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Energetic start gives Arsenal all three points in vital Leeds clash [ARS 2-1 LEE]

Lucozade and lemon drops

I always try to base my opening piece on what I think is the general feeling coming out of the game. The general feeling coming out of that game for me and most I think, was that yet again I soiled my britches and I feel like Arsenal need to give me a gift card to a men’s store so I can replace the 3 pairs of quite lovely church trousers and 2 pairs of equally lovely golf shorts.

I’ve decided to go with a different thought because now that we are four points clear I’m thinking that my shorts and trouser collection are safe. 

I’m stupid, right?

Anyway, here we go….

Of all that happened yesterday, I think that we are more likely to see Arsenal capitalizing on the energy created at the beginning of the game than have to worry about more performances where I feel the need to wear milk chocolate covered leg wear to watch my team. A 4 point buffer should relax us, right?

The beginning of the game had a fresh energy. This was likely brought on by the positive vibe created by Mikel’s new contract and ‘The Angel’ being sung at home for the first time.

To be fair I feel sure that the coaches instructed the players to come out this way.

If you’ve read my work for a while you will know that I am a firm believer in how you start the game. I remember somewhat of a bizarre pregame ritual that I had when I was a young footballer. This ritual comes with a health warning and is likely the polar opposite of what you should do. I’d run down to Martin’s Newsagent in Tring and buy a bottle of Lucozade. Back then the Lucozade bottle came in an extra Orange plastic wrap, you may remember. I had the idea that drinking at least half a bottle of Lucozade before a game gave me energy.

Lucozade

At home I always kept a pick and mix bag of sherbet lemons, also. I think I had convinced myself that the sugar would give me even more energy and the sherbet was the energy bonus. 

Lemon Drops

There is a 0% chance that Arsenal’s players use the same ritual but energy, whether positive or false, ultimately secured the game.

Tactically it was clear that we were trying to press them in their half and restrict them from even entering our half. As the on field energy was matching the audible energy, we were able to counteract the fact that Leeds were doing the same as us by moving the ball quickly and keeping possession. We were more direct on the wing both with Saka and Martinelli running at their fullbacks and Nketiah scoring off an energetic press.

I expect to see this energy in the last few games. Whether we play more defensive against Tottenham and have dancing defensive feet as we did against Chelsea or try to replicate the start that we had yesterday, we have to capitalize on the momentum of our position. 

If we do then we could even snag third. 

If we do I will happily withdraw my gift card request. 

If we do then I will celebrate with my Lucozade and lemon drops.

POSITIVES:

  • Eddie Nketiah has improved. His greatest improvement in the last month has been his secureness in possession when trying to hold the play up or link. I think he completed all of these opportunities yesterday. That is very difficult to do. He’s also looking sharper in front of goal. I believe that he has the highest number of shots against the woodwork this season in the Premier League with seven. Some of that is bad luck and some of it is a technical desire to be perfect where not necessary.
  • Tomiyasu might just be the best defensive right back in Europe. Such a broad defensive skillset and so consistent. He is likely the best defender at the club too. A huge benefit is that he’s from a very different culture and yet adapted so quickly and then after being out for many months adapted to the pace of game as if he’d never been injured. What an incredible signing!

Tomiyasu

  • “The smart man doesn’t try to be first, he tries to be right.”

There are many of us who are wondering if we should’ve been more patient over our opinions of our central midfielders. Xhaka is playing quicker and with more consistency. Elneny has been a candidate for man of the match in the last four games. His intelligence, simplicity and anticipation have been vital when Lokonga looked like he was rocking. So, what do we do with these two in the summer? It’s not as simple as saying that we need to upgrade both. When you upgrade, do you get a player that cares as much about Arsenal as these two do? Do you get somebody that knows the league as well? A player that can quickly adapt to Arteta’s Juego de Posicion textbook style of coaching and most importantly in ElNeny‘s case, do you get somebody that is content to be a rotational option because they understand their squad role? If you swing the axe, do you end up regretting buying a shiny new toy when the old one had been buffed up like new even though it isn’t the latest model?

  • It hasn’t been mentioned that although we may have struggled to find the third goal but the largest part of the second half was intelligently executed. When you play against 10 players  you want to make the field as wide as possible and make them run run run. When we were 2–0 this was working. We had sat on their plan for a fresh energy coming out in the second half and we were coasting. I think it was as simple as goals change games and they got a corner, scored and the mood changed. Leeds certainly weren’t threatening at all until they got that corner.
  • I thought that we were pretty unlucky ourselves to not score from a corner. Cedric’s delivery was very good and caused Meslier many problems. That was well scouted as he is clearly lacking presence in his 6 yard box.
  • Regardless of a fan’s hope, they also need to feel that when they are going to the games or turning on the TV that they are going to see something beautiful. We may not describe it that way but that’s really what it is. Arsenal have many good players these days and some are very good and some have the potential to be great but Martin Odegaard is worth the price of the ticket by himself. Just to see somebody that makes the complicated look so simplistic.

