The Happy Lack of Big Mistakes at Newcastle could be a turning point – Positives, Hopes and Needs NUFC v AFC

Image result for newcastle 1 arsenal 2 15th Sept 2018

I wrote that title 30 seconds before Bellerin decided to not cover the back post!

Still, we won so my big takeaway is still that the same.
For over 10 years my experience with Arsenal has been very similar… can always score but make big mistakes and make it too easy for opponents to score.
The second half (apart from Bellerin’s mistake) should be the model for how we play. We did not make big mistakes and did not look like making them.

Solidity.

I give Emery great credit for changing the number one issue of the last decade… lack of accountability. I would say that by Christmas we will see far less ‘big mistakes.’
Why?
Well, I think Unai Emery has a goal. To make the players believers that they are accountable for their mistakes. In the short term, the players will go through various emotions. Shock, nervousness, anger and then acceptance and the realization that accountability is here to stay.
This is why we are seeing incomplete performances both individually and collectively. Emery is at different stages with different players. I think he has got to ‘anger’ with Ozil and may revisit this emotion a few times too.
Auba looks nervous with his touch. I think Iwobi is still in shock.
My hope is that Bellerin is next. Perhaps this happens by circumstance, as Lichtsteiner is about to get games and a chance to prove that he is far superior defensively and offers a similar product offensively.

Players in different places.

Some may leave, as they do not like the drastic change from the easy life to the exposure of their performance and the many emotions they are battling.

I am patient and I like it because I see only a positive future in this regard.

FORMATION: 4-2-2-2

POSITIVES

* Emery and circumstance changed the game.

Emery’s half time decisions and words changed everything.
From a slow-paced first half where yet again individuals were playing way below potential to the opposite was a credit to the coach.
The decision to re-balance the midfield with Torreira’s introduction yet again changed the game. Xhaka and Guendouzi with Torreira in a three is better balanced but we lack energy and quickness without the Uruguayan.
He also re-positioned our midfield as Newcastle found it easy to deny us time and space first half.

Introduction changed the game

Lascelles is their captain and arguably their best player. I do wonder if he will one day replace Mustafi? His injury and our quick goal were the circumstances that changed Newcastle’s energy levels and belief and increased ours.

* Players will always get grace if they work hard.
I speak of Lacazette.
He has been made accountable and not started. He has decided to offer something that Auba does not in improving his work ethic, back tackling, protection and link play.
He was unfortunate today as Newcastle denied him a much-deserved goal with good blocking.

* Great to see Sokratis’ pace on minute 20 when he denied a good chance. His overall performance is improving.

* The preference that Emery has obviously communicated to the players to take the yellow rather than the breakaway. Even if you have to play ‘bad rugby,’ Lucas!

Ozil and Hector under Emery scrutiny

* I saw Hector Bellerin use the outside of his foot!
September 15th 2018.
I will have a cheeky anniversary next year too as I have been waiting 4 years.

* The first goal was a gift but of course a huge positive. Good effort by Xhaka but his straight run up made it obvious that he could only go right and the keepers chocolate wrists, well….

* Watch closely. Torreira has the same habit and effectiveness as Kante. They tackle with the closet leg to the ball and therefore win more.
They both are so alive when an opponent’s vertical pass is coming.
Like an animal knowing he is about to get out of his cage!

* Small blessings but Laca and Auba’s desire to at least contest aerial balls made it much harder for Newcastle’s defenders.

* My coaching weakness is allowing the human element to impact my decisions.
My coaching strength is getting my team to hit the target more than others.
I do this by teaching my boys to use ‘enough’ power for each opportunity rather than ‘all’ their power.
The male tendency is to ‘be a man’ and use it all. Makes us feel superior when it works.
I believe that inside the box you should very rarely use your laces. Laces equals less accuracy. From 18 yards in there are other parts of the foot that give you 50% more accuracy and you have ‘enough’ power to score.
All this to say, I think Mesut Ozil agrees with me 😜

* Auba subbed for not being up to par. Your turn, Pierre. Must produce better.
The big positive of accountability again.

* The most common Arsenal thought on Twitter…. We look better when Lucas Torreira plays.

* Guendouzi’s first half performance did not warrant being subbed. Xhaka’s did. Good spot by Emery to leave Xhaka on as he ran the game second half.

