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Energy Everywhere: electric Arsenal secure win against Villa to keep perfect record [ARS 2-1 AVL]

Energy, everywhere 

Positives, Needs And Hopes

I’m writing and rewatching at the same time. It’s the 16th minute. We’ve just had yet another chance in Villa’s box. The ball ends up outside the box with Saka and he gets pushed down. Within two seconds Xhaka, Odegaard and Saliba surround the potential counterattack.

I could have given so many examples of the electricity of Arsenal’s new energy. That one embodied it. 

Many teams would’ve thrown their arms up and complained to the referee for a foul. Others at best would’ve had one player counter pressing. Arsenal are so bought in to what Arteta has been teaching and are so energized by their success and the crowd that they seem to be enjoying the defensive side of the game as much as the offensive side of the game. 

I may have used this story before but indulge me…

I distinctly remember a trial that I attended in my youth. There were swarms of players trying to make the team. The coaching staff started the trial by telling the players that they had to run and touch the cones that were scattered randomly. The one rule was that you could stop anytime you wanted to.

Players dropped out after 3,5,10, 15 minutes and I remember that I carried on going.

In the most brutal fashion I’ve ever seen, the coaching staff dismissed all of the players that had decided to stop. They were flabbergasted they didn’t even get to kick a ball at the trial. To my memory, the coaches didn’t even tell the players why they were being asked to leave the trial. As players were traipsing to the car park one of the coaches asked us if “ football was fun?“

We didn’t know how to respond and I don’t remember that anybody answered the question for fear of being kicked out of the trial. He then said,” do you think being tackled is fun? Do you think that chasing somebody 60 yards down the pitch is fun? What about jumping in front of a shot to block it, is that fun? Having a terrible refereeing decision go against you, is that fun?”

“Not everything in football is fun but unless you do it to your maximum you will never make it,” he continued.

At the time I agreed with this coach. Probably out of fear of what he would do if I didn’t but I could see that it made sense. Up until fairly recently I still had adopted this as a coaching belief. 

When I watch this season‘s Arsenal team I start to feel differently. There are so many players in this team that seem to have electricity running through their veins. Martinelli, Odegaard and Jesus in particular. It’s like they have touched hands with the rest of the squad who have now been given the electric shock and now everybody has it. You could say the same for the crowd. I’m not sure if it’s the Ashburton Army who ignited the rest of the fanbase. I think it’s as simple as the Arsenal fan base showing appreciation for so many things at the club now being done the right way.

We are at the point where Mikel Arteta probably sits in the changing room before the game and at half time and reads a novel and trusts that the team will touch hands, send the electricity through each other and the fans will do the same. Obviously he doesn’t, but these players look so well coached and prepared and the fans are enjoying the experience so very much, I wonder if he could get away with this and we would still produce the same intensity?

My United-supporting friend even admitted that he has started watching Arsenal games because they are so electric and fun.

Arsenal are currently an advertisement for ’buy in.’ A club where everybody is pulling in the same direction.

Belief, hope, trust and bloody good football.

I hope that the stands at the Emirates are strongly reinforced as games against Fulham and  Aston Villa have felt like the energy of a World Cup final. 

What’s gonna happen when we beat somebody really good?

We Celebrate When We Want

POSITIVES:

  • Martinelli is not being applauded enough for his technique and creativity. His energy and body strength have been well directed but his vision and weight of pass both on corner kicks and crosses haven’t been advertised much. He is one of those players who even if nothing works for him, he will always find a way to be effective because he sees opportunity in far more than just golden chances for himself. I always make a point to tell my high school team that they will score more goals by forcing their opponents into mistakes than by fluid five-pass passing movements, if they are willing to see opportunity everywhere.

