I hate these International periods – just when we should be accelerating into the final phase of the season, when most of us are off work we have day upon day away from our passion. Watching Arsenal.
Talking about Arsenal. Worrying about Arsenal…
…wait! we can still worry about Arsenal – OK, here goes!
Time gets me thinking about Arsenal and what, in my opinion we must improve. I have time to solidify observations – time to think of ways to reduce the trauma of a season we are going through as I write.
Five thoughts from Clive:
- Change the Culture “Just Win Baby”
A famous quote from LA Raiders supremo Al Davis
I remember a quote from Patrice Evra a few years ago.
“Arsenal is just a finishing School”
That hurt and it hurt because there is more than a ring of truth.
We lost our way and we showed weakness. The main thing I admire Wenger for is how he gives people opportunities but that trust can be perceived as weakness.
Do we want to win enough or are we over-focused on developing people, nice people.
If my son had the choice of any academy in the world I choose Arsenal.
It’s because the manager shows patience – he is educated and believes in the rounded individual. But as a fan that is desperate to win that same patience can be seen as a lack of a ruthless edge.
Soon as you are not ruthless the players have an excuse to NOT win.
The challenge now is this culture has been in place for 10 years. Is it institutionalized into our psychology.
The ability to compete is what counts, but not having to win for the club and everyone at the club to be successful is something many fans cannot understand or want to understand.
The change has to be a message from someone strong enough to pressure the manager and question the culture – but in the manager we have the single strongest person in the club so the only pressure on Wenger comes from Wenger.
What if Wenger is not on his A game?
What happens is a risk of repeat cycles and any human unless challenged will revert to default behaviors. You only know what you know and do what you do. If you don’t add people close to you to offer another way you plateau and IMO you run the risk of consistency yes but at what level.
The level of consistency we have reached no longer befits the monster of a club Wenger has created. Arsenal are bigger than this.
Who can tell Wenger “JUST WIN” or more importantly “YOU HAVE TO WIN”
Arsenal has a big challenge ahead – It’s a Leadership challenge and we have no idea how to fix it.
- Manage the Details – Focus
I call it the 5 percent – How do you create the edge the difference. I do believe Arsenal have been lazy on details and IMO it’s linked to the Culture Issue in number 1.
There is a feeling in the game Arsenal can be a touch arrogant.
The feeling is we are Arsenal and we do things our way. What we are failing to see is people love the Arsenal way and are doing an Arsenal on us.
Others are buying unknown players like Deli Alli and letting them use their heads. Arsenal has done it countless times but recently the real rags to riches stories have not materialized for one reason or another. Off the pitch are we aggressive enough or maybe are we a bit afraid to take a risk? We seem to be making some bad judgments; it feels like we trust the wrong players or maybe the players we trust have just failed to deliver.
The Watford Cup game is just the latest example of details not being managed on the playing side.
Watford are easy to read. They play straight down the middle and rely very much on Deeney to connect them offensively. He is like a barrel chested streetwise linkman – a less subtle Teddy Sheringham.
Take him out either by screening in front or go with 3 Centre Backs.
Of course we are Arsenal we were not going to change our formation.
No way…we play the Arsenal way and others have to adjust to us.
We are The Arsenal.
Respect the game or it will bite you
Of course you can be arrogant when you have Henry up front and he scores from one chance in two and Vieira in CM doing 2 men’s jobs at the same time. But with Giroud and any lesser human as your main scorer who can be nullified as he lacks speed details do count.
Don’t be ashamed to nullify the opposition. The end result is your reward. Make the changes you need to make to win.
Focus on the details don’t ignore them. Your players will respect your attention to detail and they will trust their careers with you. Players are the game and if you gain their trust you win.
- Face it – Ramsey is not our future
The Centre of the Midfield is always my focus. I believe it’s the heart of the team. Get that right and other areas can flourish. Central midfield is a pathway to your defence, the area you must control the area the ball must be facilitated through.
The area where only the most technical and physical survive and thrive.
CONTROL – CONTROL – CONTROL
It’s not an area you vacate repeatedly and expose your team.
Fast possession, one touch speed up the game, slow the game…
When you don’t have the ball, press it hard then adjust your feet then move again as the ball travels all the time scanning scanning scanning.
Keeping that picture of the next pass. If you get the ball and get pressed have you the burst the dribble to beat the first man.
Arsenal needs a player like this. It does not matter what his name is all that matters is Arsenal have a player with those competencies in its center midfield.
Even better – 2 players playing next to each other who can do this.
After seeing Elneny I can write this loud and proud as he shows exactly how to play CM. He is selfless he gives to others he covers more ground that any player but not for himself but for others like Ozil and Sanchez and he provides a platform for others.