Xhaka changed game in 2nd half

NEEDS

* This isn’t just an Arsenal issue but why do teams play with a slow tempo in the first half?
Anytime the ball moves quicker, the outcome changes dramatically. Is it laziness?

* The first half was characterized by our team not opening their hips. Too much scared. Too much safe backwards passing. Do not get me started on Ramsey and his turning in 4-minute circles.

* On the subject of Ramsey. A few thoughts…
Is he starting so he can initiate a press that is not leading to any turnovers?
Is he starting so he will re-sign?
Is he going to stay at Arsenal for way over 10 years and never play in the position that suits him, an ‘8’ in a 4-3-3?
Is he here until we get a more consistent player with more consistent end product?
Ramsey reminds me of Lampard. Big difference though was that Lampard had big seasons almost every season.

* Auba’s general play needs improvement. I believe he will come good in front of goal but it has reached the point elsewhere on the field that I expect a turnover when he receives the ball. Ouch!

* We need either a positional change, a system change or Lucas Torreira to stop opponents every week from being able to run 50 yards unopposed in transition.

* First half I was very concerned that our attacking plan was too difficult to produce product. It seemed like ‘combining in tight areas’ was the only plan. Until Newcastle lost belief, got a goal down and we started opening our hips and playing two touches that we offered any other idea.

* Clive Palmer @clivepafc suggested at half time that not only is Cech not great at playing out of the back but it is more the pace of his distribution that is putting us under pressure.
I am sure you follow Clive but original thoughts can sometimes be hard to come by on Twitter so if you do not then follow him and listen to him on Arsenal Vision pod.

* Maybe Mesut’s goal will be a confidence switch for him.
I have just noticed that not only is his first touch still a little off but also his penetrative passing is frequently played slightly behind the runner.

HOPES

* That the fans understand this….

The coaching staff have made the decision to change many things quickly rather than a few.
We were left in a ruddy mess and Emery has so much ‘new’ happening.
New players, former players in new positions, new tactics (as there weren’t really any tactics previously), new attitudes, new performance requirements, new combinations through the spine etc, etc…
The 21st century will not go down as one where people were patient. I hope that the fans are smart enough to realize that ‘new everything’ needs their patience.

* That our units start to click.
Currently, our GK situation does not look secure. Our defence may take seasons to teach and make look solid, our midfield looks better, when a certain sub enters and our forwards do not look as connected as they should.
Hoping time will fix all this.
It will probably be a mix of time and big decisions in transfer windows.

* Is it too risky for Emery to tell the players that he has decided to stop playing from the GK?
Would the players see this as ‘wavering’ and doubt him and his ideas?

I put ideas on scales and weigh.
I would do it if the risk was FAR outweighed by the reward.
I just cannot remember when we have successfully got out and created a good chance from it.

My issue falls somewhere between not having the right players at AFC/on the field to make it worth it and wondering if there were too many other big fixes for Emery to embark on instead of creating another potential issue.

I hope he has the humility to recognize that it is too risky for this set of players and find a way of communicating this without losing respect.

* I am asking today as much as stating because it is hard to be concrete after so much change.
Should we persist with many players playing new roles?
Should we play to their strengths leaving big players on bench or sell?

* I hope we play two good halves vs Everton 😊

finally, there will be many times this season when Emery will have the opportunity to win the game with his response.
Today was one of those.

@mike_mmcdonald

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One Response to The Happy Lack of Big Mistakes at Newcastle could be a turning point – Positives, Hopes and Needs NUFC v AFC

  1. DEW September 16, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

    I like your perspective, but there are a lot of ideas in your post, you can split it to two posts for example.

    I agree with you about Ramsey, but it is said he had played two international games so I stopped there. I also agree with you that the defense and Sokratis have improved, on the impact Torreira brought, on the good performance of Xhaka. I also agree on the importance of the goal for the confidence of Ozil.

    Overall the game strategy was fine for me so credit to Emery. Newcastle was physical team, Torreira may not have been effective, had he been started. They were pressing high, expecting Arsenal to make mistake, but by keeping to build from the back, we were able to tire them off somehow that gave the team the time and the space to implement the second half creative tactics.

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