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Bunny Buzzing, Bunny Died: Arsenal deal with clumsy Everton in first half of pre-season ‘friendly’ [Positive Needs & Hopes]

Bunny buzzing, bunny died

POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES 

This post should be sponsored by Duracell or they should at least be giving me some money for that title. You can keep reading. I’m not gonna talk about bunnies.

The ridiculous analogy speaks to the common difference in what is looking like an ever improving team and a decent team that will finish no higher. I’m fully aware that there may have been circumstances as to why the second half was so vastly different to the first half. Perhaps they were told to slow the game down and just manage it to a win. If so, they did a fine job. It could also be that the players out there know where they stand. Some know that they are likely leaving and others know that they are firmly second choice. They could also have been given extra fitness work in the morning as they weren’t starting. That happens. I’m really not upset about what I saw just intrigued as to why. The Duracell bunny is full of energy, we are told. I sat here in the first half debating what the common denominator was to 45 minutes of complete domination. It was energy. Everything we did was energetic. The pressing, the sharpness of the pass and movement, the counter pressing, the recovery runs, all of it. Social media was giggling about Everton’s Championship level. They weren’t good but they also weren’t allowed to be good.

If I was coaching Arsenal this season, and with the new five sub rule, I would put much emphasis on fitness. The players who put out the most energy could do so for 60 to 70 minutes and be replaced by fresh legs so we don’t have to see the bunny die. If we have superiority or are the equal of the elite teams in the league it is in elite coaching. Many teams play with energy but don’t have the coaching to back it up. Some of the energy is wasted or the runs and angles are wrong. All coaches can teach and demand a quicker tempo or the option of one touch football but most are not coached to be in the correct positions to take advantage of it. This opening ramble is designed to make us think about how we can take advantage of an advantage.

POSITIVES;

  • Top players raise the level of all around them. We rarely talk about the human element but imagine this… You play on a good team. Your good team buys an elite striker. What’s your human reaction? Mine would be to show him that I’m good too. Perhaps the male pride in me wants to show him that I can do what he can do. Gabriel Jesus looks like the first player since Alexis Sánchez to offer this. The contrast between him and Lacazette is stark. The core difference is hunger. Jesus comes alive in the box and Lacazette acted like the dead bunny. Jesus presses like he loves it and Lacazette did it because he was told to. Jesus offers the dribble and elite Brazilian technique and Lacazette never dribbled. Jesus offers a threat in the air and far far superior movement. Lacazette’s great weakness was his predictable movement and I can’t remember him ever scoring more than a couple of headers for Arsenal. Finally, don’t undestimate Jesus’ motivation. They say that playing for the Selecao is is the pinnacle of every Brazilian boys dreams. More so than any other nations players. He knows that the competition at  striker for Brazil is light and right wing was crowded so his motivation will stay high, I’d imagine.

