Arsenal struggle to be superior… Positives, Needs and Hopes


Ok, I’m being spoilt.

Arsenal have won yet again and it’s not quite enough.

Perhaps I speak for many when I say that we are ok with it but we are a little worried.
Worried that good results with only good performances for 30-50% of the game may be a habit that won’t last.

The amount of ‘new’ at Arsenal is no doubt the main reason.

I do have a potential solution however….. We have been superior to many of the teams we’ve played in the PL, EL and CC.
The cautious start breeds confidence in the opposition but I noticed something tonight.
Periodically we let Blackpool equalize our superiority by giving them free kicks in the final third.
I’d say we are superior to Blackpool as well as Vorskla, Cardiff, Brentford etc…, at retaining possession, technical ability, speed of play and on and on.
Give these teams free kicks to whip behind our defence and quite honestly I think they become superior.
So….. don’t foul them. Let them have it. See if they can play through us.

Much smarter, says me 😊

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Guendouzi Red


* Mustafi played. Probably means he doesn’t play vs Liverpool 👍🏻

* Guendouzi refused to pass the buck (see NEEDS). Tried to be incisive. With all those on the edge of the first team, he looked like the one saying, ’look at me, boss!’

I’ve thought a lot about Guendouzi and what I like so much.

He has guts.

Not afraid to dictate play, not afraid to direct others, not afraid to make the difference.
I do wonder if Arsenal will be modern in the summer and go for a trendy powerful central midfielder. Good idea, actually. Just hope it doesn’t stunt Guendouzi’s development.

Lichtsteiner goal

Photo Credit: Reuters

* Lichsteiner’s best game both north and south.

* Who remembers Mkhi’s performance at Milan away last season? Played on the left.
I personally prefer him on the left. Looks so natural cutting inside and would have scored bar a deflection.

* Welbeck has improved in small spaces. Handles balls out of the air very well, especially with his chest.

* Watch our corners.
If I was LeGrove or Arseblog I might not say this as it might get into the hands of the wrong people….. one of our corner kick options is where we have a player at the back of the pack shielding himself with a teammate and making a front post run. Mustafi was that guy tonight.

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* Emery’s substitutions…..

More guess work here but I think Emery isn’t just putting top players on his bench as a safeguard. I think he believes in the psychological impact of a top player coming on when we are ahead.
I’ve noticed that he’s taken Welbeck off before when he was playing well.
We were 2-1 up with 15 left and he brings on Auba. Not necessary?
I think it’s a psychological punch in the gut for the opponent.

* Pleggy player well, particularly on the ball.
I wonder if he could be groomed as a DM option as his game seems more suited to there than CD where his lack of height and physical presence may hinder him from being a PL defender.


* I just wrote this thought and then Lichsteiner proved me wrong……

Against a low block you should either go outside the full back, run at pace at the back line, shoot from 18-25 yards, quick combinations or be dynamic in your movement.
Before Stefan scored we were none of the five options above.
I often pause the TV when we have a player attacking a low block in the final third. I ask my son how to fix the problem.
It’s not just Arsenal and it’s a personal bug of mine to see players ‘marking themselves up.’
I want to see these players get out of the half spaces and make runs through the half spaces behind the defenders.

When coaching I remind myself before every game, ‘what do the opponent NOT want us to do?’

Smith Rowe goal

Photo Credit: Arsenal

* Smith Rowe didn’t have his fluidity tonight. That goal is another happy day for the boy with the big future though.

* Passing the buck…..
I look forward to the Arsenal Vision podcast. So much wisdom and unique thoughts.
They cover stats now too and it’s the new world for sure.
I do wonder how much players are intimidated by their personal stats though?
So and so only got 73% pass completion.
These stats are super useful for certain players but hinder others, I think.
If I coached Arsenal I would never, ever, never show Alex Iwobi his pass completion stats. I’d hide them (not sure how you do that) and kidnap his phone.
I’d tell him that I want him to attack his opponent without fear of losing it. When he loses it I’d tell him that if he passes the buck I’ll go get Bakayo Saka from the U-23’s and play him.
I want my wide players to have the 1 on 1 as their first thought.

Arsenal clearly lack this as an option.
If Almiron arrives that should change.

* Scratched record 🚨 alert….
The penalty spot is wide open at least once a game for a second ball off an offensive corner.

* Dear Mr Cech,
Please stop dribbling.

* Couple more tactical spots….
1) When a player has the ball under control in midfield we sometimes run at him and over commit. We become a cone and they play around us.
2) Sometimes we leave the transition player outside our box wide open when we have 5 on 2 to stop them countering us.
Someone has to step and deny/win the first pass and stop the counter.
This is being neglected.

Ramsey in flight


* Is it too risky to ask Maitlind-Niles to play right back if Bellerin is unavailable on Saturday?
I am a big fan of AMN and as Clive Palmer tells me, “when he gets in the team, he won’t leave.’
He was wasted tonight as he played static in the half spaces.
The kid is an athlete and needs to be allowed to use his wheels.
Far better on the ball than Hector and got many more options in his pocket.
I’d either play a 4-3-3 at Arsenal and let him travel with the ball from CM or be a serious option to Bellerin.
Liverpool may be a big ask as he is not serious enough at defending and he’d have to do a lot of it.

* The game was a little sleepy but I absolutely loved it.
Quite honestly I often prefer these low key games as I can see who is properly interested in playing for The Arsenal.
Never fully understood why so many fans stay away.
I hope that the club gets creative with these opportunities and gives away maybe 15,000 tickets to youngsters and their families and gets the players to come out afterwards for photos etc…
Short term loss for long term gain.

* Finally, we are all loving the new energy in the fan base.
The only way I see this changing is if we lose big games unnecessarily.
Point being that teams like Liverpool start fast. Don’t think we’ve got 45 minutes to be cautious.
Use the new energy you’ve created Unai, and don’t leave us wishing we weren’t just a second half team in a game that was gone at half time.

Follow me at mike_mmcdonald if you want 😊

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One Response to Arsenal struggle to be superior… Positives, Needs and Hopes

  1. DEW November 2, 2018 at 5:16 am #

    Guendouzi will learn the tactical aspect of mid field football over time. But what he has to do is to learn it slowly, while keeping his sharpness and strength. The tactical aspect of midfield football is obviously very crucial, he has to know well enough how the team plays in different moments, and how to get the best out of individual players, best positioning in different moments of a game and so on. These staffs are the toughest parts provided that he has the required footballing and fitness skills. My advice to him is to be focused and to take it slowly. He will get chance after chance at Arsenal. Because that is what Arsenal is.

    As for Xhaka, I think the reason why the coach was playing Xhaka as left back is probably because he wants him to learn some defending and dribbling techniques, which he can not do and learn at the middle. If get caught at the middle the team is exposed. Against Liverpool, Xhaka has to make his mind up on doing Elneny kind of passes (short, fast, accurate and reliable passes without thinking to much how the ball be best played) at the time when the midfield is overrun by Liverpool players.

    Ramsey: Since he is soon to leave player, it is difficult for the coach to build around him. But he can play him on the wings. Ramsey confessed that he didn’t like it, but I believe he has different set of skills that could make him valuable wing player for Arsenal in different manner as Firmino is different kind of striker for Liverpool. During brief time at the wing, Ramsey-Bellerine combination has worked well on several occasions in the past. The famous 3-0 victory against United is one of them. Ramsey is offensive player, covers a lot of ground, he defends fairly and makes the team stable on possession and going forward. as a winger he will give Ozil the kind supports he wants.

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