Arsenal giant Lucas Torreira fetches 3 points on his bike – unbeaten run now 21

Torreira

Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Utter frustration to unexpected joy…
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES

It seems to me that this season whenever I’m getting highly frustrated, wishing we had a spark on the wing we find a way to win anyway.

This season feels so different in many ways. We just seem like winners.

We were very poor today but won.
We don’t have a coach who talks incessantly about team spirit but we have a team that repeatedly shows it in adversity.
Never been ahead at half time all season but unbeaten in 21 😳
That has to be a team with a strong spirit.

POSITIVES:

* A clean sheet. Finally.

* The goal was 3 quality moments where there was almost none previously.

* Hector Bellerin has improved at both ends of the pitch.
I wanted him gone in the summer as I thought he was a limited underachiever.
I’m still not entirely convinced and I think that Wan Bissaka at Palace has a higher ceiling but I do see the improvement and hope for it to continue.

* I’ve been impressed with so much this season but not our corners.
I did however like the first one today where Xhaka had an opportunity to shoot from a great angle.

* I love the new ‘don’t mess with us’ Arsenal. Prior to the training pitch the first improvement was signing MEN. Tough no nonsense men. Lichsteiner isn’t finding the PL easy but I’d say his influence on the younger players is priceless. Sokratis is a rockstar hard man. Torreira doesn’t do it with words but actions.

* Mkhi brought much needed energy at the beginning of second half but we didn’t capitalize on that as we didn’t use him enough.

* Kudos to Iwobi. His touch was off for 10 mins but he didn’t hide and got it back.

bellerin

NEEDS:

* Watching City I see something they do that we needed today.
First half we needed someone between the lines. Too many low percentage passes.
City drive through the midfield on the dribble eating up 10–15 yards before sending it wide.
In Sane and Mahrez they have the spark we lack too.

* Arguably the most dominant performance was the second half against Fulham.
We played 4-2-2-2.
We haven’t seen it since.
Maybe we will as Monreal is back, Sokratis and Mustafi are suspended so we can’t play a back 3 in the next game.
The 4-2-2-2 put Auba and Laca upfront and had everyone in their best position with players to link between the lines.

* Kolasinac, Xhaka and Bellerin refuse to use their weak foot.
When they cut inside and a through ball is on they can’t play it.
Highly frustrating.

* We played a triangle in midfield with G and T ahead of X. I think Guendouzi in particular came too deep rather than trust and stay between the lines.
We had the three of them often in a straight line with Auba and Laca 30
yards away.

* I was so impressed that the ref booked players every time they dove. Never seen a ref do this. The game needs this.
Well done, Iniesta’s dad!

* The modern day habit of a midfielder or forward receiving the ball in space and dropping it backwards unnecessarily and slowing down an attack 😡

* We have overplayed Mustafi hence his hamstring injury. Worried about Xhaka, Bellerin and Torreira.

* Like I mentioned in my last blog, I am not a fan of players standing in dead areas in between two defenders in the final third. Many attacks broke down by forcing this pass.

mustafi

HOPES:

* Koscielny can’t play 90 on Thursday as injuries and suspensions mean that he has to play on Sunday.

* Xhaka and Torreira need to tactically get their 5th yellow cards at different times.
I’ve figured it out…. One needs to miss Burnley at home, the other BHA away.

* I’ve always hoped that the PL would do something about tactical fouls. Better teams are being repeatedly fouled and the game can lack any flow.
I’d be in favor of a sin bin or perhaps a yellow being given to the captain in addition to the player getting the card?

* Players not dressed with all their gear on ready to be subbed in has frustrated me for 20 years.

* If I could make two changes at Arsenal I’d do this…

1) Sign a winger in January that gives us individual brilliance and the spark our team is lacking.
I’d go for Jadon Sancho and if I couldn’t get him I’d go for Zach’s.

2) I’d work on the training field on creating an attacking fluidity that becomes an automatic for the players. We play with too many touches and don’t provide enough ‘great’ chances in games as I think we are having to think too long.
Maybe the many formations and strategic changes are the reason.

emery

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Is Unai Emery over thinking games?

It looks like he is, hence why our first half performances are not fluid and he constantly has to fix it at halftime.

My theory is that when you combine a guy who has high levels of tactical understanding and an ability to coach any formation or situation, with an eye for accommodating the opponents strengths that it can spit out over coaching and confusion and lack fluidity.

Today there was no need for three at the back. We had three marking one and the advantage of using Kola with the ball inside the centre/full back as we have recently wasn’t used.

We are getting away with it but when that changes fans frustration will grow quickly because everyone has spotted it and they are already frustrated by it.

Thankfully we have a coach that fixes problems so I believe he will.

@mike_mmcdonald

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