Positives, Needs and Hopes…. Arsenal 4 Vorskla 2
Alex Iwobi could do many things.
He could continue to break into the line-up, play well, take his opportunity for granted and play poorly, back to the bench, out of the 18, get another chance (repeat)…
Alex Iwobi is a player I cannot trust. Yet.
See the thing is that his positive performances are getting more rounded, even exciting. I do however; refuse to be fooled into thinking that he would replicate tonight’s impressive performance if given the chance vs Everton. Prove us wrong, Alex! You could save the club 40 million and be the winger that the fans are wanting as an option for our scarily narrow team. Not a talent issue. All attitude.
Generally, our first Europa outing was a step forward. I am however, wanting our team to not wait for the other team to be bad before we decide to be good.
* To elaborate on my point above, the first 30 mins of the game we were waiting for bravery. No risk, safe, uninspired due to lack of proactive movement. The big positive of the night came after the first goal when we decided to stop being tense and safe and realized that this was a big win if we played with freedom and bravery. Time will hopefully release the shackles or the coaching staff need to wave their coaching wand and come up with the right words to change the mentality.
* Emery’s team selection and substitutes were very interesting and a positive for me. By starting a stronger team, I think this sends a message of seriousness. Good management I think because your first game sets the tone for the competition. He also could have subbed Nketiah rather than Ozil but again it shows that you have to earn a chance and that we are not taking these ‘easy’ games for granted. Well done, Emery!
* I like Elneny. He played well (if unspectacular, as usual). Much like Ramsey and Xhaka he would be appreciated more in a 3-man midfield. One sits, one keeps possession, and the third is more adventurous. In a 2-man midfield, his safe play is not appreciated, as the team needs more.
I strongly feel that Mesut Ozil and the right wing experiment is Emery trying to get Ozil in a front three as he has many midfielders who would be more effective in a three-man midfield. If Ozil works then I think Ramsey, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Elneny are in a formation that suits them. If it doesn’t work, I think he will sell Mesut Ozil.
* Auba…. smart for Emery to play him to get his goals and confidence up. In addition, his second goal bodes well for the left wing experiment.
* Leno had no chance with the goals. I did however observe that he scans before receiving so he passes quicker than Cech.
* When Danny Welbeck makes two runs (one to move defender, one for the ball) then he looks levels better. When he doesn’t he looks flat footed and easy to mark. I have just described the difference in his first and second half.
* Sokratis is becoming a thing.
* Lichsteiner is a serious footballer. I would be amazed if he does not replace Bellerin at some point. Takes defending more seriously and good going forward. Bellerin does fine when all is well but does not change games often enough at either end especially when it is close. In short, Lichsteiner will prove to be too reliable to not play. Very much like Nacho.
* Lucas Torreira is an all-round midfielder. Do not be fooled into being told he is just a destroyer. Play him and you get quick incisive vertical passing, tempo, set plays, vision and to add to his repertoire of ways to tackle people (see rugby tackle vs Newcastle), we see the head tackle! I believe he head tackled someone in the World Cup too!
* Smith Rowe is a natural footballer. If he keeps his head its obvious he will be a star.
* Guendouzi affected the game yet again. It is every week. He strikes me as someone who does not ‘like’ to win, he feels that he ‘must’ win. You see that in his progressive passing. He actually has very similar athletic and technical qualities to Elneny except he wants to pass forwards and he is very good at it. Hence, the difference in playing time.
* All the goals tonight were either intelligently set up or finished or both. Great to see.
* Back to Iwobi… big improvement in his final ball tonight and his directness on the dribble in transition. What will he do next week though?
* I am learning…. Mkhi doesn’t dominates games. He plays in patches. Thankfully, those patches can be impactful. Is that enough though?
* I think it is a positive that their GK was pants and that they wore the same colour jersey as the pitch. Never understood teams that do that!
* First 30 minutes we did not have players between the lines and many were making the same runs.
* I was fortunate years ago to coach a boy called Mark Sherrod. Mark went on to play in the MLS before his career was cut short by injury. Mark was special and I felt he would have led the USA to the World Cup. He was a centre forward who had everything. His greatest quality was his mentality when the ball was in the box was that of a defender. In my opinion, if a forward makes the decision to attack the ball in the box with the attitude that I HAVE to get it rather than I WANT to get it then they will cause havoc. This is how defenders think. Rare to find a forward like that. Danny Welbeck has the perfect physique for a CF but is just too laid back to fulfil his potential.
* We are not frightening teams yet. Glimpses tonight but set the tone the first 5 minutes.
* I wish Auba would play more aggressively. He is a big guy so play bigger!
* Need to stop ball watching when defending throw ins.
* Hoping Mavropanos gets to play vs Brentford
* Torreira is fit for Everton and that he stops tackling people with his head.
* Would love to see more of Leno against Brentford. More action. Loads of Brentford attacks but we win 7-0!
* A clean sheet.
Finally, against better teams I am worried that the slow starts may be punished.
Again, I say, Arsenal need cannot continue to wait for the other team to be bad before we decide to be good.