Jesus celebrates

  • I’m sure you’ve seen all of the William Saliba footage like I have. His common denominator to likely becoming a top player is his authority. I cannot remember a player of his age looking like he’s played professionally for 15 years. Such confidence. I love his elegant posture both on the ball and his perfect defensive posture when one on one. It might be very difficult to keep him on the bench.
  • I bet you that Saka has been working on going to his right when one on one. He looks so much more comfortable and dangerous in this than last season. This is vital as he was starting to get a little predictable last season.
  • A few thoughts on the corners… Firstly, Cedric‘s corners were much better than last season. Secondly, Jesus twice peeled off to the back post as the flick header came in. Finally, that goal from that exact movement and that only happens if your first touch is literally perfect. Sometimes at the professional level it is difficult to notice the difference between a good first touch and a perfect one. The biggest difference in a professional and an amateur is the consistency of a very good first touch. Then occasionally you see a player whose first touch allows them an extra half a second which is golden if you can do it.
  • I noticed that the high press in the first half completely suffocated Everton. Again, another example of great coaching organization.
  • Due to the possibility that Thomas Partey may well be missing for a chunk of the season, I have been thinking about alternatives that we could sign. There are lots of defensive midfielders who can either claim to be top level defensively or fantastic on the ball. Thomas Partey is both and one of very few who can play a single pivot too. If it’s needed, I’d love Arsenal to persuade Frenkie DeJong that Arsenal is a club on the rise, unlike Manchester United. Even though ElNeny controlled the game in the second half and is a very secure player, you can see that his toolbox is much smaller. He doesn’t have the body faint or the willingness to open his hips. You don’t always want your defensive midfielder taking a risk but if it’s easy for them then you do. The passing range is larger for Partey as is his physical abilities. Tchouameni who has just signed for Real Madrid comes to mind as having a comparable skill set. Chukwumeka is available and could go to the very top and he is a similar profile too but he’s more of an eight than a six. Verratti is a tiger defensively and press resistant on the ball but is 29 and Kante is 31.
  • Alongside the energy and defensive organization you will have noticed the quicker tempo from last season. The first half saw very few players take more than two touches and players that rarely took one in the past we’re doing so. I also caught Granit Xhaka make an a one touch forward pass which is a rare sighting.
  • Yesterday I finished writing my August piece forThe Gooner Fanzine. I wrote about the two new formations that Arsenal will employ this season. The second half 3-1-4-2 seems to fit so many of our better players. Most of them were not on the field in this instance but the opponents eemed to really struggle with Eddie coming back for the ball and turning, in particular. Jesus would be able to do this and be even better too. Three at the back often seems like a risk but not so much when you have five solid defenders in Gabriel, Saliba, Tomiyasu, White and Tierney.
  • Do you know what happened at 72:43? Bellerin used the outside of his foot. Only ever seen four times previously.
  • I felt far more assured watching all of our center backs on the ball. There seemed to be a noticeable improvement in their composure under pressure. Young Walters showed this and he must’ve been particularly nervous being the only Academy player. Also, very unfamiliar with the on and off field surroundings. I’d also speculate that the center backs have been working on how to deal with strikers with their back to goal. Communication seemed better and Calvert- Lewin and Rondon were shut down repeatedly when both of them are normally good outlets.

Saliba

NEEDS 

  • I think that one of the critical improvements needed in our team this season is a willingness to take more risks in the final third. It seems like coaches and modern players are so programmed to see potential transitions as the devil and they avoid them at all costs. I have an allergy for analyzing creative players passing percentages because I think that they become far more effective if one out of every three passes break through the back line and two out of three are intercepted.
  • i’d love to see Odegaard receive the ball with his hips open more and work on his 5 yard burst. There is still so much more to come from him and adding Jesus in front of him there will be more opportunities to take advantage of his weight of pass gift if he can remove himself from pressure.
  • Like everybody else I’m confused as to why Charlie Patino, in particular, hasn’t traveled. If it was to put Lucas Torreira in the shop window so we get a few more million then I sort of understand but he did not come on when every other outfield player bar Balogun, did. Fly him out for Wednesday.
  • Eddie Nketiah has clearly improved over this calendar year. There are so many facets to his game that have become far more secure and dangerous. There was a moment however in the second half where he skillfully beat his man on the wing and cut inside. It was so well done but then for me he spoiled it. As soon as he released the ball he slowed down and started wandering. Interestingly both him and Jesus are fairly similar as players but in that moment I saw a big difference which has always been my issue with Eddie. He plays in spurts and seems to lack that animalistic hunger to want the ball and hunt it down or demand it. After making such a fantastic run you would have thought that he would have been energized to make a second run and get it back but it was as if he felt like he had done his part. I hope somebody is pointing this out to him.

Matty Turner

HOPES 

  • I hope that the Arsenal fans won’t expect Matt Turner to be as good as or better than Leno. Leno was arguably alongside Kaylor Navas as the best second choice goalkeeper in Europe last season. He also has so much more experience of the occasion and it would’ve been almost impossible to find an equal replacement for second choice goalkeeper. You cannot deny a top keeper the chance to be number one so I understand why the club aren’t keeping him. I’m just hoping that we give Matt Turner a little bit of a break I don’t expect for him to be quite that good, yet.
  • When Marquinhos gets back out on the field he could really give the coaching staff a dilemma. Everybody is assuming that we will sign another winger and for big money. I’d love to see us do this as it would raise the level of our three other talented young wingers. Nobody is making the case that Marquinhos could be the fourth winger. Just an interesting thought. The club has much talent in wide areas in the Academy too and will have to be careful especially when it concerns Marcelo Flores. He is already starting for the Mexican National team which is quite astonishing as he has never played top level football. Barcelona are interested in him and he is clearly a top prospect but he will need to see a pathway. Omari Hutchinson has just left because he felt that the pathway was blocked when Marquinhos was signed and possibly Fábio Vieira too.
  • I normally talk about potential transfers in the section but I will save that for the podcast below. There are thoughts on Tapsoba, Paqueta, Tielemans, Doku, Zinchenko, Sane,Gakpo, SMS and Sergio Gomez.

