Forget the off season and the World Cup, ignore the long summer break. The season isn’t just starting but nearing its business end. For now, that’s the mentality Arsenal need to possess. A mentality that makes us believe the 2013/2014 campaign is only just drawing to a close. That should give us the momentum we need to reach a level where we’ll address a number of issues, with the sole aim of becoming unplayable.
We finished last season scoring a minimum of three goals in four of our last six games, conceding just thrice. We continued that three-goal trend in the Community Shield and we shouldn’t be thinking of taking our foot off the gas anytime soon.
Instead, we need to increase our gear and ensure our opponents don’t stand a chance trying to disrupt our system. These days teams come to the Emirates to frustrate Arsenal and achieve just that.
Outsmart your opponent
It’s not a trend which started few months ago. It’s an approach teams have used against us for years and it’s high time we responded back with dynamism and ruthlessness. Arsenal should be the ones forcing opponents to reconsider their respective stubborn approaches whenever they come around.
The need for Independence
Granted, the return of the likes of Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott should help us deal with our fluency in the final third but we need to be more reliant on a unique system than a unique set of players. Arsenal need to get to the level where the selection doesn’t excessively alter the dynamism of our game.
To achieve this, more emphasis needs to be placed on a few aspects of our game. Chief of that would be the accuracy of our final balls. Ideally, creative players should be willing to concentrate more on giving the final pass because creating possibilities without it yielding into opportunities doesn’t justify the essence of creativity.
Arsenal need to strive towards precision…without Mesut
It is not out of place to suggest that all our attacking players dedicate more time in training trying to fine tune the weight and accuracy they place on passes, especially in the final third. By doing this, the pressure already placed on Mesut Ozil for his final balls will gradually fade, and make way for dynamism.
Pacing through the middle
Bedding in players might take some time, which is very normal, but giving them the degree of freedom they need to feel comfortable shouldn’t be a decision to hesitate authorising.
Being a daring player looking to give Arsenal another dimension from the blast of the whistle, Alexis Sanchez needs that freedom. I’ve talked about this a couple of times now, but the more I see him play in red and white, the clearer it seems that he’s the trailblazer in attack and should be leading the line. His pace, unpredictability and deceptive stamina are necessary tools we need upfront.
Arsene loves continuity and is trying to resist the temptation of dropping Olivier Giroud, his highest goal scorer from last term, while using the same opportunity to bed Sanchez into the team. However, I’m quite confident Alexis will be moved upfront when Theo Walcott (our right forward since Sanchez arrived in Europe) returns.
A potentially devastating pair
Of course I’d be playing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Joel Campbell alongside Sanchez right now but we all know how Arsene loves to give his players some sort of security. Arsene doesn’t want to risk freezing Giroud out of the side for the sake of continuity.
Arsene also likes the right hand side being an outlet for the team and without Theo, Sanchez possesses the best movement off the ball from that position. Chamberlain occasionally gives us that option but doesn’t get into dangerous positions as often as Theo and Alexis, while it’s also clear that Arsene plans to ease Joel Campbell into the English game.
We shouldn’t also forget how Arsene favours a target man in this current system, especially with the drive of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere from midfield. Even Didier Deschamps still found a way of pairing Karim Benzema and Giroud on a couple of occasions during the World Cup. For now, we just need to exercise patience and resist the temptation to moan at every attacking signing a club makes.
The depth at the club is much better than the previous campaign but what’s more important is to possess an ‘unfinished business’ mentality from last season. I believe this reverse mentality will also help our course trying to get over the line during the final stretch of the season.
Playing with a consciousness of imminent success for the rest of 2014 will enable us keep up with the frantic pace of the second half of the current season and now is the best time to practice that approach. In this regard, the way we end the 2014/2015 season should be positively justifying the means.