Martinelli Love-in

  • I hope that Bukayo Saka isn’t putting any weight on his own shoulders over goal scoring. Even though he is probably at 75% right now, he is making big contributions in every game. Ultimately, that’s more important than being individually brilliant.
  • Massive credit to Sambi  Lokonga. That must’ve been the most pressure he’s felt in a long time. The blend of his frustration at not playing combined with the excitement of this opportunity could’ve seen a mistake riddled performance. I honestly wouldn’t have blamed him much. I think good coaching has played a part. Something along the lines of telling him to keep everything simple and play his way into the game without forcing creativity. Another big game at Old Trafford will cement his confidence that he can also do it against the big teams.
  • Credit to the entire team for their discipline. Aston Villa were clearly told to hit us hard. In the past we would’ve let anger take over and somebody would’ve been sent off in this game.
  • I heard many stating that our defenders were 7 out of 10. When a good team like Villa can’t trouble our keeper for the entire 90 minutes, perhaps the defenders did a lot of silent work extremely well.
  • Tierney in particular impressed me. He looked back to the levels he played at last season. A very difficult defender to shake off. He doesn’t get the plaudits like a more modern defender would because the best of him is in actually doing his job rather than on the ball. We forget that defending is always going to be his priority.
  • This may sound like it’s not really a positive but I like what the club are doing with Fabio Vieira. Arsenal do not play a style that you can just walk into. As we all know having watched the evolution of this team, they are being taught from the proverbial textbook and the textbook is brand new. It involves zones and lanes and specific positioning amongst other facets. The former Manchester City players can slot right in immediately because they’ve done it before but a player from Porto hasn’t. He needs to be taught the system before he tries, gets judged and fails. We will see him shortly in the Europa League where he can make mistakes and not impact results. Much like the patience we’ve had to show in waiting for this team to get to this level, we have to give individual players and the coaching staff the opportunity to be patient without losing ours.
  • I’m currently in the 62nd minute and Matty Cash has been shoulder barged to the turf for the second time tonight and I think that’s worth mentioning as a positive. Not a player that I like as he seems to prefer breaking legs than playing football.
  • I expected Jesus and Odegaard to be as good as they were but their level is now so high that it’s hard to find something different to say. I will say that variety in Odegaard‘s creativity is now on full display. I will also say that I fully now understand why Edu told Jesus that he wanted him to regain his smile in the way he plays. When we signed him I told Max that we would have to put up with his facial expressions as he seemed to permanently have the look of emotional pain on his face at City. I haven’t seen that expression yet at Arsenal.
  • Eddie Nketiah must be the hardest player in the squad to leave out of the starting lineup. He has affected every game he has played in even for 10 minutes. Again, that speaks to the buying-in that our entire squad has. No complaining. Just take the minutes you are given and produce.
  • Last blog I wrote I spoke about how impressive it is that when one of our players makes mistake, he is not expected to bail himself out but his teammates will do it for him. This is also in evidence when we have been scored on. We are making a delightful habit in using a disappointment as productive anger and instantly replying.
  • Matty Cash has just demonstrated his attendance at the Thomas Partey school of shooting, so I thought I’d mention that. Giggle giggle.
  • Not only are we top of the league with maximum points but we have dominated teams that others have really struggled against. There’s a huge gulf in ‘really struggling’ and ‘dominating.’
  • I love the super cheekiness of playing Ben White high and wide out of possession. They coaxed Villa into playing into the channels knowing that Saliba is too good.
  • Have the prime years of Granit Xhaka’s career been wasted in the wrong position? It looks like yes. I think that the freedom from being the last midfielder back has relaxed his shoulders and we now see a creative player who is also moving the ball three times faster than previously. It’s crazy how your position on the field can relax you to the point where you look like your club has made a new signing.

Xhaka New Signing

NEEDS:

  • I’m really not sure why Ramsdale didn’t push Ollie Watkins out of the way. I thought that the goal was fair myself.
  • Who was on the VAR? Between whoever that blind guy was and the referee, how on God’s green earth did we not get a penalty for Mings’ WWF move. Sometimes I think that referees don’t give penalties when they see something they haven’t seen before. Maybe we should take them to the O2 to see one of those ‘Raw’ events so that they are better prepared next time. 

Saka PK call

  • Smith Rowe seems to have lost some of his enthusiasm. I hope he hasn’t decided to go sad face. He hasn’t really done anything wrong. It’s simply that Martinelli has done a whole lot right.

HOPES:

  • I hope that Ramsdale was pulling an Ospina. Quite possible that he’s not injured at all. He took a goal kick and a back pass without flinching which is good.
  • By the time you read this, we may have signed a defensive midfielder. My money is on Danilo at Palmeiras. Not so much because of the rumors but I can now see clearly that Arsenal will refuse to buy just anyone. Short term problem has to be fixed by somebody who is part of the long-term solution. We have been scouting Danilo for a long time.

Together

FINAL THOUGHT:

I can’t prove this until it happens and I hope it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t look like this team and this fanbase are going to easily have their fire put out. Even if we were to lose, there is way too much electricity coursing through Arsenal right now for the players to not simply set the spark again.

No podcast this time. Ran out of time to do anything effectively. And for those that like the podcast, I’m sorry. Just act like the Arsenal crowd when the opponents score, and stand up and cheer me on anyway!

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One Response to Energy Everywhere: electric Arsenal secure win against Villa to keep perfect record [ARS 2-1 AVL]

  1. Andy September 1, 2022 at 11:08 pm #

    Cheers Mike. I was impressed by lokonga too. The issue being what happens when we are playing two games a week. Can he cope? How about Ben white there now Tomi is back?

    I like the way we hunt in packs when we don’t have the ball. I seem to remember the classic A C Milan teams doing that.

    And as for buy in, I don’t recall Arsenal defenders throwing themselves in front of a shot like Ben White for a long long time.

    It’s taken a while but I think we finally have a properly balanced team with few weaknesses.

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