FINAL THOUGHT 

Is our male pride standing between us and a compliment for the Kroenke family. They have stood firmly behind a very talented coach even through difficult times and supported him in every transfer window. It looks like this transfer window they have dug up the family riches from the backyard and decided to give them to Arteta. As much as we wish that they would’ve done this before, it seems obvious to me that they weren’t willing to do this until they were sole owners of the club and when Usmanov left things started to change. I also think that their success in the US with two of their sports franchises has encouraged them to compete at Arsenal too. Whatever it is, they at least deserve some positivity thrown their way if we can be big enough to do so.

Enjoy the podcast and it’s good to be back!

 

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5 Responses to Bunny Buzzing, Bunny Died: Arsenal deal with clumsy Everton in first half of pre-season ‘friendly’ [Positive Needs & Hopes]

  1. Francis Redheart July 17, 2022 at 3:31 pm #

    Hello Mikey!!!!!!!! You are back!!!!!

  2. Jax July 17, 2022 at 4:21 pm #

    Mike, did you have any issues with the match transmission failing for a minute or so appx six times during play?

  3. allezkev July 18, 2022 at 2:30 am #

    I think when comparing the two halves you also have to also consider how Everton changed as well because in the first half they had out their big hulking physical types, you know like that thug Godfrey and they routinely ‘put it about’ but Arsenal were so superior technically that we still dominated.

    In the 2nd 45 I thought Everton had out an XI that whilst smaller in statue generally, moved the ball quicker, more skill fully and caused our weaker XI a lot more problems. We countered that when we reverted to a back four, but it’s all a good learning practice for the team.

    I can’t remember, well I can actually, the last time a 17 year old boy who plays in defence and also across the back line, came out of our academy and performed in successive senior games as if it was just another youth game (it was Tony Adams btw) but I have been very impressed with ease at which Reuell Walters has seamlessly fitted into our defence and the calmness and maturity he’s shown. So let’s not get fixated on Omari Hutchinson, he’s moved for the finance, because in Walters we have discovered another rough diamond…

    • Jax July 18, 2022 at 6:09 am #

      @allezkev not so much a rough diamond as a little gem.

  4. TheFriendsofMisterCairo July 18, 2022 at 2:51 am #

    Hi Mike
    Trust you enjoyed your post season break, but here we are already less than 3 wks to new season kickoff.
    I’ve only seen potted highlights of Everton game, so couldn’t really glean much from what i saw.
    But what i was concerned about, because none of them were in the starting eleven or on the bench, and this has been confirmed by Mikel, is that KT,Tomi,White,ESR and Viera are all nursing niggling injuries.
    This i think might have contributed to the stark difference in tempo between halves, given what players we had on the bench.
    It was also very hot and humid in the stadium, so I think discretion was the better part of valor in making so many changes for the 2nd half, as pre season training is very intense, and with some key players already having their build up interrupted, we clearly didn’t need to add to the list.
    I consciously avoid getting too carried away with player performances in glorified friendlies, as they in no way replicate the intensity of the real thing.
    Realistically as it stands, we have only added one nailed on new addition for first eleven in Jesus, with Saliba still to prove himself at the top level, playing well in a lower grade French league is not he same.
    We still need a better backup than Cedric for Tomi, vital given his injury issues, and ditto for KT on the other flank.
    The same applies for Partey in midfield.
    So for me, there is still some work to do on incoming personnel, as well as seeing off some of the surplus to requirements brigade that just don’t measure up to what we need to be competitive for the whole season in every competition.
    My hopes and aspirations for the Club this season will be driven by the quality of additional players we have added to the squad when the transfer window shuts on Sept 1st.
    cheers

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