C’mon Arsenal, light your fire! Got deadwood to burn… (Brighton 1-1 Arsenal)

aubameyang

Arsenal about to light the fire 🔥
POSITIVES, NEEDS and HOPES

Sometimes the coach needs to see something so poor in order for the fire to arrive.

Ever since I moved from London to the US, I have greatly enjoyed living here but if I was to change something then this would be on the list….

  • US youth soccer is poorly set up. Arguably the worst part is the structure where teams play tournaments every 3 weeks or so.
  • Youth tournaments are set up for the fittest teams to win, not the best teams.
  • Many times my teams have got to the final and the pre game warm up is spent stretching the players who have cramp. Before the game 😳.

It’s their 4th/5th/6th game in 2-3 days. Insanity.

I was watching Arsenal today and it reminded me of that.
We looked like we are either physically shattered or confused (read NEEDS).

I shouldn’t feel relieved that the whistle blew and we drew and didn’t lose to Brighton.

I’m believing we will look back at this game and see it as the catalyst for the fire being lit at Arsenal Football Club.

I believe the decision makers will make some big decisions after today.

  1. I think they will relook at squad rotation and training set up as that was beyond lethargic and it’s not the first time.
  2. I think they will look at the downside of constant formation change with a new team vs the benefits of being hard to read.
  3. I think this period was Mesut Ozil’s last chance and yet again he played quite well (Burnley) then vanished today. I think today will be the deciding factor in selling him.
  4. I think they will sign an electric winger. A spark.
Strike three. You're out.

Strike three. You’re out.

I have had a few ‘sparks’ in my coaching career and when you are playing poorly they give me hope. Give them the ball and expectation and belief rises. Unfortunately, Iwobi hasn’t yet got the full skill set or belief to consistently be our spark.

Why am I being positive when that was so poor?
Because Arsenal as a club are moving forward and the set-up gives me hope.

POSITIVES:

* Auba’s movement combined with our delivery in the first half.

* Arsenal have not conceded from a corner in the PL this season. Big improvement.

* Xhaka’s set play delivery was very good. Great pace and height, just not capitalized on.

* Lacazette’s ability in tight areas not only initiated the goal but proved to be a great outlet.

* Our current issues at RB and CB are illuminating the improvement of Holding and Bellerin.

Fine margins

Fine margins

NEEDS:

* We have an identity issue.

I’m not mad just observing.

Thankfully Chelsea do too but ours is greater.
They have a clear on the ball identity that is giving them 60+% possession but haven’t yet figured out that Giroud and Hazard could play off each other like very few could. Ssshhh!!
What they do have that we don’t is ‘the spark’ in Hazard. We can’t attract or afford Hazard but FYI… they have the next best thing in Callum Hudson-Odoi who I would offer £20M for.

I digress…

It looks like our coach has decided to make us tactically flexible which in the short term has given us a lack of identity. I don’t blame him at all as our team were almost completely tactic- less in previous seasons.
Our reality is that we have played 4-2-3-1/4-2-2-2/3-4-3/3-5-2/4-4-2 diamond and 4-3-3.
This has been a necessary time of learning for our squad.


Alex Iwobi asks Xhaka:”What formation are we playing?”

After the window is over, I’d like to see the team choose a primary formation for the benefit of our players.
Although having the choice of six formations can utterly confuse the planning of the opposition, it is hindering our players and their lack of ‘automatic.’
This is evidenced by the constant looking, looking again, thinking, looking before our CM’s pass.
Defensively we are often too easy to pass around and I think players are confused between roles.

Given the opportunity to coach Arsenal (we all dream 😉), I’d go against the popular choice and not prioritize defending.
I’d buy 2 wingers, play 4-3-3 against stronger teams and 3-2-3-2 against weaker teams.
I’d then work on the offensive roles of each player and the teams offensive chemistry.
Give Guendouzi a hair band and work on awareness and quicker ball movement, specifically going through the wingers. Closest CM supporting the play from behind for a combination and to stop transitions. All other attacking players move in opposite direction, dragging their coverage away from the ball and giving your winger time and space and therefore players in and around the box.

Playing catch-up

Playing catch-up

* At the start of the season I wanted AMN to be given a chance at CM.
I’d still like to see it but, oh boy, he is wasting his opportunity right now.
He has so much ability, arguably quicker and more athletic and powerful than Bellerin but he is way too casual.
Playing right now as if he is just picking up a pay check.

* Season long we have allowed teams to travel 50-80 yards in transition. Are we using Torreira to best effect?

* I wish Xhaka was athletically flexible enough to turn when coming towards the ball.

* Why were we 2 vs 2 on the counter for their goal?
The goal was a charitable gift too.

* We could have killed BHA off after our goal but were too laid back

* I totally understand why Lacazette is upset at being subbed. Undeserved and confusing.

Subbed. Again.

Subbed. Again.

HOPES:

* I hope we address our ‘squad player issue.’

ElNeny isn’t trusted.
Neither is Nketiah.
AMN is an underperforming versatility option.
Lichsteiner may be good for the teams physical and mental needs but lacks elsewhere.
Ramsey has one foot out of the door and Ozil’s not far behind.
Iwobi has stagnated again.
Many others are injured.

* If we are going to continue with Auba and Laca starting our first need (rather than want), will be a back up.
If fit, I’d take a look at Sturridge as I think he’d be affordable and may see Arsenal as a closer step to first team football.
Tim Weah on loan from PSG would be an direct option to Auba.
The club may see their pursuit of Nicholas Pepe as two for one. Plays wide but has also played CF.

ever banega

* The rumors of Ever Banega are interesting.
At 30 I thought he might not have the legs to be a DM in the PL.
After looking at his stats he is remarkably efficient defensively and like all Argentinians, he is gifted on the ball. Can play as a 6, 8 or 10.

FINAL THOUGHT:

Out of something so bad could yet come something so good 👍🏻

@mike_mmcdonald

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