting with others. So glad he’s ours.
- I absolutely love it when Arsenal score a new kind of goal. Tavares‘s goal was such a basic concept goal but not one that we have scored in the recent past. You should always keep moving inside the penalty area. As soon as you freeze and watch somebody shoot then the person who is moving gets to the second ball. There is always somebody that freezes and always somebody that moves.
- Ramsdale has become a little over excited. A little too confident perhaps. I get the feeling that he thinks he can go and win anything. Everything. No need to wear a cape. The gloves will suffice.
- Saka had the big balls again from the spot. Love it. He equally drove me nuts by running behind the defence when Ben White offered him a 10% chance but refused when Odegaard accelerated towards his left back and offered him a birthday/Christmas present combo. Not only is this better for the team as it will make and create simpler chances for him and others but he might realize that football doesn’t have to be about difficult 1-2 dribbles and constantly being rotationally fouled. He could simply sprint away from them and with his pace they won’t be able to catch him.
- I loved our bouncy feet against Chelsea. I know that we were probably fatigued from that but simply having those bouncy feet really causes a concern for your opponent to see that you’re still alive to what they might be about to do.
- After praising Eddie last blog following being critical of him the one before, I wanted to state that he needs to significantly up his aggression level. I want to see him get angry. He’s not weak and a pushover but he’s not really a physical threat as he doesn’t seem to want to play physically with defenders.
- No idea why but three of our back four weren’t offering depth in possession in the first half. This led to a far too compact area for us to maintain simple possession in.
- ESR seems to have good game, bad game. Is it because we play through Odegaard and Saka so much more? He seems to be more involved when we are playing a counterattacking game.
- Less is more, Nuno. He strikes the ball centrally but he’s trying to rip the leather off it. If you shorten his swing like Xhaka did for his goal, then he would hit the target. He went to the wrong summer soccer camp. He should have gone to the Smith Rowe one but obviously turned left and ended up at Thomas’ party!
- Is it too much to ask for our keepers to get even close to saving a penalty? For the last lots of years I have lost any belief that an Arsenal goalie can save a penalty.
- Rumours are flowing now. I am excited about the Gabriel Jesus and Martinez rumours but honestly I’m not as excited if we don’t buy a target man, also. I’m just not happy with Arsenal not having strength and aerial ability as at least an option. The midfield situation is very interesting. Are we going for a cheaper Tielemans because we plan on keeping Xhaka and ElNeny now? Are we looking at him because we consider him an upgrade? He is a very good player and homegrown and I like the Premier League ready part of that deal. I also like the fact that he can shoot from distance and will get you at least five goals a season. I just have a preference for an agile, athletic two-way player and Tielemans has some regular issues with defensive effort and agility. A transfer that may well happen if Saliba leaves is Jurrien Timber at Ajax. Look out for that one.
Love for Brighton last week and love for Brentford now.
This Top 4 race doesn’t just involve Arsenal and Spurs. There are others that could decide it.
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.