NEEDS:

  • I’ve got to get this one off my chest first. If Leeds would’ve tied that game then I don’t think Pepe goes home without being ripped apart by somebody. I can always handle mistakes and his bizarre decision to try to nutmeg the last defender when he had an open goal didn’t wind me up as much as his lack of defensive energy when he or we lost the ball. That was inexcusable. He was on a beach and the rest of the team hadn’t even packed their bags for vacation yet. I predict that this was the last time we will see him in an Arsenal shirt as these last three games are largely about trust. The coach and staff will be naturally tense and won’t want to select anybody in the squad who they can’t trust and could single-handedly lose us the Champions League spot by simply not caring.
  • I don’t think Eddie stays. I am stuck between two views. Here is my first…..Sometimes improvement can cloud the need. The need is to score almost double the number of goals that we have this season and so we need strikers who have a huge level of hunger. Arsenal are a team that in my opinion leave way too many goals on the table. We don’t struggle to create and we have the best creator in the league now but we are far too laid-back inside the penalty area in attacking the right spaces with the right movement. When I watch Eddie play he seems to be a mood player. Almost no emotion but just too laid-back in his desire to be ruthless. Ruthlessness is the next level for Arsenal and that was clearly seen yesterday. We don’t seem to have the attitude of ruthlessness which is the birth of this positive change that we need. We look nervous whereas the teams above us look excited and just continue pouring it on. We need strikers who are chasing personal goals as well as team goals. Strikers that are upset when they are subbed because they cannot add to their tally. Strikers whose movement is deceptive and electric. Eddie Nketiah is young and he might get there but for me he is far more likely to be a good sub option but ultimately I feel that we can do better. I think it’s a moot point anyway because I’m sure he knows that he’s not gonna be first choice next season regardless and that is what he wants. He’s capable of that at a mid table Premier League team. I am happy to be wrong but I want to feel like we have a striker on the pitch that IS going to score and not one that surprises me when he does.

My alternate thought is simply that he has been given the chance and proven that he could be second choice striker next season. Keeping him would also give us more money to spend in other positions.

Still not settled on which opinion is the flag that I want to wave. 

More importantly, I don’t think he wants to be back up.

Eddie and Cedric

  • Martinelli was a threat throughout and had a very good game. I would add though that if he were to take quick glances when dribbling then his game would go up another level. Tends to dribble with a hunched posture and he will pick his head up when he has a little space. Having said that, it is very difficult for quick players to be able to look up and see clearly.

  • Ramsdale has had 2 or 3 potential bloopers in the last few games with his distribution. He’s trying to kick the ball too hard rather than trusting his technique which is excellent.
  • Tactically the game could’ve been significantly easier in the first half if we would’ve taken advantage of the space Leeds gave us. In order to be ruthless it is more than just the attitude of the attackers. It is also observational. The coach and players have to recognize the space given as regardless of how good a team is at defending there is always the same amount of grass on the pitch. We had multiple opportunities for full backs to overlap especially Cedric on the right and we didn’t utilize this enough.
  • A big shame that we lost what could’ve been an incredible record of going a whole season without conceding from the corner.

HOPES:

  • A win on Thursday would do more than just qualify us for the Champions League. It would give the club the opportunity to see which Academy players might be ready to push first team players in preseason and which need to go on loan. Yesterday at 2–0 I was hoping that a third and fourth would mean that we could see Patino. As you know, we have had multiple Academy players on our bench the last two months and I don’t believe we’ve used any of them. Arteta has been right in not throwing them in. Too tense. Patino in particular might be able to be a midfield option next year and likely won’t be if he doesn’t get to prove he can handle the physicality and the defensive positioning before the end of the season.

FINAL THOUGHT:

I know it’s just the results that matter right now. 

That is true but it is disguising how we are getting there. In my podcast below, I talk about the improvement that a large group of our players are going through individually and why that may well be the secret sauce that turned three defeats into three wins. I also talk about a potential Tielemans deal.

Win on Thursday and we get to do a little jig right smack in the middle of the Toilet Bowl. Then I’m sure Arteta would let them have the Lucozade and lemon drops for one evening and then they could use the toilet bowl for its intended purpose.

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2 Responses to Energetic start gives Arsenal all three points in vital Leeds clash [ARS 2-1 LEE]

  1. Francis Redheart May 9, 2022 at 10:05 am #

    Hello Mikey,

    Nice post as usual. That is some level of consistency that I wish Arsenal have but you clearly do.

    4 straight wins after 3 straight losses has made us very excited going into the match against Spurs. This is a great position to be in and the whole club would learn from this experience going forward.

    I am really wishing Eddie and Elneny stay with us. It would be proof that one can enter into the fold from the wilderness.

    You didn’t talk about Arteta’s new contract extension. I would like to hear your opinion.

  2. TheFriendsofMisterCairo May 10, 2022 at 2:20 am #

    Hi Mike
    It’s going to be intriguing to see how Arteta sets up against Spurs in the most important NLD in many a season.
    I cannot see him setting out his stall for a point, which would keep them 4pts adrift with 2 to play.
    But at the same time he knows that Spurs play on the counter, so he won’t want to play into their hands, by being too gung ho going forward.
    I think if White is fit to play, it makes Arteta’s game plan easier to pick.
    Holding is a good man to bring on late in the game to bolster the defence, but I wouldn’t want him exposed to 90 minutes of Son and Kane.
    Nuno cannot play in this game either as he is too inexperienced, so it seems likely that White if fit, would be the only change at the back.
    Martinelli and Saka will keep the Spurs fullbacks occupied, and should prevent them from getting into our half of the pitch with any regularity, and Eddie will keep their central defenders on their toes as well.
    Our midfield trio picks itself.
    Above all else, we cannot play a high line in defence, so i would want to see them sit at least a couple of metres deeper than normal to deny Spurs space to play the ball over the top which Son thrives on.
    In the big games, the first goal is often vital, and so it will be on Thursday when we will find out what our young team are made of in a game that for them will be more of a mental test than a physical one.
    Away at our fiercest rivals in a cauldron of noise and a pressure cooker atmosphere, will we wilt, or will we stand up and prove that we are worthy of a place in the CL.
    I can’t wait to find out.
    Cheers

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