I’ve heard so many excuses for Ramsey but people are starting to realize in this system an undisciplined player who does not play for the collective and does not provide a platform is IMO surplus to requirements. He is an asset that needs to be sold, as he does not play Arsenal football.
He cares more about his numbers rather than the team’s. His style creates holes others exploit.
Time to be ruthless and make this change.
There I said it. AT LAST. I’m waiting for you in the comments but be ready and please don’t tell me Ramsey and Arteta worked….!
- Arsenal must add Runners with Speed.
Talent in world football is now no secret.
We know them all – well we think we do. What we do know is there maybe less talent available but there is no shortage of Sports Science.
Many Teams are fast – Many teams are fit.
The extra funds means others have looked at ways to stay in the PL. They have added running power. It can be measured instantly.
Teams like Spurs and Bournemouth out run us. No team used to out run the elite. They have trained harder. Ran harder. Leicester has not been the surprise of the league based on skill alone. It’s the running of Kante, Drinkwater and Albrighton in a system that suits them.
Moving it back to Arsenal we have a big group of players that can’t run. We have too many that can’t run or don’t run to a system that makes them effective.
I will name them:
Big Per, he can’t run and others pick on him
Chambers, he can’t run and IMO should be a CM first & CH second
Jack, he can’t run, thighs too big and can only play in bursts
The Ox, he can’t run well he can run but he cannot recover quickly.
Arteta, he can’t run with out breaking down
Ramsey, he can run but only one way – FORWARD
Giroud – He can’t run and it restricts us offensively
Joel, he can’t run, another who tires late in games
Rosicky, unable to run but he was a player in his day
Flamini, can’t run and is just too old so he drops and rests too deep.
That is too many for Arsenal to carry so you must add running power.
We have the technique but of we are outrun we cannot fight for the right to play. Also others game plan is to pick on our non-runners and the space they cannot cover.
This is simple – this is fixable and again El Nenny shows how important it is to have a player with the right competencies for the right position.
This is not about stars it’s about details and about fixing what we all know is wrong. Iwobi recently also has burst on the scene and the way he ran away from the Everton defence reminded me of Arsenal teams of just a few years ago. Physically he is supreme.
West Ham, Palace, Southampton not as good as us but they know the value of pace and running power. We need to add this and show no weakness.
Arsenal must add fear of pace and running and NOW.
5. Is Ozil the Star OR Is Ozil the Problem?
Playing Barca gets you thinking about formations. Seeing a team that plays a 4-3-3 with 3 forwards 3 very special forwards who play high with the knowledge of knowing the other 8 players are there for them.
I look at Arsenal and the fact we want to play with a ten suits that player. The fact Ozil is the best ten in the world means we either build around him properly or maybe think about other formations that may suit more of the group we have.
Wenger tried a 4-3-3 in the FA Cup games with Chambers deep, Ox Right and Iwobi left of a 3. It was a team full of running and transition. I liked it a lot. We also tried it with Ramsey as one of the 3 central. This allowed him to run free with no requirement for him to provide a structure.
But the 4-3-3 takes the team away from Ozil – he no longer is the fulcrum.
Is that a bad thing?
For me it is but it gives us an alternative for when Ozil is out. Again this requires a flexibility of formation something our manager refuses to do.
We have players like Jack, Chambers, Ramsey, Santi, Iwobi, Ox who would suit a 4-3-3 and are suited to a smaller space to cover (see section on runners)
Ozil is probably the most interesting player I have ever witnessed live. The way he sees football is something to behold. I feel he is ahead of his time and it’s our responsibility to give him the proper tools and respect his career. We cannot ask him to carry us. He is the oil and we must develop on that.
But if we don’t and he leaves maybe it’s time for a real 4-3-3 Barca style.
As always thanks for getting this far…hope this gets you thinking.
AFC fan of 35 years. Grew up in Luton wishing I grew up in Upper Street and could just not get enough of AFC and the area.
I was a child influenced by Charlie George but it got serious for me was in the Liam Brady, Graham Rix and Paul Davis era’s.
Home and Away fan in times gone by – More selective on games today due to prices and middle age.
Priorities – I now watch my 12 year old son play Academy football which gives me a more holistic view of the coaching aspect of the game. I study players the profile of players in relation to squad and team building. I want Arsenal to be as big as we are.
My Hero – Vieira
Happiest Day – Copenhagen v Parma
Saddest Day – Paris 06 & Cfc in the CL quarter Finals 2004
Biggest wish – Wenger to win again and for the gap between the fans and the club to narrow.
The best days are ahead.